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Old 11-03-2005   #1
lorenbaker
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Google to Manipulate Organic Rankings with User Profile

Google has filed for an organic search patent, Personalization of placed content ordering in search results , to serve organic search results based on user profiles.

This is a bit different than their Google AdWords patents as this time the user profiles may be used to manipulate organic ranking in a new algo.

Kinda like Personalized Search, but the end user is not aware of the personalizarion.

Such profiles are created by Google and gathered from previous queries, web navigation behavior via tracked links and possibly sites visited which serve Google ads, computers with Google Applications installed such as Desktop Search, Google Wi-fi Connection or Sidebar, and personal information which Google identifies which may be “implicitly or explicitly provided by the user.”

I call it ProfileRank, Google calls it PersonalizedScore

Think this is going to set SEO heads spinning when its implemented? I can imagine a client calling in now "we're not listed in the top 10 results"!

"Well you're listed on my computer."

"Why can't I see the site on mine?"

"Because you're a different Google User Profile than me, and your customers"

Yeah, that will fly
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Old 11-03-2005   #2
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Great catch Loren!

Quote:
A method of personalizing placed content associated with a search query, comprising: receiving a search query from a user; accessing a user profile associated with the user; identifying a set of placed content that matches the search query; assigning a score to each of the set of placed content in accordance with the user profile, a respective bid value for the placed content, and a respective click through rate for the placed content; and ranking the set of placed content according to their scores.
I wonder if Google remembers what happened when DoubleClick 1999 tried pretty much the same thing back in 1999?

http://slashdot.org/yro/99/10/22/0249212.shtml

I really hope Google doesn't pull the lame old 'you can choose to opt out'

User targeted advertising using user profile data. Yes - it's a Marketeer's dream - and a privacy nightmare....

This could be the straw....
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Old 11-03-2005   #3
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User targeted advertising by Google is a given.

But when it comes to using such profile technology to sift the organic ranking results, that's a bit different.

Wonder how it will play out when/if implemented.

Atleast they won't be integrating ads into these user profile targeted organic rankings. I do believe that Yahoo has a similar patent which does not rule out the serving of 'Search Submit Pro' paid inclusion ads in their 'organic' rankings based on user behaviror. MUCH more controversial

Nice find on the DoubleClick link Chris!

Loren
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Old 11-03-2005   #4
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I was reading this (or at least started it) and it mentions:

"The method of claim 4, wherein the ordering includes assigning a score to each of the set of placed content in accordance with the user profile and a respective bid for the placed content."

Doesn't sound like organic to me?

Although I'm sure they could apply the technology to organic as well.
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Old 11-03-2005   #5
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This could give a whole new meaning to the term, "cookie exchange"...

"Send me your cookie, so I can see the results you are seeing!"

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Old 11-04-2005   #6
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Smile Big advantage to the adwords marketing

I think if I have a selection to manage user profiles before displaying ads it would be really great. I will never display ads for people under age 24. They are never my buyer and ofcourse I would save lot of money excluding unwanted clicks. If google's going to implement something like that, I would really welcome that.

I can know if my ads going to be displayed to a
1.) Male/ Female
2.) Old /young
3.) Job type - Business man, Employee
4.) Income range

There are so many things that would be readily available. I think if google succeeds in doing this, it would be great.

Ganesh J. Acharya
SEO, SEM Expert

Last edited by DaveN : 11-04-2005 at 09:27 AM. Reason: url in tag..tu tut
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Old 11-04-2005   #7
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Certainly, basing organic results on user profile would raise the bar for SEO/SEM providers. In addition to adding a layer of complexity to the algorithm, it would require a real understanding of the client's overall marketing strategy and demographic targets.

Ganesh, I agree that being able to target ads by demographics would be a major plus for some marketers. Of course, age/gender/income are merely one way to slice up the market. User behavior, interests based on history of visited sites, etc. could be even more powerful. Of course, the more aggressive the targeting, the greater privacy fears will be.
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Old 11-04-2005   #8
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Cool What about Adult and Gambling sites who cant participate in "placed content"

So much of of this soon to be Google update seems focused on well..."Personalization of placed content ordering in search results"

I'm smashing myself in the face trying to figure how this will affect some of my clients who have Gambling and Poker sites, and thus cannot have paid content, or placed content.

Assuming placed content really means paid content...

In reality, a user like the random surfer never exists...

I think I'll change my name to The Random Surfer, sounds like the name of a SEO superhero comic to me.
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Old 11-04-2005   #9
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What can this do for us organic oriented result marketers?

Last edited by BankCardCentral : 11-04-2005 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 11-04-2005   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lorenbaker

Think this is going to set SEO heads spinning when its implemented? I can imagine a client calling in now "we're not listed in the top 10 results"!

"Well you're listed on my computer."

"Why can't I see the site on mine?"

"Because you're a different Google User Profile than me, and your customers"

Yeah, that will fly
I'm actually not unhappy with this at all. The main thing a client wants is business and as long as they are getting it, they will be happy. Of course, the problem is going to be Vanity Clients. That will be ugly!
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Old 11-04-2005   #11
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wow, this sounds like a headache for myself. I wonder what we are going to do about serp tracking results and how all that will be measured. I can feel the frustration coming already. Hmmm...
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Old 11-04-2005   #12
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Everything will change and seo as we know it is going to disappear. It will all become "marketing".
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Old 11-05-2005   #13
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Thumbs up Customized Marketing!!

Hi All!!

This is my first post in this forum.

I think now the real online marketing is going to take place. Like the offline promotion where we decide the age group, sex and region for the products actively we can do the same online.

I am not sure how it would be when comes the point of implementation. As of now I think a real practical online marketing is going to come!!

Last edited by macin : 11-05-2005 at 02:24 AM.
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Old 11-05-2005   #14
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Fisrst of this is the first post for me in quite some time. I've been reading about this and to say I'm upset is an understatement. I'm not upset because it will mess with my ability to make living but I am very upset about how I belive personalization using the methods Google seems to be going to use are exploiting me and my right to privacy.

Is this the end of SEO? Likely for the multitude of hacks out there calling themselves SEO's and selling "rank" rather than "quantifiable sales", real well rounded "marketing" solutions and web development skills. ;-)

Personalization will raise the bar significantly because you'll actually have to know how to target audiences/demagraphics for products and services. I also think this will cause a shift in the way SEO's are chosen by clients because the SEO will have to better understand the "business" of the client in order to target. Many of the SEO's I've spoken to and read on forums are very technical/algo minded but know little about "response/direct marketing" techniques and "identifying" and "researching" market segments and building online communities. Anyone selling services based on "Ranking" are pretty much out of business because rank will be different for evey user. That may be a blessing in disguise!

I would say when it comes to personalization of search the AOL's, MSN's, Yahoo's and Amazons have the upper hand with AFAIK, more users who actually upped their personal data because they wanted to. IMO, the Google method is nothing more than snooping where they have "NO F....ing business snooping" and there are parts of the last patent (IP and domain analysis) that I felt would never be used, however, now I assume they will ie: using MY bookmarks which AFAIK, is off limits to regular developers but the Toolbar enables them to access the bookmarks! Sure we can script adding a site to bookmarks but programatic "snooping" is blocked by the browser.

IMO, some of Googles plans and data gathering strategies for personalizing search are "evil", but something tells me Google's definition of evil and mine are likely far apart now. I seldom respond to unsolicited email from anyone with a Gmail account, (unless I know of them) simply because I don't think Google have fully explained what they do with the mail received and sent, and there is far too much spam emanating from those accounts with absolutely no way to make an abuse compalint. Look on the Gmail site it's the first free email service I've seen where the abuse of the system wasn't made easy to notify them. IMO, that is by design they want to know who is replying to spam to "target them" in the future.

As to personalization in general, yes it's good for differentiating "cougar" the animal form "cougar" the car but... I've been to the Ford/Mercury site (client research) and I've been to the Toronto Zoo site, so, how in the heck does snooping on me help them to differentiate whether I'm searching for the car or animal? It doesn't help me much, however, I understand how to query to get mostly "cougar cars", most users don't, so... it helps them... but... at what cost to their privacy? IMO, the price is far too steep for my liking!

IMO, "Intrusive Marketing" ala' double click always jumps up and bites the intrusive marketer in the behind. Google is a great company and I've always held them in the highest esteem, however, since going public the "do no evil" philosophy seems to be taking a back seat to the "let's wring as much dough out of this as we can" philosophy. Good for their stockholders not so good for those of us who value our privacy beyond all else and also believe that privacy is a big part of why the net has grown the way it has for users researching products and services!

The fact that Google have sprung two major upheavals to the algo at prime shopping times (moreso with Florida then Jagger) seems to not be co-incidental but by design. I know of more then one business that was killed by Florida. IMO, that is irresponsible, IS evil, and the dirtiest of dirty pool!

Sure, those who relied solely on organic rankings were misguided, but... do they deserve to be bankrupted for that? Not to mention that Florida seemed to raise "the big box sites" spending oodles on Adwords in the organic results. Guess who ultimately gets the tarnished rep? SEO's who worked on the premise of exploiting algos or Google? We know who ultimately plays the "loser explains" game. Hasn't happened to me but... I don't exploit algo's I use what's always there, and always will be there, and build around that using webmaster and development skills honed over the last ten years to maximize relevancy and user experience. I love the algo changes I always get a nice boost on the backs of those who likely didn't deserve to be there in the first place.

I saw the writing on the wall with Florida and set in motion a plan to change my business from being solely a web development/SEO company to a blend of PPC/SEM/ecom Feeds and SEO/development (Thanks to Dan Thies and Doug Bates for PPC tutoring and mentoring). IMO, the days of being one or the other are long over and to best serve your clients you better be good at both because the days of organic results reliance are behind us or nearly gone.

Personalization will IMO, significantly change organic SEO marketing strategies. How? I'm not priscient, nor am I going to care. I'll adjust strategy as it becomes apparent how the stratetgy has to change. Common sense tells me there will be some big changes to strategy what the changes will be will become apparent with time.

When Google goes beyond simply tracking searches and click choices and venture into what is on my computer/browser then I'm sorry they've just gone beyond "helping me" and are now "helping themselves" at the expense of my privacy! They're making billions off of monetizing search, which I belive is good, and overdue... but... when they want to step that up at the expense of my privacy that's where I draw the line in the sand!

Just my .02 Ca., and we all know what that's worth!;-)
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Old 11-07-2005   #15
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No wonder!

Well, if you ask me this is just another step towords google loosing the searchers.

If Google keeps destroying the organic listings with more techniques like this, some other SE is going to overtake them.

It's just a matter of time.
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Old 11-07-2005   #16
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I skimmed the patent, but I don't really see what the patent should be the cause of concern for some versus the actual moves for personalized results that we've had in place over the past year.

Eurekster Launches Personalized Social Search from Jan. 2004 covers how Eurekster started us on the move to having results reranked based on friends or things you view -- IE, the exact situation Loren talks about where he sees something different from what his client might see.

Both Ask Jeeves and A9 gave us saved results/search history features which can feed into personalization in 2004. But Yahoo especially made a big push when it introduced site blocking in 2004. See Yahoo Introduces Personal Search for more on that from Oct. 2004.

For our paid SEW members (and thanks to those who support the site that way), Search Personalization: A Marketer's Perspective is an article I wrote the same time the Yahoo change happened, to help search marketers better understand that personalization of search results is inevitable (at Google and ALL the majors) and some key tips to maintain success with it (good titles, good descriptions and the always oft-repeated tip, great content).

You should also see Yahoo My Web: An eBay For Knowledge which covers even more on the latest with Yahoo and personalization, and how Yahoo is looking to communities to form the trust networks it will use to reshape results for individuals.

This isn't some potential patent thing. This is reality. It's right here, right now. It's still a beta, but it will definitely emerge into Yahoo's regular results. If you're smart, you'll understand how the new system works to personalize things. Unlike with the Google, there are definitely ways for search marketers to better influence who they'll do in Yahoo's flavor of personalized search. A Search Marketer's Look At Yahoo My Web 2.0 for our SEW members is a very, very long look at some of the things to consider.

As for Google, Google Relaunches Personal Search - This Time, It Really Is Personal on our blog covers how personalize search results are on Google right here, right now. It's not a patent potential thing. It's happening. Right now, there are plenty of people seeing different results when doing the same search because of personalized search.

Loren talks about how the patent seems to be different in that Google might do the personalization without end user being aware of personalization. In my skim of the patent, I didn't see this part. But to clarify, with Google personalized search right now, if it personalizes your results, it tells you this in the upper right hand corner of the page. You're also "aware" that personalization will happen in that when you sign up for My Search History at Google, it tells you at some point that personalization will happen. But you're not aware of what you're doing to make this so, that the pages you click on are used to build a profile of what you like. This effectively happens behind the scenes, unlike the Yahoo system where you overtly have to save things.

Google Desktop is a better example of this type of passive personalization. When you visit web pages, Google begins adding feed links from the sites you go to to your newsreader.

In the end, I'd say skip past the patent and look at what Google and others are doing right now. Like it? Dislike it? And what's the search marketer role in all of it?
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Old 11-07-2005   #17
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I agree with Danny - Google has been offering personalized search results for a while now. The patent tells us a little bit more about the factors, but most of them are common sense.

I think personalization represents more business for SEMs that understand how people search.

For instance lets say you have a web page about blackberry - the fruit. Right now it would be impossible for you to rank for the term blackberry, even if you have a great on topic page because blackberry (the appliance) is generating so many more searches/pages/links/updates. Currently all the SERPs are dominated by blackberry (the appliance) sites. Anyone searching for your page on the blackberry fruit using the keyword "blackberry" will have some trouble.

With personalization, you can place your site infront of the people that want to visit it.

So how do you optimize for personalization?

Do what Google is doing:

Track the urls of your ideal visitor. What sites is he/she visiting regularly? In this case your ideal visitor is someone interested in the blackberry fruit. Perhaps he/she frequents foodtv.com, recipes.com, a food forum, etc.

Figure out what categories your ideal visitor is most interested in. Foods? Cooking? Horticulture? Take some time to visit sites that belong to these categories. What topics do they cover and what terms are they using frequently?

Study the search behavior of your ideal visitor. What terms are they using on a regular basis?

Now that you have a good idea of what your ideal visitor does online - apply that to your SEO campaign. Grab links from sites that your visitor would visit frequently. Cover topics that they are interested in. Target terms that are related to articles on some of your visitor's bookmarked sites.

Remember that Google is using user patterns to personalize rankings. If you can tailor your site/campaign to those patters, you have a better chance of performing well with personalization.

What the benefit here? You'll get even more targetted traffic and you may be able to place for terms you never would have normally. If you take my blackberry example, even if the site is linked to by great authority sites about blackberry fruits and recipes - it won't matter right now. But with personalization it will.
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Old 11-08-2005   #18
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It's the careful references to "placed content" that intrigue me. Anyone see a definition of this anywhere?

I am also focused more on the non-organic aspects of these emerging formulas.

Google is starting to think about ranking ads more like search, notwithstanding the bidding aspect. Separate from that, it has two content targeting programs running, each of which work differently.

In light of the attempt to connect users with the content they may actually be seeking, and in light of Google's feeling that ads are a type of search, I'm not all that surprised by the contents of this patent app. I would always applaud the idea of making search more like search.

Privacy is, of course, a huge concern. The problem I see is that invasion of privacy exists at the access points, or potentially does.

By going online at all, there is a stronger likelihood that a monopolist and/or the government have figured out how to rob me of privacy.

The same has always gone for the telephone and postal mail, though, depending on governmental resources.

What we have today is a much more sophisticated ability through technology of private corporations and governments to watch over our actions on a grander scale, at a lower cost.

But is that really the issue we were discussing? It sounds like some SEO's are worried that it will hurt their business, and privacy is the reason given for not liking the new technology. Depending on your client, the introduction of some personalization could be a benefit to you on both the organic and paid sides. Already, I'm more confident in being able to keep ads running on competitive AdWords keywords for *quality* clients. Again, getting off topic a bit. It seems that with this generation of their AdWords algo they are looking at advertiser "quality" and "relevance" in a general sense (an important first step towards showing users what they want); the next generation folds personalization into the mix, for better or for worse.
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Old 11-09-2005   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewgoodman
But is that really the issue we were discussing? It sounds like some SEO's are worried that it will hurt their business, and privacy is the reason given for not liking the new technology.
Nice try I could care less about how it affects business I already have more than what I can handle and I'm more slanted to building the PPC side of the business so if this does make SEO less of an alternative for "reliable" volumes of traffic this will only help that part of the business.:-)

My concerns are real and based solely on how they will get the personal information to personalize search. I have bookmarks of clients competitors so in that case am I working in my clients best interest to have competitors in my bookmarks? No I'm helping the competitors if Google plans to keep this info and use it in other searches done by other users. Bookmarks are sandboxed by the browser so in all but a few cases these can't be read programtically. The toolbar enables Google to do this. It was also discussed in the patent filing prior to the one on personalization that they "could do this" it doesn't say they will/are, my concern is that they might do this.

Andrew, I know that by connecting to the internet I loose some control of my privacy. I don't go to sites I don't trust implicitly. I just think since this is a privacy issue Google should be more forth coming with info in "plain english" not tech talk. They should say exactly how they will use bookmarks if they do plan to, even that isn't clear it is implied by saying they have that ability. Whether that was to cover using bookmarks in the patent for Intellectual Property rights, which is a good idea, or really implemented and used is the issue I have. No one knows for sure. That is my beef.

If I know then I do things differently and set things up so what I have in a private area of the browser neither helps nor hinders my clients ability to get the results they paid for. Like I said I've removed some Google toolbars and I'll just setup a browser with no bookmarks and only use it for Google. The question is should I be forced to do that to protect my private info? Afterall if it wasn't an "issue" then programatic snooping in bookmarks would be open to all wouldn't it? Shouldn't that be known when someone downloads the toolbar or desktop search? Shouldn't it be in plain english so every user knows exactly how that affects their privacy?
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Old 11-09-2005   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Webmaster T
Personalization will raise the bar significantly because you'll actually have to know how to target audiences/demagraphics for products and services. ...
IMO, some of Googles plans and data gathering strategies for personalizing search are "evil", but something tells me Google's definition of evil and mine are likely far apart now.
...
Personalization will IMO, significantly change organic SEO marketing strategies.
I'm with Webmaster T on most of his points. I believe that the privacy implications are significant.

A big distinction must be made between personalised or targetted advertising and personalised organic search results without an 'opt-in' option. We know that ads are there to encourage us to buy; we know that business will target specific demographics; in general people understand that advertisers collect and use personal information. And we have a choice to view or ignore the ads.

When we go to a Google, a search engine that supposedly prides itself on fairness to all and rankings that can't be manipulated by the few, we expect to get the same information as everybody else. How can you possibly conduct unbiased research when the information you're looking at today depends on what you searched on yesterday?

Having said that, if it were to happen I'm not convinced it would be the death of SEO as we know it. Although traffic might suffer, conceivably conversion rates could increase. The inertia in a user's profile might make it trickier for optimizers to get page views in front of some users, but the total number clicks through search engines won't decrease, which means the traffic will be going somewhere, so amongst the swings and roundabouts there probably won't be a great deal of difference to SEO-built traffic overall. Just shifts in the patterns.

Google is the dominant power in search. With power comes responsibility. I too hold fears that Google is ignoring its responsibility and travelling down the evil path. It draws worrying parallels to Microsoft.
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