Back in the day, SEO success was tied directly to a key-word or very short key-phrase. A user would type in a word or two into a search engine query box and they’d receive listings of website pages that matched (according to the search engines algorithm) what the user typed in. That is no longer the case
A few years ago things began to change in the search results. First, users started to use longer phrases when they were trying to get information on a topic. Second, Google started to try and identify what the user’s intent was when they entered the phrase into the query box. Was the user looking to buy something? Or, were they trying to get information about something?
As an example, when a user typed in “running shoes”. Were they looking for running shoes to purchase or were they trying to figure out the different types of running shoes that were on the market. Or, were they trying to compare one type of running shoe against another type of running shoe. Each of these examples would require a different set of search results to give the user what they were looking for.
Today, according to Neil Patel, this user intent is taking the form of 3 categories:
- Transactional: Someone wants to buy something.
- Informational: Someone wants to learn something
- Navigational: Someone is looking for something specific like a company’s website/li>
User Intent & Content Marketing
In the world of digital marketing, literally, everything is content. PPC ads, email, social media, etc. It’s all a form of content marketing. Combine that with the intense focus on personalization and you now have a world that requires all of your content marketing to be highly relevant to the user’s intent. Try sending a coupon to a person whose intent is to learn about your product. Not only will they not find the coupon valuable, they may just delete it.
We’ve been promoting marketing to potential customers based on where they are in the buy cycle (or sales funnel) for quite some time. This is the only way that any business can start to see the real potential that digital marketing has. And, it is the only want that you can positively impact the ROI for your digital marketing.
Start by thinking about your current customers.
- What questions do they ask you when they are trying to learn?
- What questions do they ask when they are trying to decide between you and your competitor?
- What questions do they ask, just before they sign that contract?
Each of these questions represent a different stage in their buying cycle and require a different piece of content. Whether that content is an email, a page on your website, a white paper, or even an ad that they will see.