When Everything Is Personalized

4-star-ratingLast week at the Raleigh SEO Meetup, Joe Hall and John Doherty talked about a lot of interesting facets of SEO and where they feel it’s headed next year.

About half way through the event, a question came up about reviews. But interestingly the question was reversed from the normal way SEO’s think about them. The question was what impact does it have to YOU, when you’re leaving legit reviews.

At the time it didn’t seem like the kind of brain bendingly difficult question that it turned into over the next few days for me.

I started thinking about how John refered to Google building a person map of the web earlier that evening and Joe’s view of 2014 is Google increasing personalization and becoming even more nuanced.

I agree with both of those. Now I’m thinking about the next level of personalization. Right now if you do a search for abortion or gun control or even Obama, you’ll see sites and pages that probably fall in line with how your view those phrases. Google has been massaging our personalized search results for years.

But now, what if I leave long, detailed reviews that people like, why shouldn’t my reviews be weighted more than a drive-by reviewer? Let’s keep moving in that direction.

If I am a trusted reviewer with dozens or even hundreds of reviews, and I give a restaurant 4 stars and it only has 1 other review, but it’s a 1 star review from someone who has only left that one review, what should that restaurant’s star rating be? I contend it should be a 4 star review. There’s no way it should be 2.5 stars right?

But then again, I like certain foods, mostly the unhealthy delicious foods. So if you also like bacon cheeseburgers, pizza and barbecue pork then my ratings should have more weight for you than my vegan friends who also can’t eat gluten right? Wouldn’t that make sense? If you and I are in sync in rating the same type of restaurants or even the actual same restaurants, then you should see a star rating that is weighted that way.

There’s no good reason for me to see a sushi place with a 5 star rating, because I would never choose that place willingly. I would choose almost any other place before it.

Should we see personalized star ratings?

If Google starts assigning personalized star ratings, how could a business ever say they are rated 4/5 stars?

Movie reviews? Cars? Books?

Once you start down the personalization path is there anything that shouldn’t be personalized?

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