Understanding search behaviour is a key ingredient of successful internet marketing, some of the following facts could be very handy particularly in terms of keyword research and targeting.

First and foremost, try to understand your niche & target audience and then concentrate on the following user behaviour patterns and try to figure out how you could leverage them to outdo your competition. Let’s take fact number 10 as an example. If you are in a very competitive niche where SERPs are riddled with biased results, you should concentrate on the fact that users are likely to formulate more question queries & that they formulate the longest query somewhere in the middle of their search session.

You need to figure out what those question queries could be. Don’t ask fellow SEOs about what they are likely to search for, because users acquainted with SEO don’t represent the average searcher. Ask an friend or an outsider what questions they are likely to query for your service/product. Make a list of those question queries & target them where possible, making sure you cover a few long tails along the way.

  1. Search queries are classified into three categories: navigational, informational and transactional. Navigational queries are those which are intended to find a specific webpage that the searcher has in mind. Informational queries are intended to find information about a certain topic. Transactional queries are those which are intended to complete some web mediated activities.
  2. Query type influences SERP viewing time and the number of fixations on selected web documents.
  3. In informational queries, users spent less time on SERPs and have greater pupil dilation as compared to navigational tasks.
  4. For navigational and transactional queries searchers expect high accuracy on top one retrieved search result.
  5. If a query is transactional, the searcher visits more pages however the page reading time is shorter as compared to informational queries.
  6. Users look for more relevant documents amongst the top ranking search results if their query is informational. Furthermore, in informational tasks, users spend less time on SERPs and have greater pupil dilation as compared to navigational tasks.
  7. Users tend to adopt more structured search patterns when engaging in specific task than in general tasks.
  8. 53% searchers would visit a link upon seeing multiple instances of an associated name brand appearing in a SERP. (Does this ring any bills?)
  9. 75% of searchers claim they find themselves influenced by meta descriptions appearing in SERPs.
  10. For unsuccessful tasks users formulate more question queries, they use advanced operators more often and they spend longer time on SERPs. Furthermore, they formulate the longest query somewhere in the middle of their search session.

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References:

  • How does Search Behavior Change as Search Becomes More Difficult? Google – Anne Aula, Rehan M. Khan and Zhiwei Gua
  • Ranking with Query-Dependent Loss for Web Search Georgia Institute of Technology & Microsoft Research Asia – Jiang Bian Tie-Yan Liu Tao Qin Hongyuan Zha
  • Search Behaviors in Different Task Types School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University – Jingjing Liu, Michael J. Cole, Chang Liu, Ralf Bierig, Jacek Gwizdka, Nicholas J. Belkin, Jun Zhang, Xiangmin Zhang