Creating high-quality content is not only about readability and keyword usage, there’s a whole other secret sauce to optimizing your content so that it performs well in search engines and drives traffic to your site.
Having great content IS part of the equation, just not the whole thing. You could have the best-written content on the web, but if it isn’t written to match what users are searching for then you’ll always remain just shy of ranking where you should. The key is matching your content to the intent of users on the internet.
Search intent can be categorized in two ways. The one we are most familiar with is defined by relevant keywords that associate your content with a particular topic when searched for on Google or another search engine.
While this links your content to a particular search topic, it does not specifically relate itself to what a user may expect to find about that topic. Say for instance that you make hot sauce. If a person googles hot sauce, your company may come up with the results.
However, if the person Googling hot sauce is looking for how to make their hot sauce, or where to find the spiciest hot sauce in the world, they may try their search again and Google will record the results of the previous query as less relevant to the user’s question.
The point is, while it’s great to have focused content, if your content is too narrowly focused, it can hurt your ranking. Objectively speaking, to reach a broader market, you have to broaden the scope of your content while staying within your target niche.
By now you’re probably going “gee, I know all this already, tell me something I don’t know. Ok, stay with us on this now. Let’s go back to the hot sauce example. If you make and sell your brand of hot sauce, then obviously you’re going to want as many people to see your product as possible.
Great, so you put out a bunch of content about how fabulous your hot sauce is. The only problem is, a large chunk of people searching for “hot sauce” on the web, might not be looking just to find your brand of hot sauce.
Google tracks all this information and records it so that when people search for “hot sauce” they are more likely to get the results they want. If all your content does is push your brand, then the broader search market dwindles as a result. Google will gradually flag your content as less and less relevant to the search query “hot sauce” and down your ranking goes.
Now you’re probably saying “ok good to know, now how do I fix it?” Well, the good news is, the way you fix your search results is the same way you market a product in general, create multiple funnels, or pathways that drive traffic to your site.
This is done primarily by creating more content that focuses on what internet users are searching for about your product. There are several different reasons that users will search for a particular term on the internet. Matching your content for these different reasons will help you to improve your search rankings.
We’ll break down the types of search intent and how best to target them now.
This is exactly what it sounds like, users are searching purely for informational content about a topic. To carry on with our hot sauce idea, some users may be looking for the ingredients in hot sauce or how to make their own.
Having content that shows the process of how your hot sauce is made and what’s in it will appear more relevant to users seeking information.
Now we’re down to the users who have all the information and are now deciding on what they want. These are your typical “best hot sauce near me” type searches. This is where a strong commercial presence combined with on-point marketing gets you noticed.
Users may want to compare brands so having positive reviews and up-to-date product listing will help you rank in this category.
This is the point where users are looking to buy your product or service. If you sell your product online then it’s important to have relevant information that drives sales toward your site. This is where users typically search for things like “buy hot sauce online’, ok maybe not, but you get the idea.
This is the point where users want to navigate directly to a particular site, such as social media log in, but rather than type out a URL, they search in google. Having keywords in your URL and homepage that identify your site as what users are looking for will help you rank in this category.
Determining user intent is much like doing keyword research. Using the information Google freely gives you on the SERP allows you to find out exactly what users want to know when they search for a particular topic.
Developing content that matches what users search for is as easy as Googling the topic yourself and seeing what comes up. From there, you can develop content that answers questions and funnels users towards your product.
The key to this is to blend both keyword relevance with query relevance. If the keywords you’re trying to rank for aren’t relevant to what users hope to find, then your content is not optimized to drive traffic.
If you think of it as a two-pronged approach to SEO then you will be more likely to generate content that is optimized for both the search engine and user intent.
Hopefully, this post has helped to break down the connection between SEO and search intent and give you a better idea of how the two are interconnected in terms of ranking your site.