Periodic monthly refreshes to the algorithms (referred to as the “Google Dance”) established rankings for Google in the early days of the search engine.
Over the years, Google search has evolved with a variety of algorithms to deliver content and results that are relevant to users’ needs.
Essentially, SEO is all about numbers. The emphasis is on:
- Search volumes
- Organic traffic levels
- Onsite conversions
Success is typically judged by these metrics, and most of them can be measured across competitor websites (through third-party tools).
Leads and sales improve as clients rank higher and see their organic traffic increase.
This is simple maths. More visitors = more leads.
That is as long as other factors such as UX/ UI, Copy, Design, Marketing Funnels, CRO, LPs, etc, are all in place to capture the leads.
Target keywords are often chosen based on their search volume, but what matters more is the intent behind them, not their search volume.
Often, low or no search volume search phrases or keywords are discounted as having no “SEO value,” but this varies by niche.
Understanding a search query’s intent goes beyond finding out what people are searching for.
- Understand what/why they’re searching
- How do they hope to find it?
- What are their goals?
- How can you keep customers on your site by providing the answers they seek?
For example, someone is searching for your company, looking to make a quick purchase.
Alternatively, they may wish to learn how to do something or ask a question.
What Is User Intent?
An approach to understanding a consumer’s motives or intended purposes from their search engine query is called “user intent.”
In some cases, this can be easily identified. At other times, it’s not so easy.
When a customer searches on Google for “buy red bicycle”, it’s likely they’re looking to purchase a red bike.
What if they just type in “bike tires”?
It’s possible they’re searching for information about how to inflate tires, what makes tires durable, which brand of tires is best, etc.
Consider a user searching for “birthday cakes.”
This user may be looking for a local bakery, ideas for decorating a cake, or information on birthday celebrations, or the availability, or the options for birthday cakes.
If they search for “birthday cakes near me,” it becomes clear that their goal is likely to purchase a cake.
This blog covers:
- The Science Of Intent
- All About User Intent And Google
- Questions With Multiple Meanings
- User Journeys Aren’t Just About Intent
- Machine Learning & Intent Categorisation
- Key Takeaways
#1. The Science Of Intent
Researchers explain 4 categories of search intent:
Here the intent is to find information on a topic or thing. This kind of search uses questions. Who, What, When, Where, Why, How.
Eg How does ABM work? What Is ABM? Where can I learn more about ABM?
The intent here is to find something specific on a website.
Eg Digitalzone Blogs, or Digitalzone Support
This shows intent to buy. Uses Brand Name, Model/ Service, Buy, Download, Purchase, etc.
Eg Download Digitalzone Content Syndication Service Whitepaper
These queries show an intent to buy – usually have keywords such as Top, Best, Compare, Sale, Buy, Lifetime Deal, Review, etc.
Eg Buy Digitalzone Content Syndication Service
Additionally, intent can be classified based on how specific or exhaustive the searcher is.
Exhaustive users have a broad search intent, while some users are more specific.
Search engines are also becoming more adept at understanding search intent.
Hummingbird from Google and Korolyov and Vega from Yandex are two examples
#2. All About User Intent And Google
The types of results that Google displays are influenced by the intent behind the query.
Similarly, Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines use a “highly meets” scale technique.
Users are more likely to search for their nearest Walmart store than the company’s head office, experts say.
Eg Walmart Near Me, or Home Depot near me
Intent is Google’s specialty.
To determine the underlying purposes of queries, they use context clues and loads of data.
In the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), it scans for keywords that are relevant to the search and user intent.
A tool like “Google Search Central” helps you determine what queries drive traffic to your website.
Seeing what information your audience is currently seeking can provide some context for intent.
#3. Questions With Multiple Meanings
The wide variety of terms used in search leads to many queries having multiple meanings.
For example: Is Apple a fruit or a popular electronics brand?
In this case, Google classifies the query based on its interpretation.
Interpreting the query defines intent.
There are three types of query interpretation:
When users search for a specific query, they usually mean the dominant interpretation.
Google search raters are told to clearly identify the dominant meaning after online research.
There are multiple common interpretations of any given query.
In their guidelines, Google gives the example of Mercury – which can either be the planet or the liquid.
What this means is that Google cannot always completely match a user’s search intent.
So it provides a variety of interpretations and intents.
There are also often unique interpretations, which are often location specific.
#4. User Journeys Aren’t Just About Intent
Customer journeys have been a staple of marketing campaigns and website development for a long time.
User personas are important, but it is equally important to understand how users search and where they are in their journey.
Often, the word “journey” implies a straight, or linear path.
Generally, users travel in many different ways, before a purchase
- Landing page >> Form
- Homepage >> Product page >> Form
- Blog Post >> eBook Download Page >> Landing Page >> Form
- Several Blog Posts >> Newsletter Subscribe >> Several Newsletters >> Whitepaper Download >> More whitepapers >> Webinar >> Landing Page >> Form
The day-to-day user decisions are influenced by mobile and voice search in a way never experienced before.
User journeys are directly impacted by these micro-moments.
Due to Google’s development in recent years, users no longer search in one way.
Through Customer Journey Mapping Tools, the stage of the user can be determined.
#5. Machine Learning & Intent Categorisation
Today, people make their feelings and thoughts public on social media by sharing and commenting on posts.
Those sharing and commenting reveal their intentions and desires. Any product can benefit from these comments.
Query output intent will vary if many websites create unique content and impact user search habits through marketing.
Over time, machine learning and other algorithms can change search results pages, prompting Google to test SCRBs and other SERP capabilities.
A customer’s goals are taken into account when classifying text using intent classification.
Intent classifiers analyse texts and categorise them as Purchase, Downgrade, Unsubscribe, and Demo Request. This helps to understand customer intent, automate processes, and gain insights.
Every customer interaction has a goal. One should act swiftly to increase customer retention, trust, and happiness.
Intent classification uses an algorithm and Neuro Linguistic Programming [NLP] to classify words and phrases.
A machine learning system is able to recognize that “buy” and “acquire” relate to “purchase”.
Intent classifiers need training data, or text examples like Interested, Need Info, Unsubscribe, Wrong Person, Email Bounce, Autoreply, etc.
With tags defined, one can train intent classifiers with relevant text examples.
For instance, “I tried to make a purchase on the site but don’t know where to start. Can you help?”
Intent classifiers will be smarter with more examples to learn from.
It is common to integrate intent detection along with text extraction to identify locations, dates, company names, etc,. that are relevant to a user’s intent.
An intent classifier would categorise this message as intent “to book a flight”, and a text extractor would extract “New York and Las Vegas”.
#6. Key Takeaways
- Search intent is the process of determining a user’s motives from their search query.
- SEO is a numbers game. Search volume is used to choose target keywords.
- More important than how many people search for them is their purpose. Google uses intent to determine query purposes.
- Users are more likely to search for their nearest Walmart store than the company’s headquarters.
- Intent influences Google’s results. Words and phrases are classified using an algorithm and Neuro Linguistic Programming [NLP].
- Intent classifiers classify texts as Purchase, Downgrade, Unsubscribe, and Demo Request.
- Understanding customer intent helps automate processes and gain insights.
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