Customers engage with content that interests them. Consumers are also fickle. Whether scrolling through social media, scanning news stories, or looking through search results, they click on headlines and topics that catch their eye. Therefore, businesses need to have a solid understanding of their customers’ interests, concerns, and desires to develop a trust-worthy relationship. Unfortunately, businesses waste significant time and money creating social media and content campaigns that attract little interest and engagement. As I’ve noted in a previous blog, content marketing can be an effective way for businesses to expand their reach, increase brand awareness, drive leads, and position themselves as thought leaders. Still, first, companies need to leverage available data to their advantage.

That is where search listening comes in.

What is Search Listening?

search listening /ˈsərch ‘lis-​niŋ/ verb

  1. The monitoring of Google searches for thoughts and searches around your brand or specific keywords, topics, competitors, or industries, followed by an analysis to gain insights and act on those opportunities. “We need to understand our customers better. Let’s do some search listening.”
  2. An under-utilized method for gaining consumer insight, which can complement other more established methods. “We’re kicking off our next project with a research phase, comprising a survey, focus groups, social listening, and search listening.” (2020). Retrieved from

Every day, Google logs more than 3 billion searches on a myriad of diverse topics ranging from “benefits of an electric toothbrush,” to “where can I find the best sushi?” Search listening provides insights as to what people desire, fear, and aspire to be. By implementing a consistent search listening plan, companies can better target their marketing efforts, as well as provide higher-quality, better-focused content that matches their audience’s interests. Also, search listening can uncover topics that marketers may not have thought of on their own, but that add value to the information they are sharing with customers.

How is Search Listening Different than Social Listening?

Social listening has been a trending buzzword recently, whereas search listening has not received as much attention – but that does not make it any less relevant. What makes search listening so valuable is that it provides authentic insight into the consumer’s mind.

Social listening evaluates what people post on social media regarding their thoughts about a particular brand or product. Marketers can track viewers’ feedback, engage in discussions, and ask questions to gather more information. However, what people share on social media is not always how they honestly feel. They often portray a finely crafted version of what they think people want to hear, or what they think makes them look good.

Search listening, on the other hand, relies on data from Google searches. People tend to be more honest and open when typing a question into a faceless search engine as opposed to asking for advice or answers from actual people. Businesses can use search listening to see the most common search queries related to a specific keyword or phrase. As a result, this puts keywords in a broader context and builds a clearer picture of their audience’s thoughts and concerns.

For example, SEO may show that “savings account” is a frequently searched term, but what does that mean? Do people want to know how to open a savings account? How to close a savings account? How to transfer money from their checking account to their savings account? What is the interest rate on different types of savings accounts? Search listening offers this level of detail by showing entire search queries that allow businesses to drill down into data.

Harnessing the Power of Search Listening

Uncovering this data is simpler than you may think. One of the best search listening tools is Answer the Public. Users can run three free searches per day, or upgrade to pro, which offers more searches and features. The tool creates easy-to-understand visuals regarding search information that marketers can use to develop more effective content strategies and content calendars. Searches are categorized by type of question, such as how, why, when, which, who, where, or are, and they also show changes over time.

Another free resource is Google trends. This tool allows marketers to see what terms or topics are currently trending and also provides simple graphics to portray data. It shows how trends have changed over time, related topics and queries, and what parts of the world are searching the term the most.

With search listening, businesses can gather more detailed insight into their audience and provide content that aligns with what they genuinely want to know. Social listening and asking customers for feedback still have their place, but search listening complements these efforts and adds a new perspective. YGL Enterprises can assist you in doing a deep-dive into your marketing strategy and initiatives to uncover new opportunities, gaps, and areas for improvements to meet customer needs and business objectives better. Contact us today to get started!