One of the absolute biggest mistakes that I see content writers make is not considering search intent when they’re developing and writing their blog posts.
Instead, they write a blog post that they either A) want to or B) think would help their audience. Instead of choosing a keyword that matches what the blog post is truly about, they find a somewhat-related keyword with the highest volume. What ends up happening is when coming across the content after searching for that term, they find a post that isn’t quite (or at all) what they were looking for.
Writing content with search intent in mind isn’t hard, it just needs to be deliberate. In this post, we’re going to look at how you can better create and optimize content that will align with a user’s search intent, keeping them on the page and engaged with you.
Why Search Intent Matters
If you aren’t able to match up content with the search intent users have when searching for the keywords that you’ve optimized for, it’s an enormous wasted opportunity.
Let’s say, for example, that I’ve written a 1,000 word blog post featuring a chocolate truffle recipe, but I see that “how to temper chocolate” is the closest related keyword with the maximum volume. I optimize my post for the latter keyword, even the post isn’t about that at all. It may get a few initial clicks, but because my recipe isn’t focused on tempering chocolate, I’ll have a high bounce rate. The content will be irrelevant for the users who were looking for entirely different information, so it really doesn’t matter that you got your content in front of more people with a higher search volume.
This is why it’s so important to write with search intent in mind. If someone is searching for a “Facebook Ads tutorial” and they only see a bunch of ad examples, it doesn’t match with their immediate need. They’ll keep looking for a post that does and maybe even write yours off as a waste of time.
Since search drives so much traffic to your site, the last thing you want to do is accidentally pull a bait-and-switch on users when you could be offering answers to questions they have instead.
It’s important to keep in mind, too, that high bounce rates and low averages of time spent on your page are considered quality metrics by Google. Even if your post manages to start out ranking well with content that doesn’t match the user’s search intent for the keyword you’ve optimized for, it won’t stay that way for long. Google will lower the ranking of the page, and it’s hard to recover from that.
Start with Long-tail Keywords
Starting with long-tail keywords is typically going to be one of the best ways to understand search intent.
If someone searches for “cooking blog posts,” it’s hard to know exactly what they’re looking for even though it’s a high volume keyword. Do they want to learn how to write culinary blog posts? Do they want to find examples of this content? Or do they want to find the content outright, and if so, what sort of cuisine are they looking for?
Long-tail keywords are going to be much more specific. “How to format recipe blog posts” is going to tell you a lot more about the search intent, because you understand what information the user is looking for and you can give them exactly that.
It’s important to note that long-tail keywords typically don’t have search volume that’s as high as short-tail keywords, but that can actually be a really good thing. This means there’s less competition to rank well, and with your highly-specific, search-intent-matching content, you’ll be primed for better results.
Think “Why Would I Search for This?”
It’s important to consider the keyword you’re optimizing for before you actually start writing the post, because this gives you the chance to ask yourself “why would I be searching for this?” This can determine how you’re writing the post and what you include in it, and it can also shape your understanding of your audience. “Why” the search is happening can lead to “who.”
If I search for the term “how to become a freelance writer,” there’s a ton of information I might find, including information about business licenses, filing taxes, and types of work that you can do. Maybe, though, all I want are instructions on how to find clients, how to reach out to them, or which freelancer platforms I should join.
This would be a really beginner-level audience on the subject, because they don’t want to necessarily know about resolving complicated freelancer legal problems or different types of incorporation structures to save on taxes. They need to receive beginner-level information, which will have plenty of links to slightly more advanced content as the blog post goes on.
Ask “What Else Would I Need to Know?”
The difference between an ok blog post and a good one–or even a great one– is whether or not you go above and beyond. There have been so many times when I’ve been doing research and technically had a blog post answer my questions only to leave me with a few more.
If we’re looking for “cost of different air conditioning units,” I could likely easily find a blog post detailing different types of units and their costs. But what if I wasn’t familiar with the units themselves, and I was confused about why one cost $500 more than another?
Remember that your content should be giving as much information as needed to be useful to your audience. Simply giving me the costs of different units isn’t really helpful even though it did technically match the search intent. Instead, detailing the pros and cons of each unit, what the differences are, and explaining why some are more expensive (but definitely worthwhile) will not only give you a happy reader, but a happy potential customer, too.
If you’re completely out of room to go into more detail in your blog post, make sure that you’re linking out to supporting content that can answer additional questions that users may have. This will go a long way.
Here’s the thing that I always tell clients when they want to focus exclusively on high-volume keywords that wouldn’t really benefit them: traffic is great, but the clicks won’t do much if we aren’t writing what people want to find.
Delivering great content that aligns with a user’s search intent is one of the best ways to use your blog to attract cold traffic and convert them into warm traffic or potential leads. You often only get one or two chances to reach any given user through organic search, so you need to make sure that each blog post and every click counts.
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What do you think? How do you create content that matches search intent? What steps do you take to make sure everything lines up? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!