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Why Google’s Focus on User Intent Matters to You – Here’s Why #267


Search engines, like Google and Bing, are laser-focused on user intent because meeting their users’ needs will keep them coming back. But, what does that mean for the rest of us?

Duane Forrester, VP of Industry Insights at Yext, joins Eric Enge to discuss why your SEO strategy must go beyond the areas traditionally classified as SEO and how building a program centered around the needs of your users will help you rank well.

This video is the second in a four-part series on the impact of user intent on search. Watch part 1 here.

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Eric: Hey, everybody. Eric Enge here. I’m the Principal for the Digital Marketing Solutions business unit at Perficient. So pleased to have Duane Forrester here with me again for yet another episode of “Here’s Why.” Say hi, Duane.

Duane: Hey, everybody. Happy to be back.

Eric: Duane, as I said in the last video, has been in the industry forever, knows as much about search as really anybody out there, which is why it’s so great to be doing this series on user intent and search together with Duane.

If you saw the first video in this series, we talked about broad core algorithm updates and what was up with Google taking that on. But in this one, having established this theme that Google and Bing both are very focused on user intent and meeting those needs, now I want to talk about what it means for the rest of us. Duane, tell us.

Duane: This is that moment, right, where the obvious question is on the table. Great, that’s awesome, high level. But what does it actually mean for us, right? At this point, we’ve got to start talking about technical SEO is table stakes, not an option anymore and you don’t get to pick and choose. You got to do it all, right?

Big fan of core web vitals testing tools, go use them, do what they tell you to fix. That’s the drumbeat that everybody is following at the search engine, so you should be too. Okay?

You’ve got to look into things like cookie-less environments because, hey, that’s something we’re working into now. How are you using content? Can it be the same content in multiple locations?

Whether reviews are important for you, hint, they’re absolutely important for you. So you’ve got to be on that, right?

It’s really down to this work as tactical in nature, even though a lot of this work does serve a strategic value. And that’s really critical because if you’re having conversations in your company about the SEO strategy, you have to be really on point about this. There is a strategy. Strategy is how you deploy your assets. And within the SEO team, you will have to make decisions around that. But ultimately it serves a larger strategy for the company. So you’ve got to make sure you’re plugged into that and that’s where we’re getting back into these other areas that may not traditionally be SEO, but are definitely having an effect on that user experience. That’s the critical component to this. What do you think here, Eric?

Eric: Well, yeah. And I think it’s really important for people to realize that SEO today is much broader than technical SEO. And like you said, at the beginning here, Duane, that technical SEO is just table stakes. So much of SEO now is understanding the, I’ll call it the user intent space for your market and all the possible intents they have, and making sure that you have a broad and deep strategy from a content perspective to address all those concerns or issues or needs that users have to, whatever it is you do. And that really requires a different approach to how you think about what you’re doing with content. And that’s where a lot of what you were talking about, Duane, with SEO strategy comes into play.

Duane: Absolutely. And honestly, today, first off, there’s no shortcuts. I think we know this, but let’s repeat it. It’s worth keeping top of mind. The SEO game is really won by adding the most value overall. It is about checking off all the boxes for a consumer. When you go to a business website, you’re not looking at it saying, “Hey, wow, these guys are really well optimized. I really appreciate that. You know what? I’ll buy this sweater.” No, you’re thinking, I want a blue sweater and it’s got to look like crap because it’s for a Christmas party that I’m going to and I want to win a contest here. That’s your intent. And you as a business have to align in those directions. Even when you don’t know what the actual intent is, you have to make sure you’re ready for that. And technical SEO is a part of it.

But, then, so is the usability on your website, so is the way content is written. Heck, so is the way you choose to present that content, a video, text, maybe it’s a paragraph, maybe it’s bullet points, whatever, maybe a graphic, a GIF, whatever it is. But all of those things are choice points you have to make along the way. And you have to get that feedback from your consumers. And trust me, Google will give you the feedback in real time, right? Like you’ll know if it’s resonating because you’ll rank well if it is. It’s a really good feedback loop. And I tell companies this all the time, if you’re not ranking well, go look at who’s ranking well, and understand why they’re ranking well, and then be brutally honest about yourself, “Are you doing it as well as them?” The answer to that, at least in Google’s algorithmic estimation is no, you’re not. So there’s more you can do to improve on that.

Eric: Absolutely. Well, this has been great, Duane. Thanks as always.

Duane: Absolutely.

Eric: I really enjoyed chatting with you as I always do. And we will look forward to doing a couple more of these.

Duane: Yes. Always a pleasure, Eric.

Eric: And thank you all for watching. Hope you enjoyed the episode. If you did, please consider clicking on the subscribe button below so you won’t miss any future episodes.

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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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