Demographic Based Personalised Search

Posted on 12. May, 2011 by in Digital Marketing

When I talk about rankings, I talk about personalised search. I mainly suggest location and search histroy as the two main demographics that influence personalised search, but yestarday when I stumbled across Danny Sullivan’s post about Google +1 on Search Engine Land, it reminded of how Google, amongst others, could use further demographic insight to rank content.


I thought I would explore some common demographics, one’s we often supply to Google, examples of how they could be used to rank content, and let you decide for yourself whether Google will (or does) consider them as part of their personalised search efforts:

  • Education – education, or more specifically literacy, could be used to personalise search results. Google not to long ago introduced reading level as an advanced search filter. Based on the words you search for, websites you visit, Google could rank content suitable to your reading or level of education. I have noticed CBeebies ranking a lot recently ;) .
  • Age – people under 18 (or 16, I forget) can’t hold credit cards. Without a credit card, you can’t buy products, take out a loan or get a credit check. Based on your age, Google could de-value e-commerce websites for minors and vice versa for adults.
  • Income – based on how much dinero you make, Google could use structured data to assess prices for products, holidays or flights and return results based on your circumstancies. Bordering on social search, return websites your high-flying friends are buying from.
  • Relationship – sounds like an odd one, but its easy to stereotype relationship demographics. If you are cheap, in-a-relationship, homeowner like myself, you’ll want ‘how to’ videos for that DIY query you just made rather than services or products – multiple demographics mixed-up.
  • Occupation – again, not so obvious, but car insurance providers have been using occupations for years to assess risk. Im in marketing, so apparently im more stressed and likely to make rash decisions; Google could lower the tresh-hold it uses when assessing my boune rates (BR) when I ‘rashly’ visit and bounce-back in the search results.
  • Interests – what interests me enhancies which content is ranked. If im interested ‘mobile technology’, which I am, Google may wish to rank GoMoNews in opposed to a newspaper that hosts a news article related to my search query.

Next time you talk about personalised search, consider these examples and how they might have influenced your results. Im sure you can think of 10 others too.

Personally, I welcome enhanced demographic based personalised search and any other means that makes my search experience more customised. When I search, I get a lot of results I don’t prefer; not because they aren’t relevant, but because they’re not my cup of tea. I want Google to know how I take my tea; milk, two sugers, hobnob for dipping. Demographic targeting we describe is available in AdWords, how long until it’s part of personalised search?

Tags: , , ,