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Putting Psychology Into Action: The Arcane Arts of SEO, Part I

So last week I put out a plea for businesses to start bringing their SEO guy in toward the beginning of the process, so he could take advantage of some of the psychological insights that the SEO process gives you about the business itself. I feel like that was a somewhat incomplete thought, so I wanted to show everyone what I meant. This one ran a little long, so the grand conclusion will have to come next week.

Getting A Picture Of Your Customers By Their Actions On Your Site
Websites are among the most trackable entities in the known universe. A good Analytics package can track when a subject lands on your site, how long they stay on that page, which link they click next, how long they stay on that page, and so forth. While most people look at these numbers strictly to identify potential problems (Page XYZ has an unacceptably high bounce rate), it’s also quite possible to use those same numbers to construct narratives about your customers. By combining analysis of these numbers with either A/B or multivariate testing, you can learn even more as you examine the behavior differences caused by the various changing elements.

Getting A Picture Of Your Customers Through The Keywords They Use
You can also learn a lot about your customers by looking at the keywords that they use to get to your site. A surfer that arrives at your B&B’s website from the keyword “cheap eats Cleveland” has a very different purpose in mind than one who comes from “pampered wife weekend Cleveland”. After enough visitors, a pattern to the keywords will form and you’ll be able to — as above — construct narratives about your ‘average’ visitor. Once you have a story to build toward, you can focus your site to convert the most visitors the most effectively.

Questions Your Narrative Should Answer

  • What problems are they trying to solve?
  • Are they looking for knowledge (which is free) or a tool (which you can sell them)?
  • Are they desperate or relatively reserved?
  • Does your site make them more comfortable or more agitated? (Too much of either, and they’ll bail, but you’d prefer they be slightly more agitated than comfortable.)

Multiple Narratives Per Site
Of course, there will never be a single narrative that encompasses even 50% of the visitors to a given site. That’s why it’s important that every single page on your site (with the exception of the TOU/Privacy Policy/Site Map) needs to be able to act as a landing page. Your SEO guy knows how to make sure that all of the keywords that support a specific narrative end up pointing at a landing page that speaks to that narrative — that’s his job.

Next week: Putting All This Into Action – Putting Psychology Into Action: The Arcane Arts of SEO, Part II

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