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The psychology of search

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The psychology of search – And defining the perfect keywords for AdWords

There are countless questions arising each time one starts a new AdWords campaign – “How do I best reach my customers?”, ”What is my target audience looking for?” and many more. Finding answers to these questions is the major challenge when planning a new campaign and often decides its success or failure.

Who uses Search Engines?

In general internet users can be roughly divided in 2 groups:

  • The Consumers (Social Media, Newsletter, Websites etc.)
  • The Searchers (Search Engines)

While the first group just browses the web to consume content, the latter has a question, a problem or an interest in something in particular. They then put it in a question that they hope the search engine will deliver the right answer to.

How do people use Search Engines?

Unfortunately, there is no standard format searchers use for their queries. This is because the human mind works in a totally different way than a search engine’s algorithm. Humans merge everything into concepts and ideas – concepts like flowers, colors, etc. – while search engines still heavily rely on categorization and classification through keywords.

When using a search engine, the user must first transfer his or her own conceptual thinking into a keyword based search query. And there is no way to exactly predict the outcome of that.

Here are some examples of possible queries, or outcomes of the above described process:
–   An actual question: Where do I find a plumber?

  • A description of the problem: Flooded basement
  • A description of problem’s origin/solution: Repair broken plumbing
  • A geo location: Plumber near my location

With each of these queries the user has certain expectations of the results. Is the search engine result page going to deliver?

That’s exactly where an AdWords campaign should be positioned. The ad has to be designed to meet the searcher’s expectations. For help with writing good ad copy, check out The six tips how to write successful AdWords ads.

And the landing page should of course be able to actually answer the searcher’s original question.

When creating a new AdWords ad it helps to answer the following questions up front:

  • What potential queries are there?
  • What expectations does a searcher have?
  • Does my page answer these questions?
    (Or is there another subpage that does a better job at answering a specific question)

Apart from the benefit of being able to answer multiple questions with different ads and landing pages, you also gain insight into what queries to ignore and not to advertise for, as they are likely to mount costs with no profit.

When you follow these steps and make both your ads and landing pages as relevant to the searchers intent as possible, chances are your ad won’t be seen as disturbing advertisement, but as helpful information. When that happens, you’ve won.

Because Advertising Isn’t Advertising When It’s Information!
Brad Geddes, Certified Knowledge

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