Live From SMX Advanced: Surviving Personalization With Bing & Google

By Chad Rhodes | Jun 5, 2012
More Articles by Chad

After wandering around a little in the cold and the rain this morning, we finally made it to breakfast and the first session of SMX Advanced Seattle 2012.

Now it is time for session 2 of the day, where Rhea Drysdale, Aaron Friedman, and Marty Weintraub will  be covering techniques to survive personalization with Bing & Google.

Marty Weintraub, CEO, aimClear (@aimclear)

The best way to impact personalized search is to be personal. Things have changed. Why does anyone want to follow you?  Tell people you are updating your products, or give them HR news. It is more about classic feed marketing than all of the changes everyone is currently freaking out about.

Understanding human nature and using “vanity bait” to draw people into your content is key to being successful. Blog to people specifically on Google+.  Follow others and make them want to engage with your content. If you aren’t targeting specific people with your content, you are posting for nobody.

Build internal relationships by “wiring up” inside stakeholders. Try to influence those who influence others. Get to know the media. Familiarize yourself with bloggers, journalists, publishers, etc… These are your SEO targets. You can gain recommendations and shares from these people and they will help spread your message. Drive them to your Google+ page. Celebrate community by increasing your Google+ post frequency. Claim the low-hanging fruit first.

What you need to do in Google+ for minimum participation

  • Push optimized content
  • Include engaging content, like videos and press releases
  • Be there. If you aren’t active on your Google+ page, why would anyone else want to be?

This should be an identity feed. Let people know what your company is. Post about your day-to-day activities, or repurpose your conference presentations and share them on Google+.

What you need for more aggressive Google+ participation

  • Set community business KPI’s
  • Active participation to serve and delight your audience
  • Social ads to build circles
  • Give, give, give, give, give
  • Network with competitors’ communities

Look at the flavor of the day. What is influencing traditional search engine results? If you aren’t participating in Google+ and trying to engage people you will not influence results the way you could be.

Rhea Drysdale, CEO, Outspoken Media, Inc. (@rhea) 3rd

Personalization isn’t just the future of search, it is the present. In fact, it has been around to some extent since at least 2009 on Google.

3 Factors of personalized search

  • Location based
  • Search history
  • Social search

Google sees your network based on which of your accounts are linked. Anything you put into your Google+ profile can be followed and Google can keep up with you. Your mutual connections and the interaction you have with others also influence your results. Even extended circles and friends on external sites can have an affect.

Google looks at two primary signals make an educted guess on identifying your accounts

  • Similarities between your Google account name and other names on other accounts
  • If you have the same connections acrross multiple networks Google can also see the trend

How does Google track social activity?

Take a look at what percentage of your searchers show up with “not provided” in your Analytics. These people are active Google account users. You can also see what percentage of your traffic comes from which social networks. Use this to your advantage. Why did Google created “not provided”? Keyword reports are obsolete when search results are personalized. And if you were able to see which keywords are driving personalized results, it would be much easier to optimize.

Bing will sculpt your results not only for social, location, and search history, but based on other items. For example, if you are consistently looking for something broad like “new cars” or something much more specific that implies you are ready to buy, you will receive different results.


Write geo-targeted content. If you have a large amount of traffic coming from location-specific keywords, take advantage of it.

Use This can give Google the data it needs to serve rich snippet search results for your pages, products, and services. The more markup on the page, the better.

Offline networking is also important. You are building a network. If somebody is a personal injury lawyer, who could they connect with that may also be needed by their client? A chiropractor, or a car body repair shop maybe. Leverage people in your location to build a relationship and refer business to each other.

If you aren’t optimized for mobile, you need to start considering it now. Personalization is a little different with mobile. Google can recognize your location and send you, for example, to rather than

Brand your name, products, and company. What is your brand? Are people searching for it? Get together and answer these questions.

Write great, relevant content. This seems obvious, but it is important.

Set up a Wikipedia page. This can help establish a person or a company as an entity rather than just a meaningless search term.

Use Freebase to submit data to show up in the knowledge graph.

Use authorship to establish you or your writers as entities.

Connect with brand thought leaders.

Publish content often. Say what is unique about your product or service.

Use Gmail for login. This is about getting connections. The more people you can get to use it, the more you know about them.

Use events to drive queries.

Social Search

Create and post to Google+ often. If your account is active, it isn’t doing what it could be for your search results.

Use direct connect to associate your Google+ profile with search results.

Increase your followers on Google+ by creating a link for people to connect with you easily. There are great options for including a “follow” button for Google+ on your website.

LinkedIn can be great for identifying your network. Who is being recommended for you to connect with? Look at which networks you’re in and take advantage of it.

Giveaways, contests, etc… can help push engagement. People love to share these things and will help you spread your message on social networks.

Engage your community. Allow for comments, voting, and sharing. Anything to allow or push interaction is valuable.

Aaron Friedman, SEO Manager, Spark (@aaronfriedman) 2nd

What are the current issues in personalized search? There are a couple barriers.

How do you reach a larger audience? Quantity, for users, means getting more results from people you are related to. For company’s it means getting more people to see you in their personalized results.

On Facebook, buy ads. This is a way to reach people who may not see your content otherwise. People may like your ads, and you can grow your base quickly.

Google+ and Twitter are also important. You need to increase your network connections and followers to reach as many people as possible.

However, quantity means nothing without quality. A bunch of meaningless content is still worthless, regardless of how many people see it.

  • Create unique content. This cannot be emphasized enough
  • Don’t neglect your networks. Engage, and leverage your audience
  • Be creative. What makes your content different or better than anyone elses?
  • Be useful and helpful. Answer questions that are  being asked. Provide them with something of value

Tactics To Improve Quality

Twitter long tail suggestion is a method of looking into the longtail of your analytics and see what people are talking about. This can assist with content creation. There is a lot of opportunity in long tail Tweets. Find groupings of keywords and themes. Understand these queries and what is driving people to your site. Look at social data and see what is people talked about. Once you find what is popular, develop the content around what people are looking for. Be relavent and keep the goal of growin gyour networking in mind.

Open Graph Optimization

Bright Edge took a sample of 300 webpages and found that open graph titles have an average of 95 characters, and descriptions have over 200 characters. Without optimizing your title tags and descriptions on Facebook, you are just leaving it up to Facebook to help people find you.

Tweet What You Want

Usually Tweet buttons grab your title tag or the header of your post. These may not be bad, but how can they be better? By putting a custom message in your Twitter button, you can affect what people are seeing when that page is shared. Leverage this to create something more engaging that might increase the likelihood of people re-sharing your Tweets.

Google SERPs Today

Entities are everywhere, and search engines are becoming more social than ever. This is the future of search. People, products, and items in the knowledge graph are what are showing up in search results.

Share content that people want to see, but stay relevant to what you do. What people tell you they are interested in defines them.

Other Tips

  • Focus on Rel=Author. This can help get a writer’s name out there
  • Focus on Quality content. Develop it according to wht users are looking for
  • Spend time growing your user base

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