What Does Search Intent Mean for Branding & SEO

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You don’t have to be a marketing guru to know that a great brand needs an outstanding online presence. To achieve that, you’re going to need to understand how potential visitors can search and find your company online. We’re living in a world where everyone is constantly connected, through smart speakers, laptops, and phones.

In this environment, a huge percentage of the buying journey your consumers go through each day start with a conversation with Google. A brand can help your customer to fall in love with your business, but you need the right SEO strategy to ensure that clients can find your brand in the first place.

The Link Between Branding and SEO

Any branding expert will tell you that there’s more to your brand than just a flashy logo or a set of specific company colors. A brand is an identity, and it’s something that your customers can form a deeper connection with.

Through strategies like content marketing, you can simultaneously demonstrate your organization’s personality, and attract new traffic to your company. However, if you want your business to grow with the right interest from a dedicated audience, then you can’t just build a site that appeals to anyone.

Remember, traffic isn’t worth much unless it’s also driving growth for your bottom line. With that in mind, you need to think about how you can get the most out of your search strategy by focusing on intent.

Learning how to use SEO and search intent correctly leads to a number of benefits for your brand, including:

  • Improved visibility: You ensure that your image appears in all the right places- where you most want to engage with your customers.
  • Better reputation: You strengthen your chances of standing out as a company that your customers can build trust – because you can answer their questions and guide them through the purchasing journey to enhance the user experience.
  • Greater brand loyalty: When your customers can see that you understand their needs are every point in the purchasing journey, they’re more likely to stick with your company going forward.

Why Intent Makes a Difference to SEO

In the past, if you wanted to get on Google’s good side, all you needed to do was use a certain term the right number of times in a blog or article. However, that’s just not the case anymore. Now that Google and similar engines are focused more heavily on enhancing customer experience, they’re thinking about the needs and expectations of their users.

If you want to rank and also convince people that they should subscribe to your newsletter, buy your product, or even just come back to your website again later, then you need to understand the basics of intent. Essentially, this term in SEO refers to the purpose behind an online search.

In other words, when someone goes on Google and types the words “Apple phone”, they’re informing the engine that they’re looking for the technology company “Apple”, rather than searching for information about the fruit or similar recipes.

Understanding audience purpose means figuring out why your audience is interacting with you online, so you can offer them the best possible experience. When you know the intent of the searcher, you also know where they are in the buyer journey, and what you need to do to keep them moving in the right direction.

How Intent Has Evolved Over the Years

If you’re wondering why this part of your search engine strategy has only recently begun to gain more attention, you’re not alone. A lot of people are now struggling to consider how they can embed the concept of purpose into their content marketing and other similar strategies.

The important thing to keep in mind is that like all businesses, Google is now focusing more heavily on the experience, and how it interacts with its users or clients. The Google team is constantly working hard to improve its algorithm and make sure that it can understand what people need when they’re looking for information online.

The good news? We’re beginning to understand how this crucial element influences the way that companies build their presence online. The journey starts with simply defining what kind of intent your customer might have.

The Four Reasons Behind a Search

Obviously, there’s more than four reasons why you might decide to look for something on Google, but most of the time, you can simplify your SEO strategy by narrowing your options down into four distinct categories. These are:

 icon-chevron-right Informational:

One of the main reasons why we all rely so heavily on tools like Google today, is that they provide us with an instant way to access useful information. Lots of searches on the web today are done by people who just want answers to a simple or complex question, or basic responses, like directions to a nearby shop.

If you know that your customers are looking for information, then you can reward them with content that’s informative. An example might be a recipe for how to make tomato sauce for pasta that appears when someone types “tomato sauce ingredients”.

 icon-chevron-right Navigational:

Interestingly, this kind of purpose doesn’t actually link back to people searching for directions to something. Instead, when Google defines something as navigational intent, it’s looking at a search for a specific website or web page.

For instance, if your website is called “Super Bikinis” and someone types that into the search engines, then they’ll expect that they might be looking for your store. However, Google might also offer some informational results too.

 icon-chevron-right Transactional:

Perhaps one of the most important purposes that you’ll need to think about when you’re building your marketing strategy is transactional intent. A lot of people use the search engines to find something that they want to spend money in.

For instance, someone typing the term “ladies watch for sale” into Google is probably going to be looking for a chance to buy something.

 icon-chevron-right Commercial:

Finally, if someone is looking for more information about a business but they’re not ready to buy yet, then they might search for the name of a brand followed by some key terms. For instance, you could search for “Amazon shipping policies”.

This would be an example of commercial intent. Although the customer isn’t ready to buy yet, the right information could take that client to the next step in their purchasing journey.

Updating Your SEO Strategy

As you can see, knowing exactly what your audience intends to do with the information that they get from the search engines makes it much easier for you to influence their behavior. Depending on what you think your customers might want from you when they type certain keywords and phrases into Google, you can produce pages that might be more likely to attract the right lead and convert them into a customer.

Knowing the purpose behind your audience’s search also means that you can update your search strategy in the PPC realm too, by spending more money on the keywords and terms that are more likely to deliver the highest return on investment. There’s never been a better time for companies to begin reading between the lines when it comes to assessing what their users are searching for.

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