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How to Use Cognitive Biases Psychology in SEO & Marketing

Psychology in advertising and marketing isn’t a new thing, it’s been around since the early days of advertising and really came to prominence in the 1920s with “the father of public relations” – Edward Bernays.

How to Use Cognitive Biases Psychology in SEO & Marketing

A nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays gained fame for his efforts to define psychology's impact on the field of public relations and advertising. 

Much of Bernays writing and work focused on the herd mentality and irrational biases of the public, and how crowd psychology and psychoanalysis could be used to influence people's perception.

Bernays worked for many big companies, including Procter & Gamble, General Electric, CBS, and Dodge Motors. But maybe his biggest claim to fame – which most North Americans do, but don’t know about – was convincing the public that bacon and eggs are foods to eat at breakfast.

How can I use psychology in my marketing or advertising?

While the psychological power of advertising isn’t lost on the public anymore, it’s still just as effective as ever. Plus now, it doesn’t even take being the nephew of the founder of psychoanalysis to be able to use it to your advantage anymore. 

This is where I introduce you to cognitive biases – the systemic pattern of deviation from the norm in judgment. In simpler words, cognitive biases are the irrational way our minds create subjective realities or we don’t believe in things other than our own thought process.

Here are some examples of cognitive biases that will often impact our perceptions of marketing or SEO campaigns, for either good or bad reasons are:

Salience Bias

The tendency to focus on items that are more noticeable or emotionally significant and ignore those that you think are not important, even though this difference is often wrong by objective standards.

Confirmation Bias

When you only listen to or see evidence that supports your underlying assumptions are correct, so you dismiss anything else that says otherwise.

The Bandwagon Effect

The tendency to believe things because many other people believe the same. Or basically, the old saying – if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you? The answer is probably yes.

Illusion of Asymmetric Insight

When people believe their knowledge of their peers surpasses their peers' knowledge of them.

Bizarreness Effect

Unique or bizarre subject matter is more easily remembered than common material.

Framing Effect

You can get different conclusions from identical information, depending on how that information is presented.

These are just a few common cognitive biases that people may let affect their decision making or perception on a subject. Being able to understand or acknowledge these cognitive biases can help you become a more effective marketer and advertiser. 

Cognitive Biases Codex Marketing SEO
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You can find a much more in-depth list of cognitive biases and their psychological effects on Wikipedia.

It’s hard to always know how cognitive biases can be exploited but they do exist and in some ways, they’re already being taken advantage of. 

However, it’s important not to think of these biases as a way to trick your audience. You should treat them as a tool to learn from and understand how consumers acknowledge your marketing decisions.

Harlen Malkowich
Jul 03, 2019
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