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Searchers are not Browsers – they are Berry Pickers

I love this analogy of search behavior outlined in this Biznology Blog post.    “Where Business and Technology Come Together” by Mike Moran. Moran helps to explain why the use of the Internet as a Marketing medium and search behavior specifically needs to be understood in order achieve a high return on marketing dollars.   Those who are searching and shopping online are typically not browsing as it is with other advertising mediums.  They are looking to “accomplish.”  Yes – you may “browse” online, but if you don’t find what you are looking for, you typically change the way you search or abandon the website.  Think about your own search behavior next time you are online.  Do you ever open your Internet Explorer without a purpose – even just to go to a website that you have heard about? 
Moran explains this by saying; 

“Searchers do not follow the straight line path of the ideal searching scenario—instead they follow the “scent” they are after. A searcher has a few words in mind when looking for something. The searcher types a few of these words into the search box and keeps a few others in mind that are not typed. The searcher scans for these words in the search results and in all the pages viewed in a hunt for information. The searcher follows the “scent” of these words to lead toward the goal, the answer—the mind food….like any good forager, searchers are always balancing the amount of effort to capture the food with the value of the food itself.”

“Searchers that are both hungry for information, and believe the information will be very good, work much harder to get that information. So, if your site looks like it has the information needed, and it looks like that information will be easy to find, searchers will try harder to find it.”
“…foragers are constantly making new decisions every minute. They don’t plan three clicks ahead. At any moment, a berry picker could decide that the berries left on this bush are too high to be comfortably reached, so they move on to the next bush.”
Brilliant!  Moran continues noting that “Just 34 percent of site searchers find what they are looking for, with 47 percent of those that failed trying only one search query before abandoning the attempt. That tells us they can’t detect the scent of what they seek, so they are moving down to the next berry bush.”
Have you had your website “reviewed” or “shopped” by an unbiased source?  It might be a good idea to get some independent “shoppers” to try to find your site through search, and then attempt to accomplish something on your website (whether it be a sale or a sign up).   Are you laying out the right trail?  Listen to their comments because your target audience is not the SEO experts or the marketing consultants – your audience is the searcher – that berry picker who is following the trail you leave for them.

[tags]search behavior, seo, search marketing, online marketing, online shopping, seo, sem, consumer behavior, online marketing[/tags] 

  

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