Every second, more than 40,000 queries hit Google’s search engine. With that kind of search volume, how is a business supposed to get its content to rank high, let alone rank on page one? Since search is one of the most common ways for customers to find relevant answers to their problems or to find products, you must write your content with people’s search intent in mind.
What is search intent?
Search intent, also known as keyword or user intent, tells a search engine why someone is searching for something. For example, is the person looking to buy an item? Are they trying to learn about a particular subject? Or are they searching for a specific individual or business? The search engine breaks down queries like these to give people the most relevant result.
And relevance is fundamental to SEO success. The more thoroughly you understand intent, the more relevant your content will be for the audience, regardless of where they are in their journey toward buying a product or service like yours.
Don’t expect an immediate bump in search engine rankings when you write for intent. Writing for intent parallels writing for SEO. It can take a few weeks or even a couple of months before you see the effects.
What are the four types of search intent?
There are four distinct types of search intent used by most businesses. Understanding each type will help you develop strategies to reach your ranking goals.
- Navigational intent: This refers to users who want to reach a specific website. If you want to rank high for this type of search, ensure your content is exactly what your audience is looking for. Example: “LinkedIn login”
- Informational intent: These searchers seek specific information or want to learn more about a particular topic. When they enter their query, they get a direct answer to the question they ask. Example: “Who is the president of the United States?”
- Commercial intent: This type of intent includes research about specific products, services, or other items. Because independent reviews can come up, it can be very hard—if not impossible—to rank for some commercial keywords relevant to your brand. High-quality content gives your target audience all they need to compare what you have to other options. Example: “best-insulated cup”
- Transactional intent: This last type of intent is for people who want to purchase something. The user typically navigates directly to your product page. Example: “buy Samsung Galaxy 20+ cheap”
How does search intent work to optimize for SEO?
To understand how intent optimizes for SEO, you must first understand that SEO ensures your content includes the right keywords, multimedia, and other components, so the link to your content shows up in search engines and their algorithms rank your content higher on the search engine result page (SERP).
These key components, used judiciously in content and paired with overall user experience, tickle the search engine’s algorithm and move high-quality content to the top of SERPs.
A search engine tabulates how people interact with data on SERPs. For example, it looks at which website links get the most clicks, the time searchers interact with the resulting websites, and the quality of the backlinks on the chosen website. The search engine uses all these signals to decide whether a web page answers a user query. And the site is deemed more trustworthy the stronger the signals are.
Over time, search engines learn which websites are the most optimized (or close to) searcher intent. Search data indicate trends, which can be filtered with either real-time searches from the last seven days or a longer timeframe. The trending or most optimized websites rank higher and are closer to the top of the coveted first page.
Why does this matter for content strategy?
Search intent matters because the process drives traffic to your website. Search engines prefer solid content optimized for intent. And optimized content converts visitors by providing relevant, meaningful, and up-to-date information. And converted visitors make more revenue for your business.
Content not optimized can negatively affect your business. In Experian’s Benchmark Report, “Taking Control in the Digital Age,” we learn that poor data steers users’ decision-making process in the wrong direction, and it’s a significant problem for a growing number of companies. And in the same report, 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies cited poor content data quality as having a negative impact on their business. Another 30 percent also named poor data a significant roadblock to creating a positive customer experience.
How can content marketers use intent to improve content and rank first?
High-quality content, careful selection of keywords, quality of backlinks, searcher interaction time, and experience are the most important elements of high-ranking content.
Bump up your site by creating content with an eye toward particular intent. Think about how people search. Leverage all search engines and online platforms by repurposing a piece of content or writing specifically for each platform. You could create a blog post for your website, repurpose that post into an organic video, and then post a backlinked blurb on social media. But if you’re not writing the right topics, if you don’t have closed captions, and if you don’t have any description or information searchers can’t get other ways, people won’t find you.
Make sure your transactional and commercial intent pages include all the information a prospect would want: detailed service or product information, price, reviews, articles, case studies, and maybe a video of how to use a tool. In addition, your informational pages should be as up-to-date as possible. And map queries to answers to increase ease for navigational intent.
There’s more to optimization than SEO. Don’t rely on critical keywords alone to bring customers. Rather, break through tens of thousands of queries with high-quality, relevant content created with an eye toward how your target market searches. Get that right, and watch your content rise.
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