Google’s algorithm is an underground and ever-changing operation, but what online marketing professionals know is that sometimes, search criteria is publically altered – and when it is, we’re wise to observe those changes. What worked five years ago might still deliver reasonable results; however, to score the brand awareness mother lode, online marketing professionals know that they should make Google’s latest and greatest their own.

Build Brand Awareness with Attention to Search Personalisation

Until recently, it seems that Google has searched for the most relevant, quality content that’s optimised for the keywords and keyword phrases that searchers are using. The source didn’t much matter – apart from elements like loading speed, SEO, video, images, and the number of relevant links. Search results were “objective.” Anyone could compete with great content, regardless of their social popularity.

Now, with personalised search, Google tailors results to the searcher’s history, online behaviour, known authors, and primary and extended relationships on social networks. Google’s motive is to provide search results that are most likely to be of interest to searchers, but also to keep people in Google-world for longer periods of time.

To turn personalisation on or off, Google account holders need only sign in, go to Search, Settings, Personal Results, and make their desired choice. With personalisation on, their Google search results will differ from objective, non-personalised ones.

If your online marketing efforts have included expansive social media activity and have resulted in lots of visits to your website, you will have a better chance of showing up in these personalised search results – and your brand awareness will benefit. However, if you haven’t been working to ramp up your online marketing, SEO, and social media for the sake of brand awareness, your brand may be excluded. Here’s why:

When someone searches for candles, for example, and has personalised search turned on, Google will consider their past website visits, their geographical location, the authors that they’ve read in the past, the authorisations and endorsements of social network connections, what “friends” are looking at, and the pages that “friends of friends” are visiting. For instance, if your “friend” frequents a particular restaurant named Italiano (and his online activities support that patronage), and you search for Italian restaurant, you’re likely to see Italiano in your personalised search results – even if there are 20 other restaurants that fit the search criteria.


What’s more, if a searcher visits a website often, that website will get precedence (and brand awareness benefits) when that same user types in search terms associated with that site – regardless of whether the specific search terms are the same or different as in previous sessions. Members of the surfer’s social network will also be more likely to see that URL when they search for something that site provides.

So what does all this mean for you, a website owner? It means that if you want more traffic and brand awareness, your social network must expand. Your social connections must be strengthened with more Likes, Tweets, comments, etc., and therefore be broadened in scope. You must strive to increase web traffic to your site, because the more visits you get, the more likely it is that you’ll appear in the personalised search results of previous visitors, their “friends,” and “friends of their friends.” This is brand awareness for the 21st Century – the new-age word-of-mouth.

Certainly, it seems that Google has become a popularity contest. We can call it a “social” injustice or we can choose to use this latest development to further our online marketing and brand awareness efforts. At How to Build a Brand, we recommend the latter. We’ve been saying it for years: social media for online marketing isn’t just a good idea – it’s an indispensable component of any brand awareness campaign.

If online marketing and the building of brand awareness have you perplexed, we’re here to help. Call +44 (0) 208 123 6776 or email us on [email protected] for branding advice, education, and support. You’ll also want to subscribe to Brand Brain Monthly.

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