Search Engines and User Behaviour

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It’s very clear that search engines are used a great deal – Google, at present, holds the highest (by a long shot) percentage of search engine uses by consumers. The fact that “Googling it” has become somewhat of a verb in our vocabulary is testament to that.

But what is it that people use Google for mainly, and how can you apply that to your brand or to your website?

User One: The Researcher

A large percentage of people use search engines for research. This doesn’t necessarily have to do with the conversion process – high search volumes for a certain product don’t always mean that there’s an intent to buy.

Nowadays, the internet is such an ‘authority’ on information that we’ve got to the point of typing things into a Google search whilst we are having conversations. Want to prove your friend wrong regarding whether it’s okay to use the word ‘because’ at the start of a sentence? Google has you covered. Now you can laugh at them for being wrong.

(By the way, you can use ‘because’ at the start of a sentence, according to the basic rules of English grammar.)

Search engines, especially Google, are increasingly geared towards research-based queries (recently tailored to a little better with the Hummingbird update). Most of the time, the highest ranking page for a research-based query is a Wikipedia page. This is due in part to the SEO qualities of Wikipedia ( the tightly cross-linked architecture is excellent for ranking), but any quick check of Google keyword planner will pull up a variety of research-based terms, even for terms based upon intent to buy.

Here’s a search for computer:

search habits
Search engines base authority on the content quality of your site, and the quality (and volume) of links to your site. That means that you don’t necessarily have to have accurate information to rank highest for research-based queries (although Google is working to change this in future algorithm updates.)

Research queries can drive traffic to your e-commerce site – so include informative content which researchers would value. Whilst it may not drive immediate conversions, those visits are valuable – and of course, brand awareness is essential. If your site selling computers contains information on how to find the right computer for your needs, likelihood is that the researcher will return to your site as a consumer.

User Two: The Consumers

A large percentage will use search engines like Google in order to shop; although it is worth noting that shopping sites like Amazon.co.uk and eBay are search engines within themselves. In order to cover all bases, more online retailers will put their products on these sites to cover targeted search terms.

Those using Google or search engines like Bing are more likely to type in queries which aren’t all the way along the conversion process quite yet – terms like ‘best price for…’ or ‘cheap…’.

User Three: The Procrastinators

We all already know the benefits of a good cat video. Nothing wastes the hours away better than watching a video of a cat struggling to get out of a hamster ball.

The internet’s second-most used search engine, aside from Google, is Youtube – so take that into account in a marketing strategy, if possible.

Increasingly, consumers are using Youtube for their research – that is, reviews and videos of products in action.

search habits 2

Youtube videos themselves are keyword-rich in order to rank within Youtube, and many big companies have jumped in to create their own Youtube channels in order to cover all the bases when it comes to consumer behaviour.

In conclusion, target these three types of search engine user, and you’re good to go.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Leave me a comment to compliment/correct me.

^.^

Written by Sarah Chalk

Sarah Chalk

Sarah is an SEO Account Manager at 360i and has a keen interest in all things SEO. She has also written for a number of sites, including Vue cinema’s film blog and a number of tech websites.

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Search Engines and User Behaviour
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What type of search engine user do you need to target?

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