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The Importance of Search Intent For SEO

One of the most important but often neglected aspects of content marketing is mapping search intent to your content. Your content can be better than the competition’s in every way, yet still, fail to rank for a keyword if Google thinks it doesn’t fit the intent behind the search query.

It’s important to understand what search intent is and how to analyze it properly. Doing so will improve your ability to rank for desired keywords and improve your content by giving visitors what they expect and want.

Search Intent
Search Intent

What Is Search Intent?

People often use simple terms to search for complex things, and a particular keyword could have multiple meanings. Google needs to determine what it will show using a combination of whatever context it can read from the provided keywords, current search trends, and probability.

Search intent is how Google tells the difference between Apple Inc. and a search for the fruit. It uses a system called RankBrain, powered by artificial intelligence, to understand the meaning behind search queries. This doesn’t always work as expected for complicated or overly ambiguous search terms.

Why Is It Important?

Any good search engine optimization (SEO) plan looks at the search volume of keywords in the initial planning stage to indicate what topics are worth covering. Just looking at worthwhile keywords isn’t a surefire way to guarantee success, though. You need to understand what Google thinks the keyword means if you want to rank for it.

You can find a good example of ambiguous intent in the search term ‘best office software.’ This term could refer to many kinds of software that benefit work in an office environment, including applications that can improve productivity, management, communication, and filing. However, the top-ranking results on Google mainly target Microsoft Office, the various options for Microsoft’s suite of programs.

You can also see another kind of searcher intent inherent in the example above. The use of the keyword ‘best’ suggests that the user searches for comparisons, reviews, and similar information. Many of the top-ranking pages for the search term provide comparisons of various office suites or explain how their own solution compares to Microsoft Office.

Failing to understand search intent isn’t always damaging to your SEO because not all keywords are ambiguous. In some cases, it can outright prevent you from ranking for a keyword at all, however.

In other cases, you may find that you rank for keywords, but your content doesn’t match what the visitor expects or wants. This kind of visitor is unlikely to convert and may leave quickly. Disregarding search intent leads to ineffective content marketing because your pages suffer from high bounce rates and low engagement.

How to Analyze Search Intent

You can improve your SEO and content marketing efforts if you make search intent analysis a part of your topic and keyword research. Luckily, it doesn’t add much extra time or work because you can accomplish it with a simple Google search.

After you’ve narrowed down the keywords, you’d like to use based on search volume and competition analysis, perform a Google search for each term and look at the highest-ranking results. The search intent revealed in the top results shows you exactly what Google thinks should be ranking for an ambiguous search term. Your content needs to target this intent to be successful.

Matching your content strategy to search intent can improve your rankings and also help boost engagement and other important metrics that Google uses to assess the quality of your pages. It makes your website more successful in search engines. It increases the value of each visitor you bring in by giving them the exact experience they’re looking for so that they’re more likely to consider your business for their needs.

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