Personalized search biggest advance in search quality, says Google VP Mayer

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San Jose, Calif.—Personalized search is a red-hot topic in the search marketing space, and the subject of much discussion among attendees and speakers at the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo. Personalized search has been “one of the biggest advances we’ve had in search quality over the last few years,” said Marissa Mayer, VP-search products and user experience at Google, in a keynote Q&A with conference co-chairman Danny Sullivan here at conference on Wednesday.

“The past few months have been a big leap forward,” Mayer said, adding, “We’re seeing a bigger part of our user base use personalized search.”

Google ramped up its personalized search product in February, Mayer said. Personalized results will become the default in the future, she added, because of the relevance they provide to the end user.

Mayer also touched on universal search, the concept of pulling multiple kinds of search results into one search experience. Google currently integrates maps, news, images, video and books into search results, but Mayer said in the future, such things as blogs and scholarly works will be integrated as well. She said universal search is “a way to move away from 10 links and give people a richer experience.”

She said that Google is also looking at “changing the presentation” of universal search in order to ensure that it has “the right amount of attention on the right parts of the page,” which addresses the complaint by some advertisers that Google AdWords they have purchased get lost in shuffle on the results page because things like image results can distract the user.

She added that as the search results page evolves, it provides an opportunity for ads to contain images or gadgets that attract users.

—Carol Krol

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