Search Engine Optimization

Here’s Why You Should Not Underestimate Search Intent

Ovi Negrean
March 23, 2021

You don’t need to be a marketing expert to know that paying attention to your clients is a great business practice. In fact, this is what keeps so many businesses alive. If we were to compare this practice to something, we could compare it with a host-guest interaction.

As a host, you want your guest to feel welcomed in your household. You want to make sure that they will visit you again, so you do everything in your power to cater to their needs. A business should pretty much do the same with its clients and leads.  

This essentially means that getting to knowing your client is a fundamental rule of marketing. And in today’s competitive marketplace, understanding search intent is instrumental in keeping up with your customers’ increasingly complex needs and meeting them successfully.

Google has been using machine learning as part of its Rankbrain algorithm since 2015 and is now able to analyze the intent behind user queries. Under these circumstances, simply focusing on keyword research would mean staying behind and eventually losing the battle for SERP rankings.

A winning content marketing strategy should always stay up-to-date with Google’s latest search algorithms and be flexible enough to adapt to their dynamic requirements. In order to do this, you must understand how your clients think, what they want, what they need, and what will attract them to you.

This is where you’ll learn that.

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Relevant content creates user engagement

Anybody who works in content creation, SEO, or in PPC knows that doing thorough keyword research is key to delivering high-quality content.  But most often than not, this is not enough. Knowing what your customers are looking for goes far beyond guessing the words they are most likely to type into a search engine.

For example, someone who looks for “best budget phones 2020” already knows what phones are and doesn’t need an in-depth article on how they work. In this case, offering them a keyword supersaturated article that does little to address their question is only going to leave them frustrated. Having unhappy leads will only increase your bounce rate.

So how do we fix this? You’ve guessed it! By using search intent.

Correctly identifying search intent helps narrow down your target audience and create content that meets their specific needs. By providing relevant, comprehensive answers to user searches, you make sure that once they click on your page, they stay there.

This will, in turn, increase the average duration of your sessions and make you rank higher on SERPs.

A quality vs quantity approach that converts

With 81% of people searching online for products or services, it’s natural to want to attract as much traffic to your own website as possible. But rather than wasting your efforts and time on drawing the attention of a high number of people, you should focus on getting high-quality visitors instead.

After all, it’s better to have a lead that can be converted into a customer, rather than have 5 leads that click on your website and leave shortly after. But what role does search intent play in this whole affair?

Well, by taking search intent into account, you avoid non-productive visits that only increase your PPC costs. Then, you’ll have time to actually focus on customers who convert. Now, you might think that publishing content that responds to a more specific need might not seem like such a great idea. Sure, it will match with fewer user queries, but it will also increase the efficiency of your posts.

If you’re not convinced, just think what you have at the base of each business strategy. Of course, there are many elements, and among those elements you have a target market and buyer persona. When creating and marketing your service, you need to have these two elements in mind.

By focusing on specific search criteria, you will not only save time and effort associated with targeting the wrong audience. You will also ensure that visitors have a positive experience on your website, get exactly what they were looking for, and are less inclined to leave a negative review.

Voice search optimization is the future

voice search optimization

Mobile phones have become a significant part of our lives. Just think about it. We take our phones everywhere we go, mostly because we have everything there –phone numbers, credit cards, pictures, passwords, social media accounts, etc.  

And marketers know this. In fact, research shows that 52% of internet traffic is now directed to mobile devices, and that number is likely to go up in the following years.

When you consider that only 13% of websites keep their SERP ranking across devices, it becomes increasingly apparent that optimizing your content for mobile search is a must.

This is where a thorough understanding of search intent and search behavior is essential to your mobile search optimization endeavors. With the increase of mobile usage, we also got an increase in voice searches. But why is this important?

Well, mostly because customers nowadays are changing the way they ask questions and that should be reflected in your content strategy.

For example, mobile phone users will be more likely to assume a natural, informal tone when asking Google or Siri a question and if you want your content to be relevant to them, then it should match their tone and their vocabulary.  

Playing the long game and building brand loyalty

Another benefit of optimizing your content for search intent is that you give your brand’s voice credibility. At the same time, you are keeping your target audience engaged and creating a memorable and positive experience. All of this will help put you on the map and boost brand awareness.

As long as you create relevant content that covers the entire user journey, you will consolidate your position and, ultimately, become an authority in the field. This will lead to brand trust and eventually, brand loyalty.

Imagine your own experience as a customer. Wouldn’t you trust a business who has a well-established brand, quality content that matches your preferences, and accurate information in their field, rather than one that lacks all these things?

Understanding your customer’s needs and putting them first when delivering content is a strategy that is bound to help you in the long run. Think of it as the opposite of clickbait. It will most likely not bring you scores of visitors to begin with, but it will help build strong relationships based on trust.

A higher ROI

a higher ROI

Even though it might at times look like you’re missing out on revenue by tailoring your content to search intent, it is quite the opposite. By correctly identifying the reason behind user queries, you are targeting high-quality visitors and increasing your chances of conversion.

At the same time, you are reducing your costs by investing in content creation. Of course, you can still use platforms like Google Ads to run PPC campaigns that charge you for every click. But you can still optimize your content, at no extra cost, and get a better return on your investment.

Types of search intent

It’s important to note that each customer’s journey is different. Because of that, there are four main categories of search intent you must consider when preparing your content strategy:

1. Informational

This is the most common type of search and is conducted by users during the discovery phase. When optimizing for informational intent, intent modifiers such as “how to”, “where”, and “why” should be taken into consideration.

2. Navigational

Users carry out navigational searches when they already know their destination, so they simply type in the brand name. To cover this type of intent, having optimized landing pages is a must.

3. Transactional

Transactional searches are action oriented. When conducting this type of query, customers will already be inclined to buy a product or subscribe to a service. Optimizing for transactional intent includes having clear product / service pages, as well as well designed landing pages.

4. Commercial

Commercial searches are informational searches with transactional intent. At this stage, customers know they want to buy a product and are trying to decide between brands. To rank well here, having detailed product descriptions is key.

Bottom line

In today’s dynamic online world, having a strong keyword strategy and knowing the keywords your prospective customers are using is no longer enough. If you want to stay relevant and have a successful business, you must dive deeper, on to the level of their search intent, and meet your customers there.

When using machine learning-based search engines, having a targeted approach to content marketing is what can separate you from the herd. This means that you constantly need to provide quality content and go out of your way to optimize said content so it meets the ever changing needs of your target audience.  

Only when your content will match your audience’s search intent, will you be able to build a robust brand identity and get a high ROI that enables business growth.