Just a decade back, it was easy to get your content on the front page of Google. The ranking system was still in its infancy, and it basically just depended on counting how many keywords a person had stuffed into any given post or page to determine its relevancy to a person’s search terms. Fast-forward to 2018, and the algorithm has gotten substantially more complex.
Today, while you may have a domain name, web-hosting and a great website built, getting your website to rank on the first page of Google for any given search term can be a big challenge. In addition to the ranking system now taking multiple aspects into account, and more and more competition popping up each day, content creators and SEO gurus alike tend to lose sleep (and a few hairs) trying to keep up with all of the changes.
Fortunately, there’s one tactic you can use to help adapt your content to the latest in ranking systems: search intent.
What Is Search Intent?
Everyone has a reason for everything that search. This “intent” is broken up into four primary categories:
- Investigational: The search’s intent is to aid the person’s research, while implying a future transaction.
- Transactional: The search’s intent may be to help the person complete a specific task or make a purchase.
- Navigational: The search’s intent is to drive the person to a pre-determined destination.
- Informational: The search’s intent is to guide the person to answer or clarify something they are uncertain about.
When you optimize your content to target intent, you are identifying primary questions and topics that a person is trying to answer when searching for a specific term. Your content is designed to address the user’s needs, or in other words, to fulfill the intent of their search.
Optimizing for Search Intent
If you want to optimize your content to help fulfill the intent of a user’s search, you need to follow a few key steps.
- Optimize existing pages. You need to start with what’s already up on your website. Begin with primary pages and popular content, and then branch out from there so that you can slowly optimize your entire site. This may require extensive rewriting to be effective.
- Investigate the intent of your users. Figure out why the users who come to your site are coming to your site. What’s their intent? How did they get to that page? What are they looking for? Understand their intent fully so you can find things you’ve missed.
- Optimize again. Once you have figured out the intent of your users, and intent that you haven’t already addressed on your website, it’s time to create new content with the aim to do so, and make sure it’s optimized. Always backup your claims with words that build trust, factual statistics, and case studies.
- Implement. Once written, click publish and go ahead and see where your site’s statistics are at right now. Make a note so that you can measure how your optimization is affecting your website’s ranking and growth.
- Adjust. Check back in with your new content on a weekly basis and adjust as needed. Use metrics to measure whether the changes you made helped or hurt your optimization efforts, and revise as needed.
No, it’s by no means a quick process, but it will prove well worth it if you commit to carrying out the process in full. For best results, you should start with just a section of content so that you can monitor all of your changes.
One of the biggest steps in optimizing your site is creating great content, and that in itself is a step towards building trust with your readers. Having trust and quality go hand-in-hand for making your website a success. If readers don’t trust your content, they aren’t going to come back, and they certainly won’t become a regular supporter or share your site with their friends.
In addition to optimizing your content so that search engines will guide users to finding it, it’s also essential that you keep your readers in mind as well. If they don’t trust your content once they get to your website, they’ll just click away and increase your bounce rate (thus hurting your SEO).
So, your content needs to build trust while being optimized for the user’s intent. You can help build trust by simply incorporating “trust-building” terms into your content. These terms have been identified by digital companies as extremely powerful when it comes to convincing a reader to see you as a trustworthy authority figure.
Some of the key terms you may benefit from incorporating into your content include:
There are dozens more that you can use too, but you have to do more than simply throw in “magic” or influential words.
Your content needs to offer real value to your readers, but you can also help build trust and hold their attention by implementing some other tactics. First, cite statistics and case studies to backup what you’re saying. Second, state these statistics without bogging down your readers. Third, talk about the problem by telling a user story. This shows that you understand what the reader is trying to do, and you’re also making it known that what they are trying to do is related to a common problem.
End every page or post by answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” Give them a reason to take action, and make taking action easy. Doing so will help you improve your site’s SEO, reader stats, and share-ability ten-fold.
Additionally, always put a call-to-action at the bottom of every page, with the info they user needs to follow through. For instance…
If you want to learn more about optimizing your website, check out the rest of the Energise blog.
Author Bio – Kieran Reid works on the marketing team of freeparking.co.nz, a domain registrar & web-host with offices in New Plymouth and Auckland