Use Google’s knowledge to your advantage

If you’re researching whether or not to target a particular search term in Google, you’ll most likely start by looking at the existing search results. What you might see could be highly commercial and competitive, with loads of big brands in the natural results. But what if the page is much quieter, with most of the results not being commercial? Does that mean you’ve stumbled on an amazing opportunity? Sadly, probably not.

The reason for this is that Google knows all about intent, based on what thousands or millions of people have been clicking on over the years. If it’s consistently found that putting certain classes of pages in the results for a particular search bring people straight back to look for the next result, it’ll have worked out that those types of pages aren’t what people want. That’s why you often see totally different results for searches on ‘blue widgets’ and ‘buy blue widgets’. Once upon a time, Google would have served up much the same results. But over the years, it may have found that for searches on ‘blue widgets’, results leading to a definition engaged people’s attention much more, and deduced that while a search for ‘blue widgets’ doesn’t give much away about what searchers want, in most cases it turns out that they want a definition.

We can learn from this, however. You might find that a search results page for ‘blue widgets’ has an extensive, competitive advert auction going on. But if the natural results are primarily explanatory ones, rather than commercial, Google has worked out what most people want – and it isn’t to buy a blue widget. Of course it’ll still accept the adverts, but they’ll probably have a low clickthrough rate. Genuine buyers are probably trying a different search, like ‘buy blue widgets’ or ‘blue widget suppliers’.

Conversely, if the natural results for a search on ‘blue widgets’ are largely commercial, Google will have worked out that more people want to buy them than find out what they are. If you’re targeting quality visits over quantity, this could be a better bet. Use Google’s knowledge to your advantage.