Surviving Personalization With Bing & Google

Duane Forrester does the sponsored minute and pledges an amazing session tomorrow. And we’re about to get started. See Tweets at #smx #12A for more from this session.

Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land (@dannysullivan)

Q&A Moderator: Mark Munroe, Senior Director, SEO, Reply (@markemunroe)


Rhea Drysdale, CEO, Outspoken Media, Inc. (@rhea)
Aaron Friedman, SEO Manager, Spark (@aaronfriedman)
Marty Weintraub, CEO, aimClear (@aimclear)

Danny starts us off. There are no normal results. Everything is customized. Marty’s going first. Here we go.

Marty Weintraub

When I first started speaking at SMX Advanced, AimClear had 4 people. Now we’re 20. [I think he really said 21 or 22. I just wrote 20 to mess with the heads of their employees wondering who’s out. Never mind]

Best way to impact personalized search is to be personal.

“Brands that aren’t participating? You have to be idiotic.” — Danny Sullivan

Offer strong incentive for your existing community to subscribe.

Classic social, now SEO, advertising & PR hooks:

Not about fancy SEO changes.

Use classic feed marketing tactics.

Vanity bait.

All the stuff that bloggers have been doing since 1998. Maybe 1998 is too long ago.

Danny, were you blogging in 1998? What did they call it then?

Danny: Writing

Understand human nature.

If I gave additional resources, or just gave posts where I curate, people read my other posts.

Go to Alltop, engage your users on Plus.

Google + tips: Mention names & publications. Give awards. Make up awards. Interviews & curated interviews. Conference coverage. Aggregate resources.

Get to know the media.

Run Facebook ads to reporters and columnists etc. for people who work for publications you care about. Target them.

Customer service: “Best SEO is a product that doesn’t suck” — Laura Lippay

Celebrate Community

Sync with publication calendar

Minimum + Participation:

Check out AJ Kohn’s writing on optimizing Plus. And Danny’s writing. Passive distribution participatoin. Push optimized content. Actual day to day business flow. Videos, press releases. Be there!

If you don’t have something good to say about your business a few times a week you shouldn’t be in business.

More aggressive participation:

Set community business KPIs

Active participation to serve and delight

Research & proactively engage users

Social ads to build circles

Give, give, give, give, give

Network w/ competitors’ community

In 2009

[KEYWORD] I’ll never rank for.

I’ll end by saying I mean it when I say you guys are awesome.

And now Aaron Friedman from SPARK

Will discuss Current Issues, Future Issues, Recap


How do I reach a larger audience?

How do I get my info to show up?

Aspects of Visibility

Quantity & Quality

Quantity: For marketers: Getting more people to see our results

Facebook: Buy ads. Once you get a good following through ads you can grow better organically.

Google+ and Twitter: Can’t run ads as effectively.

Quality: Content that resonates with your audience. Create unique content.


  • Plagiarize
  • Neglect your network
  • Use generic images
  • Creative. Use infographics.
  • Useful and helpful
Tactics to improve quality:
  • Twitter long tail suggestoin
  • OpenGraph optimization
  • “TweetWhatYouWant” code
Tweet the long tail. Steps:
  1. Identify keywords
  2. Look at social data, use Topsy or SocialMention.
  3. Develop content. Super relevant. Have a list of users for outreach. Grow your network.
Open Graph Optimization:
Study for Bright Edge. Sample of 3oo webpages.
Averages: Titles: 95 characters. Description: 297 characters.
People usually just leave them blank and let Facebook do a bad job with them. Optimize them.
Twitter tags will usually grab the title tag and header. Give people something that jumps out at them. <p class=”tweetThis”>Actions and what people do are the SEO and Pinocchio’s lying big nose</p>

The future of personalized search

Engines are more social.
Entities are playing a bigger role.

When you search for white house on the corner you’ll get something completely different than White House. Google understands that they’re different entities.

We all have the potential to become an entity.

The wonder wheel and Google’s Panels seem to be similar.

Be excellent and relevant for what you want to be known for.

The future of entity search is interest-based demographics.

What I tell you I am interested in defines me. Social data is your attributes.

Interest graphs already exist.

So what do we do with this?

Focus on rel=author.

Focus on quality of content.

Grow your user base. Don’t grow an empty following. They are your core.

OK, and now Rhea.

Personalization is the present and future of search.

The business case. Here’s how you get resources devoted to this.

Everyone’s results are already personalized.

Factors: Location, Search history, Social search.

How do they get that? Browser, Toolbar, Google searches

Check your history: You can opt out. It’s creepy.

How does Google see your network? When you add a profile to your Google+ they have it. If you synch with Plaxxo.

How do they track your friend? Mutual connections on Gmail or other Google products. Links you’ve added to your profile.

How do they identify your accounts? Compare your profile names, user names, Google Account name. They look at similarities. Similarities between your connections.

Google tracks what you +1.

How do they track your content?

How do they track social activity?

Formerly through PostRank, now social reporting: Conversions, sources, sharing

Measuring personalization extent in GA. We look at the [Not provided]. Those are signed in users. 40% of our users are signed in, getting personalized results. Of course the other 60% are often getting somewhat personalized as well.

Personalized search is the SE arms race:

At SMX Londong, Amit Singhal said that secure search is the key to personalized results. Google doesn’t want to take over Facebook, they want to enhance search with the social graph.

Why did Google create not provided?

So we can’t get too much info on how they’re personalizing.

Bing has stated that they look at social, personal long term, personal short term, location, privacy, transparency and control. Google doesn’t seem to use personal short term (what you’re trying to do now) as much.

For Bing, it’s a competitive advantage that they have Facebook and Twitter data.

Personalized search tactics:

Location: Write geo-targeted content.

Use markup language. Go to FreeBase and look at SameAs links. I try to mark up everything except AND, IF, and BUT.

Offline networking to build relationships. You’re a personal injury attorney. What else do you look at when you’re about to call a personal injury attorney? Chiropractor. Mechanic. Massage therapist. Pain killer prescription, and later addiction specialists. So we asked, who do you refer people to now, who refers people to you? Create and strengthen those relationships, build content together.

Make your site mobile-friendly. It’s a little different on mobile.

Target for multiple languages.

Search history: Brand your name, products, and company.

Write great, relevant content. I know that’s basic. But not a lot of people do it.

Coordinate SEO with PR & social. Departments often don’t talk, or they even sabotage each other.

Set up a Wikipedia page.

Submit data through Freebase.

Set up authorship. Increases CTR, and is good for branding.

Brand thought leaders.

Publish content often.

Create community account logins.

Use gmail for login.

Use events to drive queries.

Create and post to Google+.

Set up Google+ direct connect. You need 1,000 followers to get that. Rhea says that they updated their language to say “meaningful number” of followers, but it still seems to be about 1,000.

[Says they had “big news” a month ago, a lot of people commented, helped them get about 200 new Google+ followers.]

Look at SEOmoz. They have threaded comments. You get points.

Now go do it!

Now for the Q&A

Danny asks how many of you didn’t realize how much personalization is already being used? Very few hands. So good, you already know this. Remember that personalization still occurs even if you’re not logged in. Even if you’re in super incognito mode, and using parameter, Google is still personalizing based on location.

Rhea: The only thing you can do is zoom out, all the way to the country.


Danny: 100% are getting personalized results because of location. 99.8% are getting it because they don’t delete their cookies. For more than that, look at your not provided users.

Rhea: Also look at queries that you shouldn’t be ranking for. And look at the locations that you’re targeting.

Q: Do you still recommend rank checking tools?

Marty: I don’t look at Rank Checking for our clients. I look at keywords that matter to me that I can see. I look at traffic and conversion from the keywords I can see. And where I can’t see the keyword, I segment by other buckets.

Aaron: It’s becoming less important because it’s less accurate. But there are still some queries that are less affected by personalization. I don’t do it.

Rhea: We still provide them for our clients. I set the expectation with the client, and say remember that this isn’t what your clients really see. We track link building, traffic, and conversions if they give us access to that data.

Danny: Does it have to be

Rhea: Any microformat should work.

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