What is search intent?

In this episode of TABS (Talking About Business Strategy), I bring my friend Greg Mischio on to discuss search intent.

We discuss how you can create better content by understanding your audience’s search intent and improve your rankings. Check it out below!

Show Notes

What is Search Intent?

Search intent is the goal, or desired outcome, behind what people are searching for. Why are they searching? What answers do they want? What are they trying to do?

This strategy means looking at the keywords used in the search, then producing content/video to match that user’s search intent. Greg says the secret sauce is truly understanding the “Why” behind their search.

Google and User Experience

Greg and I discuss how Google wants to match its top results to the user’s search intent. Google wants the best user experience for its users, and helping them find the best content is part of that experience.

Greg likens Google’s search results page to one big voting booth. As people click a result and engage with a page, that provides Google (or Bing) with valuable information on which content is “best” for the audience.

For the team at Winbound, this means they often use the current results ranking for target keywords as a starting point in understanding intent.

How do you research intent?

Greg suggests keeping it simple when researching intent. He recommends asking the following questions:

  • What is your company selling?
  • What problem are you solving for your customers?
  • What are your different personas and processes?
  • What are your customer’s common questions?

Greg also suggests looking up the search volume of specific keywords or keyphrases. This provides insight into how many potential impressions and clicks are possible. If they don’t see traffic, they don’t spend time on it.

How do you write content to match the intent?

To create content to match the intent, Greg starts by:

  • Creating an outline and strategy document.
  • Identify internal subject matter experts.
  • Leverage internal resources through interviews and discussions.
  • Use some external sources to strengthen content.

Once the written piece is in place, you can create other content around it. For instance, taking content from a blog post and repurposing it to make a video or graphic.  

Greg also suggests doing some search ad research to see if people are bidding on those keywords. Keywords with paid ads running for them might indicate commercial/transactional intent. If that is the case, make your content into a sales page (instead of a blog).

How do you match CTAs to Intent?

When it comes to adding calls to action to your content, Greg said it depends on how you are trying to move people down your funnel. Do you want them to subscribe? View other content? Are they ready to buy? Consider the intent behind their search and where they are at in their buying process.

Greg said their approach to inbound marketing is getting people to know you, like you, and trust you. For example, providing content to help them (get them to like you), such as white papers, checklists, functional configurators, etc.

Final Comments

The more you know about your customer, the better. To win the search engine game, it’s genuinely about focusing on your customer.

“If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

Greg reminds us not to be afraid to create new content ideas altogether. Just because something isn’t already ranking in the search results, does not mean that your customers don’t need the content. Being original with your content can be a differentiator.

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