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Content Needs to Eliminate Reader Surprises

content surprises

When people set out for any type of event that requires planning, they tend not to want any surprises. This fundamental desire drives a lot of search traffic because it helps to determine what they search for and why they need to find it. Google itself notes that people have a "low tolerance for surprises" whether they're planning a dinner date or a month-long vacation. They seek to understand and plan as much as possible, so their search topics are going to be a pursuit of answers. That's why quality content matters so much, as it can be crafted specifically to answer those questions and give them additional insight into whatever it is they may be planning.

Seeking out Menus

One great example of this behavior is when people search for menus. They often do it on their mobile phones, suggesting that they may be doing it at the spur of the moment, while deciding where to go -- or even while en route. In one study, Google found that these searches increased by 55% in just two years.

When you get to a restaurant, they typically give you a menu and then the waiter or waitress gives you a short speech about any other options they may have. They take your drink order, leave the table and come back in 10 minutes to see what you want. Google search trends, though, suggest that this is not the experience people actually want. Many of them decide what they want to eat before even stepping through the door. They want this information up front, and it can directly impact where they choose to go. No one wants to show up at a restaurant and face surprises regarding the food options they can pick from. They want to know in advance.

Learning About the Experience

People also want to learn as much as possible about what they should expect from the experience in general. They lament feeling lost or confused. They note that it makes them anxious. A few minutes on their phone before an event can help combat this, and they will take that opportunity. They are looking for ways to lower their stress levels, and finding more information is one way to do it.

For instance, Google also noted that people searched for "wait times" 120% more often in a single 24-month stretch. Again, by looking at two years of data, they could see clear trends. People wanted up-to-date information about exactly what to expect before arriving. That doesn't mean they wouldn't go to a venue with a 60-minute wait time. They just wanted to know that was what they were in for prior to arrival. They could mentally prepare and expect a certain type of experience. Again, it was all about doing away with surprises. Waiting was fine when they knew they'd be waiting, but they did not want to show up expecting quick service and then be surprised by the wait time.

Any Business

These examples center around the service industry: bars, restaurants, breweries, etc. But they can apply to any business. You need to consider what readers want to know, what surprises they may be wary of and what information can reduce stress and give them expectations for the experience. These are the questions they're going to ask and the search terms they're going to use. By incorporating that knowledge into your content strategy, you can create quality content that attracts eyes, gives readers what they want and therefore creates conversions.

Jonathan Schlosser

Posted on 5th December, 2019 by Jonathan Schlosser

About Jonathan Schlosser

Jon Schlosser is a professional writer and SEO specialist living in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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