Search engines are tools—they’re ultimately a gateway to a piece of content. Understanding how a user uses a search engine will make your optimization efforts easier and more successful.
- [Brad] We've established that searches everywhere, and just about everyone uses a search engine, but how each individual uses it varies dramatically. Search engines are tools, they're ultimately a gateway to a piece of content. A user arrives at the search box with intent, and then manipulates the search engine by feeding it words to help them arrive at what they're looking for. But we all interact with this search box differently. Understanding how your target market searches is crucial to developing your SEO strategy.
A college student will interact with search far differently then say their middle aged professor, and with that same idea, a female student will interact with search differently than a male, even on a related topic. Let's walk through an example that demonstrates this difference clearly. We can identify variations simply by looking at Google's auto-complete options. So, I'm here on Google.com, and I'm going to type men's shoes. Take a look at these results; men's shoes, men's shoes to wear with jean, men's shoes on sale, men's shoes at Walmart.
Let's compare that with a search for women's shoes. Here we see women's Nike shoes, women's running shoes, women's basketball shoes. So we can see some differing patterns in the way that two demographics are searching about shoes. Now, this is a very simplistic approach. Consider, say regional implications, pop versus soda, or age variations, such as a search for white bucks, versus say, white men's dress shoes.
Your first approach is to invest in looking at your search council queries and demographic data to build a pattern of who your visitors are, and how they're searching for your content. You can also explore Google trends to reveal even more clues. So, let's run through an example. I've pulled up Google Trends at google.com/trends, and I'm going to do a search for what time is it? Next, I'm going to select the compare option and compare this to a search of current time.
So, as we view the interest over time chart, we can see that there's a relatively similar popularity between the two terms. But as we scroll down, the differences become evident. Here we can see that what time is it, has related queries of okay google, thank you google, hello google, and so on. If I scroll down, we can see that the current time has related queries of the current time in Rio, the current utc time, the current pt time, and so on.
So, what time is it is related to these interesting queries such as okay google, and what does this tell us? Well, it means that people are asking their phones these questions, the world is becoming increasingly mobile. In 2015, people conducted more searches on phones and tablets, then on desktop, and in a mobile world, people are using speech more and more. According to Google, the ratio of voice search is growing faster than type search, and it's working.
Our devices are getting smarter, and they're handling complex questions. The better they become, the more we're trained to search conversationally as opposed to theses blocky keywords. And this is why we're seeing that more searches along the lines of, what's the weather like today in Santa Barbara? Rather than, weather, Santa Barbara. Now, when we look at the demographic data, voice search is highest among those 18-29, with 70% of that group reporting using voice search on a regular basis.
Compare this to the over 45 crowd, which sees about 30% usage. As you begin to evaluate your search strategy, remember that your target audience may search differently than another target audience, and queries are becoming longer and more natural.
- Comparing search engines
- Researching questions to secure Google featured snippets
- Optimizing content
- Using Google search features
- Tracking your performance