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The Power of User Intent Matters for SEO – Here’s Why #261

Here's Why Wp Power Of User Intent

Eric Enge has been doing Here’s Why videos alone for two years now. Many people have been wondering what happened to Mark Traphagen.

In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Mark Traphagen returns to discuss user intent and why it is critical to creating high-performing content for both SEO and site visitors.

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Eric: Mark, where you have been? I’ve been doing “Here’s Why” alone for two years now. What’s happened to you?

Mark: Well, hey, Eric. I’m so sorry. I mean, I lost my office key and I was just too embarrassed to ask you for another one. Then one thing led to another until I found myself wandering the streets of Chicago until Mitul Gandhi of seoClarity offered me unlimited office keys, no questions asked.

Eric: Ah, okay. We figured you’ve just forgotten where Massachusetts is again.

Mark: Well, that happened, too. But like I said, it’s a long story. Hey, but it’s sure great to be back on “Here’s Why.” I like what you’ve done with this place.

Eric: Thanks. I mean, that’s your own office you’re looking at but, sure, okay. Anyway, I wanted to talk with you about a topic both of us agree is critical to creating high-performance content for SEO and site visitors.

Mark: Ah, you must be talking about user intent.

Eric: I am.

Mark: Why don’t we start with a definition of user intent? Eric, what do we mean by that in relation to organic search?

Eric: Well, any time we enter something into a search engine, we have a certain purpose or intent behind that query and that is basically that we have a reason behind a search query, something that we want.

Mark: So, if we enter something like, “Where to buy fishing lures?” it’s obvious our intent is transactional, that is we’re asking the question because we want to make a purchase.

Eric: Right. A problem for search engines however is the user’s intent isn’t always clear, so especially if they only enter two or three words, which is extremely common. For example, maybe they type in just fishing lures.

Mark: Well, they might want to know where to buy fishing lures, but they also might just want to know what fishing lures are, tips for using them or some other information about them.

Eric: And that’s why search engines like Google has spent a tremendous amount of time and energy in recent years using machine learning to try to get better at sniffing out the likely intent behind whatever query it is that a user makes.

Mark: And if they’re getting better at discerning user intent, then they’re also getting better at figuring out which content best matches that intent for a given query.

Eric: You know, I hate to say it but you’re right again.

Mark: You know what they say about a broken clock. So, obviously, it makes sense to try to create content that matches up well with specific user intents. So, let’s talk about a couple of strategies you and I recommend to do that better. Now, what do you tell Perficient clients on that topic, Eric?

Eric: Well, I think, number one, is to learn to think beyond just high-volume keywords. Your goal should be, for your content, to be the most comprehensive out there in covering the topics for those things most important to your site. To discover those richer levels of intent, you need to dig down into lower volume, longer-tail keywords. And Google hints, such as Search Suggest and People Also Ask, can help you do that. So how about you, Mark? What do you recommend to your seoClarity users?

Mark: Well, certainly everything you just said matches with what we see our most successful enterprise users doing. Now, we also help our users with our AI-driven user intent indicators in our keyword research tool as well as incorporating People Also Ask and frequently asked questions answered by ranking content in our Content Fusion Content Optimizer.

But beyond that, I also try to get SEOs and content marketers thinking in terms of what I call microintentions. Well, that’s simply a thought experiment in trying to go a step or two deeper than the typical high-level intentions, such as informational, transactional, and navigational.

Eric: And this lines up extremely well with the way we think about it, too, Mark. But why don’t you tell the audience what an example is of a microintent?

Mark: Well, one would be thinking about the difference between what I call factual and instructional intents under the informational heading.

So, a user with a factual intent just wants information. They just want to know “what is this thing?” While instructional intent refers to someone who wants to go beyond mere knowledge to know how to do something. The content for each of those would be quite different.

Eric: And if you want to know more about either of these strategies, we’ve listed some resources from both of us in the episode notes.

Mark, it was sure nice to have you back on “Here’s Why.”

Mark: Thanks, Eric. It was great to be back, and I was really happy to discover that, when you reached out to me to do this, you had a good intent.

Eric: Ugh, some things never change. Now you know why we hid his office key from him.

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Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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