Cover by Rand Fishkin, Jessie Stricchiola, Stephan Spencer, Eric Enge

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Personalization, Localization, and User Influence on Search

Personalization efforts have been underway at the search engines for some time. As we discussed earlier in this book, the most basic form of personalization is to perform an IP location lookup to determine where the searcher is located, and tweak the results based on that location. However, the search engines continue to explore additional ways to expand on this simple concept to deliver better results for each user. It is not yet clear whether personalization has given the engines that have invested heavily in it better results overall or greater levels of user satisfaction, but their continued use of the technology suggests that, at the least, their internal user satisfaction tests have been positive.

Determining User Intent

The success of Internet search has always relied (and will continue to rely) on search engines’ abilities to identify searcher intent. Microsoft has branded Bing as a “decision” engine, not a search engine. It chose this label because of what it found in its research and analysis of search sessions. Microsoft engineers have determined that about two-thirds of searchers frequently use search to make decisions. Microsoft also saw that making these decisions was proving to be hard, based on the average length of a search session. What makes this complex is that there are so many different modes that a searcher may be in. Are searchers looking to buy, to research, or just to be entertained? Each of these ...

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