Last week we talked about the basics of keyword research and why it’s so important if you want people to find your website. As Google itself recommends, it’s vital to:

“Think about the words users would type to find your page, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.”

It makes perfect sense. But it also helps you engage with people at the very point they decide to take action and buy something. It’s all about audience intent. Here’s how it works.

What is audience intent?

Say you sell bright blue widgets. If someone types about bright blue widgets into Google, common sense says they want to know about bright blue widgets. Fair enough – you create a detailed, super-useful web page all about bright blue widgets and by doing so, you fulfil their intent. In marketing speak you’ve fulfilled their search intent.

When things get exciting…

So far, so simple. But it gets exciting when you get to the other end of the so-called sales funnel, AKA the sales journey. The sales journey is where you can make online content even more relevant to the people who want it.

If someone types buy medium bright blue widget with bells on into Google, you know for sure, or as sure as you can be, that they’re ready to buy, right on the edge, hand in pocket. If you create a web page containing the phrase buy medium bright blue widget with bells on, and they find your page, they’ll likely buy on the spot.

The advantage of finding out and fulfilling your audience’s intent is clear. You’re there when they need you because your site pops up in Google when they make that special “I want to buy, and I want to buy NOW” signal.

Four main types of audience intent

Most searches fall into one of four categories:

  • Navigational – where you’re looking for a specific website, e.g., YouTube.
  • Informational – when you’re just looking for information.
  • Commercial – an informational search with future business implications, for example, rice comparison searches
  • Transactional – where you give a powerful signal of your intent to complete a transaction

What’s the most valuable?

As you can imagine, the last two are where the money is. But it’s important to cater for all kinds of intents because fulfilling someone’s needs early on is a great way to boost your brand equity, helping you line up happy converts who might buy from you later.

Google Hummingbird = Plain language search

Google’s algorithm is updated hundreds of times a year. Their Hummingbird update earlier this year made it easier for people to find information based on simple terms searches carried out via speech recognition software on mobiles and tablets. You simply speak a query into your phone and Google returns what you need. And because plain language gives you an easier, more effective and accurate way to search for exactly what you want, it makes sussing out your audience’s intent even easier.

People don’t need to type laborious and often obscure queries into Google anymore. They can use their phones. Because they can speak their queries, they do it in plain language. You might type bright blue widget bells on into Google via your desktop, but you might talk the full, much more eloquent and clear query “where can I buy a blue widget with bells on in Brighton” into your smartphone.

If you ask and answer specific questions on your web pages, you stand a chance of popping up on page one of the search results when someone speaks the question into their phone.

Will we always win a page one Google position?

It depends on how great a job you do. It’s no good sticking a bald query into a website page and hoping Google will surface it when people search. The name of the game is quality content. Every web page deserves to be the best it possibly can be whether it means something finely detailed and 100% comprehensive or a brilliant, succinct top-level overview.

As searchenginewatch says:

“We live in an online world where users know what they’re looking for and search engines are getting much better at satisfying the user intent through their search results. But where does your brand fit into all this? Your brand’s website and online presence needs to align around targeted customer intent.”

Audience intent and us

We do brilliant web design. And we know exactly how to leverage audience intent in your favour.