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Personalization and Universal Search Engine Optimization (Part 3 of 4)

In Part 2, we talked about “being everywhere your audience is” as a key strategy when optimizing your site for personalized and universal search. Here are two more important pieces to consider:

1. Be Persuasive Enough to Attract Your Audience

Even though it is crucial to ensure you are everywhere your audience is, your campaign or site will not succeed unless your presence is relevant and compelling enough for your audience to select your listing over of those of your competitors. Here are a few ways to increase your click-through rate.

Title and Meta Description Tags

I talked about being persuasive enough to lure visitors to your site. Even though it is important to have a high ranking on search results, it is more important to make sure your Title and Meta tags are relevant and enticing enough to encourage searchers to click on your listings.

You will get an edge over your competitors if searchers select your site as their destination. Because you are already selected by those searchers once you will have a better chance of getting high ranking for their future queries.

First Frame of Videos

Before a video gets played, audience will only see the first frame. No matter how interesting and brilliant your video is, unless your opening frame is an exciting, informative and inviting one, the chances of it getting viewed will be slim.

To make sure search engines understand what the video is all about it is important to use keyword reach and a descriptive file name and caption for the video.

Search engines are going to use the popularity of videos as an indication of their importance. So, after creating an appealing video, it is important to upload it to YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo Video and other video sharing sites. Then try to create viral campaigns around it to make sure more people view, tag and recommend it.

2. Be Sticky Enough to Keep Them Coming Back

It is great to generate new traffic to your site. However, as it is usually more expensive to acquire a new customer than keep one, it is important to make sure that you take advantage of your traffic by making your site content-rich, user friendly, searchable and efficient.

The key to success is creating a great user experience that encourages visitors to come back. Time is a luxury and visitors are usually in a rush online. They want what they are looking for right away. If they can’t find it, they will leave your site and find it somewhere else. So, don’t waste your visitors’ time by making them think!

The site structure should be designed in a way that makes sense to your visitors. It should contain different scents based on various personas to guide visitors through the conversion funnel.

Internal Search

In a mortar and brick business, the conversion rate is anywhere between 20-80% (e.g., a general bookstore such as Indigo has a conversion rate around 30%). As you may appreciate, this is much higher than any online store. This is mostly due to two reasons: First, competition is one click away and secondly, there is no salesperson online to help people find what they are looking for.

To make sure your site is self-serve and has a high conversion rate and visitors can easily find what they need (particularly with sites that have large number of products and pages) provide visitors with a search box. An internal search engine has two advantages. First, it makes sure you do not lose a customer because they cannot find the information they came to your site for in the first place. Secondly, you can analyze the search queries people use on your internal search engine to optimize your site’s content, design and linking structure.


To make sure that your audience find their way back to your site and optimize your site for the personalized search, make sure you take advantage of book marking and social tagging tools such as Google Bookmarks, and Digg.

Link Bait

If you provide useful, interesting and viral content on your site people will love it and link to it. As a result, you will get new traffic, higher page rankings and positive points for personal search.

Universal Search and Web Analytics

I have been advocating the use of Web Analytics for the last few years. With so many elements entering the mix, it is as important as ever to use Web Analytics to understand which strategies, media and content works best for you and which ones need further optimization.

Stay tuned for Part 4, where we’ll talk about Search Personalization and PPC.


  1. Natasha
    Natasha July 11, 2007

    Great series!
    Especially loving the “Yes, Victoria, it is possible to optimize for personalized search” vibe you have going on here.
    Looking forward to Part 4 of 4!

  2. Nima
    Nima July 11, 2007

    Thanks Natasha!
    I am glad you liked it.

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