The personalization of search results is not the only way to target someone, you can also personalize your website to ensure your visitors feel engaged as soon as they arrive.
Gordon Hotchkiss gave some great examples and data behind personalized search and proved that I actually does work. Everyone remembers the golden triangle right? It shows how people use Google and where they actually click. Now, with personalized search and universal search enabled, the golden triangle changes quite a it. The focus shifts to the content targeted directly to the user and, if there is imagery in the results, the users start there. In their test, Gordon said that when personalized search results were given, users were 3x more likely to click on a results and much less likely to click on ads.
Jonathan Mendez said that personalization is being done daily in the PPC area and nothing works better than personalized results. He gives pointers on all the information that you can get from a Google referral string. Things like language, browser and source are just a few items that you can use to help personalize your content when someone arrives. Even just re-assuring your visitors that you know why they came can help keep them on your site. You can get the searchers keywords from the Google referral URL easy enough and display them on the page as reassurance. He also talked about how testing is a key item. For a client of theirs, one homepage layout worked best on weekdays, where as a different layout worked best on weekends. For another client, simply placing a cookie that remembered their musical interests worked well as when the user returned, they got content targeted towards what they liked in the past.
Richard Zwicky of Enquisite re-enforced some of the items I’ve heard earlier in the day. One was that 80% of searchers don’t go past page one. He also had a great point about optimizing products for the different names that different areas in the country call them. People searching for a house, cabin or villa may all be searching for the exact same thing, just from different parts of the country. Is anyone optimizing for each term? Or are they just picking what they feel is correct? The key point Richard made was that companies need to hire a SEO consultant as there is no way that companies can keep up with the industry unless they have a search consultant to do it for them.
Dave Davies of Search Engine Posting ran through a few patent documents that Google has out there and gave a few interesting points on widgets and personal page rank. Personal page rank is the same idea as Digg authority where as Google may value what an active user bookmarks or visits more than what the casual user does. He also talked about creating widgets to not bring visitors to your website, but get your brand in front of users and, when the user is looking for services you offer, they may be more willing to choose you due to brand awareness.
Personalization on a web page can be very positive to keeping users on your site and making them feel your site has value. Consider a few test to display specific messages to individuals based on their history on your site, or where they are coming from. Personalization seems to be where the web is headed and you can start testing out a few items today and see how your visitors react.
It all rotates around the user.