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Overview of SES London 2008
Search Engine Strategies

Overview of SES San Jose 2007
Search Engine Strategies

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Personalised search results

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The session on personalised search results was very interesting. It
seems that the search experience is going to start changing from
region to region and person to person. We're not going to be seeing
the same results any more, but the results we will see will be results
each other have nonetheless seen.

Gordon Hotchkiss from Enquiro presented some interesting eye tracking
studies on how personalised search results changed the click throughs
across the page. Rather than clickthrus beeing generated primarily on
the top 3 results, personalised results seemed to draw the users
interest further down the page, generating good clickthrough rates in
lower positions such as 4 and 5. He identified a few opportunities
that SEOs might focus on to benefit from personalised results:
- start thinking in terms of themes instead of keywords.
- use images and video more actively, as these appeared more
frequently in personalised sections.
- start to look at authority of websites and carve out your niche as a
research base
- start aggregating content from other authority sites.
- develop into widget / gadget sphere where personalisation is king.
- network your websites around clickstream data, start building more
- Buzz niches
- comparison wizards

Dave Davies from Beanstalk-Inc gave an enlightening summary of
Google's Personal Page Rank patent and the surrounding patents around
personalisation of search results. Google's rationale for
personalisation is based on some key factors:
User behaviour - common search behaviour, time on site, time to return
to engine.
Personal PageRank - user behaviour will influence what results other users see.
Group data - data taken (eventually) from social bookmarking, browser
bookmarks and toolbars.

Jonathan Mendez from Offermatica told SEM consultants to wake up and win back the mindshare on personalisation from the big ad networks. He asserted that if you've been running high quality PPC campaigns then you have
most likely been practising personalisation for years. He showed an
excellent array of data and results based on presenting dynamic
content to the user according to parameters within the referrer
string. For instance, Google will tell you what language the
originating search was performed in - so for instance it may be worth
serving a language targeted ad/alert for a user searching with english
keywords, when their language settings are actually in Spanish.
Furthermore, if you are running PPC ads, you can define parameters for
every ad yourself, meaning you can show different content depending on
the keyword match type of the ad. I had a million of brilliant (if i
do say so myself) ideas of how to tackle some of the issues i face on
some of the b2b publishing titles i optimise for.

Sep Kamvar from Google said that personalisation really only works on
generic 1 and 2 word search terms and added that gadgets were a really
simple way to start exploring what is possible with personalisation.
Tim Mayer from Yahoo chipped in with the comment that personalisation was not just about generic keywords but tackling subjective queries such as "what doctor should i
see when i am in San Jose". Another great write-up here.

SES says:

Sometimes yes, but this case was meant to be illustrative really. :)

21st Aug 2007, 19:11