Ken Wheaton of Google recently did a post about ‘why shoppers are turning to search for ideas and inspiration’. And it got us thinking about the relationship between search and user experience. SEO and the SERPs are constantly evolving, and so is the way people use search engines.
It’s useful to stay on top of search trends because they can have an impact on how exactly people are using your website. So here are some insights into how search habits impact UX design and web content. In Ken’s post he talks about how search habits are changing, so we’re going to have a little look at how these minor changes in search behaviour can be so relevant to website user experience.
Using search engines for inspiration
One of the things he talks about is that people aren’t just searching for specific things anymore, shoppers are turning to search engines like Google for inspiration. They don’t want to have to think too much about what choice to make and which options they have, they want the SERPs to deliver this information to them. People are literally using the word ‘ideas’ in search terms these days, so, what does this mean for content and UX?
Well, you need to go back to the drawing board and have a think about how your site might be able to serve up some options and ideas to people who are carrying out ‘ideas’ searches. Look at your landing pages and see if you can adapt the content to meet the needs of likely searches, and if you don’t have one that suits, create a new page that caters specifically to this demand.
People are using search to look for ideas. And by that, I mean they’re actually using the word “ideas” in search. A lot. Valentine’s Day ideas, baby shower ideas, groomsman gift ideas, tattoo ideas, bathroom remodel ideas, and hair color ideas.
Have a think. If your site sells clothing, what sort of events and clothing ideas might your audience want? Can you create a content hub that satisfies this demand? Such as ‘what to wear for x, y, z.’ And don’t just think pages of copy that answer queries, what about helpful shopping lists or checklists that people can go through. Or quizzes that help lead them down a certain path?
And, going a step further, what about AI (artificial intelligence) and messenger apps. These are additional ways in which you can assist customers and serve up stuff they’re searching for. ‘The number of bots grow from 30,000 active bots in 2016 to today’s 100,000 active bots.’
Google “Getting into the specifics”
People are getting a little lazy and expecting a lot of information to be served to them on a plate. They want to do all they can to cut down the time they have to spend researching online for things. When it comes to search, according to this new post by Google, people are getting into the specifics.
Forget searches for ‘gifts’ which are so broad the user’s not going to be able to drill down to what they want. Plus, PPC and SEO keywords like this are super expensive to try and rank for. Now people are searching for the lower hanging fruit, which is good news for smaller brands who have a good long tail keyword strategy because they’re more likely to be able to compete with larger brands.
People are much more likely in 2018 to search for things like ‘gift ideas for a 10-year-old’. We’ve got all this incredible information at our fingertips, so why not use search engines to find it for us, right?
Brands need to solve people’s problems
When having your site redesigned, consider how it might be answering people’s queries and concerns, and if there’s a smarter way of catering to your audience’s needs. Things like breadcrumbs and related products and pages can’t help answer wide queries or present additional option.
People have a problem they’re trying to solve—they want to look polished at their interview or throw the neighborhood’s best BBQ—and often don’t know where to start.
Creating content and additional web pages around topics you know your audience will be interested in isn’t rocket science, but it seems to be a more pressing issue now that people are demanding so much more information. People aren’t always ‘shopping’ even when they appear to be. A lot of the time they are learning, perusing and discovering – and your site needs to be geared towards converting these customers.
Mobile first: information access anytime anywhere
Another way in which search is changing is that it is almost continuous. Whereas in the past people may have done a few searches a day from their desktop or laptop computer, now, people have their phones with them 24/7. Which means they can literally Google anything, as it happens, in real time.
And websites need to be designed to serve up content that caters to this, as well as recognise the importance of having a fast, well-designed mobile site. People want everything in an instant and will go elsewhere the second they sense they won’t find what they’re looking for.
The always-there nature of mobile enables us to act right in the moment that an idea pops into our heads.
What are you doing to meet the needs of your web visitors? It’s time to consider how people are searching might impact how your site is structured, designed and written. We’re user experience experts, with our help, you can make sure your site is successful in 2018 and beyond. Get in touch today to see how we can transform your website.