Visitors from search engines show nonlinear behavior

Visitors from search engines show nonlinear behavior

 “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line,  except for those using search engines. They tend to wander.”

This Kestrel Quip was inspired by talking to small business owners and realizing how most of  us think about the buyers journey. Namely, we think it is a linear progression.

Here is how we would like to think the typical search session goes:

a. Prospective customer does search → b. Finds your site → c. Reads all your great content → d. Converts and becomes a new customer!

While this can happen, data shows that search engine users usually don’t travel from Point A to Point D so directly. (Hint: look at your Top Conversion Paths in Google Analytics, you may be surprised how many times an eventual converting visitor visited you and by which source.)

Take a step back and remember we call them search engines. People who use them are searching for information and are likely looking to compare information from several sources.  Your website will likely be only one stop on an often meandering journey. (The more complex the ultimate purchase, the more meandering the journey may be.)

What do we do with this knowledge?

1. Look at other sites that come up for the searches for which you rank. Offer something better, more informative, and more persuasive than the competition.

2. Don’t assume that your visitor (potential customer) is actually interested enough in your company to read all of your content.  Remember, they are searching and looking at many sites. They are only scanning that copy you worked hard to perfect. Help your most important takeaways stand out by making a list making the text bold.

3. Look at the data. If you don’t know how people find you, start gathering that information. Lots of us ask “How did you find us?” This is flawed. Remember how people using search engines are in search mode? They are not typically motivated to catalog or document the steps they took and the searches they performed.  Don’t rely on just one source of data.  Look at your PPC keyword data, use call tracking, sign up for Search Console from Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.

While some of this may seem complex, it will ultimately help you better understand how you can win more business from search engines. At the very least, you will understand your customer’s better and that is important for any business.