Query Sessions: Before The Right Result
Before the searcher finds the right page - your page - she has usually moved through a series of queries: near-misses, total failures, typo's, refinements, change of ideas.
The Right Query is the one that produces a results page ripe with promising fruits of search labour.
Search engines watch this process, we know.
What Search Engines Learn From Query Sessions
By recording and analyzing query sessions, search engines learn search suggestions and "did you mean...?" questions.
They know what query sessions about fruit, New York, the Beatles, or Apple look like.
As a result they know what kind of mixed results page to show when you search "apple".
Predictive Query Session Search Results
When a substantial amount of queries look like "New York -> weather New York -> hotels New York -> cheap hotels New York -> hotel reviews New York" a search engine may start to include ads or entries for "hotels New York" and "cheap hotels New York" at an earlier stage.
The number of query sessions that end with a click on one versus the other, or neither, help search engines gauge how spot on their understanding of query sessions is.
Contextual Query Session Search Results
Looking back at the "New York" query session, what searches may follow it?
Perhaps "cheap flights New York", "book flight New York", or "flights New Orleans New York".
What else? Time zones? Taxi's? An app? Places to go? What to avoid? Luggage? Flight rules and regulations ("laptop national flights security")?
Google has said numerous times it wants to deliver answers before you ask the question -- nay, before you know you want to ask the question.
Contextual query session search results are just that.
Beyond Theory: What You Can Do
When the searcher lands on one of your pages she's never at the end of a process but in the middle of it.
From within the context of the existence of your page, you have to figure out what else she may need.
Once identified, deliver it.
If you sell hammers, don't just provide nails: understand what the hammer and nails will be used for. Link to repair FAQ's, DIY forums, and mortgage information.
Be the end destination of This Search and the hub for The Next Search.
My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.