Personalized Search – Undoubtedly the Wave of the Future

Many SEOs have dismissed personalized search. It’s been seen as a nuisance because when we’re logged into Google, we think our sites are ranking higher in the SERPs than they are for the rest of the world. “What good is that?”

But personalized search will be great and is undoubtedly the Wave of the future. Don’t judge its eventual success or failure on the current incarnations.

Consider the Microsoft acquisition of Medstory Inc. and the longer-range goal

“to link personal information like age, sex, drug regimens, family history and even genetic markers to search. The ideal is that search results are tailored individually, identifying treatments, drug interactions and medical journal articles of interest.”

That’s extremely powerful!

Already an earnest Googler will often come up with a better medical diagnostic than a doctor who sees you for 20 minutes a year. Imagine if the search engine had your entire medical history and genetic information: the results could be a revolution in medicine that empowers individuals.

Take another vertical: porn. If a site had smart meta data on every pic and movie, they could determine a users preference or fetish by displaying a page of thumbs and tracking which ones were clicked. Then, on future visits, content could be delivered that closely matched that users preferences.

Tivo already records TV shows and movies it thinks you will like. Amazon has their “User’s who bought this also bought” feature. When you go to a supermarket, custom coupons are printed out based on what you purchased that day.

Imagine how well both content and advertising could be tailored if you had a users:

  • Amazon profile
  • Google Search history
  • Complete Medical File
  • Tivo (Digital Video Recording) History
  • Every site they’ve ever visited and in what frequency
  • bookmark (2.0 history)
  • Items Purchased as Supermarkets (tracked with discount cards) and
  • Complete Credit Card purchase history

Eventually, the algorithms will be smart enough to parse the data and deliver personalized results that far outmatch anything that we see today.

That’s why the real money is not in search, it’s in Data Mining and why the future of search (and indeed all forms of content delivery) will be personalized.

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9 Responses to “Personalized Search – Undoubtedly the Wave of the Future”

  1. aftermarket says:

    Datamining has a huge future, it is not being used to the fullest, by companies that use it like zillow & carfax. Hopefully personalized search wont come that soon, I can usually find what info I need when I need it, but it probably is in the future. If that is the future, now I already have to make different sites for peoples opinion, now im gona have to make different sites based on a person and thier perspective and viewpoint of that opinion. (Technology)

  2. markus941 says:

    MSN will now know about Joe’s ED pills and all anal wart creme he’s been buying? That’s comforting.

    Health privacy is a lot more touchy than general privacy (HIPPA regulations, anyone?)

    Sorry, but I don’t like being stereotyped. It’s really nice from the marketer’s perspective, but not necessarily so much when it’s you on the other end whose life history is being whored out for ads and (often) up for grabs to “sister companies”.

    The AOL data leak will seem like a trifle one day (by comparison).

  3. Pete Wailes says:

    Ok, firstly, I’m all for personalised search. It’ll mean that SEO becomes what it always should have been – building great content, making a great site that works properly, isn’t trying to rank for something it’s not etc…

    But my worry is it’ll filter out serendipity. I like it when I go to a site sometimes and it turns out to be something other than what I was looking for. I like it when things happen by chance that are “happy accidents”. The I’m Feeling Lucky button, to my mind, was/is genius.

    So the question to me is, sure, I might get what I’m looking for, but I’m going to miss those happy accidents.

  4. gh0stb0t says:

    I guess personal privacy will be something the kiddies will read about in the history books. It will be interesting to see what happens when the personal profiles fall into the wrong hands. Like the system.


  5. twanster says:

    The personalized search concept is quite a two edged sword. As a person who is interested and practicing in the crafty art of SEO, personalized search is indeed something to be taken seriously. If you want to be good at your craft, it seems to me that you best be prepared to take this bull by the horns and learn as much as you can and apply your skills to the best of your abilities. I personally will be studying this new era in Internet search with great interest.

    On the other hand, as stated by markus941 and gh0stb0t above, the thought of having my own personal information being whored out isn’t very comforting. I don’t like the idea that these data mining corporation can have access to all that (semi) private information. And didn’t some huge data mining corporation “lose” a few million people’s private data in 2005, resulting in huge identity theft nationwide? Reeks of the kind of shit that so-called Big Brother is made of. And anything Big Brotheresque ain’t cool with me…. But that’s no reason NOT to get yer hands dirty. Exploit and protect. Yin and yang. Good and evil. Prosperity and poverty. What’s it gonna be…?

    This ought to be an interesting ride….

    Thanx for the great post.

  6. I hate this idea. I use 3 search engines now just to get a variety on my seaches. If each one now becomes taylored to my past history, I’ll find nothing new.

    I also delete about 95% of TiVo’s suggestions.

  7. […] Matt Cutts, Google’s spam king, claims that it will be tough times for black hat SEO artists because SEOs will have to focus more on users and less on algorithm reverse engineering. I was curious to what black hats were thinking so I cruised over to SEO Black Hat and found this post. Apparently, they are excited about personalized search and view it as a great thing. Additionally, nobody posted any comments about how this might affect their jobs as blackhat SEOs. […]

  8. […] De fleste i branchen er efterhånden enige om, at ”personalized search” får en stor rolle at spille i fremtidens søgeunivers (som du fx kan læse mere om i denne interessante artikel om personalized search). Personalized search, der vel bedst kan oversættes med personlige søgekriterier, er søgning med fokus på den enkeltes søgekriterier, og ClickZ har i nedenstående artikel set på betydningen af links i forhold til personlige søgekriterier: Vil links fx stadig spille så stor en rolle, når og hvis personalized search slår igennem? Svaret er ja, for med personalized search bliver det endnu vigtigere for webmastere at demonstrere relevans på websitet. I et brugerperspektiv betyder det, at dit website helst skal opfylde følgende: […]