Sep 15, 2011 113 reads by Navneet Kaushal

This session of SMX New York 2011, Day 2 highlights on how results can be personalized on both engines and what marketers need to consider when all their users see something different. The panelists of this session tackles comments from Eli Parisers keynote, as well.


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

Q & A Moderator:

  • Erika Mamber, Vice President, Organic Traffic & SEO, Demand Media (@erikamamber)


  • Peter Bailey,Bing
  • Jack Menzel, Product Management Director, Search, Google (@jackm)
  • Stefan Weitz, Director of Search, Bing (@stefanweitz)

The session begins with its first speaker from Google, Jack Menzel. He shows the delegates an example of what an SMX query can stand for, such as a camera, bike, photo frame, etc. and affirms that “Personalization is not just about what is personal to you”.The fact that you are in NY, is not personal to you. It is just contextual to you. According to him, Language is imprecise. Personalization can help fill in the gaps:

Jack gives the following examples:

  • Country– Taxes: The IRS vs. her Majesty’s revenues
  • Recent searches: Amazon
  • Interests: Dominion
  • Preferred sites: Scrabble dictionary
  • Social Endorsements: +1 shown in results

Further, talking about personalization, he says , “Personalization can show the sites you prefer, the ones you click on most often. Personalization is not just about what everyone is clicking on. Personalization is not perfect, users have active information needs, and quality/relevance is more than just clicks”.

Top TakeAways:

  • Users maintain control over their data
  • Be transparent about ho the data is used
  • There is no canonical result set for a query

Next up was Stefan Weitz, Director of Search, Bing who addressed the delegates by highlighting the following points with regards to Personalization. According to him, Personalization is:

  • Not just about re-ranking of results
  • It costs a lot to personalize the results, so which results do they personalize. Plus how much info do they need from the user to personalize those results.
  • Personalization is all about giving the search engines a better way of determining searcher intent.

Personalization is the new reality:

  • Who: Interests
  • What: Behaviors
  • When: What time is it?
  • Where: Carmen Sandiego
  • Why: So Meta

Why do we think these queries with these common characteristic end this way? Again, they look at them as a proxy for intent.

Personalized search has become just plain search and consists of:

  • Personal
  • Social
  • Presentation: How can they look different
  • Context: Previous behavior
  • Dynamics: Whats been hanging across the Web and what you’ve seen before

He does a query for solar panels. If friends are liking a brand on Facebook, a website on that topic might show up prominently in SERPs as they map that the topics are the same.

Personal signals
CIS is a common medical term, but there are many other definitions, and the phrase is quite ambiguous. If they see you going back to a certain page for an ambiguous query over and over, the result will go up in results. He says, however, their appliGoogle, Jack Menzelcation is done carefully and it’s restricted to queries that appear to be navigational in nature.

He then talks of a New Feature that is launching now- Adaptive Search. It learns from your behaviors.

Search for [jsm] and Jimmy Swaggart Ministries comes up top. Do a search for [bootstrap method] first, and then [jsm] and reranking toward science/math/computers. It’s not just based on the last query – “it’s better”. It seems like previous query personalization

The discussion of the session concluded here and the session on Q and A begins. Some of the Q and A of the session are mentioned below:

Q: Does Google feel sad they don't have Facebook or Twitter data, at least as much as Bing does with special deals?
A: Jack jokes the web is bigger than the Facebook, and there are lot of ways to make connections between people. The most concerning thing is that they close off a lot of data, which is not best for the internet.

Stefan added to it by highlighting the benefits of having Facebook. According to him, Facebook is the most widely used social network out there. So there is a huge benefit.

Q: Does Google apply personalized news preferences to the news one box in the google results? He didn't really know? How can you track personalization in analytics?
A: There are ways we can improve our tools, Google said. Stefan said it is a good idea for a 3rd party tool designer to make one.

Q: What is more important, social or links?
A: Bing said, it depends. Google, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer…" and he keeps adding non sensible stuff, which Bing actually said.

Q: Danny asks if personalization means SEO is dead?
A: Jack says "it actually makes you job easier. You don’t have to be the “best” bus schedule in the world. What does that even mean? You just have to be most relevant for who’s looking for you. It is hard that it’s harder to measure."

Stay tuned with us for more such coverage of SMX New York 2011 Day 2.

The Current State Of Personalized Search: SMX East New York 2011, Day 2!, 5.0 out of 5 based on 3 ratings
Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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