Think Behavior Not Keyword

Does your list of  search engine optimization tips talk about targeting keywords or understanding behavior?

When you decide to move to a new house or community, what is the first thing you do?

My guess is that you jump onto your computer, tablet, or smart phone and start doing some searching to learn more about the area.  You know you’ll need a realtor at some point, but first things first.

A few years ago, I made a big leap and moved from Nebraska to Pennsylvania.  The only thing I knew about the area was that the company was located in “scenic Bucks County.”

One of the most important things to me was to figure out which school district was best and go from there.  So the search began.

I Googled search terms such as “best school districts in Bucks County PA” and  “best school districts in Bucks County PA.”   The results were disappointingly sterile and no more useful than a listing out of the Yellow pages.

"Google Search Results Page - "school districts in Bucks County PA"

I’d hoped for something more “human” a real person talking about the different school districts and what their strengths and weakness are.  Or even just a helpful article about where the schools are located.

Next I tried a narrower focus and searched on “schools near Bristol PA,” thinking that there would be information about schools in Bristol but also surrounding communities.  The results were a narrowed down version of the Bucks County, PA search and contained only schools in Bristol.

As I prepared to move, Google got a work out:

  • tips for moving across country
  • how to move cross country
  • what towns are near Bristol PA
  • how big is Yardley PA

A first time home buyer or a retiree who is downsizing would have a completely different set of questions that they would be trying to find answers to.

Who better to answer these questions than a Realtor. A good agent is well connected, knows the area inside and out, and if they don’t know the answer – they know where to find it.  Really good agents form relationships with their clients which can often-times lead to multiple transactions and great referrals.

Eventually I gave up searching and hoped to meet a great agent while visiting open houses, which fortunately was the outcome.

So what does this story have to do with search engine optimization tips?


Whether you’re a Real Estate Agent, a Lawyer, an Electrician, or sell artificial Christmas trees; people are searching for your services and products online. They sit down in front of their computer with a question or problem.  People use the internet as a way to find answers and solutions.  Often-times websites are optimized for what they do, but not for the questions they answer or in other words – the reason behind the search.

Traditional keyword research and using those words in your content is still important, but there’s a big opportunity to stand out from the crowd by thinking about “how” people are searching.  In other words, what questions are the asking the search engines.

Here are some tips for search engine optimization and how to:

Think Behavior Not Keyword

  • Talk to customers, key into the questions they are asking.  Use call center inquiries, inbound emails, sales reps, and friends to gain an understanding of the intent behind the search.  “How would you search for…..”
  • Use keyword tools to evaluate the phrases and get additional ideas
  • Factor in seasonal fluctuations
  • Look for trends related to your industry in LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter
  • Research and use related topics – if you sell lawn mowers, those buyers also need gas, oil, and other lawn care products
  • If your business is local, include zip codes, city names, etc.
  • Use Google’s auto suggest as as source for additional ideas

"google auto suggest - search term search engine optimizationgoogle auto suggest - search term search engine optimization"

Last but not least – use your research to create great content that provides people (and search engines) a reason to keep coming back.

What are some ways you can change your approach?

Attend one of the upcoming SEO workshops and learn proven search engine optimization techniques that will get you to the top.