Make Sure Your SEO Lines Up with Searcher Behavior

Written by Nick Stamoulis

A common mistake I see many new-to-SEO site owners and marketing managers make is that they assume they know how their target audience is searching for their products and services. When you’re conducting your keyword research you have to keep an open mind about what kind of search terms are going to be the best fit for your website. Industry jargon, for instance, doesn’t always make for the best SEO if your potential customers don’t use those terms to search. For example, you may refer to your financial software as “business forecasting software” but what if your customers are looking for “business budgeting software,” “budget and planning software” or even “small business accounting software?” Failing to account for searcher behavior means your SEO is missing the mark and website could be missing out on a large chunk of your target audience.

In a recent interview I did with Ruud Hein of Search Engine People, he pointed out;

It’s just like when you look at your own business, your own site. You see queries; “keyboard clean putty”, “clean milk out keyboard”, “clean coffee off laptop keyboard”. And you realize; these are different people, different groups, different personas. They talk (search) different. They are from different backgrounds.

There is no rule that says two people have to have search for the same thing in the same way. In fact, many reports say that anywhere from 15%-25% of searches every day in Google are brand new. There literally is no limit to the ways that people can look for different information. While certain search queries are bound to be the most common, you can’t afford to assume anything about searcher behavior until you’ve got the numbers from your own analytics to back it up.

Let’s go back to our budgeting software company for a minute. Assume they have been targeting “business forecasting software” as the cornerstone of their SEO campaign. “Business forecasting software” only gets 210 searches a month overall and let’s say it drives 40 odd people to their site. While it’s a great long tail variation to incorporate into their SEO program there are still plenty of searches happening under different (yet related) keywords that this company can’t afford to overlook. A little keyword research reveals that “budget planning software” gets 1,300 searches a month and “financial planning software” gets 6,600 searches. These keywords might not be the best fit for the software company, but they should at least be given a once over.

It’s so important that you don’t rest the success of your SEO campaign on a short keyword list because searcher behavior is bound to create more opportunity over time. If this company only concentrated on 5-10 keywords and didn’t adapt their SEO program to match searcher behavior their website is going to get left behind sooner or later. How people search changes every day as new jargon is created and accepted by your target audience. You don’t want to get stuck with a dying keyword as the basis of your entire SEO campaign.

The software company should also take a look at their own analytics. If they are targeting “business forecasting software” but notice that isn’t one of their top performing keywords than it’s possible their SEO campaign isn’t in line with searcher behavior. How are people actually finding your website right now? That is important information that you need to factor into your keyword research to make sure your SEO is right on track to help your website appeal to the right searchers when they need you the most.

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