About.com recently published the results of a study done in partnership with Latitude Research on the “The Mindsets of Search”. The study, conducted between March to June of this year gathered data about 59 variables of search behaviour, and revealed much about the three distinct search types, how and who people view as experts these days, and how marketers can take advantage of the findings.
The study showed that most people just want direct answers to queries with 46% of all searches falling under the “Answer Me” type of search. The number of people who want in-depth answers to their questions and are open to be shown different perspectives, or the “Educate Me” type of search, are also almost equal in number (26%) to the number of those who are browsing mostly for fun and are not looking for a particular answer. The latter type of search, called “Inspire Me”, makes up about 28% of all searches.
What is even more interesting than the percentages is that what searchers view as valuable expert opinion varies for each kind of search type. For the “Answer Me” searchers, users do not seem to even take into account expertise that much. As long as they get the answers right away, it does not matter to where the answer came from, much less if that one who provided the answer is an expert on the subject matter or not. On the other hand, “Educate Me” and “Inspire Me” searchers rely more on the opinion of experts (i.e. professionals). However, they rely on different kinds of experts with “Educate Me” searchers looking for answers from credentialed experts as well as some of their allies (Ally being people who are known for being knowledgeable in a certain topic but do not necessarily have the academic background to beef up their resumes, such as moms writing on parenting blogs), and “Inspire Me” searchers placing more value on the opinion of their allies as well as that of social sources or the “wisdom of crowds”.
With that in mind, you can set a strategy for snagging the interest of your target readers based on the type of searchers you have in mind. If you want more of the “Answer Me” type of search, then you need to present your content in easily digestible snippets of information. You don’t have to find doctors or credentialed experts either to back up your facts, as long as you present them in a way that can be read at a glance, since your users won’t really care much where the information came from anyway.
On the other hand, your content will need to have more depth if you’re targeting “Educate Me” searchers. Aside from that beefing up the profile of the writer or the company is very important in this case because you need to have credentialed experts, or allies at the very least, providing the content in order for them to be believable in the eyes of your users.
Last but not least, content has to be fun, exciting, or stimulating for “Inspire Me” searchers. There’s no such thing as information overload for such search types so provide them with as much content via multiple formats by providing links to additional or side info, info snippets in the middle of the content, chat tickers on the sidebar (social aspect), search boxes, video presentation, etc.
It is also important to note that the top search categories for each type of search are entertainment and fashion/beauty/style for “Answer Me” searches, health and finance for “Educate Me” searches, and travel and home and garden for “Inspire Me” searches. That way, you can easily identify what search type your content falls under and adjust your overall strategy including your website design/layout, content (copywriting), marketing, and even SEO.