Personalized Search

Search Engine Marketing

My favorite definition of Personalized Search is that it’s the shifting of who determines search results relevancy from the search engine to the searcher. On the surface, it sounds like a great idea, until you begin to analyze what that really means to the searcher. In order for the searcher to determine relevancy of search results for a search s/he performs, it means that the searcher must divulge a significant amount of personal information about what’s important (relevant) to him/her to whoever owns the search engine.

And then there’s the whole issue of what’s important to the searcher and when it’s important. In order for a search engine to return relevant search results, it not only must ask and receive a significant amount of the searcher’s personal information, it must also track the searches being made and use that insight to tweak that searcher’s personal search algorithm. If a searcher performs a large amount of searches on car specifications in a short amount of time, does that mean that the searcher has become a car aficionado, or does it mean that the searcher needs to purchase a car in the near term? Can a search engine make that determination?

Here’s a nice overview on Personalized Search by Gord Hotchkiss on SearchEngineLand: The Pros & Cons Of Personalized Search

I am obviously not a big fan of “Personalized” Search. I’m a much bigger advocate of Categorized Search. I’ve provided links to the latest iterations of personalized search, so you can decide for yourselves how successful this search innovation will be among Web searchers.

Examples of Personalized Search include:

Amazon’s A9 Search Engine

MyStuff from (Note: this link no longer working)

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