Search Habits and User Preferences: A Better Understanding of Customer Intent

By January 14, 2018SEO Tips

Search engine optimization (SEO) is maximized if one has a full understanding of their customer’s intent. In order to better attract new customers and retain established customers, we need a good understanding as to why our customers are seeking our services or products, and this understanding is best achieved by knowing our customer’s search habits and user preferences. This blog will address tips, tactics and all the SEO know-how you need to better understand your customers’ intent.

Every product or business has a target audience, or a target market, that they are intending their product to reach. Having a detailed understanding of who your target market is and knowing their buying traits is essential to better devise strategies and tactics to reach this market more thoroughly.  In the world of SEO, these specific traits, also known as your ‘buyers persona,’ are characteristics based on market research and actual data from your existing customers to help you to create a representation of your ideal customer.

Having a detailed understanding of who your target market is and knowing their buying traits is essential to better devise strategies and tactics to reach this market more thoroughly.

Buyer Personas 101:

Getting as much information about your buyers is essential to creating a comprehensive buyer persona. Gather information from individual or group interviews, conduct customer surveys, scour websites for related analytics, look into previous research done by your business in the past, or acquire statistics from private and public databases.  The more information you can gather, the better.

A very valuable method of acquiring information is through interviews. Interviews allow you to gather information directly from your target audience without allowing outside factors to taint the quality or quantity of details associated with your personal customer base. Question suggestions to ask your customers could be:

  • What is your occupation and what do you most enjoy at your work place?
  • How do you enjoy spending your free time?
  • List a few of your goals and potential obstacles that stand in the way of achieving these goals.
  • What is your family life like? Are you married/single? Do you have children?
  • How does our product/business improve your life?
  • What is most important to you when looking at potential products/businesses?
  • Are you satisfied with our product/business?

Authentic, straight forward questions encourage authentic, straight forward answers, giving you authentic, straight forward information. Consider using quotations in your questionnaires or interviews in order to better describe your ideal customer. Using a multitude of sources, find data such as most frequently used social media platforms, shopping frequency and preferences, goals/motivations/obstacles, and customer demographics (age, marital status, income etc.). Once the information has been gathered, organize it into segments to identify patterns, highlighting differences and similarities.

Once you’ve gathered your information and organized it into meaningful categories, begin the creation process of building your buyer persona. One demographic at a time, create both your ideal and less than ideal customers. Taking your newly crafted personas, guide your keyword search and link building accordingly to more efficiently target customers.

Organizing keywords based on your buyer persona helps avoid wasting unnecessary time and resources on keywords that do little to benefit SEO.  Remember that when someone performs a search, they are essentially asking a question.  Keeping your buyer persona, as well as their goals/obstacles in mind, ask yourself “What problem is my product/business hoping to solve for my customer?”

For example, Electronic Ed may be looking for product specifications of the newest IPhone and may search “IPhone 8 vs. IPhone 7,” or, “Product specs of IPhone vs. other cell phones.” Ed is essentially asking himself “Technology advances are important to me, which cell phone will best meet the criteria I have for my next mobile phone purchase?” Meanwhile Facebook Fred may be more concerned with using his mobile phone for social media purposes and therefore he may search “Camera advances of IPhone 8,” or “Customer review of IPhone 8 camera,” as he asks himself “Are the advancements of the newest IPhones’ camera valuable enough for me to justify buying a new mobile phone?”

The valuable information gathered to create your buyer persona can also be used to help with link building. When identifying potential guest blogs you may be interested in posting on, keep in mind where your potential ideal customers would most likely to be getting their information… i.e. Electronic Ed will probably be browsing technology focused blogs or websites where Facebook Fred is most likely spending the majority of his time on social media forums, or scouring photography blogs looking for photo-editing applications.


Search Behavior: 101

Search behaviors aid you in better understanding the motivation behind a customer’s search, which can be beneficial whether you are trying to figure out why conversions are lower than anticipated or simply conducting keyword research. There are three types of search behavior, categorized into either navigation, informational or transactional.

Navigational searches are conducted with the sole purpose of going to a specific website. Some people prefer to physically type a domain name into the search bar rather than utilize their bookmark function, allowing the search engine to function as a directory. While navigational searches are most favorable for the intended website, this situation does allow for a small window of opportunity to direct the searchers attention away from their intended destination.

Informational searches are conducted with the sole intent of gaining information. Searching for the actresses name in your favorite romantic comedy or looking up possible home remedies for a seasonal cough can be classified as informational searches.  These searches are not typically done with the intent of purchasing a product (just yet) and are found at the top of the conversation funnel.  However, informational searches frequently start with quite a broad search, and thus, typically have a larger search volume.  This is the perfect opportunity to expand your exposure and distract the searcher. Assure quality content and strive to provide an positive and effortless customer experience to gain a position in their evoked set.

Transactional searches are conducted by a searcher with the sole purpose of purchasing something. Whether the customer is signing up for a free trial of Netflix, or searching “Melbourne’s best chocolate shop,” this type of search behavior is made with the intent of purchase and is considered to be at the low end of the conversion funnel. In order to see an increase of short-term conversions, aim for transactional searches in your keyword search and ensure quality and pertinent content for long-tail keywords in order to more efficiently convert customers. Once converted, be sure your website includes all information necessary to easily facilitate your customer making a purchase. It has been shown that customers will make a purchase on the same day they initiated their search, 50% of the time, making it crucial to have your website ready to optimize high click through transactional searches.

By putting in the time initially to gain a complete understanding of your target market, deciphering your buyers persona, and comprehending the three different types of search behaviors, you enable the potential to eventually increase the pertinence and applicability of your business in the long run, making customer intent a pertinent aspect of your online presence.


Author admin

Our team of SEO experts is dedicated to developing and implementing cutting-edge search engine campaigns to help our clients grow their web presence. Our strategies complement the services of many of the world’s top tech companies, such as Yahoo, Google, and Amazon.

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