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Google takes another step to personalized search

Google has announced a new capability, Web history, that is another step towards far deeper use of personalization techniques in search results. Gord Hotchkiss has an excellent interview with the Googlers behind personalized search. So, why is this important to search marketers?


If you think that personalized search is just a more interesting development in making search results more relevant to searchers, think again. Personalized search results will shake the foundations of the search marketing industry.
First, personalization means that Google and other search engines know more about the searcher. Microsoft already offers search marketers the ability to pay a premium for clicks from searchers fitting certain demographic characteristics. There’s no reason to expect this premium pricing to stop at demographics. Would you pay more for searchers with a history of searching for similar terms? How about searchers that have been to your competitor’s Web site in the last three days? You’ll probably get a chance to decide soon.
But the biggest changes are in store for organic search marketing. As I’ve written before, personalization dooms traditional rank checking. In a world where no one ranks #1 for a keyword every time, search marketers will be forced to confront the basics of appealing to target segments. You can think of today’s organic search world as offering only one market segmentation method—keywords. In the new world, each keyword segment can be divided into many more segments based on demographics, firmographics, search history, Web history, and just about anything else that searchers will allow us to know about them.
To be prepared, search marketers must start thinking about segmentation the same way that other marketers do. The king, search rankings, is dead. Long live segmentation!

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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