Don’t Confuse Keyword Research with Search Behavior

Knowing the words users type into search bars is an important way to attract an audience. Making sense of broader search behavior gives you great insights to keep them around. It gives marketers another layer of actionable data for drawing real conclusions.

Knowing how users find websites, and which sites they decide to click on from search engine results pages (SERPs), goes beyond keywords. Think about how searchers behave after they’ve already typed in their key terms, and start reviewing what search engines serve them:

  • Age and Gender Matter: Some studies say that older searchers visit the second page of search engine results pages in greater frequency than younger searchers. Men also tend to view second-page results more often than women. Each demographic has different needs and goals when searching. If you’re targeting older men, your first-page rankings are less critical for click-through and engagement, whereas they’re more important when going after young women. As usual with “findings,” try it for yourself with testing on your own site, but set a hypothesis up front based on your sites’ demographics.
  • Looking to Get Answers: Searchers looking for quick answers to questions may view SERPs differently than those looking to do deep research into a topic. Those who want a quick answer for Sunday’s NFL game schedule may only go to Google’s Knowledge Graph to get their information, but someone doing product research to find the best queen-sized bed may go through multiple pages of search results. For quick scanners, anything below their screen’s fold has significantly reduced click-through rates.
  • Ads or Organic Results: Users clicking on ad’s search results tend to have different goals than those browsing the organic or local listings. Visitors landing on pay-per-click ads are usually looking to engage a business in a service: buy clothes, hire an attorney, get a free auto insurance quote, etc. Users who don’t want a sales pitch tend to avoid them, though recent data shows that there’s still some confusion about ads. About one-third of searchers still can’t tell Google AdWords ads apart from organic results.


That’s where we start, but measuring search behavior isn’t over when users click on results.

Know What Pages Rank for Key Terms

Tracking keyword ranking for your website’s landing pages is more actionable than you might think. This goes far beyond just tracking and reporting. Paying attention to the keywords your content ranks for is vital to convert more visitors into leads and grow business revenue. You’ll know what landing pages visitors may enter your site from, as well as the context they’re expecting based on what they searched. That helps you consider the first impression they’re most likely to get when they view the content. Without this information, you can’t begin to understand how users might behave on your domain.

Track certain pages individually

Not all pages on your site have content that’s geared to conversion or giving visitors compelling information to choose your business. How searchers behave on your ‘About Us’ page is different from how they act when looking through your products pages or practice areas. Know what keywords popular pages rank for and track that metric over time against monthly search traffic flowing into them. That data helps you understand why visitors seek out your site.

Hint: You can always search individual pages for their rankings and keywords. Just type the full URL into SpyFu’s search bar. “deananddeluca.com/coffee-tea-cocoa”

Search Behavior on Your Website

Visitors entering your website don’t have much patience for a scavenger hunt. They need to be able to make sense of the page and know what to do next. Does your site have header navigation that makes it easy to find product categories? Can visitors get back to the homepage with a single button click? If visitors don’t know where they are, or what to do next, they won’t trust your site and may bounce away without engaging with its content. Descriptive page titles, breadcrumb navigation, and searcher friendly URLs are all methods of providing vivid clues about location on your site.

Don’t Lose Money: Bad searcher experience on your site can hurt revenue and your site’s potential search rankings. Google gives weight to user signals like bounce and click-through rates from SERPs, so don’t wait to correct these issues.

User Experience Influences Behavior

User experience, or UX, refers to how visitors feel about your site, including their attitudes and emotions when searching through its web pages. How easy is it for visitors to find what they want, and do they have a good time doing it? That’s user experience. UX changes by device type and, more importantly, screen size.

As mobile devices advance beyond smartphones and tablets, there’s less of a need to think about them as separate channels. Users now expect the same seamless experience no matter what screen size they choose for engaging with your site and its content. If your website isn’t responsive across all screen sizes, you may see changes in your performance metrics.

Behavior Flow and Bounce Rates: Notice high bounce rates on your landing pages? Your site may not give them the content searchers want in a way that’s easy to reach — that’s bad UX. Check Behavior Flow in Google Analytics, looking for pages with high drop-off rates.

Leverage Search Behavior for Conversion

When you know the overall visitor demographics of searchers hitting your pages, and the content they view most often, you can shape UX to serve up their preferred content faster. Make it easier for them to associate that content with your brand. Serve popular content above the fold, so more visitors can see it. Add popular content pages to your top-level navigation to make it easier for users to find them without having to comb through category pages or a sea of blog posts.

The net gain from paying attention to searcher behavior here is greater opportunity for conversion. Customers will take the positive emotions they experience while using your website and infuse them into your brand. Basically, your business is competent in searchers’ minds because the website functions well, serves clear content, and doesn’t confuse them.


Search behavior is always evolving. Watch your rankings to figure out where your site is already gaining traction, and make any adjustments to super-serve that audience you’re already getting.



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