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

Search Personalization and PPC

Personalization should not be viewed only in the silo of organic search. It can have a major impact on all aspects of the web.

Personalization in search is designed to make organic and algorithmic search results more relevant. However, natural search does not exist in isolation. It co-exists with paid results. As a result, search personalization can affect the PPC market as well.

Search engines have been trying to make their paid results as relevant as possible through introducing factors such as Quality Score and Quality Index in their paid ranking algorithms. As a result, SEO and SEM best practices are getting closer and closer. Now a well-optimized page can help you improve your quality score, reduce your cost per click and increase your return on investment.

For years there has been a myth that paid search advertising can help your organic ranking. However, this concept has been denied by search engines and SEO experts including myself. This is because organic and paid engines use different algorithms, crawlers and data centres.

What I am going to bring up here is going to be a little bit controversial. I would like to argue that with the new developments in search algorithms and the introduction of personalized search, this myth is becoming a reality!

I still believe that organic and paid results are using two different algorithms. However, paid traffic can help your organic traffic in few ways:

* You send traffic to your site that cannot find your site organically. This audience might find your site interesting and:
– link to it – this will help you increase your page rank
– bookmark it – this will bring you repeat visitors and help you with personalized search
– recommend it to their friends – this will attract new visitors to your site.
* Increase document traffic – this is a relatively new factor in calculating a document’s page rank.

However, in paid advertising you need to make sure that you only send relevant traffic to high quality landing pages. Having high bounce rate on the landing pages not only means you lose hard earned traffic but also could negatively affect you in this personalized search era. So while designing PPC campaigns, keep in mind that personalized search and Quality Score can complement each other.

Personalized Search and the Rise of Branding

Personalized search can make the branding exercises even more important. We all know that brand names usually create the highest click-through rates and conversion rates due to the trust factor.

If you develop a strong brand in your niche, you will make sure that you get a higher CTR, attract more traffic and generate loyal customers. These loyal customers will act as your raving fans who bookmark your site, recommend it to their friends and talk about you in social networks. These all translate to a higher search ranking in a personalized search environment.

As Google innovates to make the searcher’s experience even more relevant, SEO professionals will need to rise to the challenge by using all the tools available and using them effectively. The most innovative and aggressive SEO’s will focus on providing their clients with a comprehensive strategy that will deliver targeted and motivated traffic.


  1. David Dougherty
    David Dougherty July 16, 2007

    Great series Nima – very insightful.
    Particularly, the link that you make in this part between SEO, SEM, and indirectly SMO – it is something that is often overlooked; even by experienced search marketers.
    Thanks for the read.

  2. Nima
    Nima July 17, 2007

    Thanks David,
    You are right. With the growth of personalized search, Social Media Optimization is becoming more and more important and one cannot afford to overlook it.

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