Over the past years, Google has been working to implement personalized search on a widespread scale. How can online poker affiliates adjust their SEO plans to accommodate these changes?

First, you have to understand what’s changed. Google’s personalized search plan (a plan reportedly being followed by rival search engine sites like Bing) started simply and somewhat harmlessly, by providing logged-in users with personalized results based on their past search histories. Those logged-in users were people searching Google who were also logged into their Google accounts.

But, not too much later, Google begin implementing elements of personalized search into the search results for non-logged in users, as well. And it seems to be a permanent addition. “The days of ‘normal’ search results that everyone sees are now over,” writes Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land. “Personalized results are the ‘new normal,’ and the change is going to shift the search world and society in general in unpredictable ways.”

So, given this change in the all-important SEO metrics that online marketers use to bring in traffic, how can online poker affiliates incorporate personalized search into their poker marketing plans? Are big changes needed here, or should poker marketers operate on a business-as-usual basis?

For starters, personalized SEO is going to have its greatest affect on the very top of the results. So, it’s going to help those who already have good online poker SEO placement, and hurt the start-ups who are trying to get on page one. If you rank well, you’re probably going to retain that high ranking more easily; if you’re just starting out, it’s going to be harder to get traction and fight your way to the top.

That makes branding more important than ever. You want loyalty; you want to create a situation where visitors seek you out and scan the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your site, choosing it over others. However, that’s easier said than done, and it requires marketing thinking that goes beyond SEO.

But the bottom line is, the day-in and day-out struggle of SEO rankings isn’t going to change that much — at least not yet. It might be harder to break into the top 5, but the skills and strategies you need to employ to get into the top 20 are basically the same. (And if you’re just starting out, looking to score SEO traffic for such highly competitive terms as “online poker” and “Internet poker”, that top page is a bit in the future, anyway.)

So if you’re just starting off, you’ll still be smart to remember the basics of search engine optimization; these basics will still help you build an effective SEO strategy. When it comes time to getting to the very top, though, you’ll need to go beyond SEO, and use the kind of useful general poker marketing tactics we discuss every week here at the PAP Blog.


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