3 User Behavior Cues that Matter for Search Engine Marketing

Understanding user behavior is essential for optimizing a website for SEO. By understanding the psychological factors that affect user behavior, website owners and SEO professionals can optimize their websites to better meet the needs and expectations of their users.

By using clear and concise language, providing a positive user experience, using emotional triggers, optimizing for mobile, and using data to inform decisions, website owners and SEO professionals can improve their search engine rankings and attract more traffic to their websites.

3 User Behavior Cues that Matter for Search Engine Marketing

1. User Behavior Caused by Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases are mental shortcuts or patterns of thinking that lead individuals to make systematic deviations from rational judgment or decision-making. These biases often stem from the brain’s attempt to simplify information processing, resulting in errors in reasoning, interpretation, or memory. They influence how people perceive and interpret information, affecting their beliefs, decisions, and actions without conscious awareness.

Here are some examples: 

Cognitive BiasDescriptionExample for Small Business Owners
1Anchoring BiasThis bias occurs when individuals rely heavily on the first piece of information they encounter when making decisions.A small business owner may set prices based on the first competitor they research, regardless of subsequent information about market rates or competitor pricing strategies.
2Confirmation BiasUsers tend to seek information that confirms their preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.A small business owner might only pay attention to customer feedback that aligns with their belief about their product’s strengths, ignoring feedback that suggests areas for improvement.
3Choice-supportive BiasThis bias refers to the tendency to retroactively assign positive attributes to chosen options.After selecting a vendor or product to stock, a small business owner might overlook flaws in their choice and focus only on its positive aspects, even if better options are available.
4Loss AversionUsers often show a greater sensitivity to losses than to equivalent gains. Studies have found that design elements emphasizing potential losses can significantly influence decision-making.A small business owner might be more driven to avoid small financial losses (like a slight increase in supply costs) than to pursue equivalent or larger gains (such as investing in marketing).

Notice how they pointed out that 83% of the items were claimed, using loss aversion to their advantage!

Example of a company using loss aversion bias

Cognitive processes, such as selective attention and memory, impact the keywords users choose when formulating queries. Biases like confirmation bias lead users to seek information that confirms their existing beliefs, influencing the search terms they use. Availability bias may make users more likely to rely on readily available information in memory when crafting queries.

2. User engagement provoked by Emotional triggers

Emotional cues have a major impact on user engagement in content production, marketing initiatives, and the SEO metrics that follow. User behavior and emotions are closely related; emotions influence how users interact with content and react to it. Content that evokes strong emotions, such as joy, excitement, empathy, or humor, tends to hold audiences’ attention longer and encourage sharing, which in turn influences user behavior.

Correlation between emotions and user behavior has a direct effect on important SEO metrics like Click-Through Rate (CTR) and Bounce Rate. There is evidence to support the influence that carefully integrating emotional triggers into meta titles, descriptions, and content has on CTR. Click-through rates are increased when meta descriptions or titles are compelling and emotionally relevant. Moreover, good emotion-provoking content tends to have lower bounce rates since it encourages people to stay on the website longer by delving deeper into the information.

Emotional reactions are further influenced by color psychology. Different colors have different emotional meanings. For example, red might imply hurry or excitement, while blue can suggest trust or serenity. Color psychology experts use these connections to create websites, content, or marketing materials that emotionally connect with their target audience and impact their interaction and behavior.

Color psychology

Emotional connections drive customer loyalty and influence purchasing decisions. When customers feel emotionally connected to a brand, they are more likely to:

  1. Make repeat purchases.
  2. Engage with the brand on social media or through user-generated content.
  3. Recommend the brand to others, leading to word-of-mouth marketing.

Effective content strategies that leverage emotional triggers through adept storytelling, relatable experiences, or visually evocative elements enhance user engagement. This increased engagement translates into favorable SEO outcomes, encompassing prolonged session durations, diminished bounce rates, heightened social sharing, and elevated CTRs. Consequently, search engines interpret these positive user signals as indicative of valuable, high-quality content, subsequently amplifying rankings and overall visibility.

It becomes clear from the causal effect of marketing cues on user behavior that companies should track and measure certain user behavior metrics for future success and more sales.

3. User Feedback as part of Social Proof

The importance of user feedback and social proof in shaping user behavior can be strongly associated with the Bandwagon Effect, a cognitive bias where individuals adopt certain behaviors or beliefs because they perceive others doing the same. In the context of user behavior, social proof influences decision-making by leveraging this bias, as people tend to follow the actions or opinions of others.

Example of a pricier camera with good reviews
Example of cheaper camera with bad rewies

When users encounter positive user feedback, testimonials, reviews, or social media engagements, it triggers the Bandwagon Effect by influencing their perceptions and decisions. Seeing others positively engaging with a product, service, or content creates a sense of validation and trust. Users are more inclined to follow suit and align their behavior with the collective sentiment expressed through social proof.

In the realm of SEO, social proof reinforces user behavior by validating the credibility and trustworthiness of a website or content, thereby impacting SEO metrics. Positive social proof signals, such as high numbers of likes, shares, positive reviews, or endorsements, serve as indicators of quality and relevance to both users and search engines.


Višnja is a passionate digital marketing advocate that works with Aleph as an author, contributor, and consultant to our clients. She has a degree in psychology and a knack for content marketing.

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