Our intent to use "Search intent"
Google has a major influence on search. About 78% of all searches on desktop and mobile are using Google. Bing has the second spot with 10.5% and Baidu the third place with 4.25%
Around 93% of all web traffic is via search, so if you want your articles read, then you need to get them into a search engine and in front of the relevant audience, but how?
The how has changed over the years with crude spamming techniques and black hat ways becoming less and less fruitful as the major search engines have tuned their algorithms to bring back more and more refined results.
But what is the aim of the search engines, and what are they tuning the algorithms towards?
Clearly, the likes of Google and Bing are not charities with altruism the only consideration before their shareholders and board members, they are interested in a return on their investments.
They want us to see adverts, to see offerings that meet our search terms. Yes, they need to offer us pages that make sense. The adverts, as well as the organic search results, need to be relevant; otherwise, we will quickly lose interest in the search engine and switch loyalty.
How long the content will keep visitors engaged and looking at more pages, more chances of that advert catching the eye all adds up.
So how can they keep us true and ensure that we keep “googling” or “binging”?
Content is King?
For many years the phrase that was often trotted out as a truism was that content is king. Write good content, and you will get good search results. It was not so much the system or the user interface, slow loading sites were the standard, and we, the viewerS, just had to wait to see what was being offered, patience.
There is a second part to that: what constitutes good content? Is it a style of writing that captures the imagination? Fact-based sterile and dry but with lots of tables and statistics?
Is it getting celebrities and the famous writing the articles (even if ghosted)?
All of these approaches have been tried to varying degrees of success over the years, and as they come and go, the algorithms and the ideas behind the algorithms have changed, adapted and evolved.
Yes, content is still king, but the emphasis on whom the content is for has switched.
I have pondered on ways to explain this, and the idea came to me the other day while sitting in my local pub, The Compass Ale House in Gravesend.
It's a small micro pub with no bar and an ever-changing selection of 6 beers on offer via cask or keg.
The pub still is the heart of the community in many English villages and towns, the place to meet friends, chill and plan local events.
Some nights the conversation flows, you get an exchange of ideas, it's inspiring, and you come away thinking a good night was had by all.
But other times, you can be caught by the pub bore, the sort of person that just wants to talk at you. They are unloading their tales from their life, again and again, and you are the unfortunate victim that is caught in the corner and is being talked at and not to.
Search intent, what am I wanting to read?
And it occurred to me while sitting drinking half of a particularly malty stout that that is similar to the shift in search over the years.
We have often written articles that are our ideas, our story and we write them from our point of view, uninterested in dialogue and hearing the other side's point of view. A monologue is designed to be entertaining and insightful, but a monologue nevertheless.
Search intent and the concept behind it is moving away from the pub bore way of doing things and is more about a dialogue, a way of writing that compliments the points that the other person is making, and a way to talk and listen at the same time, to engage and offer insightful views and facts mindful of the audience listening.
How can a web page listen?
Well back to the pub and its offering. Mine is a rowing pub as it's near to the River Thames, so the walls have charts of the river. The owner rows and can engage in conversation that is in that niche. Although there are different themes to the evenings, games night, and tastings, they will reflect the pub audience, and the audience then reflects the theme of the pub, they compliment each other. So the pilots and river workers say, “that's a great place to chat and relax for an evening”.
If randomly the landlord put up television and decided to play football, drowning out the chat and banter, people would go elsewhere, they would stop attracting those on the theme of the river, but it would be less attractive to those that like to watch football than a regular sports pub which could be relied upon to show all the top games.
It's all about niching down and listening to your audience, seeing what they need and building upon it.
But how do I know what my audience wants to hear?
A fair question and one that requires some tools and knowledge.
Search intent, as the words imply, amounts to knowing the intent of the person searching.
How can we know what they are searching for and whether there are lots of articles already covering such topics? With tools and apps, we can get such information in a reliable and usable way. The tools will let us then construct the articles that “talk” to the audience but also allow us to listen in on our audience and see what they respond to well.
I use such tools when writing articles for clients, and I have tested them on my test sites to see if they work, and they do.
The tools in question are Semrush, ahrefs, Moz and Ubersuggest. There are others, but I have not used those directly, so I cannot comment.
Some will allow a free trial or limited use for free. With Ubersuggest, you can do all needed for free, it's just the number of reports and size of samples.
So what's the process, how do I get a dialogue rather than a monologue?
How do I listen to my audience and engage with them?
First, I plot a rough outline of the article so, for example, say I am writing an article about drinking water.
Rather than just write my thoughts and some statistics, I would use the tools at hand to find what topics are searched for, the volume and the difficulty.
Knowing the SEO difficulty or SD score allows us to see if we have a chance to get near the front of google for the terms used. The SD ranges from 1 to 100. It is allied to another term, “Domain Authority'', which is the score each website has on the web, its pecking order against other sites. So a site such as a brand spanking new construction website unleashed on the internet will have a score of under 5, and something very big in terms of traffic, backlinks and articles, such as joomla.org, will have an SD in the range of 90-100.
Notice our keyword term was “why is water important”.
Had we had a much shorter keyword term such as “water”, the SD is much higher and is more off-topic from what we are probably wanting.
So, now with such tools, I can take my idea for an article, research the people out there who are searching for some specific terms and tune my article to feature those terms as h2 subtitles.
Stick to the topic of the subtitles in the article and make sure they are all in a coherent niche, so they hang together.
It's as if I had overheard them in the pub saying that they wanted a conversation regarding a specific subject, and low and behold, I walk up and start chatting about exactly that topic. They are going to be much more receptive to the article. Also, as I have set the expectations for Google by tailoring the SD to the ranking of my site, Google is likely to rank me near the front as a search term on one of the h2 sub-topics, it will, if well constructed, rank me high for multiple h2 search terms and with each bring in a sizable amount of traffic.
Now we have a virtuous circle, as I write on a niche with well-researched articles tailored to a receptive audience and pitched with long terms that are in my reach SD-wise. I get rewarded with backlinks for being authoritative, and I also have a growing domain ranking as long as all my articles stay in that niche. Link internally between the articles to help grow more of an engaged audience, and soon I can try for the higher SD and larger volume terms.
Knowing my audience and listening to what they want to hear, then writing to that audience, so their search intent is satisfied by my articles, rather than just talking to them about what I want to say, is the key to success and growth.
Next time I want to share some insights about the Joomla websites, their Domain Authority and how we can use this and magazine articles to draw in a wider audience to Joomla.