Hi – I’m Jaime Sikora, PPC Associates Production Manager. I am relatively new to the world of paid search; I’ve been at PPC Associates for about six months. As I’m sure you can imagine, the past couple of months have been full of learning experiences – Excel tricks, keyword research, search behaviors. As I’ve made this journey, I couldn’t help but notice a couple quirks of the paid search world – or, more so, of the users of the internet.
Judging by what people search for, there are markets for products that I didn’t know existed. That, or there are potential untapped markets for some interesting new inventions. Like what, you ask? Well, ‘male corsets,’ for example. What these might look like or why one might want one, I don’t know. But what I do know is that someone, somewhere was looking for one. And a mustache on a stick? Oh, someone wants one of those too! No judgment.
What else are people looking for, besides just physical products to purchase? Well, someone who ended up on an engagement-ring landing page was looking for an official proposal template. (I’m guessing romance isn’t his strong point. It’s ok, buddy.) And while we’re on the subject – a woman (presumably) was wondering ‘should I buy my own engagement ring’? I found myself wanting to offer relationship advice to a complete and total stranger.
That brings me to a rather deep question: what role, exactly, does Google (and any other search engine) have for its users? I realize that a general, safe answer is that it’s a source of finding information on the internet. But how much and what kind of information do people think the internet holds?
Google’s global search volume on ‘when will i get married?’ is 165,000. ‘What is the meaning of life?’ comes in around 550,000. ‘Am I crazy?’ logs 110,000. Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s not that it surprises me that people were wondering these things. What gets me is that these people turned to Google, thinking it was the route to finding the answer. Is Google just a modern-day magic 8 ball? Or maybe, in the case of ‘does he love me?’ (49,500), a daisy with petals waiting to be plucked? What I really want to know is this: how much stock are these searchers putting into the responses retrieved on their SERPs?
(For what it’s worth, it looks like some companies can capitalize on these searchers!)
Maybe some people simply view Google as the wise master. Maybe, after all this face time, Google starts to seem more like a friend, a confidant, and a therapist. Is it the mere exposure effect, perhaps? Whatever it might be, something about that comforting search box lets people truly open up and share their feelings, their hopes, their fears. (Someone who ended up converting for a higher education account searched on ‘I feel shame for not having completed my degree.’ I’m glad we were able to help you fix that, whoever you are.)
Yup, people aren’t afraid to get personal with Google. Someone who ended up on a health-related website wanted to know, ‘Am I bipolar, or just a [jerk]?’ Maybe it’s best to keep such things between yourself and your search engine.
Maybe it’s the promise (or really, the illusion) of anonymity that has attracted such searcher behavior. Maybe Google has become such an omnipresence that people think it really does hold all the answers. I don’t necessarily know what was going through the heads of these searchers, but I do know that run-of-the-mill keyword research projects can turn up some pretty extraordinary glimpses into the lives of everyday Googlers.
– Jaime Sikora, Production Manager