One of the things I like best about working in the world of search is that I can get a front row seat to watching human behavior. I find it fascinating.
For me, search engine optimization is about understanding your audience’s needs and solving problems. You can practically peer over their shoulders and see what they’re typing into a search box. It’s magical, really.
Own a bakery? Make sure you’re showcasing chocolate cupcakes in your display case.
If you’re in the fax machine business, it’s likely time to expand your offerings.
Maybe you just want to make sure you’re more popular than your ex-boyfriend.
But you probably knew those things already.
What you may not know is whether interest in your brand is increasing or decreasing, what topics related to your business are of most interest, and most importantly, what people are searching for who don’t know that your business or product is what they’re looking for.
Let’s say you have invented an awesome new device called the SleepTracker Ultimate that tracks your sleep patterns and gives you customized advice for when to go to bed for the night based on when you’ll actually fall asleep.
What problem are you solving?
You might create pages on your web site that talk all about the SleepTracker Ultimate and how great it is. It’s revolutionary. You spent 10 years in the lab developing it. It’s your passion and you’re so excited to finally bring it to the world. But as great as your invention is, your potential customers don’t care about you or your years in a windowless basement lab.
OK, you might tell me, that hurts my feelings a little, but I see where you’re coming from. You then start to create pages for what the SleepTracker Ultimate does. You title a page, “Here’s how the SleepTracker Ultimate Monitors Your Sleep Patterns”.
Too passive? OK, you create another headline: “How the SleepTracker Ultimate Helps You Fall Asleep Faster.”
But your potential customers still aren’t really looking for information on the SleepTracker Ultimate and most of them aren’t even looking to monitor their sleep or for help falling asleep faster.
What are they looking for? Information on insomnia. “Please, internet”, they are saying, at 3am: “how can I cure this agonizing insomnia?”
What should your page be titled? No, not “How the SleepTracker Ultimate Helps Cure Insomnia”. How about “Finally Get Relief From Insomnia” or “Looking for An Insomnia Cure?”
And then make sure the page provides details about why people get insomnia and how sometimes it can be due to poor sleep habits and that by tracking your sleep and figuring out the right time for you to go to bed can make all the difference.
And then! You can tell them about how you created this great device that does all of that for them.
As the one who has spent 10 years developing the device in a lab, it’s easy to make the leap mentally from “my potential customer has insomnia” to “my device will solve their problem”. But the customer isn’t there yet. They are still looking for insomnia information, not information on your device.
Search data helps you see your site and how you present your products through the eyes of your potential customers. So you can solve their problems; make them happy. Which in turn will make you happy. Everyone’s happy. Except maybe Harry. Taylor is way more popular than he is.