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Search Personalization: the Convergence of Social and SEO [SMX Advanced Seattle 2012]

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SMX Advanced Seattle Conference

“The best way to impact personalized search is to be personal.” – Marty Weintraub

While this is easier said than done, the SMX Advanced Seattle panelists of the ‘Surviving Personalization with Bing and Google’ seminar gave us a few helpful tips as to what strategies may best help you optimize for the increasingly personalized SERPs. It’s becoming commonplace that the results being displayed here in Seattle will vary than those you may be shown searching from home; in addition to this local factor, search history, social interactions, and semantic meaning are increasingly influencing results as well.

Aaron Friedman from Spark gave the attendees of the conference a few simple tips to create an identity on your social channels:

  • Create unique content. Gain loyal followers by giving them a reason to come back.
  • Don’t neglect your networks. Your audience is your greatest asset.
  • Don’t use generic images. Be visually engaging through rich images
  • Be creative. A little originality can differentiate your business and product.
  • Be useful and helpful. Provide answers to questions and needs.

Each of the speakers brought up emerging hot topics concerning the personalization and localization of search, offering their input on this trending topic. Everything from the barriers that arise when seeking to increase reach and exposure due to search becoming more personalized, to the challenges that arise in speaking to users searching securely, and the increasingly semantic search were touched upon. In particular, there was one topic that everyone wanted answers to: Google+.

Marty Weintraub took this hot topic head on, breaking down Google+ and how to use it. As an enterprise, Google+ must be used as a brand identity feed that only becomes engaging when it offers added value or a strong incentive for an existing community member to subscribe. Essentially, there must be ‘vanity bait’ in order to circle in an engaged audience on Google+. These ‘baits’ can include exclusive resources, reviews, awards, interviews, conference coverage, hot-button call out, or any other information that may not be offered on other channels. At a minimum, have a presence on Google+ with passive participation and optimized content, including posts concerning day-to-day business flow, videos, press releases, and more. For the more aggressive Google+ users, use it as a means to stress your relevancy for what your  community may consider business key performance indicators, analyze Google+ users for research and engagement strategies, create social ads to build circles, study existing successes and network with competitors’ communities, and finally, as discussed before, give to your fans.

Moving forward, many wonder what the future of search holds. It’s clear that the future of search is personalization, with a foreseeable rise in entity search, both in local and social search, as well as interest-based demographic segmentation and further semantic understanding. While personalization has currently integrated into nearly any and all search, Google has also recognized the risk of the ‘filtered bubble’, and makes it clear that it will always maintain a certain amount of un-influenced and un-personalized results. As you continue to develop your SEO strategies, develop quality content around topics that will allow you to become relevant for the things you want to be known for. Spend your time growing your user base that will find this information highly engaging, while simultaneously revising your content development around the interests of your ever-growing long-tailed audience. Be relatable and be personal.

Contributed by Brittany Bingham

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