There are two things that people use the major search engines for;

  1. Research (finding information)
  2. And making purchases (finding products or services)

These two concepts are driven by two distinctively different types of search phrases and mindsets.

The internet is a tool that can be used to learn. In this same concept, in your search engine optimization efforts, you need to understand that there is a learning process visitors go through before making purchases for your products or services.

Pleasing Searchers Will Make Your Pages More Relevant

Let’s say you own a mechanics shop and you sell car parts. You open an online shop and have uploaded all of your parts, pricing and information into a shopping cart and you’re ready to start selling online.
If making money on the internet through search engine optimization is your goal, you need to “target what the searcher wants”.

Pleasing Searchers – Targeting what the searcher actually needs is paramount to online success and can significantly increase your profits (more so than targeting what you think is important).

Pleasing the Search Engines – The search engines will find your web pages more relevant and rank them higher if your web page content targets what the searcher is looking for.

Stages of Internet Searching

There are two separate stages of the Internet search cycle.

  1. Information and research gathering
  2. Comparison shopping and buying

Stage 1 – Information & Research Gathering Using Topical Keyword Phrases

This searcher is quite simply trying to gather information on a topic. This could be a college student writing a term paper or someone who has a thought about buying something and just needs to understand the options available to him or her.

The keyword phrases used by searchers in the information and research gathering stage are usually generic in nature and specific to a topic. Some examples are:

  • Car parts
  • Real Estate Investment
  • Online Shoe Store

As you can see, though the terms are related to a topic and you can understand what type of information the searcher is looking for, you can’t really narrow it down to anything specific.

This is the beginning of the search cycle; and not a place to target organically if you want to get the most out of your search engine optimization campaign.

If these types of searchers are actually interested in making a purchase, they will generally move into stage two of their Internet search efforts…the comparison and buying stage.

Stage 2 – Comparison & Buying Using More Specific Keyword Phrases

Searchers who enter stage two of their Internet search efforts often visit a few other related sites and narrow down some additional, more specific phrases that will provide them with more relevant results.

It may take 3 or 4 search efforts and comparing the information on various sites before making a keyword specific search that would actually produce a sale. The comparison shopper has educated themselves through previous research and is actually prepared to make searches that may result in a purchase.

The keyword phrases used by searchers in the comparison and buying stage are usually more specific in nature. Some examples are:

  • 2007 Nissan Murano brake pads
  • Book on flipping houses as an investment
  • Women’s Red snake skin high heels

The key here is that if you are going to target keyword phrases where someone is looking for information, you have to provide the information.

If you try to target phrases that are not sales related and send them to a sales related page, your web pages simply will not rank.

Google’s algorithm looks at the search queries intent. Google can tell if the searcher is looking for information or a product (or service).

If the search is for information, Google removes the sales related sites to ensure they deliver information related web pages to the searcher.

With this algorithm it doesn’t matter what type of search engine optimization campaign you may have in place, you simply cannot reach these visitors without providing the information they are looking for.

The bottom line is that targeting these phrases within your campaign will be in vain; resulting in missed opportunities.

Driving Traffic to Your Website

A lot of search engine traffic can be driven to your website by broad phrases and topic phrases.

If you sell car parts and you simply want a lot of traffic, set up a PPC account and buy the words like; car parts, auto parts, new car parts, Nissan car parts, ford car parts, etc.

PPC advertising can be quite expensive but you can attract more traffic than you may have thought possible.
If you want traffic from these broad phrases, you will need to ensure that your site is seen as a topical, industry related authority site. This is not accomplished overnight. It may take some time, planning, content creation, site restructuring, inbound link campaigns, etc.

Attracting Traffic to Drive Your Sales

If making sales in the most cost effective way is your goal then you must think about your visitor and what it is that they want.

Again, if you sell car parts and you want to attract natural, organic search engine traffic, then your search engine optimization efforts must target specific phrases such as makes, models, part numbers and part names.

These keyword phrases would be more specific such as:

  • 2007 Nissan Murano break pads
  • 2007 Ford Mustang ball joints
  • 2007 Chrysler Pacifica white touch-up paint

In the end it all boils down to knowing the type of searcher your want to attract;

do you want more traffic or more sales?

Is your site more suited to the information and research gatherer or for someone who wants to compare products or services and make a purchase?

You can then target your search engine optimization efforts to target what the searcher is looking for in order to give the searcher exactly what he wants, thus improving how relevant your pages are to a searcher’s request.