How feelings shape search
The best salespeople know this in their bones: emotion drives sales. It can also define how people search the internet.
Emotion is powerful. Humans tend to feel first and think last. The brain is hard-wired to emote above all, processing emotional information in one tenth the time it takes to process words and speech.
Emotion’s influence can be felt in Google’s top searches for last year. People look for the things they love, the things they fear, and the things they’ve lost:
- World Cup
- Hurricane Florence
- Stephen Hawking
- Election Results
- Meghan Markle
While the words themselves are just characters on a screen, as search terms they reflect the joy, excitement, fear, and sadness people were feeling at the time they clicked SEND.
What if: we could anticipate what an audience might be feeling about subjects that relate to a brand, or the benefits it offers, or the problem it solves?
It could help you predict likely search areas, and inform the design of targeted content that could help meet their needs.
Here are some tips to get started:
Identify what the audience loves
People searching for “Chinese takeaway near me” probably like Chinese food, and most people searching for “Liam Gallagher’s new single” probably like Liam Gallagher — and its safe to infer they like a bit of Oasis too.
But detecting enthusiasm, pleasure and other positive emotions in search can be difficult.
You need to look for the things your organization ..
- Or sells
- Or promotes
- Or enables
… that generate joy.
A Chinese restaurant known for its Jasmine-smoked pork ribs might consider a dedicated page devoted to that dish.
They could back it up with a snappy blog post offering recipe tips to attract hardcore enthusiasts (e.g. influencers) who like to try their hand at Chinese cooking at home.
A Forex website could connect with the buzz day traders experience by offering a rich and fully stocked library of education resources, helping them join up their passion with useful information.
Find what the audience fears
A cybersecurity consultancy might want to get the attention of companies who’ve had their data breached after a phishing scam.
They could create a page titled “How do I know if this email is real?” to help companies understand how crafty cybercriminals can be, and talk up the benefits of security training programmes.
Learn what causes them pain
Business pain is what I mean here. An accounting firm focused on freelancers and sole traders could create a page talking about what they do to ‘make life easier for solopreneurs’.
It would make sense to create a page or series of blog posts on “taxation” as it’s an emotionally invested business issue. Content around this theme could be both educational – explaining key concepts and upcoming changes – and advice based.
For example, listing the pros and cons of popular tax reporting software packages for startups.
Address the things they want to change
A cleantech company that wanted to make it easier for corporate energy buyers to find and purchase power from renewable sources might create an Industry Advocacy page, with campaign assets like a white paper and infographic that demonstrate how biased current energy procurement processes are in favour of carbon-based power generation.
Make content emotionally relevant (and make enough of it)
Google has a universe of sites and pages to choose from when deciding which ones will turn up in specific keyword searches. Any new pages you create for emotional connection have to include plenty of relevant content.
There needs to be sufficient quantity – but also sufficient quality – for Google to assess it as rank-worthy.
Pages also need to have clear calls-to-action. After demonstrating ‘what’s in it for me?’ for the user, it’s important to answer the implicit next question ‘what do you want me to do?’.
Increasing traffic by connecting to users’ gut feelings won’t mean much if you don’t quickly engage them when they arrive.