Deciphering the Psychology of Search Engine Optimization

Deciphering the Psychology of Search Engine Optimization

To some Singapore online marketers, SEO is all about content, site optimization, and keywords. Contrary to popular belief, it is imperative to go the extra mile and not only come up with keyword-rich content but also try to understand the searcher’s intent.

Understanding the psychology behind how a particular segment of the target audience will be instrumental in developing a robust online marketing strategy. Here are three factors to help you understand the psychology of search engine optimization.

Identify Customer’s Intent

In the past, SEO was based on the words that most people used to query search engines. One had to sprinkle those keywords in the content to get noticed by search engine bots and rank high on SERPs. Since then, search engine algorithms have advanced and have the ability to evaluate user search intent with incredible precision. Understanding the customer’s intent will help you come up with an effective search engine optimization plan.

Address Specific Needs/Pain Points

Generic content that does not address the individual needs of the customers is counterproductive. You need first to get a clear picture of the needs and issues that the customers want to be resolved before embarking on writing the content.

The most successful digital marketers in Singapore have mastered the art of creating this kind of content, and this greatly helps them to improve site conversion rate and engagement levels. The extensive market research will help you to know the pain points/needs of the audiences that you are targeting.

Finally, the manner in which savvy customers query search engines has evolved tremendously over the last five years. The query terms are more conversational and sophisticated. For example, instead of using a term such as “shoes for sale in Jurong” one is more likely to use a phrase such as “where can I find quality shoes for sale in Jurong?” today. Therefore, it is important to consider these new search queries when coming up with your SEO strategy.

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the pillars of digital marketing and online business. Over the last decade, the industry has undergone tremendous improvements to provide the best user experience possible.

Some medieval strategies such as keyword stuffing are now considered blackhat, and you will be penalised for using them. Long-form content ranks better than short-form content, and Google focuses on consistently providing the most accurate results to searchers.

Keeping up with SEO trends can be daunting if you don’t have a plan. This article will cover the core aspects of search engine optimisation psychology. The information will enable you to develop robust SEO campaigns to put your brand and website in front of millions of people.

Essential Google Algorithm Update Elements

Since last year, the Google algorithm has been improved in several areas to enhance its ability to display accurate SERPs for various search queries. You should keep in mind the key things when optimising your website to match the algorithm update requirements.

  • User Engagement

In 2021, user-engagement importance almost tripled, which triggered Google to introduce the famous Core Web Vitals update. User engagement is the fifth most powerful site ranking factor alongside keyword usage in title tags and quality backlinks

Moving forward, you should create user-friendly content that matches the searcher’s intent. One sure way of doing this is by closely monitoring your content’s performance and carrying out regular keyword research.

  • Consistent Production of Engaging Content

Engaging content receives more organic traffic from search engines and other platforms such as social media. Google and other search engines reward content developers who take time to create high-quality posts with a high ranking, usually on the first page, for targeted keywords

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News websites get massive traffic as people rely heavily on Google for news-related information. It can take up to six months to get the news website tag/status. Still, you get in front of the other sites by consistently publishing quality content relevant to the target audience. Look for trends in your niche and ride their wave to increase site popularity and get more organic traffic.

  • Usage of Keywords in Meta Titles

Keywords in meta titles are factors whose relevance as a ranking factor significantly dropped in 2021. This happened because Google can now auto-generate meta titles for blog posts. Nonetheless, it’s still important to ensure that page content and blog posts are optimised with the right keywords. That’s the only way to tell bots that a particular post or page has content that resonates with the searcher’s intent.

  • Niche Expertise

Google ranks sites that are considered an authority in a particular industry highly. The relevance of niche expertise as a ranking factor increased from 12% to 13% in 2021, and expert predicts that this trend will continue throughout this year and beyond.

When creating high-level pages, be sure to include the major keywords and link them to other posts or pages with related keywords. Such an internal linking hierarchy will enable Google to understand the website’s structure. The anchor texts will inform the bots what the site is all about, making it more discoverable for the target keywords.

Keyword usage consistency is also essential as it helps Google better understand the content. Well-known sites such as HubSpot use a set of keywords in most of their posts to stamp their authority in the SEO and digital marketing industry. 

The secret to achieving such success in your industry is by carrying out comprehensive keyword and competitor analysis. You also need to polish your copywriting and creative writing skills to develop content that makes search engines smile and spurs engagement with the target audience.

  • Backlinks

Unknown to most people is that backlink is one of the factors that the Google algorithm is based on. Sites with many quality backlinks from authority sites are ranked at the top, while sites with few or poor-quality backlink profiles struggle to get on the first page of SERPs.

To Google and other search engines, a backlink is equivalent to a vote of confidence from an authority site that your website has credible and relevant content. Remember that exceptional content attracts links organically. So, take time to research and create highly relevant and engaging content for your target audience.

  • Internal Links

Research shows that pages with the same keyword in the content and title tags rank highly for that keyword compared to pages whose content is not optimised using it. The rank position gets even better if pages optimised with the keyword are linked. 

For example, publishing ten articles on different digital marketing concepts and linking them all to one authority digital marketing page shows Google that the latter is of high value. Still, it’s related to the linking pages. As a result, the authority page will be ranked at the top and most likely get a featured snippet for the primary keyword.

  • Mobile-First/Mobile-Friendliness

Nearly 50% of global web traffic is from website devices. In the last three months of 2021, mobile devices excluding tablets contributed 54.4% of the global website traffic. Since 2017, mobile traffic has maintained a lead on desktop traffic as most people have become more reliant on mobile devices.

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Today, people prefer searching for information on search engines using voice search instead of typing the keyword or phrase in Google. Based on these facts, your website needs to be 100% mobile-friendly to offer the best user experience to the target audience.

The users should be able to navigate all sections of the website on their smartphone or tablet. Mobile-friendliness is one of the primary ranking factors. You are likely to get a spot on the first or second page of Google if your website conforms to the recommended mobile-first web design concept. 

Unlike before, you no longer need to spend resources creating a desktop version of your website. It shouldn’t even exist – save by ensuring that the website looks and feels the same whether a user accesses it on mobile or desktop. The navigation and layout should be simple enough to offer a memorable mobile user experience. 

  • Page Speed

According to a study by, 10.3 seconds is the average page load speed of websites on desktop browsers and 27.3 seconds on mobile browsers. Most pages take 87.84% longer to fully display the elements and contents on smartphones than on the computer. 

Today, Google has prioritised user experience and presents websites that offer a good browsing experience on the first SERP. You will soon have no option but to invest in multiple data centres to load websites in milliseconds. The data centres should be located in the countries your business operates for improved page load time efficiency.

Google also uses page speed as a ranking factor, with sites that load in 3 seconds getting a full rank credit. That said, it’s important to note that Google does not give extra weight on super-fast webpages as it used before, but load times still matters. 

Run tests on Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool to know which pages are slow and need to be tweaked. One low page can negatively affect the page speed of the entire website. 

Attention span has also significantly reduced, which is a cause for worry for eCommerce websites. In 2001, online shoppers would wait for up to eight seconds for an eCommerce page to load. The number reduced to 5.1 seconds in 2008, and today it’s 2 seconds. 

Therefore, please pay attention to its load speed as you improve your site SEO. Here is an article we recently wrote on how to increase web load speed. Check it out!

  • Website Security

The increase in cases of hacking has prompted governments and regulatory bodies to develop policies to safeguard website users’ data. The eCommerce sites are required to put in place measures of ensuring that the privacy and confidentiality of their users is not compromised. 

As websites become part of our lives, hackers have developed more sophisticated ways of stealing personal data. Phishing techniques are wittier, and anyone can fall prey to these tactics. 

Google is keen on users’ security. SSL certificate is one of the primary factors used to determine if a website is secure. Virtually all the top websites have an SSL certificate. If your site doesn’t have it, please get one from your hosting company to increase its ranking.

  • Inclusion of Keywords in Site URL, Header Tags, and Meta Description

If you have been doing SEO for a while now, you have probably come across numerous articles discussing the need to include the target keyword in the URL, Header tags, and Meta description. These three sections inform bots what the page or post is all about even before it crawls through the content.

Even though its effect on Google’s primary algorithm has over the years dwindled, it’s still a valuable and important SEO hack. Break down the content using H1, H2, H3, and H4 to make it easy for the search engines and readers to skim through the content. Include keywords in some of these headers to further optimise the content.

Create High-Quality Content to Boost On-Site SEO

Content is King, and you cannot afford to let your guard down about it when optimising your website. Google will notice that your website always has unique and fresh content and offers real value to users. As a result, it will rank the pages higher than other websites with thin content. 

Before, websites would get away with thin content packed with tens of similar keywords. Today, you need to focus more on creating engaging content then sprinkle target keywords naturally in it to increase its visibility in SERPs.

Concisely, no matter how much time and resources you invest in optimising your website, it won’t be ranked highly if the content is thin/poor quality. 

What is quality content to Google?

  • Fresh and Up to Date Content

Google loves content that is fresh and up to date. That means, when creating new content, carry out research to identify new data, topics, and trends. Existing posts can also be updated with new information to enhance their SERP performance.

With Google preferring web pages with the latest information, consider covering news and trends more in your posts. Use Google Trends to find fresh information for your next blog posts. 

  • Length of Content

One of the common questions we get is whether the content length is a ranking factor? The answer is YES. Google recently started to rank pages based on the length of the content. Most of the blog posts ranked on the first page of SERP are 1,890 words long.

Search Engine Optimisation Psychology The Complete Guide

Photo Credit: Monster Insights

That said, there is no specific rule for this, but your main focus should be creating content that covers topics comprehensively and in great detail. Strive to provide full answers to users’ questions and detailed solutions. The reader shouldn’t have to visit other websites to get additional information. Your post should amicably meet their needs.

  • Content Value and Originality

The web is filled with stale content, either updated or flimsily written to trick bots into ranking the sites well for certain keywords. Even though you may get a high ranking with such content, Google will soon realize that it doesn’t match the searchers’ intent and downgrade it.

Stay on the safe side by not trying to beat the system but rather creating unique, valuable, and original content. Such content will attract Google bots to re-crawl your website whenever you publish. 

In addition, the content should be optimised for voice search. Most people use question-based queries to do a voice search on Google. Therefore, include question-based and long-tail keywords in your content. 

  • Content Organisation and Structure

The blog posts should be well structured and organised to help visitors easily read and understand the topic discussed. We recommend using headings and subheadings to break down the content into small digestible portions. Use H1, H2, H3, and even H4 to achieve the ideal structure.

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Go the extra mile to organise the content using numbered lists and bulletins. Usually, Google uses the lists for featured snippets, so make sure every post has one or two lists where possible. 

Wondering how to create better SEO strategies for your brand? Get in touch with MediaOne Marketing today for a free and non-obligatory consultation session. Our team will help you develop SEO strategies that will supercharge your website and enable you get more qualified leads

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How to Track SEO Performance Accurately

Implementing the above strategies will enhance your brand’s visibility online. However, it’s essential to monitor the strategy’s performance to know if there are certain areas that you should tweak.

Here is an overview of the top five SEO KPIs you should focus on today.

  • Keyword Rankings

Robust organic keyword rankings will drive traffic to your website and increase sales. The main goal of implementing SEO strategies is to rank highly for the essential keywords related to your brand.

For example, let’s assume you want to rank well for plumbing-related keywords. You will need to conduct keyword research to identify informational and commercial terms that the target clients use to find quality plumbing services in the areas you service.

Some of the plausible terms you can use to optimise your content are:

    1. Plumber near me
    2. How much does it cost for a bathroom fixture repair?
    3. Book a plumber in (location)

Niching down is vital to avoid optimising content with the wrong keywords. Once you have published the fresh content, use Link-Assistant, SEMRush, and Ahrefs to track the keyword rankings. 

  • Backlink Quality, Quantity, and Growth

For many years, backlinks have been one of the primary site ranking factors. Yes, having many backlinks is great, but your site ranking and performance won’t improve if the links are from poor-quality sources.

When creating backlinks, consider the quality of the linking website and its relevance to your niche. If you are in the plumbing niche, you should strive to get backlinks from authority home improvement and plumbing blogs. 

Monitor your backlink profile to know the quality, quantity, and the number of backlinks you’ve received over the last month or year. Use tools such as Monitor Backlinks, Moz’s Link Explorer, and Ahref’s Backlink Checker

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  • Organic Search Traffic 

Having a good backlink profile and keyword rankings will help you generate more organic traffic from search engine results pages. Besides, that’s one of the primary reasons you have invested time and resources in SEO.

However, you need to monitor the organic search traffic to know whether you need to change the keywords or create more content. The right keywords will boost site ranking and increase the number of organic sessions, thereby boosting the number of qualified leads, conversions, and sales.

Google Analytics is one of the best tools for tracking organic search traffic. Log into your account and click on Acquisition >All traffic >Channels on the sidebar menu. Click on the “Organic Search” tab to view the report.

  • Benchmark Low Organic Traffic Earners

If your website has been in existence for several years now, you probably have plenty of old blog posts and pages that you haven’t updated for months. In your quest to improve on-site SEO, do a website audit to identify the pages and posts that receive the lowest amount of organic traffic.

Rank them organically by updating the content with new information and keywords. You could also merge them, but make sure that the topics discussed in the articles merged are related. While at it, check the content for broken links and other technical issues preventing them from getting to the top position.

Locate these pages by logging into your Google Analytics account, and from the sidebar menu, click Behaviour >Content >Landing pages. Select the “Organic Traffic” option and filter the pages based on the lowest and highest sessions date.

It would be best to list down the identified pages in a Google spreadsheet for collaboration with other in-house SEO experts or SEO agencies. If the content is not worth updating, delete and redirect its URL to the latest article with relevant and accurate content.

  • Monitor Conversions 

The best SEO strategies will channel more visitors to your website and increase its conversion rate. A high conversion rate is an indication that your SEO campaigns are working, and the opposite is also true.

Ranking well for the target keywords and getting massive traffic is vain if the site doesn’t generate revenue. If that happens, you need to overhaul the website to improve its design. The chances are that the landing pages are not correctly designed or technical issues hinder potential customers from placing orders.

Again, go to your Google Analytics account, and under settings, find Admin > Goals. Set realistic goals for calls, eCommerce purchases, and form submissions. 

Check the report on a weekly or biweekly basis to benchmark progress. The report will help you to know which landing pages, locations, devices, and other page elements result in conversions and what doesn’t work. 

  • Track Web Visitors Behaviour Flow

Behaviour flow refers to how website visitors interact with your website. Tracking it will let you know which pages they visit before converting or leaving the site. 

This report pinpoints friction points along the buyer’s journey that should be eliminated to increase the conversion rate. Head over to your Google Analytics account and select Behaviour > Behaviour Flow in the sidebar menu.

You can opt to get a flow chart based on the landing pages, traffic sources, and more. To improve SEO performance, take note of the pages or blogs that the visitors frequent before exiting your websites without converting.

List down the exit pages and improve them to enhance site conversion rate. Alternatively, you could decide to redirect the exit page to another similar landing page that records a high conversion rate.

  • Time Spent On-Page and Bounce Rate

Time spent on-page and bounce rate indicate the site content’s relevance to visitors’ search intent. Visitors will spend more time on a page that has information that is relevant and valuable to them. The more time a visitor spends on a page, the more chances and time you will get to convince them to convert.

On the other hand, a high bounce rate means that the content is irrelevant to the majority of the website visitors. 

Check the pages that record a high bounce rate and low time-on-page for technical issues. Redesigning and publishing fresh content can help salvage the situation and help your site bounce back to profitability. 

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Social Media




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