Understanding and Leveraging Keyword Bias in SEO Strategy

Jul 1, 2024SEO

Keyword bias and bias in general tends to be seen as taboo. Typically we hear “bias” and think that it’s likely something that is clouding our judgment unfairly and therefore not allowing us to make sound judgments. These biases can be something that clouds our minds but it’s also a powerful psychological phenomenon to understand to be a better search markerer. In this article we are going to dive into to aspects of search marketing that we need to better understand bias and both relate to keyword use in search engines.

What is Confirmation Bias?

Before we get too deep into how bias impacts search marketing, let’s get some of the definitions out of the way. Confirmation bias (we are just going to call this “bias” in our article) is a personal bias where we favor, seek out, and interpret information that confirms their preexisting beliefs. Most of the time this bias takes the place of credible data or information – clouding our judgment even when real data may tell us something different. This bias significantly impacts decision-making, research, and everyday thinking by creating a skewed perception of reality.

In scientific research, confirmation bias can lead researchers to interpret data that supports their hypotheses while ignoring results that may contradict their anticipated results. This was notably observed in studies where scientists, faced with unexpected results, initially blamed their methods rather than reconsidering their hypotheses. (PositivePsychology.com)​​​.


leveraging keyword bias


How Does Bias Impact Our Research Process?

The first idea we are going to explore is how bias impacts our ability to complete keyword research, choose targets, optimize content and do any other core aspect of our jobs. If we as marketers assume that most people search or look for information in the same way we do, then we may overlook alternative keywords that don’t align with our expectations. However, we can also harness our biases to better understand our customers. 

A Little Exercise to Try

Our team went to MozCon this year and one of the speakers talked about keyword bias at length. The speaker walked through a way to better understand bias in research. Let’s try it together!

Start Here

This keyword exercise will expose the bias in your topics and will allow you to broaden your visibility and content to everyone, not just the audience that has the same bias as you. 

  1. First start with your unbiased keyword. This would be the topic. Let’s say we are a tourism website for the city of Milwaukee. Our unbiased keyword would be “milwaukee”.
  2. The biased keyword would be “why is milwaukee the best place to visit”. This is biased because not everyone may think it is the best place to visit.
  3. Instead, someone might be searching for the opposite, or the similar term opposition, “why is milwaukee not the best place to visit?
  4. Finally, you want to make sure you are also covering topics for those who are not sold to a bias yet, an example of this dissimilar term opposition could be “visiting milwaukee vs chicago”. We are bringing in another dissimilar term and comparing it both in a positive and negative way.

Once you build out the biased and unbiased keywords you should have something a little like this:

Keyword framework

Balancing biased keywords with broader, unbiased terms ensures a comprehensive approach that caters to both specific and general audience needs. This combination of psychological understanding and marketing strategy enables SEOs to enhance user experience, improve targeting, and ultimately drive better results in organic search​.

How Can We Use Our Customer’s Bias to Better Target Them in Search?

If we can effectively decode our target markets’ most common biases, then we can get a firm handle on their preferences and search behaviors. By recognizing and leveraging common biases, we as search marketers can tailor keyword strategies to align with the way target audiences think and search. This can improve the relevance and effectiveness of content.

An example of understanding a customers bias to create better information could be something like this: 

  • Your customers are mostly farmers or people that have barns
  • You sell a tool that helps to keep away harmful bugs like termites or carpenter bees from destroying their structures 
  • This target market strongly prefers American made products because they are strong supporters of American agriculture and infrastructure 
  • You not only market your products as “American Made” but perhaps you provide resources on supporting local agricultural networks in different parts of the country.

You’ve now connected with your market in a way that isn’t just “selling” your products. You’re providing real value to your audience in a way that matters to you and them.

How Can You Apply Keyword Bias Understanding in Your Day-to-Day?

Applying keyword bias understanding in your daily SEO tasks involves a reflective approach to how you perceive and select keywords. Start by examining your own preconceived notions about a particular product or service. Ask yourself: Are these assumptions influencing your keyword choices? Conduct a thorough vetting of these assumptions by comparing them with actual user data and search behavior. This can reveal discrepancies between your perceptions and the audience’s reality, helping you align your optimizations more accurately with the client’s target audience rather than your own biases. Additionally, consider running A/B tests to see which keyword strategies resonate best with different audience segments, allowing for a data-driven approach to bias utilization.

By integrating this mindset into your keyword research and content creation processes, you can develop more effective, user-centric SEO strategies. This not only enhances the relevance and appeal of your content but also improves overall search performance. Remember, the goal is to meet the audience where they are, leveraging their natural biases to create compelling and engaging content that drives results.

Good luck, and we look forward to hearing about your success in applying these insights to your SEO efforts!

Are you a marketer looking to improve your SEO game. Chat with us to see how we can help. 

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