How Do You Search Online?


It’s something that we almost take for granted – when we search for something online, we expect to find the results immediately. However, the way that I search can drastically differ than how my co-worker, Sydney searches or even how our COO, Aaron searches. There are a multitude of factors that affect the way that we choose to search for answers online, so if you’re interested in learning more about search patterns try asking your employees these questions!

How do you search for a high-level idea?

Ask your employees this question and then prompt them with the following:

  • You’re not exactly sure what you are looking for – but you know that you can find it once you see it. It could be a topic of interest, a brand, a person, or a product that you can’t recall the name of it.
  • Where do you go to search for it? (i.e. YouTube, Google, Social Media)
  • What terms will you use to try and find it?

Take note of who says what. Do the answers vary across genders? Across generations? Are there any trends that you can denote from the answers? It was interesting when we performed the same drill at CM, some people responded that they search via YouTube, some use long-tail keywords and some will even try to find it on social.

How do you search for a question?

Are you looking for the best format for a landing page? Or maybe you want to know how to change a tire? How do you search for an answer to a question?

  • Will you type in the entire question?
  • Will you search using specific keywords?
  • Do you search on YouTube for video tutorials?

Consider the key questions that your customers may be asking when they search for your product or service. What are they asking and what are the answers they are looking for? Keep this in mind when creating your on-page content. If you can create a title that answers that question or incorporates their question, the better chance you will have of showing up when they search for it.

How do you look for something near you?

Whether you’re looking for a good restaurant or a plumber in the area – how do you search? Do you look at review sites like Yelp or Angie’s List? Do you include a zip code or do you rely on your location services to pick up the best locations near you? Ask your team and see what they say! If you’re a local business, then this is extremely important to consider. Is your content optimized for your location or zip code?

What does this exercise lead to?

Ultimately, it shows how search patterns drastically vary, even when looking for the same thing. It can help you create a better SEO and content strategy for your customers, because you can take into account a wide variety of search trends and keywords.  Realizing the different ways that people can search, whether through Google or other channels, how they choose to search, or how they choose to find your product or service  – will help you better craft your web content and strategy to have the greatest reach possible.

Ask these questions on an on-going basis. Maybe set up a quarterly or bi-annual meeting where you can revisit these questions and patterns and adjust your content strategy accordingly.