Mining Search Behavior

We all lie. Whether on surveys, in focus groups, or on social media platforms, there’s a story we’re all trying to present in a certain way. Tylor Hermanson, Manager of Search Solutions at Intouch Solutions, opened his recent KCDMA presentation on harnessing search behavior in all facets of marketing with that context. Hermanson referenced the book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. Hermanson went on to reveal, though, that search behavior may be a better indicator of how people feel and how you can influence them. Thus, keyword research is worth investing in, and harnessing, for the learnings it can provide in all different contexts.

With the understanding that keyword research is something worth looking into, Hermanson helped explain some of the basics of it.
Rule 1: Don’t start with keywords. Hermanson reminded the marketers in the room to draw from what they know about their industry, competition, brands, and insights already gathered. Use this information to inspire the keyword research rather than pulling keywords out of the ether that should perceivably make sense. The key question: What do people care about in the various areas where they are talking about you?
Suggested resource:

Rule 2: Find out what’s already paying the bills. Essentially, what resonates with the customers who already pay for your service? Hermanson suggested using Google initially because it already knows quite a bit about your brand. Google Search Console gives good directional information. Through it, you can check how people get to your site now and mine that data for better insights into how you can draw in a broader audience.
Suggested resource: Moz

Rule 3: Plant a seed. Build a list of keywords that might make sense for your business and brand.
Suggested resources: Moz Keyword Explorer,, Google suggest (start typing in Google and see what comes up!),, Google Trends, Google Correlate

Rule 4: Group all of your keywords into a spreadsheet and evaluate whether they fall in the spectrum of use volume, relevance and difficulty to optimize.
Suggested resources: For volume – ahrefs & Moz; Relevance – Google (make sure you are searching in incognito mode), You! (trust your gut from the pre-work you did and what you know about the terms) let’s you search in an area where you don’t currently sit.

Once you’ve done all the keyword research, then it’s time to put the keywords in to practice. But, said Hermanson, sometimes people don’t consider all the ways keywords can be used. To expose these ways, Hermanson provided his list of ten ways search data can be used for anything but SEO.

10 ways to use search data for anything but SEO:

  1. Job postings – Learn about how people look for certain jobs and perceive the roles they are searching for.
  2. Customer service – There may be questions people are asking via search that you can preemptively answer without them having to ask directly.
  3. Campaign development – What are people looking for when it comes to your industry?
  4. Media buying – Scrape the results from your search and find opportunities for placement.
  5. Brand name – What are predictable variations of your brand name?
  6. Finding your niche – What makes your company stand out? Find specific interests.
  7. Relationship marketing – If we know peaks of when people are searching, can we time emails for when people need it most?
  8. Affiliate relationships – How does your brand interact with others you may not consider?
  9. Smarter targeting – What opportunities are there for you to harness audiences already in place for others?
  10. Social media – How do normal people speak about what you do? Meeting the community where they are can help you understand what’s important to them.

At the end of Hermanson’s presentation, his key takeaways had been well laid out. Marketers can harness the power of search behavior by understanding that it may just be a Digital Truth Serum. The use of it is Executable by following some simple steps. Search behavior isn’t just for search engine optimization; it is Multi-functional and can be used across a broad marketing spectrum.

Why do I work at AWG? “I value the opportunity to work with family businesses. My dad owned his own business for 35 years, so it is what I know and cherish. Plus, I love food, so thinking about it everyday is a huge plus.” -Kate