Saturday, December 19, 2009

Searchers' Queries Types

The most important thing for SEO professionals is to understand the audience in order to provide them results that are relevant to their queries. Once you grasp how your target market searches for your service, product, or resource, you can more effectively reach and keep those users.

Search engines are different from typing the exact URL of the website that you want to visit. It's different from clicking a link from your startup page or from some resource page. Search engines are tools that are used with a particular intent. Thei
r intent is answers, to find different resources about the answers they are searching for, or to find something in particular, rather than just land on it by happenstance.

In order to define types and characteristics of certain types of queries performed by searchers, I will point 3 types of queries:

  • Navigational Queries
  • Informational Queries
  • Transactional Queries

Navigational Queries

The intent in performing a navigational query by a searcher is made because of finding a particular information in mind. The searcher might now know the exact URL of the website he is looking for, but the name, or the brand of
the company can easily take the searcher to the website.

A navigational query can be defined as: Visiting a Pre-Determined Destination Sourcing the "Correct" Website URL.

Take for example a searcher who might search for "Alaska Flights". His intent is to find the "Alaska Flights" company and use their services. If you manage you optimize a certain page for "
Alaska Flights" key phrase and rank high, or even outrank the company's website for that key phrase, then you are in a position to distract the visitors to go on your page and profit from targeted traffic. These kinds of navigational key phrases have very high percentage of conversion rate, as they are searched with high intent.

Informational Queries

Informational searches are performed with an intent for researching about particular subject. Informational searches don't have transactional character, but can be made for some product research, features about the product, etc ... The information itself is the goal and no interaction beyond clicking and reading is required.

Having well designed and well written informational content can bring you good inbound links. You can receive attention from journalists, researchers, people will sign up if you have that kind of option, and other similar actions.

Websites that are writing on product reviews are nice example of the answer that an informational query might be searching for. Searchers will find the information, and in future that might lead to a conversion.

Transactional Queries

Transactional queries have high value. They are performed with a particular need, and that need is spending money on products or services you might be offering through your website. The transactional queries are identifying a (local) business, the next step is making a purchase online, and task is completed.

Research by Pennsylvania State University and the Queensland University of Technology shows that more than 80% of searches are informational in nature and only 10% of searches navigational or transactional.
But these percentages does not mean that they are universal. A searcher might be searching for an informational query and through that search he may end up on a website/page that is offering a product or a service, which leads us to think that not all informational queries are strictly informational.

For instance, if you are buying pay-per-click ads and you don't include informational queries in those ads, lets say something like digital camera, then you will leave that search market to your competitors. Even digital camera is more of an informational query, the searcher might give a click on a company that is showing up for that in the paid search and end up on a page that is offering Canon G 10 and then purchase that product.

So yes, it is important to deal with your PPC campaign in a more strategic way. We will talk about pay per click strategies in some of the further posts.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Brief Overview of Searches and Key Phrase Length

Every person who is using the search engines has a particular goal in mind. And that is to find a relevant answer. If, for example, you are trying to find an information about tigers, then you will type "tigers" into the search query. As a result from the search you will see in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) a list of websites that are containing significant volume of information about tigers, their life in the wildness, the different types of tigers, etc..

But, if you have a problem with the electric power in your house, you live in Manchester and you search for: "electrician", then you might not find the answer you were searching for. Instead of that, you could type "electrician in Manchester", "electrician services Manchester", or, "how to fix my electricity power" for which you will see a list of websites offering answers relevant to your problem.

ComScore data from March 2009 shows an average query length of 2.9 words. A more detailed look shows the following percentages of search per word length. See data shown below:

  • 25,32% of searches - 1 keyword
  • 24,96% of searches - 2 keywords
  • 19,80% of searches - 3 keywords
  • 13,17% of searches - 4 keywords
  • 7,53% of searches - 5 keywords
  • 4,04% of searches - 6 keywords
  • 2,15% of searches - 7 keywords
  • 1,19% of searches - 8 keywords

Searchers Behavior and Household Income

According to ComScore, the number of search queries performed on the Web was 12,6 billion across all engines in December 2008.
They stated that Internet usage increases with household income. See the data for January 2009 shown below:

  • $15,000 to $24,999 - 5,792 serchers
  • $25,000 to $39,999 - 16,108 searchers
  • $40,000 to $59,999 - 39,716 searchers
  • $60.000 to $74,999 - 20,947 searchers
  • $75,000 to $99,000 - 28,995 searchers
  • $100,000 or more - 44,627 searchers

Additional data from studies, surveys and papers on Search Engine Land's Stats & Behavior page (click the link).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Introduction on Search Engines and Their Mission

Search has become an everyday act in the need for more information, knowledge and business. According to "comScore", 12 billion searches are being performed each month (as of January 2009) According to that, 400 million searches are performed each day, which is 4,500 web searches per second.

Google with it's 65% of the search market share handles more than 2,900 searches per second and the response is delivered in less than one second. Which is quite impressive.
However you see at it, it's way better than going into a library and spending few hours in finding what you need.

Knowing only this information you can imagine what means to rank well in the search engines. If your business relies on services or products, then you better ask yourself what are the factors that will rank your business website on the first page of the main search engines.
Obtaining such prime search results is not a simple matter. And it takes knowledge, personal effort and spending long hours on link building (or paying for professional SEO services).

The way search engines earn their money is through paid advertising. The most used service in paid search is the pay-per-click (or cost-per-click) model. Which tells us that the advertisers pay for each person who will click on the link of their website placed in the paid results after a search has been performed.

Now, what do you think? Is it easy for the search engines to deliver the exact search result for the query that you searched for? - No! It's not.
Search engines invest a tremendous amount of time, energy and capital in improving their relevance. This includes studies on user behavior, users responses to their search results, comparing their results with the results from other search engines, eye tracking studies and lot more.

Because search engines' success depends on the relevance of their search results, manipulation of search results is something that can destroy them, and that is known as spam. Each search engine employs a team of people who are working on spam detection and eliminating the same. This is important because everyone who is doing SEO should know that wrong (aka black hat) tactics can be the worst thing for his website, business or whatsoever he has on the internet. We will discuss more on this in further posts.

Figure 1-1 shows us the U.S. market share for search engines in January 2009, according to "comScore". As you can see, Google is the most dominant search engine on the Web in the U.S.
In European countries the domination is even greater, but, that is not the same for China, where the search engine Baidu is the leading search engine.

I will end this post with a definition on search engines taken from wikipedia:

" A web search engine is a tool designed to search for information on the World Wide Web. The search results are usually presented in a list of results and are commonly called hits. The information may consist of web pages, images, information and other types of files. Some search engines also mine data available in databases or open directories. Unlike Web directories, which are maintained by human editors, search engines operate algorithmically or are a mixture of algorithmic and human input. "