As part of the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) learning process I feel it is essential to understand search and begin to think about how humans interact with search engines. In this article I am going to look at the importance of search and the three main types of search we encounter today. I am then going to identify how to use this information to target sectors within search and maximise monetisation within your website
What is Online Search?
Online search is the term given to information discovery on the Internet. With tens of billions of web pages currently indexed on the internet it would be impossible to find what you are looking for without a little help. This help arrives in the form of Search Engines. Search engines allow individuals to input any search criteria and using complex algorithms along with unfathomable amounts of research and intelligence they will return the most relevant content in an instant.
There are many search engines in operation all over the world each of which with their own algorithms and ways of indexing web pages. It is therefore extremely important to know which search engine is the most popular and how you should target your efforts to ensure they are aware of your site.
Figure 1.1 shows the market share for search engine usage in the UK for April 2012 according to theEword SEO News
Google is clearly the preferred search engine for the UK and therefore a huge deciding factor when thinking about your SEO strategy.
The Importance of Search
In the UK alone, the online advertising market is estimated at a staggering £5bn, a figure which has soared in recent years with the introduction and success of mobile technology. Of this amount Search accounts for £2.77bn, a statistic which cannot be ignored if you are looking to monetise websites.
With such a vast market it is essential that you apply thought when strategizing your SEO efforts. Optimising for the wrong search criteria can literally be the difference between financial gain and nothing. The race to gain first page rankings is highly competitive and for very good reason when you take into consideration the following statistics presented by search engine watch in 2011 for Google:
- The top three naturally ranked (not paid) receive 58.4% of all clicks
- Websites ranked number one receives an average CTR of 36.4%
Other research suggests that 90% of all clicks come from the first three pages of search results.
High placement for your chosen search criteria is essential if you are trying to earn from a monetised site and something that I will cover in great detail in a later article
Types of Search
Search is by no means a new subject and I doubt that anything I have stated has not already been covered time and time again. What I am trying to do is to apply SEO theory purely to monetising websites. Understanding the types of searches people carry out is in my opinion the first step towards success.
It is widely accepted that there are 3 main types of search query; each of which have strengths and weaknesses when considering monetisation.
As the name suggests, informational queries have a primary goal of discovering information. They are not transaction based and usually culminate in clicking or reading. Informational queries represent a huge opportunity to attract visitors to your monetised site as searchers place their faith in the search engine to return the most relative results for their query.
Example: “Who was the first man on the moon” The searcher now trusts the search engine to deliver the right results and find the answer to their query. Research suggests that 80% of all traffic processed by search engines are of an informational nature.
Informational queries present a great opportunity for you to target your SEO efforts towards specific search criteria; if you can then become authoritative in your chosen field you have an excellent platform to build your niche website upon.
Navigational queries are extremely direct and carry a huge amount of intent. The user is not aware of the exact URL but know where they want to go. They enter the search criteria and with minimal searching or clicks they arrive at their intended destination
Example: the searcher wants to research Rolex watches from the official Rolex site. They are aware that they can buy them elsewhere but they want the official reviews from the official manufacturer. They type in “Rolex watches” within their search engine and select the official website from the results page.
Fast, extremely targeted and very little potential to earn from this given scenario, not impossible but there are better opportunities.
Transactional queries involve searchers finding their way to their desired destination with the intent to complete a transaction. This does not necessarily require a credit transfer and can take the form of signing up for a service or subscription.
Example: “Cheap Hotels in London” This search is very likely to end with a successful transaction. The searcher already has the intent to book a hotel in London and is relying on the search engine to provide the cheapest means to do so.
Featuring highly within results for transactional queries represent the highest potential to earn providing your site is equipped to meet the demands of the searcher.
In this article I have very briefly looked at what online search is and discussed the three main types of searches. Below are a few key points which I would like to take forward and implement into my SEO for monetisation methodology:
- Although there are many worldwide search engines in operation today, Google is without doubt the most popular. As each search engine has different algorithms and places different emphasis on different ranking factors, It makes logical sense to pay closest attention to Google and design a SEO strategy based on high Google placement.
- Whether you are competing for search engine placement in competitive search criteria or not, it is essential to feature within the first three pages of results, ideally the first. Ranking factors are key elements that you must factor in to your site design to make it place highly and subsequently successful.
I will be doing a separate article on Search Engine ranking factors in the near future. It is an essential element to SEO which
- Each type of search query has its strengths, weaknesses and areas to monetise. As an entry to a niche market it will be extremely difficult to compete in any other search type than informational. The traffic you can then generate can then be converted into transactional as time progresses and searchers become more familiar with your brand. With this in mind, I am going to target my keyword research to informational queries within my selected niche market.
Look out for my next article; “An introduction to Search Engines” where I will be looking at search engines in greater detail and pay close attention to search engine ranking factors.
Follow my progress at www.theseoexperiment.co.uk and see how SEO and internet marketing are specifically targeted towards website monetisation.