Google wouldn’t lie
Don’t believe me? Take a moment, go to google.com and search for “jack leblond.” You’ll see that my web site is the number one page listed. In fact, 99% of the listings within the first three pages are for content I created. Wow, am I good or what? Just think of it, whenever anyone searches for information on me, I know they’ll be getting the right stuff. Amazing. It would be even more amazing if people actually searched for me. Unfortunately, for the entire month of September the phrase “jack Leblond” was only searched for on Google 36 times, and I think 23 of those were my mother (Hi Mom!).
On the flip side, the word “seo” was searched for more than a million times, and I am lost somewhere in among the nearly 2.5 million results. Perhaps I am NOT the greatest SEO Alive. How do I know this? Thanks to the tools Google provides to pay-per-click users, anyone can research how popular (or unpopular) words and phrases are on Google with just a few mouse clicks.
Let’s try the Google tools on some Real Estate terms. Pretend I want to leave the paradise that is Central Texas and move to Chicago. I think I want a condo, but have no idea what’s available. I might search Google for something like “Chicago condos.” According to the tool, 135,000 people did that very search last month. Like many of them, I’d browse through a few dozen pages of the 500,000 plus listings and try to gather some information. After I felt I’d gathered enough information (or more likely just got frustrated), I’d probably try a new search, with more specific words…and then another search, and another until I finally decide to move to Phoenix instead. Now, had a friend in Chicago suggested I might be interested in the Hyde Park area; I might search for “hyde park condos Chicago.” If I did, I’d get a much narrower set of results…and some videos – bonus. But, if I got that far I would be in the minority as only 170 people searched for that phrase in September.
How do people search?
It’s important to understand how people search so that we can help them to find us. Generally people use two techniques when searching. First, they will do an information gathering search using vague, broad terms. Once they have figured out what they want, they will do a more focused search using specific terms. Ideally, your web site should be found by both types of searches. This is when your key word research and strategy comes into play. Your web site should act like a funnel pulling people in with the wide, general search terms and directing them towards the specific interior page that they need to see.
Get found for the best search
I know someone will comment that the people that use “long tail” searches are the ones you want on your site. They are right, study after study has shown that people that use long search phrases are ready to buy. However, before they can do a long phrase search they have to do some research to find out what they want to buy. If there is no info about you are your products in the information gathering phase, how in the world can you possibly expect them to find you in targeted search?
In conclusion, while it is important to rank well in the search engine results (SERPs), it is even more important to rank well for searches people actually do.
October 28, 2008 at 4:00 pm
This was probably the simpliest explanation of the SERP concept and how it actually applies to the bottom line that I have read to date.
A hearty “Well Done” 🙂
I actually rank OK for the long tail in my field (RE License Schools offering Online classes for Florida RE Licenses); but as Jack says, not a lot of those searches going on. Oh well, buy another hosting account and start another business while it is a little slow 🙂
October 28, 2008 at 7:52 pm
So do you have to be a pay per click user to find out this information? Where are the Google tools to learn this info? Sorry – but you’re ahead of me. Am I randomly searching words to see what words people are using when searching? Or is there a more methodical way of doing this? Maybe I should do some research before I ask all these seemingly super basic questions. 🙂
October 28, 2008 at 8:19 pm
Steve – thanks! glad to make some sense of it.
Vicki – you DO have to have a Google PPC account, but there is no cost for that. If there is interest, perhaps I’ll write about that in a future article.
October 29, 2008 at 1:25 am
I just came across your blog about and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here. I have a site Understanding PPC so I know what I’m talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!
October 29, 2008 at 1:25 am
Very simple explanation of the SERP concept.Thanks for the info
October 29, 2008 at 4:26 am
Of course having anchor text with your keywords that link to your site or the desired landing page doesn’t hurt either.
October 29, 2008 at 2:42 pm
Mack – unquestionably back-links do help with SEO…some say they are critical to a successful SEO plan.
Atlanta Real Estate
September 2, 2009 at 4:51 pm
Nice post, good explanation and example.
I apologize for the (very) late reply. I was impressed with one of your other posts and am now going back and reading older ones.