Technical Empathy: Considering Searcher Intent in Keyword Research

Technical Empathy: Considering Searcher Intent in Keyword Research


As content providers for a range of different types of companies, it can sometimes be challenging to write as experts about so many different topics. Certainly, we need to research and brush up our knowledge as much as possible, but one thing stands as an anchor in all this effort: empathy.

When we first talk to a client, so much focus is on their business challenge and what their goals are. In that conversation, we are submerged in the details of what they do, how they do it, why it’s important, and why don’t more people know about them?! Understanding that stuff is important, for sure. Then, we get into the work, and as we start researching keywords, suddenly all that information we’re operating with takes on a new dimension.

“Yeah, but what are people looking for?”

That question has a powerful effect on the details. It changes the perspective from, “This service is awesome! People should buy this!” to imagining a company that might be buried in orders, stressed out, wondering, “Who’s going to quickly and safely ship all my products?” Whatever a company does, it’s really only as good as how that applies to what people are looking for. You can create ads, drive SEO and do all sorts of marketing all day long, but it won’t have many results if no one is looking for what you’re talking about.

The trick then is to understand how to describe things in ways that bridge the “what” of a product or service with actual needs. Our tools allow us to easily find keywords that we can apply to the content we create, but by understanding more about what’s behind those searches – what people really need help with – we can discover more meaningful and direct ways to communicate. Sometimes in this process, entire new demographics are revealed, as we discover that the target audience is merely one perspective, and that there is another sometimes larger group faced with a challenge that our client can solve. Essentially, we’re using technology to gain more insight into human needs.

Sure, we’re working with data and algorithms, but as human beings, we’re applying empathy throughout the process, because the bottom line is, if what we’re writing about and sharing with the world doesn’t resonate with anyone, doesn’t answer their call for help, or turn up to reveal a proactive fix or benefit for something that is very relevant to them, then there’s no reason to do it. Over time, this process has trained us to think about the big picture from the moment we first talk with clients. It seeps into our understanding when clients explain the details of what they do. It helps us pivot when we start selling too hard with our writing. By looking at things from the potential end customer’s perspective, we end up helping the client more. By seeing what clients do as answers to questions, we focus on what those questions might be.

What questions are you typing into search engines? We’re listening.