Rob Garner on Google Personalization, SMX Toronto March 2010


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iCrossing VP of digital strategy Rob Garner's presentation at the Search Marketing Expo in Toronto, Canada, covering the nuances of Google personalization, and what it means to marketers.

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  • Inform your personas through interviews, and ask subjects to talk about how they search; or, better yet, observe how they search online Map keyword learnings into more complex scenarios for the process of finding. This comes from understanding who your audiences are; what their needs and desires are; and what linguistic cues play into various stages of their connected search and digital journey. Leverage learnings from paid search early on. If the right analytics are in place, then this is proven data that can help validate or inform other data on the front end of research processes. Keep in mind that sometimes the real gold mine in all of market research is finding that one word   -- the one linguistic cue that could be a seed concept to a much greater universe of language and intent. Get out of the habit of making assumptions based on what you think your target audience will search for.   Go ask them directly, and free your initiatives of your own biases. Look to social networks for linguistic cues - search and social both provide open windows into how audiences speak, and what they seek.   And many enterprise businesses have gotten even smarter and are leveraging them both for major initiatives.  Use internal searches to help inform campaigns and future designs, and follow up on this data in early customer research.   If consumers are getting all the way to your site and typing particular terms, this could be a strong indicator of a particular intention, or may identify something that is currently lacking in the existing design, content, or architecture.  Consider the various types of digital assets, and how your target audience searches for them.   This insight works on a redesign, or for ongoing content strategies.  This ultimately helps you engage more with your target audience, and also extends reach into universal search and social networks. 
  • Develop your target user's search persona, and use search to develop a picture of your user's journey both in-search, and on-site.  When some sites receive 25%  to 45% of traffic from search engines, a huge area of research is being ignored by not finding out how those same users seek out content in engines, both linguistically, and from an engagement standpoint.
  • Rob Garner on Google Personalization, SMX Toronto March 2010

    1. 1. Personalization: The Basics, the Google Ethos, and Optimization SMX Toronto April 2010 Rob Garner Strategy Director iCrossing
    2. 2. About iCrossing <ul><li>iCrossing is a global digital marketing agency that combines talent and technology to help world-class brands find and connect with their customers </li></ul><ul><li>Company background </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Founded in 1998 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>550 employees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>12 offices in the U.S. and Europe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Digital marketing services include; paid search, search engine optimization, Web development, social media, mobile, display, research and analytics </li></ul>
    3. 3. Agency services Media Research & Analytics Website Development Search Optimization Social Media Mobile Marketing <ul><li>Paid search media </li></ul><ul><li>Display and rich media advertising </li></ul><ul><li>Online to offline integration </li></ul><ul><li>Global campaign integration </li></ul><ul><li>Market research </li></ul><ul><li>Campaign analytics </li></ul><ul><li>Integrated dashboard reporting </li></ul><ul><li>Linguistic Profiling </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential Mapping </li></ul><ul><li>Site development strategy </li></ul><ul><li>User experience development </li></ul><ul><li>Creative and technical design and development </li></ul><ul><li>Natural search optimization </li></ul><ul><li>RSS Feeds </li></ul><ul><li>Content syndication </li></ul><ul><li>Social media audit </li></ul><ul><li>Reputation management </li></ul><ul><li>Word-of-mouth campaigns </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile strategy development </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile site development and optimization </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile media campaigns </li></ul>Technology <ul><li>Merchantize™ Paid Media </li></ul><ul><li>Interest2Action™ Search Analytics </li></ul><ul><li>Network Sense™ Reputation Monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>Network Sense™ Social Media </li></ul><ul><li>Sharp View™ Marketing Dashboard </li></ul>
    4. 4. with clients including…
    5. 5. Awards and Accolades Top Digital Agency Top Search Agency Top 25 Interactive Fastest Growing Companies Top 25 Interactive Number One Search Agency Search Agency of the Year
    6. 6. THE BASICS <ul><li>Personalization </li></ul>
    7. 7. Personalization is a significant philosophical shift, <ul><li>From the objective results </li></ul><ul><li>To the subjective results </li></ul>
    8. 8. But the reality is that the current state of SERP changes are somewhat subtle <ul><li>20% displacement of organic rankings based on session activity alone (lower ranking displacement not shown) </li></ul><ul><li>This search preceded by “arkansas things to do,” “arkansas vacation,” “arkansas hot springs rock and mineral shops”, etc. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ We're generally not changing the entire character of the page” - Brian Horling, Google, SMX West 2010 </li></ul></ul>Turned-off Session-based, signed out
    9. 9. Personalization impacts both paid, natural, and feed submissions
    10. 10. As a user, you can turn it off, but it’s not easy <ul><li>Add “&pws=0” to the end of your URL string in the address bar </li></ul><ul><li>Signed-in searches, you must remove all Web History </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Signed-out searches, click on “Disable Customizations,” and/or clear browser cookies </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Personalization algos can vary for multiple users on the same machine <ul><li>Theme and interest based </li></ul><ul><li>Session data can shape results, and help differentiate between multiple uses on one machine </li></ul>Happy couple who might be searching on the same computer. Google sees them as two different people Photo CC - Flickr
    12. 12. Personalization is available worldwide, in 40 languages <ul><li>Arabic Bulgarian Catalan Chinese Croatian Czech Danish Dutch English Filipino Finnish French German </li></ul><ul><li>Greek Hebrew Hindi Indonesian Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Norwegian Polish Portuguese Romanian </li></ul><ul><li>Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Spanish Swedish Ukrainian Vietnamese </li></ul><ul><li>… And others </li></ul>
    13. 13. You can click on some searches to view customizations
    14. 14. Ranking reports are no longer fully stable <ul><li>Can be biased towards </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IP address </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Applied user history on machine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Other personalization factors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Objective rankings can be taken via proxy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But it still doesn’t tell the whole story on personalized referrals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overall, scraper-based rank checking software should remain a directional datapoint of performance </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. But ranking reports won’t die… <ul><li>… They will just shift to analytics-based tracking </li></ul><ul><li>Personalized results will pass a ranking variable in the Google referring string “ cd=1”, with 1 equal to the organic page ranking </li></ul><ul><li>Actual average position may become the norm for organic rankings </li></ul><ul><li>Full implementation would enable natural position reporting to become more effective and accurate </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Other fun facts <ul><li>Personalization encompasses mobile, geography/local, theme, user behavior, and web search history </li></ul><ul><li>180 days of history are considered for non-logged-in users </li></ul><ul><li>If you are logged-in to any Google service, then you are receiving personalized results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adwords, Orkut, Gmail, Adsense, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Site data is a signal, measured from the URL string and also the Google Toolbar </li></ul><ul><li>Yahoo and Bing also have some personalization elements, but are not as robust as Google </li></ul><ul><li>Personalization is nothing new </li></ul><ul><ul><li>So don’t freak out </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Google’s “obligation” to use your data <ul><li>At the first SMX Advanced in Seattle, June 2007, Matt Cutts stated that Google had an obligation to leverage the personal data provided by its users into something useful. Personalization is one outcome of that obligation. </li></ul><ul><li>Google’s Craig Silverstein once painted a futuristic portrait of personalization in his description of “search pets” – essentially these are robots that know you and can complete various tasks on command </li></ul>Bottom line: Hyper-personalization is a core goal at Google, and will continue to impact the results – we may just be seeing the beginning
    19. 19. Bryan Horling of Google, interview with The Register <ul><li>March 3, 2010, SMX West : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google personalizes 20% of all web searches, based generally on web history, location, and social factors. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ As it stands today, just about every user who is engaging with Google search today is affected [by personalization].” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;For years, we've been personalizing for an entire continent [or country],&quot; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>&quot;You should be creating compelling and interesting content that's focused on the user. Your website should be fast. It should be clean. It should be understandable. It should be compelling enough that users want to return to use it.&quot; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. There are many different signals related to personalization <ul><li>Geo </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IP address </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Google Nearby </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Time of day </li></ul><ul><li>User behavior </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Session data can differentiate between users on the same machine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web search history </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Toolbar data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bookmarks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clicks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Links in your Google Profile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Links to your social network profiles (ex. Twitter) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Technical </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Device </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Optimizing for Personalized results <ul><li>Do the basics very well </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clean tech hygiene, know your analytics, good page markup, thoroughly tested keyword targeting </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Optimize for search with personalization turned off </li></ul><ul><li>Develop both high-level themes, and long tail themes </li></ul><ul><li>Build up your social networks, and use them to disseminate and promote relevant content </li></ul><ul><li>Know your target user through market research </li></ul><ul><li>Develop compelling content strategies </li></ul>“ On The Impact Of Personalization And Real-Time Search”
    23. 23. Knowing your target audience is now more important than ever <ul><li>Inform your personas through interviews, and ask subjects to talk about how they search; or, better yet, observe how they search online </li></ul><ul><li>Map keyword learnings into more complex scenarios for the process of finding </li></ul><ul><li>Leverage learnings from paid search and analytics data early on </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that often the real gold mine in all of market research is finding and leveraging just one new word or linguistic cue </li></ul><ul><li>Get out of the habit of making assumptions based on what you think your target audience will search for. </li></ul><ul><li>Look to social networks for linguistic cues </li></ul><ul><li>Use internal searches to help inform campaigns and future designs  </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the various types of digital assets, and how your target audience searches for them </li></ul>“ The Days of Guessing at Keyword Research Are Over”
    24. 24. Use search data and ask search questions when developing personas “ More About Search In The Web Design Process”
    25. 25. Engaging your target is now more important than ever <ul><li>It’s about content, content, content </li></ul><ul><li>Content is text, images, video, applications, conversation, feed streams, widgets, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Base content strategies on what your research tells you about your audience </li></ul>
    26. 26. Getting back to basics: Internal SEO considerations that a site owner controls <ul><li>Article Syndication </li></ul><ul><li>Body Content </li></ul><ul><li>Canonicalization Issues </li></ul><ul><li>Cloaking </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Assets </li></ul><ul><li>Directory Presence </li></ul><ul><li>Document Accessibility </li></ul><ul><li>Duplicate Content </li></ul><ul><li>Frames </li></ul><ul><li>Hidden Text </li></ul><ul><li>Internal Linking Optimization </li></ul><ul><li>Javascript & Flash Navigation </li></ul><ul><li>Market Research </li></ul><ul><li>Meta Descriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Micro Sites and Sub-Domains </li></ul><ul><li>Obtaining Links from Relevant Sites </li></ul><ul><li>On-page Javascript and CSS </li></ul><ul><li>Optimizing Images </li></ul><ul><li>Page Titles </li></ul><ul><li>Redirecting </li></ul><ul><li>Requiring User Actions </li></ul><ul><li>Robots.txt Files </li></ul><ul><li>Secure Servers </li></ul><ul><li>Server Location </li></ul><ul><li>Sites Built in Flash </li></ul><ul><li>Splash Pages </li></ul><ul><li>URL Structure </li></ul><ul><li>Using Ajax </li></ul>“ 22 Considerations for Improving Natural Search Performance” “ Hot SEO Trend for 2010:Getting Back To Basics”
    27. 27. It’s worth repeating <ul><li>To succeed in a personalized world of search… </li></ul><ul><li>Do the basics very well </li></ul>
    28. 28. THANK YOU SMX Toronto April 2010 Rob Garner Strategy Director [email_address] 214.676.2089 @robgarner Media Post Search Insider Blog