Understanding User Search Intent: A Content Manager’s Guide

Content SEO Software Company
Oct 10
Table of content
<p dir="ltr">Brian Dean is a famous SEO expert.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Inc.com regards him as &ldquo;one of the world&rsquo;s most sought-after SEO experts,&rdquo; and they&rsquo;re right. Brian founded Backlinko, and through his SkyScraper technique, took it from nothing to hundreds of thousands of monthly organic search traffic:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/organic-traffic-and-organic-keyword.webp" alt="Organic Traffic and Organic Keyword" width="1010" height="943"></p> <p dir="ltr">Most content managers can only dream of these figures. And such enviable SEO prowess may get you thinking anything Brian&rsquo;s team creates ranks high.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Well, not really!</p> <p dir="ltr">They published a piece that over-ticked all SEO checklists a few years ago. It was in-depth with the target keyword in the title and URL, with lots of tips, tricks, and tactics within the guide:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/seo-optimized-title-and-url.webp" alt="SEO-Optimized Title and URL" width="1010" height="609"></p> <p dir="ltr">It also had dozens of visuals to make it scannable and of the highest quality. In <a href="https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/search-intent#:~:text=And%2C%20because%20the%20content%20was%20really%20good%2C%20lots%20of%20bloggers%20in%20the%20digital%20marketing%20space%20linked%20to%20it." target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener">Brian&rsquo;s words</a>, &ldquo;because the content was really good, lots of bloggers in the digital marketing space linked to it,&rdquo; which everyone craves to boost page authority and rankings:</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13.17/boost-page-authority-and-rankings.webp" alt="Boost Page Authority and Rankings" width="1010" height="381"></p> <p dir="ltr">Despite all these, the guide didn&rsquo;t even make Google&rsquo;s first page, let alone the top spots, months after Brian and his team hit publish:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/the-page-didnt-appear-on-googles-first-page.webp" alt="The page didn't appear on Google's first page" width="1010" height="953"></p> <p dir="ltr">Why?</p> <p dir="ltr">Because it didn&rsquo;t align with the search intent.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Searchers weren&rsquo;t looking for an &ldquo;SEO strategy case study,&rdquo; which is what Brian&rsquo;s guide went in-depth on. They were searching for information and a template for developing their own <a href="../../../academy/seo-content-strategy" target="_blank" rel="noopener">content strategy for SEO</a>:</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/content-is-aligned-with-search-engine.webp" alt="Content is aligned with search engine" width="1010" height="856"></p> <p dir="ltr">A slight difference, you may say.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">But when it comes to online marketing and SEO, a slight misunderstanding of users&rsquo; search intent costs a lot.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">In this post, you&rsquo;ll see:</p> <ol> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">How to avoid Brian&rsquo;s mistake, and</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">How to create intent-matching content.&nbsp;</p> </li> </ol> <h2 dir="ltr"><strong>What Does Understanding Search Intent Really Mean?</strong></h2> <p dir="ltr">Imagine you wanted to learn about how motorcycles work. But when you use Google, all search results try to sell you a motorcycle:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/search-results-try-to-sell-you-a-motorcycle.webp" alt="Search results try to sell you a motorcycle" width="1010" height="1010"></p> <p dir="ltr">Frustrating, right?&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Google and other search engines want to eliminate such frustrations when people &ndash;your target audience&ndash; research online. Their business depends on this. So aligning your team&rsquo;s content creation efforts means making their work easier and setting yourself up for success.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">But here&rsquo;s the catch.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">As Brian&rsquo;s case showed, the path to those benefits isn&rsquo;t to bury your head in technical SEO stuff focused on pleasing search engine bots.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s a call to go &ldquo;Back to Human.&rdquo;</p> <p dir="ltr">In other words, before obsessing over SEO and whatnot, focus more on understanding your target audience&rsquo;s (human beings&rsquo;) search intent. Doing this aligns with what Google sees as relevant and it drastically increases your content&rsquo;s chances of ranking higher.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Hear that from Gael Breton, <a href="https://www.authorityhacker.com/about-us/" rel="nofollow noopener">Authority Hacker&rsquo;s CEO</a>:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/gael-bretons-quote-about-understanding-intent.webp" alt="Gael Breton's quote about Understanding intent" width="1010" height="716"></p> <h2 dir="ltr"><strong>How to Determine Keyword Search Intent</strong></h2> <p dir="ltr">In determining keywords search intent, it&rsquo;s crucial you keep one thing in mind: Search engines aren&rsquo;t decision-makers.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">They&rsquo;re a means to an end.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Content managers obsessed over SEO tricks often forget this. You shouldn&rsquo;t! Yes, people may use Google to find your content, but it doesn&rsquo;t mean they call the shots. Your target audience does.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Although they do this via keywords used in querying Google, knowing the underlying intents behind those keywords empowers you to make more informed decisions.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">In the words of Steve Toth, a top SEO Consultant:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/steve-toths-quote-about-user-intent.webp" alt="Steve Toth's quote about User intent" width="1010" height="716"></p> <p dir="ltr">It starts by knowing the four intent types:&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/keyword-search-intent-types.webp" alt="Keyword Search Intent Types" width="1010" height="609"></p> <p dir="ltr">We&rsquo;ll come back to this chart.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">In the meantime, following the steps below will increase your chances of understanding the real intent behind keyword types.&nbsp;</p> <h3 dir="ltr"><strong>1. Visualize Searchers JTBD (Jobs To Be Done)</strong></h3> <p dir="ltr">Today, two people can type the same keywords into Google and get varying results. We&rsquo;ve tried this on a few occasions and sensed something: Google uses people&rsquo;s most recent search history to personalize results based on what they&rsquo;re trying to do at the time.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">The search engine giant confirmed this in a <a href="https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com/en//searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf" rel="nofollow noopener">whitepaper</a>:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/google-search-evaluators-confirmation.webp" alt="Google Search Evaluator's confirmation" width="1010" height="716"></p> <p dir="ltr">Here&rsquo;s what this should teach you.</p> <p dir="ltr">Always put your audience&rsquo;s needs above SEO keywords. Doing this helps you understand their intent by visualizing the tasks (JTBD) they want to accomplish when they use certain keywords.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Eva Viola, Flow SEO&rsquo;s CEO, <a href="https://www.searchenginejournal.com/b2b-keyword-research/428962/#:~:text=Targeting%20The%20Right,in%20their%20area." rel="nofollow noopener">corroborates</a>:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/eva-violas-quote-about-jtbd.webp" alt="Eva Viola's quote about JTBD" width="1010" height="716"></p> <h3 dir="ltr"><strong>2. Cluster Queries According to Keyword Types</strong>&nbsp;</h3> <p dir="ltr">Recall our keyword intent types chart:</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/keyword-search-intent-types.webp" alt="Keyword Search Intent Types" width="1010" height="609"></p> <p dir="ltr">Unfortunately, these are just identifiers. Alone, they don&rsquo;t reveal underlying search intent. To increase your chances of understanding intent, cluster long-tail queries related to each keyword.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">WriterZen does this out of the box.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Type a phrase into our <a href="../../products/keyword-explorer" rel="noopener">Keyword Explorer tool</a>, scroll down and click on the &ldquo;Insights&rdquo; tab, and you&rsquo;ll find clusters of long-tail queries:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/clusters-of-long-tail-queries.webp" alt="Clusters of long-tail queries" width="1010" height="500"></p> <p dir="ltr">The tool does more.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Say you&rsquo;re targeting executives in the nursing industry, and the keyword is &ldquo;team collaboration.&rdquo; Keeping with our first point to always have your target audience&rsquo;s JTBD in mind when trying to understand search intent, you&rsquo;ll need more insights.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">And the auto-built clusters of queries around keyword types on WriterZen&rsquo;s Keyword Explorer lets you do that in 3 steps:&nbsp;</p> <ol> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Click on &ldquo;Show ideas&rdquo; on any cluster,&nbsp;</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Find queries your target audience would likely use, and&nbsp;</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Click on the query for more insights, including SERP data:&nbsp;</p> </li> </ol> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/writerzen-keyword-explorer.webp" alt="WriterZen&rsquo;s Keyword Explorer" width="1010" height="861">&nbsp;</p> <h3 dir="ltr"><strong>3. Use an Advanced Keyword Search Intent Tool</strong></h3> <p dir="ltr">After nailing the top-level keyword type, say, an informational one, like &ldquo;why,&rdquo; you can still dig deeper to uncover the intent. And this involves using an advanced search intent tool, Wildcard.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">The Wildcard search is unique and involves using an asterisk (*) to reveal (usually unknown) intents associated with a keyword.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Say you wanted to know the additional intents associated with apples-related searches. You can find out with WriterZen&rsquo;s Wildcard research tool.</p> <p dir="ltr">Here&rsquo;s what I got:</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/keyword-search-intent.webp" alt="Keyword Search Intent" width="1010" height="498"></p> <p dir="ltr"><a title="Use Wildcard to Uncover Search Intents" href="https://app.writerzen.net/register" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/use-wildcard-to-uncover-search-intents.webp" alt="Use Wildcard to Uncover Search Intents" width="1010" height="440"></a></p> <h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Creating Content That Aligns with Search Intent Types</strong></h2> <p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s one thing to understand the &ldquo;why&rdquo; behind keywords.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s another ball game aligning content creation. As Brian Dean&rsquo;s example showed, if you don&rsquo;t create content with search intent in mind, you&rsquo;ll not rank high, let alone capture search demand.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Aligning content creation with search intent basically means going Back to Humans&rsquo; needs. In other words, create content for the end user, not to tick SEO checklists or please search engine bots.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Here&rsquo;s how to do that.</p> <h3 dir="ltr"><strong>1. Analyze What Ranking Articles Are Addressing</strong></h3> <p dir="ltr">Google processes <a href="https://skai.io/monday-morning-metrics-daily-searches-on-google-and-other-google-facts/#:~:text=How%20many%20searches%20are,trillion%20searches%20per%20year!" rel="nofollow noopener">over 5.6 billion</a> searches daily.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Going by this these massive amounts of data, it&rsquo;s safe to say the tech giant understands search intents more than anyone else. And one way they demonstrate this is by detecting and ranking content with higher click-through rates and longer dwell times:&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/content-aligning-with-keyword-intent-can-affect-rankings.webp" alt="Content aligning with keyword intent can affect rankings" width="1010" height="989"></p> <p dir="ltr">Based on this, you can detect relevant search intents yours should address by analyzing what top-ranking address. Florian Kluge, the Head of SEO at Nyumi, observed this.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">He said:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/florian-kluges-quote-about-search-intent.webp" alt="Florian Kluge's quote about search intent" width="1010" height="716"></p> <p dir="ltr">Unfortunately, manually analyzing the top Google SERPs is a thorn in the flesh. Tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush, aren&rsquo;t helpful either, as they don&rsquo;t tell you what the top articles really went deep on.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">But <a href="../../products/content-creator" rel="noopener">WriterZen&rsquo;s Content Creator</a> makes it a breeze.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Start a project and choose your target keyword. And in the 1st of our 3-step content creation workflow, you&rsquo;ll see detailed summaries of the intents Google&rsquo;s top 20 (not just 10) articles addressed:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/writerzen-content-creator-shows-detailed-summaries-of-the-intents-google&rsquo;s-top-20.webp" alt="WriterZen Content Creator shows detailed summaries of the intents Google&rsquo;s top 20" width="1010" height="804"></p> <p dir="ltr">You can then build a content outline more likely to cover unaddressed intents relevant to your target audience&rsquo;s needs with this information.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">And that brings us to step two.&nbsp;</p> <h3 dir="ltr"><strong>2. Build Search Intent-Addressing Content Outlines</strong></h3> <p dir="ltr">Your outline should lay the building block of search intents your final draft will address. This means building it from actual queries, not mere assumptions, relevant to your ideal readers.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">WriterZen comes in handy.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Scroll to the &ldquo;Suggest Insights&rdquo; section, and you&rsquo;ll find a long list of queries (and intents) related to a keyword:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">People Also Ask queries,&nbsp;</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Topics people discuss,&nbsp;</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Comparisons related to your keyword, and</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Direct queries from forums like Reddit:&nbsp;</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/insights-suggested-in-writerzen-content-creator.webp" alt="Insights suggested in WriterZen Content Creator" width="1010" height="740"></p> <p dir="ltr">And here&rsquo;s the fun part.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Click on any of these search intent-revealing queries, and it&rsquo;ll be added to your content brief. This makes building an outline aligned to your target audience&rsquo;s search intent even easier.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">See it for yourself:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/topic-suggested-in-writerzen-content-creator.webp" alt="Topic suggested in WriterZen Content Creator" width="1010" height="497"></p> <p dir="ltr">All these are why content managers rely on WriterZen for the complete workflow required for building intent-addressing content outlines. But don&rsquo;t take that from us.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Hear it from Natalie I., a Content Manager:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/writerzen-review-on-g2-crowd.webp" alt="WriterZen Review on G2 Crowd" width="1010" height="642"></p> <p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em><a href="https://www.g2.com/products/writerzen/reviews/writerzen-review-6854006" rel="nofollow noopener">Source</a></em></p> <h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Put Satisfying Search Intent over SEO Tricks</strong></h2> <p dir="ltr">Let&rsquo;s go back to where we started: Brian Dean.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">Once realizing his SEO strategy guide failed to rank because it didn&rsquo;t address the search intent, he recreated the content to satisfy the intent. And surprisingly, without SEO tricks, Google did the rest.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">&nbsp;In <a href="https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/search-intent#:~:text=No%20new%20backlinks.%20No%20SEO%20tricks.%20I%20just%20made%20my%20content%20a%20good%20fit%20for%20Keyword%20Intent.%20And%20Google%20took%20care%20of%20the%20rest." rel="nofollow noopener">Brian&rsquo;s words</a>:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/brian-deans-quote-about-search-intent.webp" alt="Brian Dean's quote about search intent" width="1010" height="716"></p> <p dir="ltr">Here&rsquo;s the new, intent-matching guide dominating the SERPs:&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/intent-matching-guide-dominating-the-serps.webp" alt="Intent-matching guide dominating the SERPs" width="1010" height="609"></p> <p dir="ltr">Backlinko&rsquo;s story teaches content managers something: Go &ldquo;Back to Humans&rdquo; needs. In other words, satisfy your audiences&rsquo; needs each time you create content, and you&rsquo;ll unlock growth.</p> <p dir="ltr">It makes sense because, ultimately, Google, search engines, and SEO are all means to an end: To reach your target audience. So by satisfying their intent (not Google or SEO) when creating content, you&rsquo;ll (like Brian Dean) even have Google doing the rest for you.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr">And <a href="../../" target="_blank" rel="noopener">WriterZen</a> can help.</p> <p dir="ltr">From content research to analyzing the SERPs, building intent-addressing outlines, etc., you can count on our complete <a href="../../blog/simplified-content-workflow-software" rel="noopener">content creation workflow</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/writerzen-review-on-g2-crowd.webp" alt="WriterZen Review on G2 Crowd" width="1010" height="642"></p> <p dir="ltr"><a title="Research and Create Content That Satisfies Search Intent" href="https://app.writerzen.net/register" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><img src="../../../storage/photos/1/blog-3.13/research-and-create-content-that-satisfies-search-intent.webp" alt="Research and Create Content That Satisfies Search Intent" width="1010" height="440"></a></p>
Content SEO Software Company
search intent
content marketing
content seo
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