Finding information about almost everything has become easier since the first search engines were developed to help people. However, not all searches yield the exact results people expect. In order to understand how to create a search engine optimization strategy, website owners and SEO professionals need to understand the interaction methods between search engines and humans.
There are three different queries people can make using search engines: “do”, “know”, and “go”. The first query is related to activities people are intending to complete in the near future. They might want to listen to music, check the weather, or the current value of their property. In this query, they have a clear idea of what they want, and they need answers on how to do it using a website. They are intending to use the site to help them do what they want. The second, “know” query is based on customers’ need for information. It can be related to how to bleed a radiator, how to plant seeds, or could even be shopping-related: how to choose a boat for family trips. “Go” queries are based on existing knowledge about the existence of the site, but people would not know the exact web address. A good example can be searching for the user’s university’s online student portal.
When customers search for products or information, they only have a couple of seconds to judge whether or not the search result is relevant to their query. This is why people who are looking to optimize their sites to search engines need to ensure that the site is relevant to the search engine description and the keywords people search for. If a customer is searching for a green football kit and the first result in search engines has a title: “blue football kit,” no matter how hard the search engine optimization company worked to get the site on the first place, customers will find that the site is not relevant to their query, and will refuse to click on the site. However, if the site’s description says: “Discount football shirts in all colors,” customers will be likely to check out the page. However, there is a catch. If the site promised “all colors,” and there are no green kits, they will click away. This will increase the site’s bounce rate, and consequently the search engine ranking. Visitors will hit the “back” button and check out other results for the same query.
For the above detailed reasons, it is important that both website owners and search engine optimization experts understand customers’ behavior. While paid advertisements featured on the top of the results page and in the sidebar used to attract visitors years ago, people searching online are now less likely to click through these links. This is why organic search results need to be both relevant and attention-grabbing. It is likely that customers, after unsatisfied with the first link they clicked on initially, will return to the search page and search for something that is more relevant. By refining the search, they hope to get results that are closely related to their search. In some cases, however, they will not type in only keywords, but a full question. As voice search by Google is becoming more popular, many Internet users take advantage of using their voice to ask the search engine questions and get answers fast.
Website owners should first optimize their site for humans, instead of search engines. It is important that the “snippet” of the site in the search engine results tells visitors about the services, products, and information available on the site, and provides them a good reason to click the link. There is no point ranking a page on the first page, if the description is not appealing to customers, and they will not visit the pages. Similarly, if the description of the site in search results has nothing to do with the link, visitors will not stay on the site long. The higher the site’s bounce rate is (the number of visitors leaving the page shortly after clicking through), the lower the website’s relevancy score for the given search term will be. Creating landing pages that engage with visitors and provide easy to understand information about what the page is about, which services and products are available, and making navigation, sign up, and search easy will increase the quality of customer experience.