Why Do People Visit Websites Today?

Back in 2015, Think With Google published four new moments that every marketer should know.

They were mainly concerned with mobile use and listed these moments as follows:

  • I-want-to-know moments. This includes searches for news, general knowledge, how to return an item you bought online, etc.
  • I-want-to-go moments. These are searches that are location-specific when a user wants to find something nearby.
  • I-want-to-do moments. These include searches for how to fix your dishwasher, how to grow tomatoes, a new recipe for tonight, etc.
  • I-want-to-buy moments. This can be anything related to reading reviews or searching for information on buying something large or small.

They also identified six need states which Search Engine Journal’s Roger Monti wrote about in a much more intensive manner last year: Google: 6 Need States Influence Search Behavior.

Those states are meant to describe the ways that consumer needs influence search behavior and are as follows:

  • Surprise Me.
  • Help Me.
  • Reassure Me.
  • Educate Me.
  • Impress Me.
  • Thrill Me.


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Avinash Kaushik also published what he defined as the See-Think-Do framework.

This was designed to help marketers do a better job of giving customers what they want and need, and examples of these segments are listed in the image below:

See Think Do search framework

Chris Hart’s SEJ article, See, Think, Do, Care: A New Way to Communicate Your SEO Strategy, covers this framework in detail.

These three ways of looking at how humans interact with the internet really condense our reasons as both creators and consumers.


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So Why Exactly Do People Visit Websites Today?

1. We Want to Learn

Recently, plenty of schoolchildren in the U.S. have had to learn online as their schools were shut down because of COVID-19. Many were already homeschooling online.

Colleges took their classes out of the classrooms and onto Zoom.

SEO professionals conducted what would have been in-person conferences via an online platform.

I’m sure that all of us have, at one time or other, decided to dive deep into a topic we knew nothing about, and we scoured the web for information for our own benefit.

We may be watching a show on Hulu and don’t know what a reference means, so we Google it and read about it.

We may want to learn more about the political process, or COVID-19, or Victorian England. The web allows us to learn and learn at our own pace.

2. We Want to Buy

With the lockdowns due to COVID-19, ecommerce became the most important way that we could make purchases.

For the first time ever, I started to order groceries online and have them delivered.

I’ve always done a lot of online shopping, but I started to think about things that I’d normally buy in person and figure out if and how I could get them online.

I even bought baby chicks online.

Some people turn to spending money as a comfort when they’re stressed. Sometimes they need to send a last-minute gift to a friend for a birthday.

We may be asked to make a charitable donation instead of sending flowers for a funeral. It’s possible to buy almost anything online these days.

3. We Want to Be Entertained

This is my primary reason for going online, outside of what I do for my job.

I want to watch a movie, or a music video, or a TV show. It stops me from thinking about all the stress in the world.

What would have been live, in-person events are now going online.


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We have virtual concerts, virtual plays, virtual festivals, etc. Movies that would have been released in the theatres have even been released online instead.

The beauty of online entertainment is that you can access it anywhere, at any time, with some exceptions, of course.

If you want to watch Justified at 11:00 a.m. on a Wednesday, you can do it. If you’re waiting in your car before getting into the dentist’s chair, you can jump on YouTube.

Online entertainment has never been so convenient and accessible.

4. We Need Information

We need to look at a map in order to go pick up our kids at a friend’s house.

We need to know if our favorite pizza place is still open at 10 p.m.

We want to know what’s happened in the world in the last hour.

Interestingly, Google’s I-want-to-know moments list the three most common searches as being for general knowledge, food and grocery, and shopping.


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Remember those days when you had to ask someone a question or look something up in a library?

We have always had to search hard to get information, just not online. Now information is available in seconds.

5. We Want to Be Inspired

We’ve been trying to enjoy our front porch more often, so I’ve looked at tons of ideas for Victorian front porches.

Whenever I have trouble maintaining my concentration, I’ll spend a few minutes looking up a new recipe to try.

Writer and artist friends say that they are always in search of inspiration online.

In terms of content creation, which is something that many of us are involved with, finding inspiration (and data) is a necessity.

There is plenty to inspire you offline, but the online inspiration is neverending. Currently, as I’m writing this, I’m reading articles about how to find inspiration!

6. We Want to Stay in Touch & Stay Informed

We want to stay in touch not only with people we know but also with people we don’t know – with communities, with movements, with news, with the world in general.


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With the lockdown and travel restrictions in place, many people have had to communicate with their loved ones on a strictly virtual basis.

Zoom, a popular video conferencing service, recently saw its revenue soar 169% because of the pandemic-driven need to move communication online.

7. We Want to Feel Connected

As much as I’d love to give up Facebook, it remains the only way that I communicate with certain friends and family members.

I use Twitter to stay in touch with my industry.
Social media is great for connecting people, even though it has its downsides.

There’s a wonderful Facebook group that I’m a member of where people post photos from their front door so everyone can see their views.

It’s been a truly positive experience to look at what other people see each day, and it’s a great way to talk to someone in New Zealand or Kenya.

I’ve also met some great new friends in a music group on Facebook.


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We’re based all over the world but have one major thing in common (we love goth!), so it’s nice to get online and see what everyone’s listening to.

8. We’re Just Bored

I don’t usually feel truly bored, but there are definitely times when nothing much is going on, and I browse the web.

I’ll look up anything and everything. I’m sure that countless hours are spent online simply because people are bored, and our phones and tablets and laptops are always accessible.

There’s even a site just for bored people!

Last (and Probably Least)…

We clicked on a link because the anchor text was descriptive and tempting, and the link fit in so well with the content that we knew we had no other choice than to click on it.

(OK, this is my dream as a link builder… not always my reality.)

The Takeaway

As an SEO, why does this matter?


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We tend to think in terms of keyword research, promoting content, and optimizing for better rankings.

We want to make sites faster and inclusive.

It’s good to take a step back from that and really consider the ins and outs of why people visit websites.

Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita