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Understanding intent to increase SEO performance

By 26/07/2018Blog, SEO
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When you’re analysing your SEO campaign there’s a tendency to look at your keywords in a rather cold manner, void of any understanding of human interaction.

After all, despite the terms bots, crawls and spiders, you need to remember that sat behind the screen is a real human being. A person that has thoughts, questions, and real-life problems.

Therefore, in order to ensure your website is appealing to humans and not robots, it’s essential that you understand exactly what your audience is searching for, and how you can offer the answer on a plate to their query. Because that is what Google is truly here for, to help us with our questions, providing fast and accurate information.

Once you understand what your audience is searching for and why, you can begin to adapt your website and content to ensure you can gain visitors from search results, and more importantly enhance rankings and visibility.

So, to help you get in front of your audience we’ve shared what you need to be considering when it comes to keywords.

Don’t be basic – There is a reason behind every keyword

Trying to rank for basic keywords, or should we say words, such as ‘accountant’, or ‘marketing’, will not get you anywhere. These terms say nothing about the product or service, and ‘short tail’ words such as this will not give Google any hints as to what you’re really looking to be found for.

For very basic search keywords such as this, it will throw out a spew of random links because it’s not sure what you’re actually looking for.

You’ve got to remember that Google has superior intellect and has adapted it’s machine learning to help us humans with our queries.

Instead, think about words that your audience may be using instead. For example, it may be more likely that a person has specific requirements like ‘e-commerce accountant Cambridge’,  or ‘marketing templates’.

To be completely honest, the list could go on and on, but there are tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner which can help you with this. Simply enter your product or service keywords and you will soon begin to see a long list of terms that users are searching for.  Then refine this list further.

If you don’t have Google AdWords which is, of course, free to register for, there are other tools out there you can use.

You can do this by searching through company reviews or product reviews of a competitor or similar service.

Copy and paste of all the best reviews into a word document. Remove all the words except the adjectives and enter them into a word cloud. You will soon see the most prominent words that your audience are using when discussing your product or service.

Are they looking for ‘quick quotes’ or ‘easy pancakes’ etc

From this you can then begin to adapt your website to create pages for these queries, making it easier for the user to find you for their search.

Informational queries

Of course, aside from just finding products or services, users often ask Google many questions about these topics. These are known as informational queries, and are the much longer questions people search for in Google, often beginning with a what, how, why, when or where. But sometimes also asking for help or advice.

This could include questions such as;

‘How to clean my windows without streaks’  or ‘Marketing advice for small businesses’.

Sometimes Google users don’t search keywords. Often, a user will be searching with questions. Whatever that question is, they’re thinking about their end goal. This is how your brand should be thinking, with content that answers a user query.

As you can see, they now both have very different intents, but you could use these queries as the topics for your blog content or create resources such as videos. Again, not only helping the audience find the answer quickly and easily but also enabling your website to achieve a higher click-through rate (CTR) and increase rankings.

Give an instant answer with Rich Snippets

Now that you’ve got your head around understanding intent it’s time to be brutally honest.

People are lazy, we all want quick and instant answers, which is precisely why Google created ‘rich snippets’. It’s the answer box that sits above all Google listings to provide the user with instant information so they don’t have the laborious task of having to click on anything.

However, while you may fear, what’s the point? – You can become a featured snippet, all you need to do is find the question you would like to be the answer for, add a little markup and Google will put you on the pedestal. Admittedly, it’s slightly more complex than that, but the fact is, it’s possible.

Now the big question is, what question are you going to answer?

To find this, we would highly recommend delving deep into your keyword research and find informational search queries that you can answer in a clear and concise manner. That’s a great starting point.  How can you help a user?

The search gallery shows how structured data can produce rich results in Google Search. In addition to single rich results (previously known as rich cards), host lists can feature a carousel from a single site. Host lists require markup on list pages.

Why will it help rankings?

The intent behind all search queries is intrinsically tied to how well your website performs in Google.

Just think about it for a moment. If your website is helping people find what they need, your click-through-rate is going to go up, your pageviews may go up, your bounce rate will drop and your traffic will inevitably go up.

All of this is a signal to Google that you’re helping people, and Google loves that, so providing unique content that accurately answers user queries will help your web pages become more visible and improve the chances of those pages being found in more search results for more keyword searches.

By understanding intent, you then have the tools and knowledge to build new pages and make simple alterations that can increase your website conversions.

It is the practice of SEO at its finest; it’s not as complicated as everyone makes out, it’s just about being human.

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Zak Jacobs

About Zak Jacobs

Zak Jacobs is the Director of UK search engine optimisation Agency Red Alien. An experienced digital marketing professional, passionate about online integrity, user experiences and optimisation strategies. Connect with Zak on Google+ here or Twitter here