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Why Comprehensive Answers to User Questions Are Important – Here’s Why #268


The world of search is massively complex, making it tempting to create content for your website that addresses high-volume topics only. But, that won’t help your users or your ranking.

Duane Forrester, VP of Industry Insights at Yext, joins Eric Enge to discuss why you need to provide comprehensive answers to your users’ specific, detailed, and nuanced questions to rank well.

This video is the third in a four-part series on the impact of user intent on search. If you missed the previous videos, watch them here: Part 1, Part 2.

Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published.

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Eric: Hey, everybody, Eric Enge here. I am the Principal for the Digital Marketing Solutions business unit here at Perficient. And Duane Forrester and I have been doing a four-part video series on the importance of user intent and its impact on search. In the first part, we talked about Google’s broad core algorithm updates that began in March of 2018 and what we learned from those.

And then in the second part, we really started to talk about the implications of those broad core algorithm updates and this focus on user intent on really the rest of us, those of us publishing websites and trying to promote our businesses and the like.

And this is the third of our four-part series. I’m so thrilled to welcome back for part three, Mr. Duane Forrester, literally an industry legend. He keynotes conferences all over the world. Duane, thanks so much for coming back.

Duane: Eric, always, always. Out of everyone I’ve known in the industry, you’re one of those people. So always happy to be here, always happy to hang out with you. Usually, you and I have really good and deep conversations. And it’s fascinating because we’ve been doing this for years, these kind of behind-the-scenes, little back and forth moments, and it’s always awesome to be able to share some of this with people in real time. So I’m excited. I can’t wait to get into this stuff with you today.

Eric: Absolutely. And, you know, how I want to try to tee this up is really, if you think about how important user intent is, as we tried to establish in the first two videos, you have to start beginning to think about what it is that users really want and what their needs are. And Duane, you and I have talked about this a lot. They’re really complex. It’s tempting, right, if you’re trying to create content for a website, to think about just addressing the really straightforward topics with all the high search volume and things like that. But the reality is the majority and maybe even the great majority of users, in addition to having the big questions, have many little questions. And it’s really important to do the mapping to learn how to understand all those needs in a great deal of detail, don’t you think?

Duane: Listen, I am 100% with you, right? When it comes to the world of search today, it is massively complex. Not just trying to find information, understand if it’s accurate, if it’s trustworthy, but from the search engine side, trying to solve for all of these things, not knowing what the intent is. So uncovering that intent is massive for the search world. And then when they do have an answer for you, of course, Google wants it to be the best experience on their pages, on the results that they send a searcher to. And look, this is why Google’s moving toward the implementation of passages and subtopics, and they’re really looking into this stuff because it’s all about helping the user find the detail and the answer they want. I don’t know if you guys have seen this, I know you’ve seen it, Eric, but if you’re watching YouTube videos on “how to” things. More and more, I’m doing this search, not on YouTube, but on Google because Google will then automatically put me at the moment of “how to” in the video.

So I don’t need to watch a 20-minute video to get a 3-minute overview on how to tie a tie. Google will take me to that spot and put me right where I need to be. And that’s a really, really clever development. From a searcher’s perspective, we love it.

But think about it from your business. Think about that and then if we use that example. If people’s attention spans are short and you’ve got, depending on the reports you’re reading, 5 seconds, 11 seconds to actually get their attention, do you really want to have a 20-minute video where you bury the how to tie a tie at minute 18? Like it just doesn’t work. No one will wait around for it. So it really does help inform how you produce content, what content you produce, what good content looks like, and sometimes that’ll break down norms. There’s just so many things with this, it’s just incredible.

Eric: Yes. And another area that I think is really important to think about here is what does this mean for the depth and breadth of your content, right? So like with the passages update, being able to pull a nugget out of a longer-form article, as you just alluded to, and surface that as an answer for someone, is Google weighing in on what they think.

But from our perspective as publishers of websites, where we’re trying to get organic search traffic, we really need to take this idea that they talked about of mapping those user needs in detail and roll that out into what your content plan looks like. And previously you might’ve thought of producing 10 articles on something, or 10 pages I should say, to cover all the highest volume search terms. And you might have succeeded in covering those highest volume search terms, and you may or may not rank, and have done a really poor job of helping users.

So really now you’ve got to take that same concept, maybe that 10 articles or 10 pages just became 50. And that might not even be enough when you really think about how layered and nuanced people’s needs get.

So this is just an incredibly important shift that started all the way back to March of 2018. We see Google reinforcing it, the passages, the subtopics, as you talked about, and it’s here to stay. This idea of doing a better job of satisfying user intent than anyone else, means having the answers regardless of how specific or very detailed they might be. Think about that and what it means for your overall organic search strategy.

Duane: Absolutely agree, Eric.

Eric: So thank you all for watching this episode of “Here’s Why.” Duane and I have one more to do, and this one we’re going to talk about where you need to focus your time and efforts. So watch for that episode. And if you enjoyed this, please click on the link to subscribe 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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