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SEO Trend for 2020 and Beyond: Intent

by Brian Colling - January 17, 2020

Surely you’ve heard of search engine optimization or SEO. It’s been one of the biggest buzzwords out there as the Internet has evolved from a novelty to a commodity, and it’s basically defined as generating organic traffic to a particular website or media source by strategically using keywords to rank higher when said words are entered in search engines. Think of it as optimizing your content so that your site receives more traffic.

As the importance of the Internet to a company’s revenue generation — and relevancy — has increased, so too has the emphasis on SEO. In fact, it’s not uncommon for companies to employ SEO specialists that work to strategically optimize every written online word so that they rank better in the search engines. The idea is that generating more web traffic will capture the attention of potential consumers and turn them into customers.

SEO will continue to play an important role so long as there’s the Internet, but it continues to evolve as search engines change their algorithms and companies look to gain new competitive advantages over their competition with the content they create. An emerging SEO trend for 2020 and beyond is search intent. In this post, we’ll dive deeper into search intent, what it is, what you need to know about it and why it’s important to consider with your content moving forward.

Search Intent Explained

So what exactly is search intent? Also known as “user intent” or “searcher’s intent,” it consists of a means to provide answers to questions and inquiries that are entered into a search engine. It’s basically intended to reach consumers at any step of the buying process, from learning about the product or service, understanding best practices and informing them of how to acquire it. Search intent is usually broken into three categories:

  • Informational, or knowing/learning how to do something. 
  • Transactional, or how to do/buy/acquiring something.
  • Navigational, or going to something.

(Arguably, there are four search intent categories, with the fourth one being “investigative.” This usually consists of a user searching for a particular product or service and doing their homework to determine which brand or service provider is best. This tends to blend into the “informational” category, however.)

So how does search intent work, specifically? Here’s an informational search intent example: Let’s say your company is in the business of selling grass seed. While your website likely already has details about the seed itself, the contents of the seed, its ideal end-users/applications and price points, it would also be a great idea to add “how to” and other informational content for existing and potential customers to access when they have a question about growing grass seed or caring for a lawn. Some content ideas may include:

  • How to grow grass seed
  • Best times of the year to plant grass seed
  • How to care for grass seed after it germinates
  • How to maintain a healthy lawn
  • How to mow to ensure lawn health

Creating content that answers the questions that many consumers have provides an immediate resource for those who want fast answers to the inquiries. Beyond that, it also allows a company to position itself as an industry leader by answering these questions. And finally, optimizing your content to answer an informational question can help it rank higher in search engines, allowing a greater number of consumers to see your information. Regardless of the search intent category that you’re looking to hit, you should be publishing a combination of blogs, product pages, category pages and landing pages to do it.

Transactional and navigational search intent covers other questions that consumers may have about a product or type of product. Being that transactional search intent could potentially be linked to an increase in sales, it’s arguably even more crucial to rank higher in search engines for this category. Sticking with the grass seed example, some content topic examples you might offer include:

  • Best grass seed for the value
  • (Brand name) grass seed
  • Buy (brand name) grass seed today

Navigational search intent is the most straightforward type of intent to explain. It basically just consists of a user already knowing what their destination is. This destination is usually either a website or a brand.

Is Keyword SEO Going Away?

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics on search intent, you might be wondering what the future of SEO is. To put it bluntly, SEO isn’t going anywhere, but it will need to be better executed with search intent in mind. Keywords will likely always need to be optimized in content in some way, largely because it’s these words that help explain a product or service — and those words, in many ways, drive content. So to answer the question: Are keywords less important? The answer is “no.”

Putting Search Intent SEO Into Action

It starts with making “know,” “go”, and “do” part of your market research. You need to understand what type of information consumers who might be interested in your product are looking to learn and how you can convert users into customers. Often times, this type of information is found in the product’s user manual, but turning these FAQs into insightful content, while still optimizing this content with strategic keywords, can help improve your website traffic. Here’s a look at some tips:

  • Use “intent” keywords: These include “buy,” “order” and “purchase.”
  • Avoid choosing keywords based on volume and competition, research “know,” “do” and “go” so that you’re providing content for the prospect at every step of the buying cycle.
  • Use software to your advantage: Hopefully, your SEO strategist or consultant is already aware of search intent and the platforms that can help your business identify some of the opportunities you can take advantage of in your respective market. There are plenty of platforms out there. One of our favorites is Keyword Keg, which can be used to optimize search intent and keyword bucketing. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer is another useful tool. 
  • Keep using SERP features: You should be familiar with SERP or Search Engine Results Pages. Keep using this when you’re keyword strategizing and working on your search intent plan. SERP also includes information on shopping results, knowledge cards, AdWords ads, videos and more. It can provide you with a bevy of useful information. 
  • Don’t throw in the towel on other strategies to help your website rank high: We already told you about how keyword SEO isn’t likely to be going anywhere anytime soon. Noting this, you don’t want to abandon any other strategies that can help your site rank. So keep aiming to get backlinked on other sites. And don’t forget to check your progress to see if you’re heading in the right direction.

Search Intent SEO Conclusion

The bottom line is search intent isn’t just some fad. As a business, it’s up to search engines like Google to provide users with the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible. It’s why they’re always adjusting their search algorithms, as search efficiency ensures its continued relevance as a platform. Search intent is likely to change and evolve, so it’s important to track your website’s progress and stay up to date on what’s working and what’s not.

For more information on search intent, and search intent’s growing importance in website relevancy, contact Colling Media today.

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