What SEO can learn from Psychology

Search Engine Optimisation is the hottest topic in marketing worldwide. It means everything for businesses fighting their way to the top of the rankings.

Kenda Macdonald

Author: Kenda Macdonald

How do we get those crawlers to visit our websites, validate us and index us so that we are giving the searchers what they want?

Furthermore, how do we increase our conversions and pocket more profit? And by more… How about somewhere between 277% and 332%?

Let me tell you a little secret about conversion rates

The very best way to increase your conversion rates is to understand how and why people convert. What gets them from landing on your website to saying YES. Not to just add it to their cart to sit and rot, but buy in that moment.

You need to know why people do what they do so that you can anticipate their next move and be there ready and waiting with the solution they didn’t even know they needed.

Psychology is the foundation of all conversions. Without it, sales wouldn’t convert. 

We run into a bit of a mismatch here because SEO is driven far more by science than human behaviour. Finding the happy harmony with SEO needs a deeper understanding, it needs a healthy dose of psychology.

SEO is one of the single most important parts to the customer journey. Without foot traffic to a landing page, a website, a product, we have no one to sell to. SEO gets the right traffic to the right places. You know that, I know that, and hopefully your boss knows that too.

Why is SEO so important and how does psychology make it better?

SEO is the bridge that makes the connection between human and content possible – it’s vital. Without it we sit with incredible content that we pour our heart and souls into content that will never be consumed.  Or we sit with solutions that will never be realised, benefits that won’t be felt…you get the idea.

So, it’s really important and yet we aren’t dedicating ourselves to improving it like we should be. Our own approaches to SEO are failing us, and if they’re failing us – they’re failing our customers. 

SEO is one dimensional. And one dimensional doesn’t account for human behaviour

Human behaviour needs to feed SEO so that it keeps being relevant, intentional and valuable for our customers (and our businesses).

The relationship between humans and the internet is getting deeper every day. We have become reliant on short term searching to the extent that we find it hard to deal with unknown challenges without internet access. We need to have the power at our fingertips at every waking moment. 

Whether we like it or not, we have a deeply embedded relationship with the internet.  We have an active relationship – so why aren’t we treating it like one? 

Because if we understand how the relationship works, we can use this to our advantage to be the very best at getting traffic that converts.

The internet is changing how our brains work and we need to make sure we are using it to work for us rather than working as slaves to it.

How do we put SEO and psychology together?

The usual approach we have goes as follows: We put info out there and to catch search traffic and serve them up what you want them to see. The stuff you want them to see is about your products or services. The more traffic we can get the better. 

But we forget the most important thing here: the brain of the person searching

We can do our very best technical work, and it can all make complete logical sense, but if we don’t cater for the human brain – our efforts are completely wasted.

To get the best out of your hard work there are two vital psychological elements to understand

  1. How we pay attention 
  2. How to use behaviour to increase conversion rates

Attention is fundamental, without someone looking at your site content, we have nothing. So when you know how attention works – you can make sure that you’re doing the right things to get people to click

Just as important is behaviour. When a search is performed, it’s a person performing an action. That action has intention behind it. If we understand the intent, we can understand what information we need to display for that person at that moment in time to get the very best conversion rates

Remember the conversion rates I mentioned earlier? Campaign Monitor used intent to suggest personalised product suggestions, their work saw conversion rate increases of 332% for Millets.co.uk and 277% on Blacks.co.uk. If you need more, according to a Forrester Total Economic Impact™ Study, when retailers add content personalization to their event-triggered campaigns, they tend to see a 667% ROI.

Those are not rates to be sniffed at. Some tweaks to what you’re doing can help you benefit from the same.

Luckily for us, psychology has been working on these two problems for some time now. At inOrbit, I’ll be sharing how attention works so you can get it, keep it and convert it.

If you know how we pay attention, and you profile your audience, you start to understand why people convert; understand that and you begin to unlock the secrets to conversion rates.


I’ll also be showing you how you can use search intent to behaviourally profile your audience. 


Join me and I’ll show you exactly <strong>how to build progressive profiles and engagement triggers</strong> by borrowing a little bit of criminal profiling to get better conversions from your SEO.

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