Tag Archive | "Personalized"

Search Buzz Video Recap: Google Ranking Shifts, Google Snippets Shorter, Personalized Search Dead & Google News Updated

Earlier this week, we reported on more Google algorithm changes with web sites fluctuating in the search results. Google also confirmed they cut down the search results…

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Google: Personalized Search Results Is “Very Light”

Danny Sullivan of Google has just posted officially about this on Twitter saying “personalization of results is very light.” Most people searching in the same…

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Elements of Personalization & How to Perform Better in Personalized Search – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

From information about your location and device to searches you’ve performed in the past, Google now has a great deal of information it can use to personalize your search results. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains to what extent they’re likely using that information and offers five ways in which you can improve your performance in personalized search.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard.

Elements of Personalization Whiteboard

Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat personalization, talking about the elements that can influence personalization as well as some of the tactical things that web marketers and SEOs specifically can do to help make their sites and their content more personalized friendly.

How personalization works

So, what are we talking about when we’re talking about personalization? Well, Google is actually personalizing by a large number of things and probably even a few things I have not listed here that they have not been totally transparent or forthcoming about.

Logged-in visitors

The things that we know about include things like:

  • Location. Where is the searcher?
  • Device. What type of device and operating system is the searcher using?
  • Browser. We have seen some browser specific and operating specific forms of searches. Search history, things that you have searched for before and potentially what you’ve clicked on in the results.
  • Your email calendar. So if you’re using Gmail and you’re using Google Calendar, Google will pull in things that they find on your calendar and data from your email and potentially show that to you inside of search results when you search for very particular things. For example, if you have an upcoming plane flight and you search for that flight number or search around that airline, they may show you, you have an upcoming flight tomorrow at 2:07 p.m. with Delta airlines.
  • Google+. A lot of folks are thinking of it as dead, but it’s not particularly dead, in fact no more so than the last year and a half or so. Google+ results will still appear at the bottom of your search results very frequently if you’re logged in and anyone in your Google+ stream that you follow has shared any link or any post in Google+ with the keywords that you’ve searched for. That’s a very broad matching still. Those results can appear higher if Google determines that there’s more relevancy behind that. You’ll also see Google+ data for people you’re connected to when you search for them, that kind of thing.
  • Visit history. If you have visited a domain while logged into an account many times in the past, I’m not exactly sure how many times or what sort of engagement they look at precisely, but they may bias those results higher. So they might say, “Gosh, you know, you really seem to like eBay when you do shopping. We’re going to show eBay’s results for you higher than we would normally show them in an incognito window or for someone who’s not logged in or someone who isn’t as big an eBay fan as you are.”
  • Bookmarks. It’s unclear whether they’re using just the bookmarks from Google Chrome or the personalization that carries over from Chrome instances or the fact that bookmarks are also things that people visit frequency. There’s some discussion about what the overlap is there. Not too important for our purposes.

Logged-out visitors

If you are logged out, they still have a number of ways of personalizing, and you can still observe plenty of personalization. Your results may be very different from what you see in a totally new browser with no location applied to it, on a different device with different search and visit history.

Now, remember when I say “Logged out,” I’m not talking about an incognito window. An incognito window would bias against showing anything based on search history or visit history. However, location and device appear to still remain intact. So a mobile device is going to get sometimes different results than a desktop device. Different locations will get different results than other locations. All that kind of stuff.

Now you might ask, “Quantify this for me, Rand.” Like let’s say we took a sample set of 500 keywords and we ran them through personalized versus non-personalized kinds of searches. What’s the real delta in the results ordering and the difference of the results that we see?

Well, we actually did this. It’s almost 18 months old at this point, but Doctor Pete did this in late 2013. Using the MozCast data set, he checked crawlers, Google Webmaster Tools, personalized logged in and incognito. You know what? The delta was very small for personalized versus incognito. I suspect that number’s probably gone up, which means this correlation number — 1.0 would be perfect correlation — 0.977 very, very high correlation. So we’re seeing really similar results for personalized versus incognito at least 18 months ago.

I suspect that’s probably changed. It’ll probably continue to change a little bit. However, I would also say that it probably won’t drop that low. I would not expect that you would ever find that it’ll be lower than 0.8, maybe even 0.9, just because so much of search is intentional navigation and so much of it is also not fully capable to be personalized in truly intelligent ways. The results are the best results already. There’s not a whole lot of personalization that might be added in besides potentially showing your Google+ follows or something at the bottom and things based on your visit history.

Performing better in personalized search

So let’s say you want to perform better in personalized search. You have a belief that, hey, a lot of people are getting personalized bias in my particular SERP sets. We’re very local focused, or we’re very biased by social kinds of data, or we’re seeing a lot of people are getting biased in their results to our competitors because of their search history and visit history. What are things that I need to think about?

Get potential searchers to know and love your brand before the query

The answer is you can perform better in personalized search in general, overall by thinking about things like getting potential searchers to know and love your brand and your domain before they ever make the query. It turns out that if you’ve gotten people to your site previously through other forms of navigation and through searches, you may very well find yourself higher up in people’s personalized results as a consequence of the fact that they visited you in the past. We don’t know all the metrics that go into that or what precisely Google uses, but we could surmise that there are probably some bars around engagement, visit history, how many times, how frequently in a certain time frame, all that kind of stuff that goes into that search and visit history.

Likewise, if you can bias people here and rank higher, you may be getting more and more benefit. It can be a snowball effect. So if you keep showing up higher in their rankings, they keep clicking you, they keep finding information that’s useful, they don’t need to go back to the search results and click somebody else. You’re just going to keep ranking in more and more of their queries as they investigate things. For those of you who are full funnel types of content servers, you’re thinking about people as they’re doing research and educating themselves all the way down to the transaction level with their searches, this is a very exciting opportunity.

Be visible in all the relevant locations for your business

For location bias, you want to make sure that you are relevant in all the locations for your business or your service. A lot of times that means getting registered with Google Maps and Google+ local business for maps — I can’t remember what it’s called exactly. I think it’s Google+ Local for Business — and making sure that you are not only registered with those places but then also that your content is helping to serve the areas that you serve. Sometimes that can even mean a larger radius than what Google Maps might give you. You can rank well outside of your specific geographies with content that serves those regions, even if Google is not perfectly location connecting you via your address or your Maps registration, those kinds of things.

Get those keyword targets dialed in

Getting keyword targeting dialed in, this is important all the time. Where a lot of people fall down in this is they think, “Hey, I only need to worry about keyword targeting on the pages that are specifically intended to be search landing pages. I’m trying to get search traffic to these pages.” But personalization bias means that if you can get keyword targeting dialed in even on pages that are not necessarily search landing pages, Google might say, “Hey, this wouldn’t normally rank for someone, but because you’ve already earned that traffic, because that person is already biased to your brand, your domain, we’re going to surface that higher than we ordinarily would.” That is a powerful potential tool in your arsenal, hence it’s useful to think about keyword targeting on a page specific level even for pages that you might not think would earn search traffic normally.

Share content on Google+ and connect with your potential customers

Google+ still, in my opinion, a very valuable place to earn personalized traffic for two reasons. One, of course you can get people actually over to your site. You may be able to get potential traffic through Google+. You can appear in those search results right at the bottom for anyone who follows you or anyone who’s connected to you via email and other kinds of Google apps. You may have also noticed that when you email with someone, if they’re using Gmail and their Google+ account is connected, you see in the little right-hand corner there that they’ll show their last post or their last few posts sometimes on Google+. Again, also a powerful way to connect with folks and to share the content as you’re emailing back and forth with them.

For brands, that also shows up in search results sometimes. There’s the brand box on the right-hand side, kind of like Knowledge Graph, and it’ll show your last few posts from Google+. So again, more and more opportunities to be visible if you’re doing Google+.

I am also going to surmise that, in the future, Google might do stuff with this around Twitter. They just finished re-inking that deal where Twitter gives their full fire hose access to Google and Google starts displaying more and more of that stuff in search results. So I think probably still valuable to think about how that connection might form. Definitely still valuable directly to do it in Google+ even if you’re not getting any traffic from Google+.

Be multi-device friendly and usable

Then the last one, of course, being multi-device friendly and usable. This is something where Moz has historically fallen down, and obviously we’re going to be fixing that in the months ahead. I actually hope we fix it after April 21st so we can see whether we really take a hit when they do that mobile thing. I think that would be a noble sacrifice, and then we can see how we perform thereafter and then fix it and see if we can get back in Google’s good graces after that.

So given these tactics and some of this knowledge about how personalized search works, hopefully you can take advantage of personalized search and help inform your teams, your bosses, your clients about personalization and the potential impacts. Hopefully we’ll be redoing some of those studies, too, to be able to tell you, hey, how much more is personalization affecting SEO over the last 18 months and in the years ahead.

All right, everyone. Thanks again for joining us, and we’ll see you again next time for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Influencing Social Awesomizers with Personalized Content

Posted by JonMorris

Since the birth of social media, brands have been searching for an effective way to leverage the power of influencers — those social “awesomizers” who have a significant following and a powerful voice in their respective industries. Obtaining a mere mention by the right influencer could boost even the most niche business to the forefront of social buzz.

But how do you determine who to target? How do you enchant them and convert them into a brand advocate? Read on to learn about the steps we took at Rise Interactive in developing and integrating personalized content into a digital marketing strategy, and the significant impact it had in elevating Rise’s digital presence.

Step 1: Identify your awesomizer

The first thing you need to do is identify your social media awesomizer — someone with a significant social following and powerful voice in their industry. Rise Interactive hosts routine digital marketing conferences where we bring together some of the brightest minds in the industry in our Internet Marketing Leadership Series (IMLS). At our first event, Travis Wright, global social media manager at Symantec and self-professed digital disrupter and marketing provocateur, gave a riveting (and hilarious) presentation about the power of social media. An avid Kansas City Chiefs fan, Travis described his experience sparring with the Chiefs through social media.

It all started with the below tweet, which created an unexpected but powerful ripple effect, due in large part to Travis’s broad social media following (more than 129,000 Twitter followers when he spoke at IMLS).

Soon after this tweet was sent, @kcchiefs rudely replied to Travis, igniting an explosive and ongoing social media feud. Travis’s battle with the Chiefs was eventually picked up by Reddit, Yahoo, Mashable and more. We like to think that this negative press contributed to the Chiefs firing their general manager, Scott Pioli, although we know that it was most likely Kansas City’s abysmal 2-14 record.

Travis’s story demonstrated the true power of social media and how he harnessed it to his advantage. He had a compelling story and a large group of followers, which allowed him to basically accomplish the impossible.

It got us at Rise thinking; could a brand create noise for itself on social media just as Travis had done? It was time for an experiment.

Key takeaway

Having a direct relationship with a social influencer will definitely help get your foot in the door, but even if you don’t have a personal connection with them, you can still court them. Find people in your industry that you respect, that are viewed as influential thought leaders, and that have a large group of followers. Start developing an online relationship with them — reach out to them and tell them how much you admired one of their blog posts, or reply to and share their posts. Be sincere and see where things lead. If you are able to establish a solid relationship with an awesomizer, consider pitching them your idea to develop personalized content for them to share with their followers. The worst thing that could happen is they say no. Big deal — we’ve all been rejected before. Reach out to the next influencer, and sooner or later one of them will welcome the attention and say yes.

While having a pre-established relationship is the best case scenario, it’s not a requirement. If you mine the data, find the story, and create and share the personalized content, that is definitely enough to start a relationship with an influencer.

Step 2: Develop personalized content

Travis’s story was so compelling and rare, and because it could be structured with an easy-to-follow timeline of events, we knew it would make for an awesome infographic. We were excited to test out our experiment — if we created personalized content for Travis, would he share it across his large group of followers, and would that help turn him into a brand advocate while also capturing attention for the Rise Interactive brand? Only one way to find out…

We got to work compiling the timeline and getting the facts straight. Our graphic designer started laying out the infographic. It was a time-consuming process — reviews, revisions, legal hurdles that we hadn’t considered, and more revisions. But it had to be perfect — this was a gift to our awesomizer, after all — so we labored on until we had our final product. We were proud of what we developed, but would Travis really share it? Would it have any significant impact for Rise?

Key takeaway

First, you need to identify which format your content should take. We chose an infographic because they’re a popular format for sharing easy-to-understand content, the timeline nature of Travis’s story would be easy to represent graphically, and they’re also one of our creative team’s specialties. Think about the best vessel for your content, what you’re good at, and then let the creative juices flow. Even though it’s pandering to your influencer, make sure it’s compelling enough to stand alone in case they don’t share it. The second takeaway is that you need to invest a lot of time to guarantee a great final product. You’re creating personalized content for awesomizers, so it should go without saying that the final product is awesome.

Step 3: Syndicate content

It was the moment of truth. We posted the infographic to Rise Interactive’s blog.Then I personally shared the infographic with Travis on Twitter; we didn’t tweet this out first ourselves. Exclusivity was part of our strategy; we wanted Travis to be the first to see the infographic and allow him to share it first.

We waited in anticipation. Travis responded to my tweet, thanking us for creating the infographic. He then created a separate tweet and shared it with his Twitter followers, all 129,000 of them.

He then proceeded to embed the full infographic on his blog, along with links to Rise Interactive’s blog.

He also tweeted about his new blog post.

Our experiment was a success — Travis was sharing our infographic. Travis found benefit in our efforts as well. We weren’t just building an infographic; we were starting to build a brand advocate.

On top of Travis’s efforts, our SEO team focused on link building to generate more attention and authority for the infographic by securing links back to Rise’s blog.

Key takeaway

Provide your influencer with exclusivity in viewing and sharing your personalized content. Allowing them to create the first surge of the sharing wave will help reinforce that they are an extremely valuable, important part in the process. But don’t rely on them for everything — have a two-pronged approach and invest in link building efforts to compliment the awesomizer’s reach.

Step 4: Measure results

The last step is to measure the results of all of your efforts. Only the data can tell you how much of a success the experiment was.

Overall, Rise Interactive’s blog received approximately 50 links and 12 total linking root domains.* Extra Mustard, one of Sports Illustrated’s sister sites, linked to the infographic because of its sports theme, which was a big win because of the high traffic that the site receives. The first week of the infographic being live on our blog, the Rise website received approximately 15,500 referral visits; 98 percent of those visits were new visitors.

Aside from the spike in website traffic to Rise’s website, we converted Travis Wright into a brand advocate. He loved the infographic we created for him, and happily shared it among his vast social network. It was truly a win-win scenario for both Travis Wright and Rise Interactive.

*It’s important to note how we arrived at these numbers: We looked at multiple different sources (Moz, GWT, BWT, and Majestic) and de-duplicated link data from each source to arrive at a final number of links and linking root domains.

Key takeaway

Make sure that you have analytics in place to track the success of your initiative. While it was a great accomplishment that Travis shared the infographic with his social followers, we needed to have more objective ways to measure success. Only data can truly show you how successful any digital marketing investment really is, so make sure you have an analytically driven, data focused reporting strategy in place to define what success really looks like.


Ultimately, there are two significant takeaways we can gather from all of this. The first is that in our experience, developing personalized content for social awesomizers is an effective way to enchant influencers, convert them into brand advocates and elevate a brand’s digital presence. The second is that involving multiple channels and uniting them with one common goal can lead to some innovative strategies and awesome results. Rise’s creative, SEO, social, and event marketing teams all worked together on this project and accomplished more than any single channel could have accomplished alone.

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PURL Jam: 6 ways personalized URLS can help increase the virality of your campaigns

As we’ve said before, there is no secret to going viral, but you can position yourself well for that opportunity. One very specific tool that can help your efforts is personalized URLs, also known as PURLs. Here are six ways PURLs can help position your campaigns for virality.
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SMX Live: The Current State Of Personalized Search

Below is live coverage of the The Current State Of Personalized Search panel from the SMX East 2011 conference.

Disclaimer: The coverage is brought to you in real time…

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