Incorporating a Website Personalization Strategy
With a digital marketing strategy, the primary goal is to communicate a message to the desired online audience. With an SEO strategy, the goal is to get users to your site. Personalization takes both of these goals one step further.
Personalization guides users to desired actions throughout your website based on your business goals and their personal goals. It happens by showing different types of content to users based on language, location, demographics, other known attributes, or even the intent behind the search query that brought them to your website.
Incorporating personalization into your overall SEO strategy may not lead to direct SEO benefits. Still, the information gained from testing and experimentation could be valuable for the long-term success of your website.
Here are the four ways to incorporate personalization into your overall website and marketing strategy, plus areas to consider and what to avoid.
4 Ways to Use Personalization
1. Language and Country
When adding personalization to your website, you can translate your entire site into languages relevant to your target audiences. Doing so allows for tailored content to be delivered to match your audience needs. Be sure to consider regional dialects when adding personalization through your site, as a user from Montreal doesn't speak the same French as someone from Paris.
When incorporating additional languages throughout your site, include hreflang tags to mitigate problems with international SEO and prevent the search engines from recognizing these other pages as duplicate content.
Personalization on a local level taps into a user’s location based on IP address and can show localized content and images rather than generic content or photos. Other forms of localized personalization include:
- Incorporating user-generated content from local users, including reviews and photos
- Embedding a map that displays the location of your nearest office or stores along with its name, address, and phone number with area code
- Including written directions to the local business, especially for confusing or hard-to-spot locations
3. Past Searches and Click History
A complete content strategy benefits from frequently creating and updating content to match the searcher's intent. Customer data from personalization campaigns, page performance, search engine traffic, and user behavior can help you prioritize where to begin so you know when and how to update content. You can also determine which pages should include long-tail keywords to show up in specific user queries' search results. Each page should have content that aligns with the desired user funnel journey while they're searching for your business and on your website.
4. A/B Testing and Dynamic Content
Beyond updating modules and images based on location, language, and country, other opportunities to weave personalization throughout your website include a/b testing and dynamic content. With a/b testing, you can experiment with different layouts of pages or test various forms requiring specific fields for form submissions.
Dynamic content can also benefit overall site growth as custom content can be displayed based on user factors, including behavior, location, and device type. Providing the user with high-quality and highly relevant content can help improve the site experience, contributing to longer site sessions, more page interactions, and a higher return rate. All of these factors are seen as positive metrics by search engines and can help with SEO.
Your website can also target a potential buyer with different content based on whether they use a mobile device or a desktop. Tracking various traits, including device type, resolution, operating systems, or screen size, can determine what displays for the visitor and will sync the user's visits from device to device. This way, their journey can continue from where they left off, no matter what device they used last. Without personalization and collecting this data, the journey is fragmented, and the system would count mobile and desktop as two different visits.
4 Things to Avoid When Adopting Website Personalization
1. URL and Content Duplication
Adding modules, images, content blocks, and more can run the risk of the search engines seeing these additions as duplicate content. When utilizing personalization, swap out only a selection of content you want to personalize, not the whole page, keeping the content standard to maintain keyword rankings. Apply canonical tags to your pages and reference the core page you want the search engines to index as the main canonical tag on your page.
Remember, when testing a page and redirecting users, use a 302 (temporary) redirect rather than a 301 (permanent) redirect. The 302 redirects are helpful when running split tests or promotions, as it signals to the search engines that the redirect is only temporary and not to deindex the referring page that triggered the redirect.
3. Testing Every Component
It's easy to get excited about how personalization affects SEO and to want to test every component on your page. However, we don't recommend that approach. Running tests on every element across your page could result in bloating your site with unnecessary code, redundant pages, and egregious use of location-based keywords. We recommend taking a testing approach and determining the types of actions needed to move the user along the conversion path before adding components haphazardly across the website.
Cloaking is a malicious practice in which one version of a page is intended for human usage, and another is for search engines. We also don't recommend this. You can, however, avoid penalties associated with cloaking by taking advantage of Google's capability to display content based on a user's IP address so your website can show different images, phone numbers, copies, etc. This approach is an acceptable cloaking practice since it provides a better user experience.
The Path to Website Personalization
Website personalization might be easier than you think and can level up your digital marketing and SEO.
Need help getting started? While we touched on a few ways to use personalization, there are many considerations for getting the most out of personalization through dynamic content and testing as well as knowing what to avoid. With the right partner, the path to personalization can be within reach.
Start unlocking the potential of your digital marketing.