Web Searcher Behavior Quiz – Test Your SEO Knowledge

As we all know, search engine optimization is all about optimizing a website for people who use search engines. The human part of SEO is equally (if not more) important than the technical aspects of SEO. So it’s important to understand Web searcher goals and behaviors, and then to adapt your website to accommodate those goals.

Searcher behavior quiz - image

How well do you know Web searchers? How do you know which data sources are best for understanding searcher goals and behaviors?

I created this short quiz to make sure that all players on your SEO team are on the proverbial same page. (Answers are at the bottom of the page…no cheating!)

1.  The word “login” is strong indicator of what type of Web searcher intent?

  1. Navigational
  2. Informational
  3. Transactional
  4. Commercial
  5. All of the above

2.  If a Web searcher types in the keyword phrase “benjamin franklin pics” (without the quotes) into a search box, that type of query intent is classified as:

  1. Navigational
  2. Informational
  3. Transactional
  4. Commercial
  5. All of the above

3.  What type(s) of webpages can naturally satisfy informational searcher goals?

  1. Category page
  2. How-to pages
  3. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  4. Product reviews
  5. All of the above

4.   True or false?

A low bounce rate coupled with multiple page views per visitor is a strong indicator of a positive searcher experience.

5.   According to information architect Peter Morville, which of the following attributes are not a part of the searcher experience?

  1. Desirable
  2. Useful
  3. Findable
  4. Valuable
  5. Profitable

6.  Which of the following data-gathering methodologies provide information about the goals and the intentions behind searcher keywords?

  1. Keyword research tools
  2. One-on-one usability testing
  3. Large-scale log analysis (log file data)
  4. Diary studies
  5. Website analytics data
  6. All of the above
  7. B and D
  8. A, B, and D
  9. A, B, D, and E

7.  True or false?

Both finding and re-finding searcher goals involve recognition and recall.

8.  Of the following items on a webpage, what do eye-tracking usability tests not reveal?

  1. Where people spend their time looking
  2. What people do not look at
  3. Perception through peripheral vision
  4. How people separate (or ‘chunk’) information
  5. Sequence in which people look at items

9.  What type of search query is a “fishing expedition” (finding all relevant documents about a topic)?

  1. Site finding search
  2. Ad hoc search
  3. Entry page search
  4. Known-item search
  5. None of the above

10.  True or false:

Web searchers always exhibit orienting behavior whenever they view search engine results pages (SERPs).

Answers To Searcher Behaviors Quiz

1.   A – Navigational. In order for a person to login, he/she must go to a specific website in order to login to it. This word often appears with other keywords, such as the official company or organization name, or all or part of a domain name.

2.   C – Transactional. Even though the searcher might want to see a variety of pictures or photographs of Benjamin Franklin, the words words photographs (and its derivatives) and pictures (and its derivatives) indicate that the searcher wants to engage in the activities of look, see, or view. Not all transactional keywords are verbs.

3.  E – All of the above. A category page normally contains a list of items. A how-to page answers a question about a topic. FAQs pages typically answer multiple questions about a topic. And the word reviews indicates that a searcher wants to read multiple reviews about a product and/or service. Reading, knowing, and learning goals are informational goals.

4.  False. Unfortunately, there are no cut-and-dry conclusions that can be derived from bounce rates and page views per visitor. The answer depends on searcher context.

For example, if a Web searcher’s goal is to find the store hours of his preferred pharmacy, and he finds that information (quick fact) immediately, then his searcher goal is complete without having to view multiple pages. On the flip side, viewing multiple pages can indicate that the Web searcher is lost on a website, especially if pogo-sticking click paths are followed.

5.  E – Profitable. Even though website usability is balancing business goals with user expectations, a website should provide value to searchers/users. Search engine spam, for example, does not provide value to either search engines or Web searchers.

6.  G – Both B and D. Keyword research tools, log file data, Web analytics data, and even site search analytics can reveal what people search for and how people search. They can also reveal how searchers interact with search engine results pages (SERPs) and other web pages. Ultimately, direct human-researcher interaction with web searchers is needed to determine the whys of searcher goals and behaviors.

7.  False. According to researchers at Virginia Tech, finding goals and behaviors are more exploratory in nature and have a degree of uncertainty, whereas re-finding is more directed. Web searchers know that desired content is available because they have probably seen it previously; therefore, re-finding relies on both recognition and recall.

8.  C – Perceptions through peripheral vision. According to usability guru Jakob Nielson and Kara Pernice in their book Eyetracking Web Usability, users get desired information with peripheral vision. They might not focus on a page element because they believe the element is not needed for the immediate task at hand (search bar, ads, items that look like ads, etc.)

Additionally, usability expert and author Dr. Susan Weinschenk said that people sometimes choose to not fixate on an item because their peripheral vision indicated that the item was not easily decipherable. And she said that it is possible for people to be looking at one thing and actually pay attention to something nearby.

9.  B – Ad hoc search. A known-item search is similar to an ad hoc search but the target of the search is a particular document, or a small set of documents, that the searcher knows to exist in the collection and wants to find again. Site finding is similar to known-item searching because the searcher is looking for a particular website.

However, with a known-item query, the searcher has already visited the site previously. With site finding, the searcher might want to go to a known or an unknown website. With an entry page query, web searchers’ desired content is a central page of an organization—a page that functions as the portal of information.

10.  True. Orienting is a behavior whereby users/searchers determine their position in a website with reference to another point—establishing a sense of place. It occurs naturally during the browsing and searching processes. Web searchers quickly scan the top screen of the results page (from top to bottom) to ensure that they have been delivered to the most appropriate page (orientation) before reading individual search listings (ads, organic, and blended listings).

How did your SEO team do? Are there any questions or answers you think should be added, deleted, or edited? Fill out some comments below and let me know.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Content | Search & Usability


About The Author: is the Founder and SEO Director at Omni Marketing Interactive and the author of the books Search Engine Visibility and When Search Meets Web Usability. Shari currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Information Architecture Institute (IAI) and the ASLIB Journal of Information Management. She also served on the board of the User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA).

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  • http://engrenagensweb.com I.M.

    Amazing. All team are reproved. People still think in SEO in terms of titles and friendly urls????? Thanks for share.

  • http://www.search-usability.com/ Shari Thurow

    Hello and thank you for your comments. Titles and URLs should make sense to both searchers and search engines.

    In fact, sensemaking (also spelled sense-making) is also a part of the search process. Another quiz question for another time….

    To this day, I am still dumbfounded that many SEO professionals do not realize that search results are also ranked by searcher goals and behaviors…not only title-tag content.

    Thanks again!

  • http://twitter.com/FirdausHaque Firdaus Haque

    During the Keywords Research phase what is the most critical element one should try to derive while doing the Competitors Analysis ?
    A. The first page competition for that particular keyword
    B. Keywords used by competition in their tags/content
    C. A strategy to choose the least competitive keywords to start with
    D. All of the above

  • http://twitter.com/onlinemaximizer Maximizer e-Services

    Good questions and insightful answers. Kudos.

  • trying_to_learn

    I disagree with answer #4. “strong’ indication was the verbiage used in the question.
    Additonally – ‘positive’ experience’ was also used. low bounce + multiple views doesnt indicate a ‘negative’ experience which wouldn’t make the answer False. right?

  • http://twitter.com/sharithurow sharithurow

    Hi there-

    I think the most important keyword research one can do for SEO is to talk to your target audience and observe them during search tasks. Then talk to the people who answer the phones and respond to emails or online forms. So I would prefer to see that be the answer to the question you posed. 

    Kim Krause-Berg wrote a great article about not imitating your competitors…especially if they are spamming the search engines. I wouldn’t want to imitate that.

  • http://twitter.com/sharithurow sharithurow

    Nope, I stand by what I wrote. The first sentence in the answer states that, “…there are no cut-and-dry conclusions that can be derived from bounce rates and page views per visitor. The answer depends on searcher context.”

    A positive quick-fact search has a high bounce rate and high searcher satisfaction. A searcher who pogo-sticks on a website (multiple page views) is having a negative searcher experience.

  • Fiona Dudley

    Dear Ms. Thurow,
    Excellent quiz!
    I got #2 wrong because I was unfamiliar with the term transactional search.
    I got #7 wrong because the intent of the question was a little unclear… when I search, I use my own past knowledge and experience involving recognition and recall to conduct my search. Again, unfamiliarity with the terminology in the field of usability.
    I got #8 wrong because I “assumed” that eye tracking technology did include tracking peripheral vision, but would not be able to get into my head and determine how I personally internally organize the results.
    I am SO glad about #4 and support your answer completely! Interpreting exactly why somebody left a page, or conversely views a page too many times ( I had an excellent example of that with a client, it stood out like a sore thumb) is open to interpretation. That’s what SEO pros are for :-)
    Very interesting – I learned a few things along the way.

  • http://twitter.com/sharithurow sharithurow

    Hi Fiona-

    I know this was a tough quiz, but it has to be tough as query classification is not as cut-and-dry as people (including SEOs) want it to be.

    People mix up transactional intent all of the time because, all too often, a searcher wants information before he/she will take an action. So a bunch of informational queries will occur before the transactional one. 

    I understand why #7 was confusing. Maybe that one should be reworded. We all use recognition and recall without even thinking about it. Re-finding is definitely more directed, though. 

    Eye-tracking currently tracks foveal vision, not peripheral vision.


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