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How to use search intent to build your content marketing strategy

Matching your online content to search intent (or user intent) will help you to reach more valuable prospects. The key to driving maximum conversions from your digital content is tracking what your target market are actively searching for.

We’ve previously shared a post on targeting users at different stages of the marketing funnel. Writing buyer-centric content that targets various users will require an understanding of search intent.

What is search intent?

Search intent is a search engine users primary goal. When searching a query, a user will have a goal in mind. For example, they may be looking for a specific resource, product or answer. Aligning your content with these goals will fast-track your business towards valuable customers.

There are different types of search intent to consider when optimising content, we’ve narrowed these down to three main categories:

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Transactional

Informational

An informational search is when a user is looking for an answer to something, which will typically start with ‘how to’ or ‘what is’. These are the type of searches that don’t always lead to conversions, but are still important to target.

Let’s say for example, a user is looking for more information on a broader topic. If you have a high-quality and relevant blog on this topic, then you’ll likely drive clicks. Not only will you be improving the overall quality of your site, but you’ll be driving more traffic.

Navigational

This is when the user wants to arrive at a specific web page or site. These searches will typically include your brand name. For example, a navigational search could be ‘ASOS’ or more precisely; ASOS womenswear’.

Transactional

Also known as ‘commercial’ or more commonly ‘high intent’ – this is when a user is at the top of the marketing funnel and a conversion is likely. That means a user is ready to take action, which could be anything from making a phone call to purchasing something. These are important to target in your copy as they’ll be the most likely to drive sales.

How to recognise user intent

It’s generally quite clear what a user is looking for from their search by their language or key terms. For example, we touched on the ‘how to’ and ‘what if’ searches that are informational.

On the other hand, if a user includes something specific like a location, i.e. “Agency in central London”, it suggests they are looking to get in touch or follow up on their search.

Key terms

SEO and content come hand-in-hand. In SEO, keyword research is the process of researching the terms that your target market are likely to search and strategically including them in your content. When done right (without keyword stuffing), this leads to your content appearing higher on search engine results pages and driving more traffic. When we think about user intent, keyword optimisation becomes a crucial part of content marketing, too.

You need to identify the search queries that will match users who are at different stages of the marketing funnel. That includes those who are browsing, actively searching for an answer and potential customers wanting to make a purchase.

SEO requires a lot of keyword research and the same applies to your content campaigns – so we’d recommend a keyword research tool.

Optimising for intent 

Having high-quality content is one thing – but how can you be sure that your site will appear in front of the right users? It’s important that Google identifies your content as highly relevant and helpful for search engine users. That way, you’ll gradually gain a higher rank and be more visible to your target audience.

Research your target market

What are your target audience currently talking about and how can you align this with your content? The first thing to do here is work out where your audience are ‘hanging out’ online and then monitor trending topics, updates and key dates.

Google your keywords 

Competitor analysis is an important part of any digital campaign. This is a quick and easy way of finding out who your biggest competitors are and what they are doing online and within their marketing campaigns.

The sites that are ranking for your keywords are likely to have high-quality, relevant and keyword optimised content. When evaluating top results, (focus on the top three), we recommend considering the following: 

The type of searches they target

When creating your buyer persona and content strategy, you should also consider how your content will satisfy a specific type of search.

Would this content help a user who wants to do something, find something or go somewhere? Try to notice how the highest-ranking sites have targeted various types of searches. For example, do they have a range of advertising copy aiming to sell? Are they publishing a specific amount of informative content, i.e.. blog posts?

What do the highest ranking sites have in common?

Why have these sites achieved a high position? How often have they included their primary and secondary keywords? What is their tone of voice? What type of questions do they answer within their content? If you notice a similar pattern in all three highest-ranking sites – then it is more than likely that this is contributing to their position.

Finally, how has looking at competitors helped you to satisfy user intent? We suggest keeping note of all the things listed above and use it to guide you through your own content marketing campaign.

Get in touch with us if you want to strategise your content and ensure it’s targeting different types of high volume searches.

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