Google and other search engines, in their neverending quest to offer up more relevant results to searchers, are moving toward “personalized” search. This has profound implications for those trying to optimize websites, but is not fully understood by many webmasters and site owners.
In a nutshell, when users are logged in to their Google accounts, Google will — over time — “learn” what sorts of pages those users generally click on, and attempt to show them more of those kinds of pages.
So what does this mean to you, the site owner or webmaster?
Basically, it means soon you may no longer be able to use “rankings” as a measure of site success — since every searcher may potentially see different rankings from what you see (or what your rank checking program reports). In other words, just because you see your site at #1, this won’t necessarily mean that anyone else sees it there.
So what can you use to measure site success?
The same things as have always been the true measure of site success for those in the know — traffic, and perhaps more importantly, conversions (as in, leads generated or sales made).