As technology continues to develop, the search landscape is also rapidly evolving. Search engine algorithms have become exponentially complicated with the advances of machine learning, to deliver more useful and personalised search results to users who are searching smarter and faster, using new ways and types of searches.
As marketers and SEO professionals, we have learned to stop being search engine focused and start finding new ways to connect with users, keeping them at the heart of everything, by following a user-centred approach to SEO.
And now, the time has come to take this approach to the next level. So how can we do that?
Well, firstly, it’s merely acknowledging that our customers are real people. They’re using search as an extension of their daily social routine, looking for information, products or services that are relevant to their interests and needs.
When it comes to a decision-making stage, research shows that most of our decisions, big or small, are made subconsciously by our brain and involve emotions. It means that every decision we make is either to maximise the experience of pleasure or to minimise the effect of pain.
Therefore, optimising for the human brain by understanding our customers’ emotional needs and goals during each stage of their journey will help us to provide them with the relevant products or services that meet those emotional needs and expectations. Doing this will help influence their decision and lead them to choose appropriate products.
How do we meet our customers’ emotional needs?
Since all decisions involve emotions, you have a higher chance to persuade your audience to take specific actions if you understand how they are feeling about their decision and feed these feelings.
Below are some of the feelings that our customers would have when they use the internet looking for information, products, or services. We also look at how we can address these feelings to help our customers make their decision, and convince them subconsciously that our website is the right destination for them:
Is it the right place?
The user’s journey is no longer linear. They move back and forth from one channel to another, they search on Google and compare websites, and as they move through their journey what is relevant to them, changes at every step.
Therefore, we need to ensure that we can engage them when they need us by delivering the most relevant content that addresses their emotional needs and goals at that moment.
It can start from the very beginning when they search on Google. We need to figure out what emotionally connects them to their goal. It can simply be done by putting ourselves in their shoes and asking, “what would their emotional goal be when looking for a food recipe or a dress, for example?”
It might be that they want to cook a delicious meal to show their love and impress their loved ones, or to feel pretty and beautiful, in a new dress.
If our metadata on the search result page answers their emotional needs, it is more likely that they would click on our link and visit our landing page, which in turn should be relevant to their search term. The landing page’s heading should also match their emotional goal, and the design of the page should create an emotional resonance.
Since users will be visiting and comparing many websites, they must find what they’re looking for by providing them with the relevant content that meets their expectations and draws their attention as quickly as possible.
Can I trust this website?
Customers need to trust a brand’s website enough to engage and become loyal customers, and trust comes after they find what they are looking for when they visit a website.
Because of the essential role trust plays in online behaviour, businesses need to build their credibility and reliability and imply trustworthiness everywhere on the website. It starts with the design and goes all the way to the different trust signals that are related to the business sector, whether it is e-commerce, health, banking, etc.
We also need to ensure that our website provides the privacy and security reassurance for users to complete their purchase.
Including customer reviews and testimonials will help to build their trust when they review the website, and of course, implementing schema will help reflect reviews on search result pages, in-turn, enticing them to click.
How do I feel about this?
After the users find what they’re looking for and the website makes a reliable impression, it is then time to convince them to make the decision and convert. As mentioned earlier, decisions are made subconsciously and driven by emotions. Therefore at this stage, we need to ensure that our content, including text and images, highlight our UVP by focusing on how they would feel if they bought our products and services – highlighting what high quality means to them.
Even the metadata of the products or services pages should show a clear UVP, considering the implicit signals about the person they will become after getting our products or services.
Am I taking a risk?
Developing content that answers every single question the user might have while making their decision will help reduce their uncertainty and have them feel like they’re making the right one. For example, if they’re considering a clothing product, it would be helpful if the user can see information about product availability, return policy, delivery fee, when they can receive it, tips to choose the right size, and so on.
Considering the above feelings when optimising any website will change the way the visitors feel about the website. Most importantly, it’ll help to engage them and increase conversions, which is a critical factor for any website’s success.
Always remember that people need to feel to decide, even when it comes to online behaviour.
Basma is a strategy-driven and passionate SEO expert, with a strong track record of driving search growth for huge brands in highly competitive sectors. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer science, with a vast array of extensive digital experience, and how UX, content, data & analytics, paid performance work closely with SEO to impact the search experience. Basma is an award-winning SEO expert, she has helped grow the SEO team to become one of the largest SEO teams in the region, she has also led the team to win the “Best SEO Agency” in the MENA Search Awards for two years in a row.