Practical Ecommerce

Google’s Personalized Search

With the launch of Google’s personalized search every user will now get search results tailored to his/her specific interests. More specifically, the algorithm will actually be taking into account what you’ve previously searched for on Google, as well as the sites you have visited in order to deliver “personalized search results.” Yes, that means your clients will be looking at a different search engine results pages than you do, and so will millions of other people. Most importantly, general user search patterns will now be used to calculate your website’s placement on the search engine results pages.

As if it wasn’t hard enough optimizing for homogeneous search results, a new question to be addressed is how do you make sure your company is in the spotlight of personalized search results? Here are some quick tips:

Build community. As of October 2006, according to Socialtext.net, 40 of the Fortune 500 companies were blogging about their products/services. If Cisco does it, there is no reason why you shouldn’t.

Be helpful to your audience. Find out who your existing customers are. Once you have a “profile,” figure out what those people do online, and establish your presence on those sites: share advice, post unbiased reviews, etc.

Be creative. “Search Engine Marketing” will now be more “marketing” than “search engine.” Talk to your HTML and copywriting people and make sure they understand building sites for search engines vs. building sites for busy human beings. Come up with interesting content, gadgets or promotions.

If search engines claim they are here to provide end-users with the most satisfactory user-experience, as marketing professionals we’ll have to figure out what that “most satisfactory experience” is and the best way to deliver it. Days of websites being stand-alone entities are over. We have to seriously consider what the online community feels and how that positively/adversely affects your site. If users feel your site is worth looking at, hopefully, you’ll be rewarded in search engine result pages.

Greg Laptevsky

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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Legacy User August 21, 2007 Reply

    I still can't quite wrap my mind around this concept. It seems that in some way, the search result placement has to remain static in order to deliver any consistent result at all. I can see how results from such a, more or less, static list could be tailored to fit the needs of searchers, who, let's say, want to see menus for Chinese as opposed to Mexican food on a regular basis, but these would still have to come from a static 1,2,3 list I would think.
    The thing that really puzzles me, is what happens when they decide to go Mexican one evening?

    — *James Burns*

  2. Legacy User August 23, 2007 Reply

    James,

    Good question. Mostly likely Google's thinking is that if you're searching for "food" you will get Chinese-food search results ranking higher than any other cousine (if your web history reveals that you prefer Chinese over everything else). However, if you do a search for "Mexican food" – you will still get Mexican-food search results regardless of your previous search patterns.

    Google's move to incorporate "web history" technology into "personalized search" is not only about tailoring searches to an individual level – but also identifying what an "online community" feels about specific search results (perhaps by looking at CTRs of different websites).

    Hope that helps!

    Greg

    — *Greg*

  3. Legacy User August 23, 2007 Reply

    I dislike this idea not only as a businessperson, but also as a consumer of Google's search.

    — *Juli*