What Motivates Consumers To “Know Before They Go”


It may seem counterintuitive, but mobile-influenced searches often start before a customer ever leaves their home or business. Consumers’ searches are performed with specific goals and clear motivation–e.g., intent to purchase, to visit, to get from point A to point B, etc.

In a recent study, Google looked at search trends and spoke with consumers to analyze “before they go” behavior. The study revealed three key things that motivate consumers that brands can leverage to add value to a very specific type of search query–the “know before you go” (KBYG) search. These include sparking excitement or anticipation (research), building confidence (preparation) and maximizing a budget (planning). We took a look at all three motivators to see how businesses can leverage KBYG search.

1. Anticipation/Excitement (research) 

Consumers who are at the beginning of the research process tend to cast a wide net when it comes to the keywords they use. KBYG queries follow this pattern, but employ very specific qualifiers such as “best” and “reviews” – e.g., “best business retreats” or “hotels in Miami reviews”.

KBYG queries often include specific needs or “wants” such as “conference centers with food” or “best hotels with waterslides.” The research involved at this stage of the discovery process generates excitement and fuels further discovery.

Examples of searches that generate anticipation and excitement


best ___ in Miami

___ with a view

best thing to eat in ___

4 star hotels in ___

___ review


How You can Leverage This Intent

Businesses can leverage KBYG queries by writing content and targeted messaging that addresses the keyword qualifiers–directly speaking to the user intent behind the search. This requires putting yourself in the mind of your customer and crafting your copy and messaging to answer their specific needs.

For example, maybe you own an outdoor adventure company that offers team building excursions to businesses, but also offers packages for consumers. Make sure your website has a page that speaks specifically to each type of customer. The business page could include  group rates and business-specific amenities (e.g., a conference room that can be used before/after the team experience, wifi and video capabilities, a kitchen for catering, etc.). Include ratings and reviews to highlight why your company is the best.

2. Preparation

KBYG searches tend to focus on consumer expectations and preparation. People want as much information as possible before they set off on their journey. Google’s study reports that mobile searches for “wait times” have increased 120% over the past two years. Setting consumer expectations helps alleviate the anxiety involved with embarking in the unknown. Queries that help consumers feel prepared span a variety of industries including dining, travel and entertainment. 

Samples of KBYG queries that help consumers feel prepared

kid friendly

vegan options

wait times

subway map

How You can Leverage This Intent

The easiest way to leverage the “be prepared” intent is by including as much information about your business as possible at all consumer touch points. Start with making sure your hours of operation, address and contact information are on your website. You can also include a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page to address the most common concerns that your customers have (Are animals allowed? Can I bring a guest? What is the refund policy?)

To this end, it’s important that you claim and update your Google My Business page which lets visitors know your address, hours of operation, and user reviews. My Business results take up a large portion of Google’s organic search results, allowing users to learn the basic facts about your business at a glance.

The above image is an example of a My Business result for a Staples store in Kingston, NY. This listing shows store hours, photos of the inside and outside of the store, user reviews and even enables users to do a search for products within this particular store right from the search results page. Users can interact directly with the listing to get more info (e.g., Questions & Answers) or choose to click through to the Staples website.

3. Maximizing budget (planning)

Another consideration of the KBYG search query is planning expenses. People want to know what to expect before they set off to purchase or experience something and the information they search for can be quite specific. For example,

KBYG searches are done with the intent of maximizing a budget through search.

Samples of KBYG searches that help people make the most of their budget

menu prices

great __ deals

how to save money on ___

how much is ___

do you tip in ___

discount ___

similar to ___ but cheaper

How you can leverage this intent

Even if you don’t want to attract bargain hunters, you can still meet the needs of budget-conscious customers by clearly stating pricing (if applicable) or providing this information as an estimate (e.g., the average cost of an eight-person excursion is $1200 and this includes X, Y and Z). Every business will approach the issue of cost differently, but it’s important to at least consider your customer intent around the important issue of cost when developing content and messaging.


To get a handle on how users are searching for you or your product/service, Google recommends searching for your brand using Google Trends. This is a free tool that lets users explore search trends by visualizing searcher interest over time and by region. The tool also lists related search queries and is a good way for businesses to leverage rising search trends (e.g., “staples black friday 2017”).

If your brand doesn’t have enough data for Google Trends to evaluate, you can still leverage the tool by searching for trends in your industry.

Companies with a sound content strategy focused on their brand are already one step ahead of their competitors when it comes to reaching customers searching for the best products and services. By addressing the specific needs of KBYG search queries, you can ensure that your company will be part of your customer’s decision-making journey, from the moment they sit down to do their research to the moment they walk through your door.