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Surviving Personalization with Bing and Google

The second panel at SMX Advanced 2012 was very entertaining. It was also moderated by Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan, and included three speakers; Marty Weintraub of aimClear (who thankfully provided the coffee for the event), Aaron Freeman from Spark and Rhea Drysdale from Outspoken Media. This lively discussion covered the following topics:

Personalized Search Requires That We Be Personal – This means that, like the user experience section in the previous session, we tailor our outreach to be as personal as we can. This should be done through social media and tailoring content to our visitors as best we can. You want to be personal so you can entice subscribers to your page, as well as influencers and entities, which are a big component of personalized search.

Influencers Are Key – Influencers are becoming a huge driving force in regards to how content gets found and shared. While getting your content shared from subscribers is great, influencers have a far greater reach, so these particular people are key in getting your message spread as far as it possibly can be. Crafting relationships with influencers is very important for organic and social search, since they can bring in new subscribers and followers you might not have reached otherwise.

Entities Are Becoming Increasingly Important – Entities are important, but are much less specific than influencers. Search engines, understanding not just which words we use, but how we use them generates entities. Recognizing concepts, and building search-specific entities – which could be information, links to episodes and images of a specific show, for example – help the user receive more relevant search results.

According to Mr. Freeman, we all have the potential to become an entity if we target information toward peoples’ interests, because entities are built upon interest-based demographics. Therefore, trying to craft your content and message toward these specific interests is amazingly important.

The Future Of Search Is Personalized – According to Mr. Freeman and Ms. Drysdale, search will just get more and more personalized as we move forward. By building interest-specific entities, taking into account what your friends have shared through Like or +1 buttons, keeping all of your search history and connecting to your other social profiles, search engines such as Google will get better at crafting personalized search results based on your history, location and social connections.

Quantity & Quality Are Enormously Important – When referring to quantity, Mr. Freeman refers to growing our audiences so results will be much more relevant, buying ads on Facebook, and growing connections on Twitter and Google+. Quality refers to creating unique content, being helpful and useful, and not neglecting networks. These two factors build on each other to make you, your brand and your site more valuable and more relevant.

Know The Important Factors That Go Into Personalized Search – Ms. Drysdale went into detail as to many of the factors that go into personalized search. This includes the aforementioned search history, but there’s much more. If you tell Google what your networks are, it will parse those networks and will find friends who are connected on Google+. It can then determine the interactions you’ve had with your circles of friends and find similarities, targeting those similarities.

Some tactics to help target these factors and make your results show up more effectively in personalized search include writing geo-targeted content, using schema.org markup language (referring back to rich snippets, which we discussed in my previous post), building off-line relationships to enhance on-line relationships and having a mobile friendly site. These tactics will help you better target personalized results by becoming more personal in the end.

The key takeaways from this panel are that how we affect personalized search is just as much based on our personal lives, personalities and strengths as it is on our more traditional SEO tactics of creating high-quality, unique content and targeting social networks. As was said in this panel, personalization is one of the big SEO arms races right now, and it will be fascinating to see how it unfolds. More to come from my recap of SMX Advanced 2012!

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