How the Search Engines Personalize Your Search Experience

The search engines work to please their customers, just like any other business. For Bing, Google and Yahoo, this means providing the best results possible for any and all search queries. One of the ways they are working to improve their user-experience is by offering more personalized results.

Here are 3 ways the search engines personalize the SERPs:

Location
Type “pizza” into Google; what does your SERP look like? Chances are the first results Google pulled are all pizza places near your town. After those come the national brands like Dominos and Papa John’s. But how does Google know where you live? Easy, it uses the IP address from computer to determine your location. Google knows that when most people search for things like “pizza” or “dry cleaner” they are looking for local results, even if they didn’t search using localized keywords.

Search History
Think of the search engines as a technological Big Brother. They know where you’ve been, how you search and what you look at online. It may sound a little creepy, but knowing your search history means that Google and Bing can deliver results that you are more likely to find useful and interesting, based on your previous search activity.

Social Signals
Back in May, Bing and Facebook teamed up to bring the “Friend Effect” to Bing’s search results. The Bing-Facebook integration allowed users who were signed into Facebook to see what websites their social connections had Liked and Shared in Facebook right in the Bing SERP. Some pages would actually rank better when a user was logged in to Facebook than they would normally, just because that person’s social network had Liked it.

Meanwhile, Google was busy creating their version of the Like button, the +1. When a user is logged into their Google account, they can publicly +1 a webpage they like. That +1 will show up on their Google profile and their profile image will be placed next to the +1 button in the SERP for their social network to see.

Some have argued that this kind of personalization takes the “fun” out of search engines because it narrows the search results to what Google and Bing think you are most likely to find interesting, choosing what you do and do not see. They believe that personalized search results are actually narrowing our worlds and not expanding them. Other says that personalized search means better search results, making the search engines more valuable to the users. Personalized search reduces the clutter and noise of the Internet and focuses on what the user really needs.

What do you think about personalized search?

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