Getting found online: how do customers search for your offerings?

Imagine you have five labelled boxes and a stack of documents that you need to sort into those boxes. The labels no doubt make sense to you — maybe you like to sort your documents by date, topic, or even colour. But would those labels make sense to others?

Think about the way you label and store business information. Is it catalogued in a manner that will make sense for users to search and access? How you arrange your information, as well as the words and labels associated with that information, can have a significant impact on how useful and “findable” it is.

What’s in a label? 

Think back to those occasions when you’ve performed a Google search and didn’t get the results you expected. Have you found yourself changing search terms to try to get something more relevant or specific until you eventually hit on a particular phrase that returns the results you wanted? This search phrase may ultimately make little sense to you but it made sense to someone! 

Why did they make the decision to place the information in that particular box? Why did they think it belonged there? And why did they choose to label it that way?

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When a customer searches for something, it’s vital to think about what’s important to them at that moment in time. What are they trying to achieve? 

By placing yourself in their shoes, you are better able to understand what information is needed, what level of detail will help your customer to achieve their goal, and what is just clutter.

If the pathway to finding information isn’t clear or it takes too long, your customer may give up or head over to a competitor's site. This is why it’s so important to choose the right labels when structuring content. You need to use the same words your customers would — their jargon, their lingo, placed in the boxes that your customers would put them in.

How does your customer think and how do you figure out which labels to use?

It is likely that your customers don’t use the same terms or phrases you use internally to describe things. So how do you discover the labels they do use?

The easiest way to answer this question is to actually ask your customers in person. User Experience (UX) practitioners exist to help define your users, their wants, needs and pain points. These details put to use in the right way can greatly enhance your customer's ability to find the information they need.

And when should you be thinking about this?

You should be considering your customers from day one! 

If you're building a new website or digital experience, then you should be thinking about labels and searchability. Information architecture generally informs user interface (UI) design and both of these impact overall customer experience. Alternatively, if you’re busy making improvements to your existing website, this is also an excellent opportunity to rethink labels and the delivery of information.

In an increasingly digital world, a website is more than an online calling card or brochure. The expectations of your market are being shaped by the Apples, Netflixes and Googles of the world. Your customers expect you to offer similar levels of organisation, ease of use, design and personalisation.

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So, what do my customers want from my online presence?

When it comes to processing information on a screen, your customers are skimming to locate relevant labels, phrases or data.

The information must be laid out in a way that lets them pick out exactly what they're looking for. Asking yourself a few key questions can help you get started with fine-tuning your online content and associated labels such as: 

1) who am I writing for?
2) what do they care about?
3) what problem am I solving for them?
4) how does my business do this better than anyone else?
5) what words can I use to show customers they are in the right place?
6) how can I cut to the chase?

By answering these questions, or at least being aware of them, you can increase the effectiveness of your site ...

Be aware that it’s not only your customers who are scanning your content; search engines like Google do exactly the same in order to determine the relevance of your content when someone enters certain keywords (labels).

What’s next?

The world is changing; your customers are online 24x7. Keep reviewing and updating your website because it’s never “finished”. The terminology (labels) your customers use to describe something can change quickly.

What makes life easier for users can sometimes require more effort on your part, but your customers will not only think better of your brand, they are more likely to transact with you, become advocates and remain loyal.


Do you feel your content and labels could be improved? Are you interested in speaking to a  professional with the skills and techniques to help you stand out from the crowd? Feel free to get in touch.