All too often we see businesses making a big mistake when it comes to the search engines beyond ignoring them or just paying to play. They are still thinking the early 2000’s and the internet on how they worked before they could do a lot of "self thinking". The search engines have evolved, yet many businesses have not evolved with these changes. Google is a major force recon with when it comes to the search engines and they are not slowing down with their updates. With over 500 updates per year you need to continue to bring you’re "A" game to make the search engines work for you. Paying for your search engine optimization or SEO is a short-term fix to a long-term problem.
In the past, a single keyword or two were used to describe a page to the search engines. Today we look at what is called searchers intent. This seems a lot more complicated than a one or two-word phrase but once you get your head around it the concept is actually easier, builds more trust with your audience, and answers the question (intent) of your site visitor. That sounds all well and good but can you give me an example of what intent is? Of course, this would be a useless article if we didn’t cover an example of what intent was.
Let’s look at a landscaping problem all homeowners face at least once in their life as homeowners (unless they are really lucky). Whether you are hiring someone or doing it yourself you want to be well informed and educated. Everyone likes to be knowledgeable, maybe not an expert, but they want to know they aren’t getting screwed over. Walkways or paths around your house are created with pavers (or bricks for us normal folk). In the old days you would do a Google search for “Brick Pavers”, “Walkway”, etc. This will get you everything “in general” from sales, to manufacturers, installation, upkeep, and maintenance just to start.
When it comes to intent what happens is the searcher now either type (or talk to their phones) with phrases like “How do you create a walkway?”, "What materials do I need to create a backyard sidewalk?", etc. You may have heard or seen this in the past. Around ten years ago people started talking about keyword phrases and better targeting your audience. This was the start of this intent phenomenon. This is where you no longer write a page for a single word or two but work on writing your pages to answer one or more questions your audience is asking.
Keys to searcher intent
An item to keep in mind when moving to search intent is remember that content is king. Not only is it king but a king is good only when it produces quality content the readers want to hear. Beyond that you want to have a great site structure that is well thought through that is ordered in a logical manner that people can easily understand. All too often a business owner sees something on Facebook, Google, etc. that they don’t like even though it’s been accepted as “the standard”. It may not be perfect but it is what everyone expects to see. Don’t reinvent the wheel or create the next great thing. If you require people to “re-learn” the internet to use your site and learn you are doing it completely wrong.
Speaking of doing it wrong…. Google and the other search engines are smart, really smart. Some look for ways to exploit weaknesses as the information they are doing is completely new, evolving, and changing. Listen to the best practices and don’t look for loopholes in the system. We see all too often those that manipulate Google, move quickly up for a few months, and then drop hard where it takes more months, sometimes years, to recover. Don’t do it.
Search has changed and you have to change with it if you want to stay on page one of the search results. Adapt to the change, accept the change, and continue to update your website. Constant change with great content and updating for the latest search engine changes will gain you better results over time than just paying to “play” (e.g. paid ads).