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Search Personalization and User Personalization - What’s the Difference?

Man searching on Google.
Len Smofsky   Tue December 25, 2018

“Personalized content” and “personalized marketing” are terms that get tossed around quite often.  

Without trying to sound like the Oxford Dictionary, let’s define personalized content as the practice of tailoring content or messaging for an individual user.

There can be confusion as to what personalized content really entails. We’re going to define two specific personalization channels: search personalization and user personalization.

It is important to know the difference between the two concepts.

Search Personalization

You’ve probably noticed a few significant changes to Google search. Perhaps, you notice that after Googling one term, the next thing you search for brings up a suggestion that’s related to the first thing you searched. Or, maybe you’re searching for a type of restaurant or cuisine, and then the result you get is a spot very close to where you live.

This is the result of expanded search personalization.

Google has been cooking up and cranking out frequent search algorithm updates to make their search results more relevant to users. These updates are helping users hit the bullseye when it comes to finding what they need online, faster and easier.

Google factors in a user’s location, the type of device they’re using, their browser history, Google products (ie. Google Flights, Gmail) and social media accounts when curating their search results for a user and their query. That’s why your search results have become so accurate over the years.

As a result, keyword searches are no longer the lone driving force of website traffic. This is great for users but tricky for marketers and businesses, although one can argue that personalization is also tricky for users due to privacy concerns.

In the context of video content, you can optimize your pages so that your video is more likely to appear on page one of Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). This can be done using keywords and other search engine optimization techniques to give your content a chance to rank.

User Personalization

User personalization takes this concept much further and requires permission from the user before leveraging data to provide a more tailored experience. What we’re referring to here is content that actually speaks to a single person, rather than a group of like-minded individuals (which is a common limitation of search personalization).

Think of an email that mentions your name with specific suggestions or recommendations created based on your online activity. Or think of an app that delivers you specific feeds based on information you elect to receive. This sort of content is curated specifically for you, no one else.

In the context of video creation, personalization will mean addressing a customer by name, explaining a relevant concept to them, or encouraging them to take an action based on information they submitted. For example, a personalized video can take the form of a bill summary, detailing the costs of one’s bill, why it was perhaps a bit higher than usual, and what they can do to pay less next time around.

Which Should You Use?  

You should always optimize your content for personalized search parameters set by Google so that you can draw in web traffic. After all, you’re going to remain in the shadows if Google hasn’t ranked you on that podium we call “page one.”

You should also consider adding videos that are personalized for individual customers who may land on your site. You can even upload a preview of such a video so they understand how your personalization works. This will nudge them to provide user-supplied personalization data to use in the personalized video.

Here at BlueRush, we use our IndiVideo platform to create interactive personalized videos. With this platform, businesses can create video content tailored for each individual customer, no matter what industry you’re in.

Thanks to the versatility of our platform along with the natural appeal of personalized videos, we’ve helped our clients increase their engagement and conversion rates.  

We can do the same for you.

How To Make the Most of Search Personalization & User Personalization

Now that you know the differences between these two types of personalization, you might think they’re worlds apart. However, they can work very well in tandem, if used properly. Putting an emphasis on both search personalization and user personalization can serve your business well. The key is to use them appropriately, time-wise and purpose-wise.

Optimizing for personalized search and creating videos personalized to customers is a dynamic duo that will attract visitors and keep on them on your site. More importantly, you will build a rapport and establish trust much faster with each individual.


About the author: Len Smofsky

Len has over 25 years of experience in visual communications and strategy. Over the last decade his focus has been primarily in the digital area. 

Specializing in corporate communications, Len founded one of Canada's most successful production companies. His company created leading edge video production, TV commercials, digital strategy and media. 

In 2006, Len and Larry formed a partnership to create a new BlueRush with the intent of creating personalized customer experiences using a unique blend of digital media and deep technology capabilities. BlueRush works with clients in the financial services, healthcare and packaged goods industries leveraging current digital technologies and services, creating great user experiences at all points in the customer journey.

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