Google have made an announcement which has immense implications for search. They are now rolling out personalised search for everyone, regardless of whether they have been logged into Google recently or not. Here is their example:
For example, since I always search for [recipes] and often click on results from epicurious.com, Google might rank epicurious.com higher on the results page the next time I look for recipes.
This has created in immense amount of discussion around the web and opinion is divided as to whether this is a good or bad thing. Regardless of the positive or negative (and I think that apart from privacy concerns, it is positive) there are a large number of things that are important affecting SEO moving forward. Here are some:
You no longer need to be logged in to get personalized results
Ranking reports become even less meaningful
If you use a computer to look at ranking reports, this is even less appropriate. Already, universal search dramatically changed the results based on a large number of factors. Now, however, if you use your own computer to start running these sorts of reports, your own results will be impaired by your own history.
Looking at non-personalized results means deleting Cookies
For more information on seeing non-personlaized results, You are being asked to go through the process listed here. However, this will only work at the point at which you want to see the results.
How can we turn this into a positive?
If we do not react, it is probable that big brands increase in this environment and smaller brands decrease, but there are several ways in which one might adopt new strategies that would help in this new paradign. The new strategies should help to get users to engage in with the site in a non-commercial capacity - for example by prviding free and useful tools like Receptional's SEO tools. Having users register with your RSS feeds and sign up to things that you offer will be evry useful. Potentially, iframes might make a bit of a comeback! That way, a small part of your site might get viewed in someone else's context. Assuming your prospect ise signed into Google or uses Chrome, or one of the other myriad of ways in which their habits might be personalised by Google, this might increase the chances of your site appearing in their search results in the near future.
Essentially, the white hat strategy should be to engage with the user at least once through brand, to dramatically increase your chances of being seen in organic results. I already see dozens of new black hat tricks on the horizon, although I am also sure Google will be quick to close these down.