SMX West 2012: Getting Personal, Part 2: How Google & Bing Personalize With Search History & Geography

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


Rangan Majumder, Principal Group Program Manager, Bing (@RangThang)
Jack Menzel, Product Management Director, Search, Google (@jackm)

SMX West logoGive it up for the Trends In SEO track and SMX West. This session’s tags are #smx #12b, if you’re following along on Twitter.

Jack starts. Personalization is about delivering relevant results.  Queries can be very ambiguous. In this session we’ll look at the contextual aspects of how Google can better understranding your query to get you the most relevant results. Transparency and control is important for Google to give to users – they take it very seriously.

Personalization helps fill in the gaps if a query is ambiguous. Some of what Google uses to fill in gaps aren’t exactly “personal” – geography, language, context from previous queries.

Location: taken into account on a country level down to a city level to give the best results around.

Recent searches: there’s going to be assumed an amount of working memory. All prereqs of a search aren’t going to be repeated everytime. Imagine having to introduce yourself to someone everytime you want to speak to them. Some amount of assumed knowledge of your history as a searcher is assumed.

Interests: aggregated over individuals as well as populations.

Preferred sites: if there are sites you like, they try to get you to those places faster.

Geography and Location: What Can You Do?

Do you have to have a business that people to to? Jack begs webmasters to make their site work on mobile.

Make sure you have claimed your place in Google Places and that the info is correct and complete:

  • Address
  • Hours
  • Phone #

Do you serve different content per Geo/Lang?

Follow the best practices for serving your content. Use the geotargeting option in Webmaster Tools.

The upshot: Make sure people are getting things in the right language, geography, and can get it on their device. That may be a let down but it’s really, really important.

Rangan takes the podium.

What is the query’s intent? Which page best satisfies this intent? — these are questions his team answers

How do I find pages What pages should I crawl? What pages are spam? — these are the questions his team doesn’t answer and he won’t be speaking to.

Contextual Signals

What is context? The set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc. (

Types of context:

  • Social
  • Personal (long-term): Who are you as a user
  • Personal (short-term): What are you trying to do now
  • Location: Where are you?

They, like Google, give controls to ensure privacy, transparency and control.

The new SEO formula: Rank = Authority + quality of keyword match + personal preference + social preference

Personal preference:

  • How much do we think a user will like your content?
  • We look at user’s past behavior.

Autosuggest is the list that populates of predicted searches as you type letters into the search box. Location and search history are used to influence autosuggest lists in Bing.

Key takeaways:

  • Two users may no longer get the same results for same query
  • Users no longer have to settle for what’s best for the average and can get what’s best for them
  • Authority is no longer just link authority but social authority, too.
  • Help them understand who your page is for. Make it clear what your page is about using standard SEO practices.
  • Work you already to around keyword targeting double counts here. Anchor text, Titles, Meta data, URLs, well written and organizaed content do most of the work.
  • Make it clear what location your page is tailored to – not just the city but the state, too.

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (0)
Filed under: SEO — Tags: , ,
Still on the hunt for actionable tips and insights? Each of these recent SEO posts is better than the last!
Bruce Clay on May 8, 2024
The Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist
Bruce Clay on April 4, 2024
What Makes an SEO Program Successful?
Bruce Clay on April 3, 2024
How Can I Improve My Website Rankings Through SEO?


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Serving North America based in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Bruce Clay, Inc. | PO Box 1338 | Moorpark CA, 93020
Voice: 1-805-517-1900 | Toll Free: 1-866-517-1900 | Fax: 1-805-517-1919