The essence of search engine optimization is a social science. It can discover what people are looking for, how you can serve them, and attract users to your website.
When formulating strategies to increase search traffic or improve website traffic quality, some people focus too much on many technical aspects and forget the core of SEO. What is the users’ actual ultimate goal?
Using Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to view the queries that come to your page can be a powerful tool. However, without the insight that can process data into actionable insights, increasing traffic and conversions may become difficult.
Developing ideas to consider user behavior to obtain this data and conduct critical analysis can enhance your ability to attract traffic and website and website resource conversion.
The following will explain what search query intent is and why understanding it is important as a marketer.
Three Types of Query
Many people search for things in different ways, and with the rise of voice search via Siri and Alexa, searchers are submitting queries in new ways that have never gotten seen before. Traditionally, user queries get divided into the following categories:
- Navigation search query or “start” query
- Information search query or “know” query
- Transaction search query or “do” query
WordStream solved this difference well as early as 2012, but with more advanced searches in 6 years, the search pattern has changed. With the rise and popularity of social media and other search methods (voice, wise suggestions based on user history, more advanced “Are you going to choose” options), users have new ways to ask questions and get information.
While categorizing most searches into one of these three types of queries can help categorize users’ purposes for using your website, it is not enough to rely solely on SEO strategy decisions. As a forward-looking SEO, you need to be prepared and willing to adapt to all searcher types. That one of the reasons that Google and other types of search engines have started to build smarter widgets. One single query can mean hundreds of different things.
One Query with Multiple Intents
Let’s use an example. You want to see a movie in theaters.
When you search for the movie that you want to see, it could mean many different things based on whatever the auto-suggest shows.
- Are you looking for the cast of the movie?
- Are you looking for showtimes?
- Are you looking for a specific movie in a series?
- Are you looking for the book instead of the movie?
- Are you wondering if another installment of a series is coming out?
When you search just the term, there will be many options that show up on your results.
You get the latest news, get the information card, get the Wikipedia article, and marked the Tweets brand on the first display page. However, if you were to find the showtime, you would not get the answer immediately. Even in mobile search, tickets cannot get selected anywhere on the homepage.
As a user, you have several options:
- Attach information to my search query to get a more specific answer (2 tickets for the movie or show time)
- Search for completely different content (a movie theater near me)
- Use an application that I am familiar with (in this case, it may be an application in my local movie theater an application such as Fandango)
- Give up
Suppose we choose the first option and then change the search query to be more specific.
By simply adding “2” to indicate that you were looking for information about the second movie currently being shown in theaters, I immediately got a widget of local theater showtimes. Information about the news and the side widgets are now dedicated to the second movie.
If you click any number of times, it will provide you with familiar places to buy tickets at that place. After an interaction, you told Google that my search for “The Movie” did not provide me with the information you needed, while “The Movie 2” provided you with information.
The search algorithm from Google works similar to this for all types of searches, which include the ones that you make. If a person searches for Option A and does not get an answer that they want, then they will start to search for Option B and finds their answer right away. They will click on it, and it does not bounce back to their search when the AI search engine of Google then processes all of this information. Eventually, the information becomes “When people search for option A, they may mean Option B. We need to provide this information immediately.”
For SEOs and business owners, this is a huge opportunity to make their website and other web presentations logical to users. Formulating and executing SEO strategies is not only related to keyword ranking. That is about answering questions.
Understanding the Different Ways People Ask Questions
Keyword research usually involves finding keywords related to your website and the keywords you want to rank for. SEO and digital marketing experts have found many ways to discover new terms and spend a lot of time and money to rank for these terms. That is why SEO is often considered the science of improving rankings.
However, in today’s digital environment, thinking about keywords is just the beginning. Why do users search for content? Fundamentally, every search query is a problem. The user has a question, problem, or action that he wants to perform. What does this mean for the queries you see in Search Console or keywords to optimize?
Suppose you are a business owner and run one of 12 high-end restaurants nearby. What can people do to discover and find your company?
- Do they live there in your local area?
- What are they searching for?
- Have they heard about your restaurant from others?
- Are they visiting the area where you operate?
- What tools do they use?
- Did they see the billboard or printed advertisement of your restaurant?
- What is their situation?
The possibilities are endless. How do you optimize for all these different possibilities?
Establish Intent Persona
If you are in a marketing business, then the creation of buyer personas is no stranger. Summarize consumers’ thoughts and give their buyers habits with anthropomorphic ideas to help you imagine and work with ideal customer behaviors, patterns, and goals. Do you incorporate search strategies into these customers?
Imagine that you are not a person, but you have established a persona for the problem. It would help if you started to list the problems that your business needs to solve. Continue the imaginary high-end restaurant we run. What problem are you solving? More than just food-if you want to provide food, then you will open a cheap restaurant. You are the destination-an experience.
Imagine you are playing a dangerous game, and every square is your restaurant. What are the questions where can people find these answers? Most of them will go through search engines, but not every question will get asked immediately. Many other products will spread through word-of-mouth, print and digital advertising, press releases, social media, and other applications for specific areas. Knowing that people are asking the questions answered by your service or product is a vital tool in a marketing toolkit.
Become a Problem Solver Outside and Inside Your Website
In the late 2010s, and probably in the 2020s, I suspect that more and more websites and web assets will get integrated into fewer but more powerful and easier-to-use user solutions.
For example, Yelp and FourSquare, together with Google’s maps and Google My Business solutions, have revolutionized local search. Apps like GrubHub and DoorDash are now restaurant search engines. Many users will not even use Google to find nearby restaurants. They will use apps they are familiar with, which have better filters and easier-to-view reviews.
Even social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Medium are popular search results for queries, especially news and viral posts. Although users may not go to their website to search, they can search in Google, click on a Twitter post, and then return to your website. All of these require a forward-looking, user-first model, which will put you in the searcher’s sight.
Analyze Queries Targeting Marketers Intentions and Suggestions
Let us give a realistic, complicated example. Suppose a user in New York wants to find food, and they want to deliver it, but if the delivery total is more than $20, they have to pick it up. It must be vegan, and if they have to lift it, it must be within 1 mile, and it must be reachable without getting on the highway because there is always such bad traffic on the highway.
- In my city
- Now open and accept orders
- The distance between them
- The route that must get taken
- The delivery volume
What might they search for?
Search Example 1: “Vegetarian New York”
- Possible search results: Google My Business Maps Pack in or before results
- Yeop’s FourSquare gets scattered among the top 3 lists
- Food blogs all over the first page
- The vegetarian catalog gets scattered on the first page
- “People have to ask” widget
- Vegetarian restaurant website from the bottom of the first page to the second page
- Chicago is a big city, and no result will be within a mile.
- That may cause many options to exceed the hidden scope parameters from the user, but there could be some options that may be options that can get passed to the location of the user.
- Many options will get eliminated due to their location
Search Example 2: “Meals from Chicago.”
Possible search results:
- Map package before the list
- Amazon Prime Now, DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, or other third-party services
- No restaurants get listed on the homepage
- Users will have to rely on services and apps to set filters for Vegetarian options
- That can lead to significant numbers of searches over various apps for food delivery outside of Google.
- If no solution gets found, then the user may have to go back to Google Search to do other queries.
Search Example 3: “A Vegetarian restaurant near me is now open.”
Possible search results:
- The map pack before the list, with the filter “Open Now.”
- Third-party food delivery services and aggregator login pages are provided directly to Vegetarians
- “Also asked” widget
- Featured Vegetarian local blogs with favorites, website links, and contact information
- The vegetarian restaurant website that matches the “map package list” website is “open now.”
- Users may find their results highly customized and informative
- In addition to the price, almost all required modifiers will get displayed, and the user determines the price at checkout
When users have additional requirements, their search content will make more sense. Many people will still search for more straightforward queries and spend some time browsing their options and results before conversion (especially on mobile devices).
With the continuous increase in mobile search and many baby boomers and children using smartphones, a search may be completely different from what most marketers and SEOs expect. Some users who are not familiar with Google and other applications use search methods in a completely different way. They are people who have grown up or experienced with search engines in their adulthood.
As a business owner, SEO, or marketer, you can get the following benefits:
Ask your consumers how they found you
Finding how people find you or your company can help you discover new ways people find you. By cultivating all the different channels through which people find your company, you will find that the way people search for information online and offline is very different.
Consider the problems your business solves
Have you ever wondered what makes McDonald’s products and services unique? If you do not pay attention to the brand itself, what type of problem is McDonald’s going to solve? Hunger. However, if you look more closely, it feels good, cheap, readily available, and the food in each store is consistent.
Therefore, when someone thinks after a moment, they will think McDonald’s is “I want food, now I want food, I don’t want to wait for a long time, and I don’t want to be surprised.”
- Service website, such as Bark, Anji’s list, Pushpin
- Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube
- Local or national blogs that discuss your niche
Helpful for users
Not every content needs to be sales content. Building a trusted brand, a navigable website, and a good user experience can generate as many sales as advertising. It takes time, but users will trust companies that focus on product ideas. Companies like Apple have built such iconic brands in this way-they focus on selling ideas, not on product quality.
Provide this experience, provide help, and bring joy to your consumers, and your search volume may increase.