Updated: Apr 26, 2019
With the advanced algorithms now being used by search engines to score the most relevant results for a given keyword, building search visibility requires well-researched strategy. It helps to think of the search results as a product of the Quality Assurance team for the search provider. When you search a keyword, the search provider is saying “the following results are the best resources we know of to meet your requirements.” How the search engine comes up with these results, what those results are, and what they provide, reveal a good deal about the target audience. These elements are also the key to understanding how Market Intelligence is related to SEO and give us key insights that feed into good SEO strategy.
How does the search engine decide which results to show you?
The effectiveness of a search engine is largely determined by how relevant the results being returned for a keyword are to your use. There are many other factors as well but arguably the relevancy of the search results is the most important. So, how does the search engine determine which results are most relevant? One part of the search system that is responsible for the quality of the results is the adaptive algorithms that generate these search results. The word adaptive here is the key; when the search engine serves up a results page for a keyword, it monitors engagement metrics on the Search Engine Response Page (SERP) such as the following:
- the number of people that click on a search result (also known as an impression);
- how many visitors that click on an impression then return to the search page and click on another impression;
- the time frame to return to the SERP after clicking on an impression;
- the estimated time on page that an average visitor spends on the impression page;
- the number of similar repeat searches which could indicate the results returned are not relevant; and
- many other measurements that are recorded and analyzed.
This behavior monitoring has two specific outcomes:
- It allows the search provider to determine the quality of the results for a keyword; and
- It’s part of how the algorithm learns about the audience requirements for a keyword.
The search engine is trying to attain the best behavior metrics for each SERP, and the search algorithms will make adjustments to the results to achieve this goal.
SERP behavior metrics aren’t the only input on which the algorithms make results decisions. The search algorithms will also learn typical search sequences–that is keyword search patterns before and after your current search. As the search engine learns these sequences, it will then understand what “you may also be interested in.” Now the search engine has the ability to display some intuition by serving ads and content relevant to where the searcher is in the decision journey.
Worth noting is that search engines are now advancing the use of artificial intelligence with technologies such as deep learning and cognitive natural language processing to improve search results. The objective remains the same: provide the most relevant search results to meet the audience requirements for a keyword.
Using Market Intelligence for SEO
As the search engine analyzes visitor behavior metrics for a keyword, it learns the requirements of the keyword. These requirements may be more than just the content focused on the keyword; they may also include content the audience is likely to search for in their search sequence. This type of information is key to understanding any market since it can, in aggregate, supply useful and relevant information that can provide decision-making support.
As an example, according to Google people searching about real estate listings are 5 times more likely to search about planning for retirement and 4 times more likely to search about finding child care.
This data point indicates that a real estate website should take into consideration the needs of both of these audiences. Searching for real estate listings will probably return a page of properties that visitors can filter by requirements. This would be a good start but may not be enough to get good search rankings. Adding content on the website that would help address the needs of the retirement and child care searchers may improve search rankings. For example:
- tips for downsizing your home
- tax and financial considerations when downsizing
- mistakes to avoid when downsizing in retirement
- tips for buying a family friendly house
- first time home buying checklist
Access to this content from the property listing page would be through secondary navigation to deep pages. Of course there is plenty of other content that can be built out such as school information, neighborhood amenities, transportation, etc. The combination of recent property listings and the intuitive navigation to content the visitor may also be interested in will make a much more relevant resource for the search engines to impress. The outcome of this approach is a higher quality assurance rating for the search provider and improved search ranking for the website.
To build an effective search visibility strategy, it is best to identify as much as possible of the full spectrum of information an audience will require through their decision journey. Developing content resources to address these requirements will be a key factor in the success of a SEO campaign. The content on a site should be more focused, more intuitive, and better overall than the competing sites. When this is the case, let the algorithms do their job. That’s good SEO.