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A Lesson on Search Behavior and SEO

December 16th, 2008 | | Search Behavior

This week, my goal with this post is to hear from some of the readers of SEO Boy!  I know that all of you have your own ideas and opinions as it relates to search behavior and SEO.  The entire realm of SEO is based on how people use search engines.  In my decade+ years of Internet usage and training, I’ve observed a couple things:

  1. People like to roam
  2. People don’t have patience

It seems that those two statements conflict, but I can’t help but think that maybe they DO go together.  I would submit (no pun intended) that people like to visually graze on information that they want to know about.  That may be a “duh” type of statement, but just consider the effort Google expends to penalize spammers and black-hatters.  The frustration of researching information and receiving only pages of spam and mediocre content has changed search behavior, but how much?

What Do You Do When You Search?

  1. Do you enter just one word?  I remember a time when I would enter one word, but I’m beginning to think that due to ad campaigns and spam, I don’t think if I ever enter just one word anymore
  2. Do you come up with your own synonyms? If you’re not finding what you want, do you type in another word that you made up or do you consult a thesarus online? Or do you go ahead and follow a “other related search link?”
  3. Do you open several windows or tabs as you travel different search “trails?”
  4. When do you give up and go to a forum to ask about what you are looking for?
  5. Do you get bugged when a certain site keeps popping up in your synonyms of search?  I’ve come across this when I’m looking for the answer but the site doesn’t supply the answer, but it is more than willing to record its ad impression for my visit.

What Are Your Search Habits?

Search habits vary. If you’re reading this, then I’m assuming you are of a certain group that searches a certain way more than others.  I’ve seen people use search as navigation by typing “yahoo” in Google and clicking on yahoo.com rather than type in the URL.  I’ve also seen apps specifically built on Google queries to download mp3s.

Why is this important?  Well, knowing how people use search engines can give you an advantage on how to optimize your site for more hits.  Just like using keywords, if you are doing it right, you’ll score even more hits.  For instance, if you typically search for a product’s problem like “can’t open such-n-such file in illustrator” then you have a key phrase that could garner a couple extra hits.  Or if you search using navigation techniques like “suchandsuch site faq” to go quickly to the faq page, you could save a couple clicks for some potential visitors.

Where do you lie?  Leave me a comment – I’d love to learn about your search behavior!

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