This is a repost from my response over at the SEW forums.
I think personalization represents more business for SEMs that understand how people search.
For instance lets say you have a web page about blackberry – the fruit. Right now it would be impossible for you to rank for the term blackberry, even if you have a great on topic page because blackberry (the appliance) is generating so many more searches/pages/links/updates. Currently all the SERPs are dominated by blackberry (the appliance) sites. Anyone searching for your page on the blackberry fruit using the keyword “blackberry” will have some trouble.
With personalization, you can place your site in front of the people that want to visit it.
So how do you optimize for personalization?
Do what Google is doing:
Track the urls of your ideal visitor. What sites is he/she visiting regularly? In this case your ideal visitor is someone interested in the blackberry fruit. Perhaps he/she frequents foodtv.com, recipes.com, a food forum, etc.
Figure out what categories your ideal visitor is most interested in. Foods? Cooking? Horticulture? Take some time to visit sites that belong to these categories. What topics do they cover and what terms are they using frequently?
Study the search behavior of your ideal visitor. What terms are they using on a regular basis?
Now that you have a good idea of what your ideal visitor does online – apply that to your SEO campaign. Grab links from sites that your visitor would visit frequently. Cover topics that they are interested in. Target terms that are related to articles on some of your visitor’s bookmarked sites.
Remember that Google is using user patterns to personalize rankings. If you can tailor your site/campaign to those patters, you have a better chance of performing well with personalization.
What the benefit here? You’ll get even more targetted traffic and you may be able to place for terms you never would have normally. If you take my blackberry example, even if the site is linked to by great authority sites about blackberry fruits and recipes – it won’t matter right now. But with personalization it will.
Update: Most of these tips are basic things you can do to improve your current site’s ranking. On topic links, relevant content, and placing your site in a good network all help to improve rankings. The key idea to take from this is that even for extremely high competition terms, you will be able to compete with personalized rankings. Your job is to optimize your site so that people your are marketing to, can find your site easily.