Friday, 1 January 2021

Not just keywords, today's SEO must focus on search intent

It is called search intent, or user intent or even audience intent , but it always means the same thing: the reason, the primary need that prompted a person to use Google and do a search. Understanding and intercepting the need that drives the action and interest of people online is essential to be able to present valid content, and in fact the study of users' intent has become a crucial must for SEO and positioning.

What is search intent

All the people who search online hope to find something: the motivation can be the answer to a question, or the desire to visit a specific site or to buy a particular product. For some time now an expression has spread that contains all these needs - precisely, search intent - which represents the original need that drives the searches of users of Google and other search engines, the reason and the goal for which a user launches a query and, in some way, also what the same person expects to find in the results pages and in the contents.

The types of intent

Three macro types of research intent are usually identified:

Information (informational), which includes searches in which the user is documenting on a theme and is interested in information about a particular topic;

Transactional, which concerns the searches of people who intend to carry out an action (for example, they expressly want to purchase a product or service or download a file or software);

Navigational, which identifies the needs of those who are looking for information in a specific context or something on a particular site (generally they are branded queries, in which there is a reference to a well-known brand that "narrows the field") .

Why it is important to know and recognize search intent.

Already from this general distinction it is understood that each of these research intentions can be associated with different journey experiences, with distinct keywords and often also with completely different SERPs : those who want to make a purchase will probably also want to know the price and technical characteristics of that particular product, while those looking for information on its use are interested in other news .

Search engines are honing their ability to interpret user queries and respond by presenting the most appropriate search results - pages that have the content that gives the right information to the right user. For some years now, Google, but also Bing, have been fielding increasingly advanced systems in the field of deep learning and natural language processing, such as the BERT language model launched by Google at the end of 2019.

 

And therefore, simplifying, before creating any content it is important to know and understand what the real intent behind the specific query that interests our business is, or we risk publishing online pages that do not get the desired results and write articles that do not rank.

A modern approach to keyword research

Very banal: it is difficult - if not impossible - to be able to place a sales page of a product in a SERP that Google has "baptized" as informative , as it is difficult to be able to emerge in the first place with a guide "how to" in a batch of purely commercial results .

In addition to the complexity of the operation, achieving this goal also risks being useless or counterproductive for a website: if people are interested in buying (if the search intent is transactional and the SERPs are unique, with only commercial results), they will not want read additional information and - even if clicked - they will immediately go back to find more suitable answers.

Likewise, if they want to read more they won't be interested in buying, and therefore the page will not bring conversions and will only see its bounce rate increase .

It is therefore necessary to adopt a different approach to keyword research for editorial planning and site growth, no longer simply focused on researching high-volume keywords , but on identifying the best context .

That is, we must learn to analyze the entire search process of users - from the moment the need "arises" to the point where they find the solution - and then deepen what Google has already considered relevant and shown in the SERP: will be the focus already chosen by the search engine, which we must stick to if we want to publish effective and competitive content .

Intercepting quality traffic

That way we can hit a key objective for the website: that is, we will not only organic traffic, but quality traffic , users of already -targeted and interested in what we can offer at this moment.

In other words, intercepting search intent means finding out what the target audience wants and therefore maximizing the possibility of creating content with the right strategic keywords , thus increasing the likelihood that people will find the site when searching online and consider it useful , reading information or by purchasing the goods and services that the website offers.

By applying these concepts to keyword research , we can start from three assumptions:

The contents must respond to a search intent.

The research intent highlights a need.

A relevant answer may satisfy similar words, but not different intentions.

We must therefore ask ourselves how the web page can provide a useful answer to people's need - the beneficial purpose of the content - and write content that can satisfy the search intent better than other online pages.

How to find out the search intent?

There are various techniques to be able to understand what the audience of a given query wants : the classic method is to directly view the Google SERPs and check what type of results are presented, or if there is a prevalence of transactional or informational content or if instead there is a "mixed" presence.

However, this check must be carried out carefully and must not be based only on our browser: cookies and history can affect the data, so you should use anonymous browsing or use a tool that performs a neutral scan.

It would then be necessary to analyze the individual pages more carefully to find out what kind of information they report, how the topics are treated and so on: in short, a hard job !

Obviously there are SEO tools that allow you to perform these operations in a very short time and automatically, and above all with SEOZoom we have two brand new functions that simplify the identification of search intent and the creation of optimized content.

The USA SEO suite has in fact released Search Intent Tool and URL Search Intent Tool , which allow you to discover the search intentions of users behind every single keyword, useful both for creating a new page already oriented to what it takes to position on Google , both to improve the performance of already published content .

The SEOZoom algorithms help us to choose the main topic to be developed (the main keywords) and related subjects, indicating which related keywords we can use to enrich the content without getting "out of focus" when we merge keywords and topics in a single article and when users (and Google) expect single and different articles .

These features - available in all software subscription plans - may appear complex, but a little practice is enough to learn how to use them to the fullest, getting ideas to write new content or identify and fill in all the gaps in articles already published, the goal of increasing the traffic of each website.

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