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There's a jQuery plugin that displays specific greetings to users based on the location they reached the current URL from. If they found it through Google, it would show a greeting that mentions Google or something.

I can see how this could create a more compelling experience for users—as far as I know, "talking" to them is how to best communicate.

I'm considering using this system for my new blog, but needed confirmation that it is a worthwhile effort. Will users really appreciate something like this?

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I doubt users would be so moved as to appreciate it, per se. It's not a feature they come to the site for, nor a quality of life usability improvement. Which isn't to say its not a good idea. –  Erics Mar 10 '12 at 5:59
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When it comes to such gimmicky things, you should ask yourself, "What value does this feature add to my users/visitors?" –  dnbrv Mar 10 '12 at 23:53
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4 Answers

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Short answer

Users appreciate features adding value. That said, I think it doesn't make sense to just add something like 'Hello Google searcher'.

Example

Let's say a website is about cooking. If a user searched for 'lemon chicken' on Google there is little or no value in saying 'Hi Google searcher'. But it might add value to display the search term 'lemon chicken'. If there are more matches for 'lemon chicken' the site could just list them or display a link that fires a search on the site to find more results.

More to consider

Not all users might be aware of the fact that it's not a secret to the currently visited website how they got there. I think it depends on the audience and some might be concerned and others not.

As mentioned by @Erics, a good way to find out if this type of personalization has a positive impact would be an A/B test.

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Typically when I see something like this on a homepage or blog post it I think it is pretty gimmicky & useless. There isn't any value to me as a visitor.

That being said, at the dot-com I work for we have landing pages for specific partners that present different offers to visitors coming from partner sites... In this case there is a definite benefit for the visitor, partner, and my company.

If you're providing special content or offers based on the referrer then I'd say go for it, otherwise it is probably something you can do without.

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Do you have any numbers to show how referrer-specific content helped conversion or other goals? –  dnbrv Mar 10 '12 at 20:45
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In general, I don't know if this adds enough value to be worth the effort.

I would evaluate the list of major referrers that are already coming to your blog. What is the context of how they are being referred? Is the site they are coming for one that they are on regularly?

A good example I can think of where this would be worthwhile is if visitors were coming from a website related to an event where you were a speaker or maybe a featured product. The special greeting could be meaningful to a user in that sort of context.

Disclaimer: the above is rather subjective, but hopefully thought-provoking

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It would depend a lot on the site itself whether it is appropriate or not. A site which panders to security paranoid conspiracy theorists may react quite badly, for example.

You mention a "more compelling experience" .. for a personal blog, this might translate into more return visits, rss subscriptions, commenting, forwarding of links, etc. All these can be measured, so what you could try doing is setting up an AB test.

Then you'd know if it's a good thing or not for your blog.

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+1 for providing a clear example of how to empirically answer the question –  cdeszaq Mar 12 '12 at 13:10
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