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Almost Time For Getting Your Christmas Tree

Its that time of year and if you live in the Washougal, Washington area including Vancouver, WA and Clark County, Wa you should check out Klopman Christmas Tree Farm!  Klopman Farms is a family-run U-Cut and Pre-Cut Christmas tree farm located in Washougal, WA.  They offer 4 varieties of Christmas trees on over 100 acres.

  • Noble Christmas Trees
  • Douglas Christmas Trees
  • Fraser Christmas Trees
  • Grands Christmas Trees

Affordable Prices Too!

  • Christmas Tree prices start at $24.99
  • Our most popular Christmas Tree size (3 ft – 7 ft) is priced at $49.99
  • Large Christmas Trees are $8 per additional foot, after 7-feet

Klopman Farms also has a retail pre-cut Christmas tree lot in Vancouver, Wa located at 14516 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver, WA.

Visit www.klopmanfarms.com to learn more about their beautiful Christmas Tree Farm!

Google Removes Option to Hide Private Search Results?

Can You Find the Hide Private or Personal Results Option in Your Search Settings?

Back in January I wrote a quick post about how I was not seeing the option to hide or show personal search results.  At the time, I was seeing this intermittently, so I wasn’t sure if it was something up with my profile or if I was noticing something Google was testing.

Where did the option to remove personal or private search results go?


Did I Miss a Google Announcement About Removing the Option to Hide Personal Results?

I kind of forgot about this, but today it hit me that I’m not seeing the option at all anymore.  So, if I’m logged into Google, I get personalized results….period.  I cannot find anyway to “turn personalization off” within my search settings or Google+ profile. I’ve performed searches on the web and Google+ and cannot find any mention of Google removing the ability to turn off personal search results.

Has Google Finally Decided That They Have Enough “Personal Data” to Provide Great Personalized Search Results?

I knew this day would come, but I’m still wondering if Google has actually moved to a completely personalized search engine when signed into Google.  As I mentioned previously, I’m kind of confused as to why I’m not able to find anyone noticing or talking about not being able to turn off the “private” search results.  As you know, Google makes changes to their search results all the time and they do not comment on them until long after the changes have been live or until someone mentions the changes.

I searched Google’s search help and everything still mentions you can turn off private results.  However, I’ve included some screen captures showing that I’m not seeing the option anymore.

No private options within settings

Google Help Documents

Turn Off Private Results - Google Help

Private Search Results - Google Help

Expected To See Google Offer a “Filter by Circles” Personalization Option

I actually expected Google to offer a “filter by circles” option under the search settings when a search is performed.  As the usage of Google+ continues to grow I really expected Google to allow users to filter search results by the various circles they may have.  This is one of the reasons I think it is important to have clearly defined circles and segment people/pages you add to each carefully.  Sort of an expansion on how they allow you to search in Google+ for content only from your circles.

Give me an option to filter results by people within a specific circle or include results from a specific circle and ALL connected entities.   This kind of filtering is what I expected/expect to see Google do over time, as they aggregate Google+ user data.

A hack of what I wanted to see Google moving towards is below.  


Filter Personal Search Results by Circles


Are You Still Seeing the Option to Hide Private Search Results in Google?

Let me know if you are still seeing the option to hide private results, or if I totally missed how Google is now allowing users to hide/show private results….

Google Not Displaying Show Hide Personalized Results Feature

Is Google testing new personalization methods/settings or was it just a glitch this morning when I didn’t see the option to show/hide personalized results while logged in?  Like every morning, I did some searches and noticed that I did not have the option to hide personalized results, and my results were not personalized by default.

However, 30 minutes later the feature to hide/show personalized results was back….

I can’t imagine that Google would remove the option to switch back and forth between personalized and non-personalized results, so I’m leaning towards it was a glitch.

Has anyone else noticed this?

Google not displaying hide personalized  results

Google Showing Personalized Meta Data (+1’s) in Non-Personalized Search Results

Google Seems To Be “Blending” Personalized Google+ Data (+1’s) With Non-Personalized Search Results

I was doing some research this evening and for the first time I noticed that Google was displaying personalized meta data (+1’s) from Google+ even when I select “hide personalized results”.  So now we begin the “blending” of “generic search” and “personalized search” within Google search results.

For those that have been discounting “personalized search results”, I think it is time for you to take another serious look, and start to do the things necessary to take advantage of where Google is heading.

At this point Google doesn’t seem to be modifying the rankings when selecting “hide private results”, but they are starting to display personalized elements within the search UI.

Here is a screen capture of what I’m seeing in my results:



Are you seeing Google +1 data in your non-personalized search results?


Can Google+ Drive Non-Google+ Content to Top of Personalized Results?

I’m sure you have read about how content posted, shared or +1’d to Google+ will show up high within personalized search results. Google mentioned in their official announcement of “Search Plus Your World” that Google+ content would show up within personalized searches, and that was on January 10, 2012.

However, what I’m not seeing seo’s and Internet marketing folks talk about is how Google+ can help drive content not posted, shared or +1’d to the 1st page of personalized search results.

In early 2012 I noticed how web sites were being pushed to the top of my personalized search just because a Google+ page I followed LINKED to it!  Yes, just having a link to a web site could help drive it to the top of my personalized results for relevant search queries.  This was, and is powerful stuff for us marketing folks.

In this post I will try to address the following topics:

  • How Google+ provides “social meta data” that I believe is used to define individual personalization profiles.
  • How Google’s “personalized rank” works, according to their patents.
  • How Google+ can be used to drive non-Google+ content to the top of personalized search results with links.

How Google+ Helps Define Google’s Personalized Search Results

I found 2 patents that seem to outline how Google could be using Google+ data to shape their personalized search results.

  1. Searching with metadata comprising degree of separation, chat room participation, and geography (*Microsoft Patent*)
  2. Personalization of Web Search Results Using Term, Category, and Link-Based User Profiles

Social Meta Data & Degree of Separation

The first patent mentioned above deals with using data gathered from “social networks” to help build “personalized profiles”.

This is one of the diagrams from the social meta data patent that illustrates how content can be connected across social networks.

Google social meta data patent

Within this patent they discuss using “degree of separation” between the user and content gathered from the social meta data to order search results.  Degree of separation means how closely the user is linked to specific content.  Is the content directly linked (1st degree) to the user or is it linked to the user by a friend of a friend etc.

Here is an excerpt from the patent that really sums it up for me.

In some instances, a user’s unique identifier may be used to rank search based on the relationships between a user and the content providers. For example, a user may search for a specific term and explicitly or implicitly provide his unique user identification to the search engine. The results of the search may be ranked such that the user’s friend’s content may be highlighted or merely higher ranked in the search results. Presumably, the user may have an interest in results that come from sources with whom he has a preexisting relationship.

By associating content with metadata that includes a content owner’s network of friends, the metadata may be used by specialized and general purpose search engines to find relevant and pertinent results for a specific content owner.

Google could be using a very similar way to gather data from social networks as a way to rank content connected to a user from that data, by “degree of separation”.  Now, we take a look at their personalization patent in order to get an understanding of how they could put this all together for their personalized search results engine.

How Does Googles Personalized Search Work?

The 2nd patent I mentioned above deals with the 3 profiles Google uses to help determine personalized search results.

Google personalized profiles

In the patent they mention category, term, and link profiles.  Here is how they are defined in the patent:

Each sub-process produces one type of user profile characterizing a user’s interests or preferences from a particular perspective. They are:

  • a term-based profile 231—this profile represents a user’s search preferences with a plurality of terms, where each term is given a weight indicating the importance of the term to the user;
  • a category-based profile 233—this profile correlates a user’s search preferences with a set of categories, which may be organized in a hierarchal fashion, with each category being given a weight indicating the extent of correlation between the user’s search preferences and the category; and
  • a link-based profile 235—this profile identifies a plurality of links that are directly or indirectly related to the user’s search preferences, with each link being given a weight indicating the relevance between the user’s search preferences and the link.

Google personalized profile tables

How Google calculates a “generic” and “personalized” score for documents/content:

When a search engine generates search results in response to a search query, a candidate document D that satisfies the query is assigned a query score, QueryScore, in accordance with the search query. This query score is then modulated by document D’s page rank, PageRank, to generate a generic score, GenericScore, that is expressed as


This generic score may not appropriately reflect document D’s importance to a particular user U if the user’s interests or preferences are dramatically different from that of the random surfer. The relevance of document D to user U can be accurately characterized by a set of profile ranks, based on the correlation between document D’s content and user U’s term-based profile, herein called the TermScore, the correlation between one or more categories associated with document D and user U’s category-based profile, herein called the CategoryScore, and the correlation between the URL and/or host of document D and user U’s link-based profile, herein called the LinkScore. Therefore, document D may be assigned a personalized rank that is a function of both the document’s generic score and the user profile scores. In one embodiment, this personalized score can be expressed as:


Google search query

How profile confidence determines personalized results:

In another embodiment, the personalized ranks and generic ranks are further weighted by a user profile’s confidence level. The confidence level takes into account factors such as how much information has been acquired about the user, how close the current search query matches the user’s profile, how old the user profile is, etc. If only a very short history of the user is available, the user’s profile may be assigned a correspondingly low confidence value. The final score of an identified document can be determined as:


When intermixing generic and personalized results, the fraction of personalized results may be adjusted based on the profile confidence, for example using only one personalized result when the confidence is low.

Google personalized search query

Connection Between Google Personalization and Google+

I researched these patents in early 2012 after Google announced “Search Plus Your World” which was the initial launch of full scale integration of Google+ data within their core search engine results.  After reviewing the patents it was clear Google+ is the conduit directly into Google’s personalization profiles and should be utilized as such.  Using Google+ you can help “directly connect” (1st degree connection) your website, brand, products or services directly into users personalized profiles.  

Here is a slide I created with the elements I felt (and still do) were most important to “personalized rank” and that could be developed with Google+:

Google personalized ranking factors

Here is a slide I created to demonstrate how/where on a Google+ page  you can feed data directly into the 3 personalization profiles of individuals:

Google+ About Page Best Practices


Power of Using Google+ Links

Google mentioned within their official announcement of Search Plus Your World that content within Google+ would be highlighted within personalized search results.  However, what was going to be powerful was if I could utilize Google+ to drive a websites content to the top of Google’s personalized search results.

During this time I began to notice that websites that were linked to from Google+ pages that I was following were being pushed to the 1st page of my personalized results.

Here is an example of a site that moved from page 2 to spot #4 in my personalized results.  I was following the Google+ page of the site, but the Google+ page had no posts and only had a link back to the website.

personalized ranking improvment


Here is an example of another domain that was pushed to the top of my personalized results.  This domain was only linked to from within the Google+ page I was following, no posts, no shares, no +1’s.



The above examples are from early 2012, so here are some current 2013 examples just to demonstrate that Google+ links still have power to push websites to the top of personalized results.

Below is an example of a website that I’m not following within Google+, but it is pushed to the 1st page of my personalized results just because someone I am following linked to it! Yes, technically it was “shared” on Google+, but what I’m trying to focus on is it was just a link to a website!



Here is the post that contains the link to the site causing it to be pushed to the 1st page of my personalized results:

Google+ link


Let’s Sum Things Up

Hopefully, this post will help explain how Google+ is the direct conduit into Google’s personalization profiles and how it can be used effectively to build value for brands, services and companies.  As we should all know by now, more and more people are “logged in” to Google+, so they will see personalized results, unless they turn the feature off of course.

It is becoming increasingly important to build connections with your targeted markets and demographics in order to take advantage of Google’s shift to personalized search results and the vast number of people who will be “logged in” to Google+ because of Android, YouTube, Gmail, etc.

A few takeaways:

  1. Google+ is the primary method that Google gathers DIRECT social meta data.
  2. Google is using social meta data from Google+ to build personalized profiles of individuals.
  3. Social meta data from Google+ has a direct impact on personalized search results because of the personalized profiles Categories, Terms, and Links.
  4. Links within Google+ create direct connections (within personalized link profiles) that can drive “non-Google+” content to the 1st page of personalized results!
  5. Start using Google+ to build DIRECT connections with your target markets or demographics in order to associate your products, services, or brand within their Google personal profiles (category, term, links).

What are your thoughts, have you been seeing non-Google+ content showing up in your personalized results?


Google Personalized Rank More Important Than Page Rank

Browsing through my Google+ stream today I notice a post by Rand Fishkin about how Google+ content is showing up within serps more and more.  It reminded me of a deck I put together back in March, 2012.  The purpose of the deck was to emphasize the importance of Google+ as part of any “SEO” strategy.  It was clear to me, as it was to some others at the time that Google had gone all in with G+ and there was not going to be any turning back.

Remember The Google+ vs Facebook Debate?

You have to remember this was a time when almost everyone was discounting Google+ and trying to compare it to FACEBOOK in terms of a social media platform.  For those that understood how Google operates, and their core mission from their start up days of providing the most relevant results to a visitors query, it was pretty obvious Google+ was going to be essential to performing well in organic search results.

Google Personalization Patents

Back in early 2012 I began to comb over Google’s patents and began to put the puzzle pieces together.  Based upon what I found in the patents it was CLEAR that Google+ was going to be utilized to drive greater personalization of search results.  At the time it was clear that “PERSONALIZED RANK” was going to be more important than “PAGE RANK” going forward.

For SEO’s/Marketers who have been around since Google was a startup, it was pretty clear that Google was going to use Google+ to enable them to finally be able to provide relevant, personalized results.  Yes, they had tried and failed before, but as we all know, there are some pretty smart people over at Google, Inc..  They learned from past mistakes, took their time and it was clear they were going “all in” with Google+ as their “personalization engine”.

Google Personalization: It’s All About Terms, Categories, and Links

I found a post that Bill Slawski posted in September, 2012 about Google user profile personalization and Google+ based upon his reviews of Google patents.  In his post, he still questioned whether Google was going to use Google+ to help with personalization.

As I mentioned previously, Google has always maintained that their primary goal is to return the most relevant results possible for any given query.  Their “Page Rank” based algorithm was a game changer, but it still has flaws, which they quickly discovered.  The biggest issue with the page rank algorithm is that it can be “gamed”, as we all know.  Google has spent a decade updating, and tweaking their algorithm with funny animal named patches in an effort to slow down the “gamers”.

However, way back in 1998 Google knew that “personalization” was the key.  They continually tried to build in systems and applications that would allow them to know more about the search visitor, so that they could provide more relevant results to that visitor.

Based upon Google’s patents at the time, there are 3 key profiles for determining their “personalized rank”, categories, terms and links.  Below is the slide I created explaining these profiles.

Google personalization profiles


Google Personalized Rank: How Does Google+ Help?

Within Google personalization patents I found that they list numerous personalized ranking factors.  The factors that I believe can be influenced the most by Google+ are direct connections, relevance, degree of separation, engagement, age, popularity, and authority.  In my opinion the most important factors that Google+ helps with are direct connections and the degree of separation.  Below is the slide…

Google personalized ranking factors


Content From Websites Connected to Google+ Pages I’m Connected to Bubble to the Top of Search Results!

As Rand points out in the whiteboard mentioned at the beginning of this article, Google+ content “bubbles” up to the top of search results when you are logged into a Google account.

Personalized Content


At the time what was so interesting to me was that content on a website that was relevant to my search would rise to the 1st page of results, just because a Google+ page that I was following, was linked to it!  Content from a web site that was NEVER shared or posted to Google+!

The below images illustrate how content from a web site climbed to the top of results just because a Google+ page I was follow was “linked” to the site (recommended links within Google+ about section).




It’s Vital To Create Direct Connections With Individuals (building social authority):  Google+ is the Tool!

It seems that Google values direct connections between content and you in order to provide personalized search results.  Because of this, as a web site owner, or brand it is important to “connect” your content with as many individuals as possible.

Google+ About Page Best Practices

Remember, the personalization patents mention 3 distinct profiles for each individual, so there are a lot of factors in play, but having direct connections is very important!


Use Google+ to build social authority


Google+ Best Practices

There are a lot of posts out there about Google+ best practices, but here is what I had mentioned in early 2012.

Google+ best practicesStop Worrying About Google’s Page Rank and Start Worrying About Google’s “Personalized Rank”!

If you are reading this then I’m sure you have already read about how Google has recently stated people are “obsessing” over page rank and they need to get over it.  There has been numerous posts about how Google hasn’t updated the page rank toolbar and doesn’t plan to anytime soon.

Personalized rank of content is already a primary element of Google’s search engine and will continue to become more prominent within Google’s search results over time.


DMCA – Effective Tool to Eliminate Competition?

Okay, we all know you shouldn’t be copying content from other websites, right?  But, after noticing an “interesting” use of DMCA complaints, I began to wonder if DMCA complaints are being used by some to eliminate competition from SERP’s?

I’ve noticed some DMCA removals within some personalized legal SERPS over the last few months.  Some lawyer related searches I performed displayed a notice that some results were removed because of  DMCA violations.

Here’s an example:

DMCA violation notice

Since this was only displayed in my personalized results (logged into Google+) I figured I must be “following” or connected to the “violator” in some way.  So, looking at the DMCA complaint I found that I was following 1 of the 4 listed violators

In this case, it was one of the large legal directories that I follow.  The specific page noted in the DMCA complaint was UGC from an attorney.  But, according to the publish date on the page it was “Posted over 3 years ago.”.

Which Site Has The Original Content?

That must mean that if the content was “copied” from the “original site” as claimed in the DMCA, then I should be able to find it in the web archive in 2010.   So, I did a search in the web archive for the specific page noted in the DMCA complaint, and it is not in the web archive.  Okay, so maybe they changed the url.  I began looking through the site that was archived in 2010 and could not find the content by browsing through the available links.

I checked 2011 and 2012 archives and still couldn’t find it…what gives?  Could the archive has missed this copyrighted material, or did the site make it so hard to find that I can’t locate it using the links on their archived pages?   I will note that the “claimed” original content is very easy to find using the sites “new”  layout…

Okay, so the “violator” that I’m following shows the content was on their site over 3 years ago, so I went to the archives to check that out.  I searched for the specific url listed in the DMCA complaint, and there it is in the archive dated April 10, 2010.  In addition, the archived page says “Posted 8 days ago.”   So, it seems this “violator” posted the content on April 2, 2010.

How Did Google Verify The DMCA Claimant Published The Content First?

We all know Google spiders crawl everything they can, so maybe they have archives showing that the “copyrighted” content was in fact posted on the DMCA claimant’s web site first.  But, I would have thought I could find it in the archive as well, since the site was being archived during the times in question.

Can DMCA Complaints Be An Effective Tool To Eliminate Competition?

The claimants site is maintained by a well known web design and SEO company that specializes in the legal field.  As you may or may not know, the legal field is HIGHLY competitive in terms of online marketing.  So, this made me wonder, is this an isolated case or are there more DMCA complaints like this from the same firm?  Well, as it turns out doing a search for this firms exact name pulls up 190 DMCA complaints starting in May of 2012. Some of the complaints I read noted violations by paragraph and even sentences, so we are not always talking situations where an entire page of content was copied.

It does seem that at least one marketing firm is using DMCA complaints to hit back at competitors that seem to be taking shortcuts in creating content.

Moral of the Story….

  1. Don’t copy content from another site.
  2. Don’t block your site from the Web Archive (user-agent:ia_archiver) unless you have a specific reason of course.  You may want to have a record of your original content in case you get a DMCA notice in your webmastertools….
  3. If you do find that a competitor has copied ANY original content from your site, then file a DMCA.  It seems to be an effective way to get that competitors infringing page/post removed from Google’s index….

Google SEO Guide – A Great Place To Start

Google SEO Guide for DIY SEO’ers

Okay, so most people on the planet know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the importance it plays in today’s online world.  Thanks to Google (sorry Bing/Yahoo your results still stink) we are able to type in what we are looking for into a small text box and get back very relevant results for what we are looking for.   So, this makes it essential that websites are “optimized” for search engines and the Google SEO Guide was created by Google to help people better understand how they can build websites that is easier for Google to understand.  Our SEO company specializes in optimizing websites to rank for targeted key phrases or keywords to help drive traffic to our clients.

Use the Google SEO Guide if you have time and low to moderately competitive keyword targets.

However, we know there are a lot of DIY (Do-it-yourself) types out there that have the time and want to see if they can get search engine rankings on their own.   Depending on the competition and industry you need to rank for, you may just be able to get decent rankings by following the Google SEO Guide recommendations.  Keep in mind that Google is always changing their search engine algorithms which impacts search engine rankings on an almost monthly basis, so this is where an experienced SEO services firm can help you continually achieve high search engine rankings.

Is everything you need to know about SEO in the Google SEO Guide?  No.

You won’t find everything you need to do in order to rank highly for competitive key phrases within the Google search engine guide, but it is a great place to start for DIY SEO’s if targeting low to moderately competitive key phrases.

I’ve been optimizing websites since 1998 and a lot of things have changed over the years in the “SEO” industry, but one thing has remained the same in terms of what Google wants to provide, and that is:  Useful, Relevant Search Results

Google SEO Guide is a great place to start your SEO adventure.

So, the key to ranking high in Google is to figure out how to “show” Google your site is the most useful and relevant site for your targeted key phrases.  The Google SEO Guide gives a very good foundation of the key elements that help “show” Google what your site is all about.  So, read it, learn from it and start building a useful and relevant site!

We can help with what the Google SEO Guide doesn’t teach you.

If you need the help of an experienced SEO consultant, give us a call or use our contact form to get in touch.