One the best pieces of advice I heard on the Salford SEO and Social Media Course (#SSMM hashtag on Twitter) in 2010 was that `SEO is fundamentally about human nature – where our eyes go, our money follows.’
Of course it’s true. No matter how we pretend not to be influenced by marketing or advertising, we are creatures who follow a pack instinct – we see that others think something is useful, or enhances their social status and we want it too. We seek approval from our peers, right from childhood – often subconsciously.
You see this process in phone and gadget shops. People talk about tariffs, features, data allowances etc but the real, almost hidden conversation is about status, reputation, brand values, kudos.
PEOPLE SEARCH BY MAKE, MODEL, COLOUR – THEY KNOW WHAT THEY COVET
When you build a website, start with the basics; who will visit and why? What’s in it for them?
We are all time-poor nowadays, so websites need to communicate info rapidly and in a sensible, stylish manner. The design should reflect the brand values of your target customer, the text should echo the type of conversations you would have with your website visitors if you met them in a physical store, or maybe in a coffee shop. Relaxed, not too pushy, informed and quietly confident in your product or service.
When I searched for keywords related to smartphones recently I was struck by fairly obvious things like iPhone5 searches rising on Google.
But there were also searches for mobile.me, a discontinued Apple contacts/file sharing service. Didn’t expect that. Some things in SEO are unpredictable, that’s why keyword searches are absolutely essential – perhaps twice weekly on larger sites. Unforseen events can often `spike’ searches in all kinds of things related to your core product or service. Look how an Icelandic volcano erupting spiked searches for ferry services or flights from obscure airports to the UK.
OK, back to smartphones; I found three times more people searching for `best’ or `top’ smartphone than I did for `cheapest.’ People want reviews, advice, ammo before walking into that lions’ den otherwise known as a UK phone shop. This isn’t really a price-driven product, no matter what people say to each other down the pub about contract tariffs.
If you drill down into search volumes you find models like `Wildfire,’ ‘Sensation’ or `Cha Cha’ within the HTC category. People are quite specific – they more or less know what they want – then they begin a web hunt for the best deal on that make and model. Same thing happens with cars, laptops, hi-fi, TVs, washing machines, sofas etc.
The brands who do best online are ones who spend time and money on their brand image, supporting reviewers with real credibility. Image sells, `cool’ still counts for something.
Manufacturers also need to give resellers an incentive to finally close the deal online. Because for all our specific searches, or our powerful longing for the latest feature-packed smartphone, sometimes a random shiny new bauble can catch our fickle eyes. That’s what makes us human.
We’re all search magpies.
I’m Twittering on @npointsocial BTW )