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SEO in 2009: Personalization and Blended Search
Monday, December 08, 2008
Well in this, our final installment of our series on SEO in 2009, we exam the final element of change that we expect to see in 2009. While it's not necessarily new, it will become imperative for online marketers to address in 2009. We are referring to personalization and blended search.

Before we dive into this however, here's a look at our previous posts on SEO in 2009:

SEO in 2009: Part One - Is SEO dead or is it just evolving?

SEO in 2009: Part Two: Focusing on Metrics that Matter - The thought that in 2009, refocusing on metrics that matter becomes more important than ever as previous SEO metrics get phased out.

SEO in 2009: Understanding that SEO Does Indeed Provide Value - unlike in the past, we are seeing the shift as business execs and site owners realize the value of SEO. SEO is cost effective and because of that, expect many more companies to incorporate organic search strategies into their online marketing efforts in 2009.

SEO in 2009: Part Four: Understanding that SEO Does Provide Value II - this is the second part to this "element of change" as we continue to discuss that people who have not adopted SEO as an online marketing strategy are beginning to come around and are actually dedicating budget as a line item for SEO.

SEO in 2009 Part 5: Shifting of Budget Towards SEO - higher PPC costs, difficult economic times, tighter budgets may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for SEO as companies begin shifting dedicated amounts to SEO with their online marketing budgets in 2009.

So that brings us to the final element of change for SEO in 2009. Personalization and blended search. As we have mentioned throughout the series, the name SEO may be the one piece of SEO that is dying. SEO should be known as organic search marketing or something similar. Search Engine Optimization is not what we as organic strategists do per se. Personalization all but makes SEO a fruitless endeavor as you cannot control what a user dictates they will see on their personalized results page. Google's SearchWiki is a great example of this as users have the opportunity to create their own search results page based on what is relevant to them. Granted Google could take this information and apply it to their main results page, it makes it difficult to "optimize" a page that will be relevant for everyone so that they add it to the top of their results for a given keyword query.

We have discussed the personalization of Search when it became a hot topic in May of 2007 as Google began the first wave of personalized search results. In 2009, the major players of search are working feverishly to provide the most relevant results to the user. It just makes sense to offer some sort of personalized mechanism to the results. When I do a search for "Las Vegas", what is relevant to me may not be relevant to you or to the next person. Personalization gives us the ability to tailor the search results to the way that we want to see them. If you prefer news results or video results you can add those to your results. Which leads us to blended search.

Blended search was instituted by Google and ASK in the late Spring of 2007. Google got the ball rolling by showing image and book results on their main results page where traditionally the user would just be presented with a blue text link and a brief description. ASK took blended search further with their amazing ASK 3-D experience where they included video, news results, dictionary listings, images and more. This was truly innovative yet in October of 2008 they reverted back to a more simpler Google-like results page.

However, we have seen Google and Yahoo and Live Search experiment more than ever with blended search results. For many searches in Google, you can expect to find news results, image results, video results, blog results or book results. We do not see Google letting up in this area. In fact we expect to see more blended results within the results pages of Google.

SEO in 2009 means optimizing for blended search. Some of you may have started optimizing for blended search in 2007 or during this past year, but in 2009, if you want an organic search presence, you must certainly optimize your site's content for blended search... Content, this is really what organic search marketing is about. Creating content that is relevant, informative, useful and unique. If you develop a strategy to accomplish this in 2009, you will be in a much better place online. Here are a couple of areas to focus on when optimizing for blended search in 2009:
  • If you haven't already, create a company blog. Communicate interesting facts about your product or solutions that are not found anywhere but your blog.

  • Optimize Press/News Releases - news releases can possess very informative and relevant information. A press release strategy is a must if you are looking to be found in Google results for competitive terms.

  • Optimize Your Videos - this is a no-brainer, optimize your videos for both branded and non-branded phrases.
Blended Search Optimization, although being launched in 2007 is still not mainstream. Most of us in the industry deal with it everyday, but for those companies who are just cluing into Search/online marketing, optimizing for blended results is something that they may not even be aware of. In 2009, we think that optimizing for blended search will go a long way to gaining a competitive edge and for promoting your brand, your services and your reputation online. SEO in 2009 means dealing with personalization of search results and optimizing for blended search.

2009 will be an interesting year in the online world. It may be a year where we, in the industry, finally experience a bit of a slowdown and see that SEO or organic search marketing finally steps into the limelight.

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posted by Jody @ Monday, December 08, 2008  
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