The internet is undoubtedly the largest and most used resource in the world. Billions of people use the internet every day to find information, shop for online products, and locate local businesses.
As you can image, search engines have a herculean task of making the internet a convenient place to find information. However, people have different ways of searching for things.
Without a brain to interpret the meaning behind trillions of query, search engines rely on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to process the intent behind search queries.
That doesn’t mean that search engines do all of this work for SEOs trying to grow their online presence. If you are using keyword research to increase your online visibility, then you must first understand search intent.
Otherwise, you could be providing the wrong content to your audience and send them to another competitor. This guide will break down the complicated topic of search intent for all to understand.
What is Search Intent?
Search or user intent is the meaning behind web queries. Search engines process user intent to figure out what they mean they want to access information. Search intent is a very intricate detail in the fabric of search engine optimization (SEO), especially when you’re dealing with keywords.
For example, let’s say that you want to rank for two keywords: teddy bear and teddy bears. While these seem like obvious keywords that are explicitly pointing to an interest in teddy bears, the concept of search intent is not that simple.
For example, if you type in teddy bear in your search engine, you’ll first see a bunch of images of teddy bears followed by a Wikipedia entry explaining what it is. Conversely, if you type in teddy bears into your search engine, you’re bound to receive shopping-based search results instead.
Why does that happen?
Apparently, Google interprets a singular form of specific keywords to be for the purpose of acquiring information. Also, it figures that the plural form of the keyword must mean the user wants to buy teddy bears.
This may seem trivial, but there is an important revelation here. If you want to rank for a keyword, you have to create content for it or include it relevantly in your web copy. If you don’t understand the intent behind a keyword, you’ll completely miss the mark of what your audience is looking for.
This will result in you wasting several hours of time and effort for keywords Google will not rank on your website. This isn’t the only reason why search intent is important. You’ll find out more about that by reading below.
Why Does Search Intent Matter?
Many marketers often miss the point of SEO. From an outsider’s perspective, the goal of SEO is to leverage effective keyword usage to rank high for particular searches. Though, SEO is much more than that.
It entails creating valuable content, optimizing the speed of your website, so much more. But, if there had to be a sole purpose for SEO, it would be to simply provide web users with what they are looking for.
Giving web users what they want should be the fulcrum of your internet marketing strategy, not keyword research. While it’s important, keyword research uncovers the search terms people use to find information.
Leveraging search intent allows you to figure out what exactly a person is looking for with that keyword. For example, let’s say you want to rank for the keyword, “personal injury attorney Las Vegas”.
From just reading that keyword, do you know what a user wants when they type it into a search bar? You may say, “Yes. Users want to find a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas.”
That may be true, but if hundreds of thousands of people are searching for that keyword, are their wants universal? Of course not! There are bound to be different reasons why they are using that keyword.
You have to ask yourself, “does my audience want contact information for a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas, or do they want to figure out the best tips for hiring one?”
Many marketers blindly add keywords into content and wonder why it doesn’t rank. It’s because you must know the intent behind your keywords so you can create relevant content that Google will rank online.
Luckily, understanding search intent isn’t difficult at all. Continue reading to learn some effective ways you can decipher what your audience wants.
How to Define Search Intent
There are two ways to define search intent. You can either perform an eye-test and check for yourself, or you can take a data-driven approach to the task. Whichever tactic you choose will be effective. It’s just up to you.
Performing an eye-test is a bit simpler, though. It simply requires you to type in a keyword you want to use into a search engine and see what results pop up. If you are noticing that your keyword is generating vital information from blogs, encyclopedias, and YouTube videos, then it stands to reason that your audience wants valuable information they can use now.
This is because Google only ranks content that people actually want. Therefore, if the top search results are informational, then it means users were clicking these results at a high rate.
If you want to dig deeper, then you are welcome to take a data-driven approach. This entails using a keyword research tool to browse web pages and content that rank high for your prospective keyword.
Next, write these pages down and browse them. Ask yourself:
What elements does this page have?
What type of information is present?
What can I do to make my page just like this one?
Using a little thought and some effort can help you easily uncover the meaning behind your chosen list of keywords. Next, is the easiest step: give them what they want.
Give Your Audience What They Want?
Now that you fully understand the intent behind the keywords you’ve chosen it’s time to give your audience what they want. The whole purpose of a search engine is to provide immense value for web users.
If they don’t, users will just use another search engine. Google has built an enormous reputation for doing this, so much so that its company name has become synonymous with researching something (Ex. Google the symptoms of the flu).
With that said, Google and other search engines are incentivized to rank the most valuable content at the top of their search engine result pages (SERPs). The ugly truth of SEO is that while many top web pages provide value, they do become outdated over time.
If you can provide a better mix of content than what’s available at the top of the SERPs, Google will theoretically push it forward. This is what’s called the Skyscraper Technique. Conceptualized by Brian Dean, this strategy entails creating content that’s much better than what’s currently available to see it rank well.
For this particular topic, you should do the same. With whatever method you used to uncover the search intent behind your list of keywords, see what is currently ranking well for that list and create better content.
This is one of the best ways of ensuring that your content ranks well and provides tremendous value for your target audience.
Understand the Buyer’s Journey
Every company has a sales funnel. This is basically a model, in which a lead journeys from being a prospect to eventually converting into a customer. The Buyer’s Journey is an archetypical sales funnel many businesses use.
It relates to search intent because this model outlines the different phases of consumerism. For example, the awareness phase signifies that the prospect is simply looking for a solution to their want or need.
A person trying to lose weight will look at helpful articles online in the awareness stage. As you can see, the companies supplying these articles don’t want to make a hard sell initially.
They want to provide their new leads with information. Once they have it, the lead will likely become more interested in what the company is offering, and then the sale is made.
When you are leveraging search intent, use the Buyer’s Journey to craft purposeful content that helps your leads in each stage of their transition to a loyal customer. In the previous example about a person wanting to lose weight, you can offer content that will give them the information they are looking for.
The entire purpose of this strategy is to give your audience exactly what they need depending on their immersion in your sales funnel. You wouldn’t see any articles promoting a weight loss supplement for the keyword “weight loss tips”.
With a basic understanding of how SEO works, you can successfully create content that matters to your audience.
Mastering search intent is integral to the success of your internet marketing strategy. However, knowing the meaning behind keywords won’t always get your audience to click on your website.
The next article will explain the importance of click-through rates and how you can optimize them for your success.
Scottsdale Phoenix Marketing is a digital marketing agency and web design firm specializing in a variety online marketing channels. Since our founding in 1999, it has been our goal to help all business run more efficiently and effectively online. Combined, our team of designers, developers, and marketing experts have over 40 years of experience and an ever growing drive for success.
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