Search intent is the reason why a visitor conducts a particular search. What are they searching for, why, and what are they trying to achieve. Over the years, Google has become smart enough to determine the search intent of users. Google’s SERP now tries finding the best fit for the search intent rather than the keyboard entered. That’s why now when you search something on Google, the exact search term is not always included in the results.
In terms of SEO, if you want to rank well on Google, your content must fit the user’s search intent well. If you fail to do that, you may be ignored. Just to give you an idea briefly, search intents are of three types: information such as “northern lights meaning”, navigation such as “best places to see northern lights”, and transactional such as “cheap northern lights tour”.
Ways to Determine a User’s Search Intent
To make sure your content is well-optimized and addresses the user’s intentions, you must first determine their search intent. How do you ask? Here are some ways:
1: Understand the User’s Thinking Pattern
When a user wants to buy something, let’s say cable deals from Spectrum. They would enter keywords like “Spectrum deals for cable” or “Spectrum cable deals in X area.”
Normally, SEO experts would target those keywords. But to determine the search intent of the user, go beyond keywords. Try understanding the thinking pattern of your target audience. Market their needs or problems. Consider queries like “Spectrum internet and cable deals for low-income households” or “the best Spectrum cable plans for families on a budget.”
People don’t type in keywords only. They type the whole question in the search bar. Therefore, do more than just addressing the keywords.
3: Look Into Long-tail Keywords
70 percent of all search traffic comes from long-tail keywords. These keywords express what a user really wants. Some Long-tail keywords have a lower search volume but they are very useful in determining the intent. Let’s say the query is “Adidas Yeezy sneaker price.” This keyword is self-explanatory, right? It expresses that the user who typed it in wanted to know the price because he wishes to buy them.
4: Address All Queries along the Customer’s Journey
Try analyzing the customer’s buying cycle. Start by addressing the query and then expand on the keyword. When a customer types in an information query, they basically want awareness. Your duty as a content creator or marketer is to answer their question and give comprehensive guidelines on their query that normally arise at the later stages of the customer’s buying cycle.
5: Understand Your Target Audience
Search queries alone aren’t enough to understand the search intent of customers. That’s why it’s recommended to understand your customers on a deeper level. Learn about their interests, needs, and preferences.
The only way to successfully appeal to your audience is by understanding what they want. Learn what their problems are and how to solve them. Create buyer personas to better address their needs and wants.
Don’t lose sight of who your customer is. It is not Google, it is your customer/user that you should really be making happy.
Optimizing Content for Search Intent
When creating content to drive traffic to a webpage or encourage the user to complete an action, including the following elements:
- First things first, the headline and content body must align with the search intent. If the customer is looking to buy something, use the copy to illustrate why they should buy from you.
- To minimize risk, address any concerns a user may have. This could be done by using social proof such as client logos, testimonials, or awards.
- Don’t make the reader jump through hoops. Keep the design as simple as possible. The less clutter there is, the easier it is for a user to take the required action.
- What is the action that you want the user to take? This CTA should be clearly visible. Use contrasting colors to make it stand out.
Of course, keywords matter but targeting the intent of your target audience guides them in decision making. Keyword cramming, stuffing the content with links, and writing fluff won’t make you rank on Google’s SERPs. However, determining the customer’s search intent and crafting content based on that intent will.