SEO lessons from ‘The Internship’


Rob Jones

Technical SEO

The Internship

Whether you consider the film a product placement disaster or not, underneath the slanted portrayal of Google, The Internship does hold key lessons about providing value to the user.

I don’t need to search Google to know that users not only want to receive information quickly, but understand the message in a pinch too.

Thus, for those who still haven’t seen the film, it’s essentially about a bunch of know-it-all 20-something interns who are too focused on tech and not focused enough on people. Here’s what they learned through the process with a little help from one of Hollywoods favourite duos.

You must connect users with the right information

This is Googles never changing mantra which the search engine is constantly trying to better itself at. So much so that they have begun to shift the way that we use Google and what we expect of its capabilities.

An auto suggestion box is one thing, but now Google is striving to meet the demands of much more complex queries and comparison requests which speak to users as individuals.

“We keep expanding our features of the knowledge graph so that it can answer more questions – even those that don’t have a simple answer” – Amit Singhal, Googles Senior Vice President of Search.

Search “compare Pekingese with a Chihuahua” or “butter vs olive oil” and you will not only get usable answers to these queries, but perhaps even insights to questions that you didn’t know that you had!

Comparison Request

Does your content strategy reflect this ethos? Are you connecting your users and readers to the right information? Sure you’ve written a blog post about the PR stunt you pulled for your new store opening, but have you linked to the store locator page with the address, contact information and opening times?

Is your content providing answers to more complex search terms? You could be missing out on potentially dozens of leads a month by being the answer to these questions. For example, Scott, a highly influential mens style blogger, wants to know “what to wear with blue chinos”. The topic is in his content schedule for that month. His search leads him to your video guide on the very subject, ranked high in the SERPs. He writes a post, linking to the page with your video where his readers spot your suggested items to wear with navy chinos, which also just happen to be on sale.

You may be asking, Well how would I have known that Scott was searching for that? – the short answer; research. What has Scott been talking about on Twitter? Whats the fashion community been talking about on Twitter? Do you know where your community can be found online? If you don’t then you better search for them and while you’re at it, refresh your knowledge of Google Search with the video below:


Don’t neglect customer experience

The interns in the film were quick to leap to technical solutions to a problem before looking at the whole picture. They eventually learned that to truly meet the needs of the user, they had to put the problem in their terms and see it from their perspective.

Make payments through your website easy, keeping users focused on completing the sale. Speed up load times, make hyperlinks clearly visible and allow users to easily give feedback. See how the auto fill makes the Facebook competition below easy and simple to enter? Poor usability, even the seemingly trivial, is a barrier to entry which you must remove. Behavioural research of your own users will open insights to delight and even surprise your customers.

Boden Clothing Facebook Competition

If you only remember one thing!

In The Internship Vince Vaughns character summed up what Google wants to communicate to everyone with Google search, which you’ll do well to remember: “Everybody’s searching for something – They are searching for ‘you’. Just let us help them find you.”

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