A new era of search has arrived. Introducing: User Intent and Voice Search Optimization. Keywords are no longer the be-all and end-all of SEO, taking its place is the impressionable intent of the search itself. Heavily driving this trend is the rapid growth of voice search in recent years – welcoming it as part of your current SEO practices can result in higher rankings and high-quality visitors who are far more willing to convert than when advertising to a general audience. Let’s begin by taking a trip back to 2013:
Google Hummingbird’s Role
When Google Hummingbird was first released in 2013, Google was beginning to realise that in order to deliver more accurate search results, they were going to have to focus on semantic meaning, context and user intent – a far cry from the beginning where it was all about keyword stuffing. This meant that marketers and brands that best match user’s most common intent were being seen as more “helpful” and as a result, ranked higher on the SERP.
So What Exactly Is User Intent?
We are all too familiar with using Google to search for the answers to our problems and find further information on the products that we want and need. Simply put, User Intent refers to what the user is looking for whenever they conduct a search query. Below are the 4 main types of User Intent:
- Navigational – The user is trying to get to a specific site. E.g. “FaceBook”, The Guardian”.
- Informational– The user is looking for more information and wants to learn something. E.g. “Summer fashion guide”, “How to edit Instagram photos.”
- Transactional – The user is prepared to buy a specific product or service. E.g. “ “Buy camera lens”.
- Commercial Investigation– The user has the intention to buy a product or service in the (near) future and is using the web to do their initial research. E.g. “Best makeup for tanned skin”.
Fun fact: More than 80 percent of search queries are informational, which say a lot for your content – focus on providing clear-cut facts in a way that is easy to understand and useful to users. If you have no idea where to start, consider engaging a marketing agency offering Digital Marketing services to get things going.
Voice Search Is Only Going To Grow Bigger
With the advent of Google, Alexa and Siri – it is said that about 50% of all searches are going to be done through images or speech by 2020. While online SEO best practices should still be maintained, voice search has several key differences when it comes to understanding user intent, and thus different ways of optimization.
- Voice search contains more long-tail keywords.
Due to the conversational nature of voice search, people will often ask complete questions rather than say a single word or phrase as they normally type on the internet. This completely changes the way you should title or structure your content for voice search queries.
- Write brief, direct and problem-solving content
Most voice search users tend to be on-the-go and looking for instant answers – fail to do that, and you fail to rank for Voice Search. Google tends to favour answers to voice search queries that are kept short – usually 29-word results. So while we aren’t asking you to start writing 29-word articles, we recommend creating an FAQ page that is a great way to plonk in a bunch of answers to user’s most burning questions.
- Amp up your local search
Some of the most popular types of voice searches include business opening times and addresses, directions and other questions with a straightforward answer. This means that getting ranked local also increases your chances of ranking for Voice Search – make sure you fully optimize Google My Business (GMB) in providing frequent, up-to-date information.
- Get featured in Featured Snippets
If you were to do a voice search via Alexa or Siri, what you normally get back is a single result. In fact, 40% of voice search answers come from Featured Snippets – a position that is coined “Position 0”. Thus, if you are already ranking on the first page of your search topic, the next thing that you should be doing is to aim for Position 0. Tip: start structuring your content using properly formatted subheaders and bullet points that Google likes. If all this sounds overwhelming, simply get the assistance of an agency offering SEO services to take over.
Is Your Content Currently Optimized for User Intent?
To find out, simply follow these steps. Go to your Google Analytics page and check out your top-performing keywords. This will give you a general idea of what your visitors are searching for prior to reaching your website. Then, check to see if the queries and the user intent match up to the kind of content you are currently churning out. You should ideally have different landing pages optimized for each specific User Intent, e.g. product pages, services pages, blogs and reviews. It also helps to include a compelling Call-To-Action (CTA) on every page to drive up conversions.
This way, when searchers arrive at your site – no matter the implicit intent of the query that brought them there, you meet their needs every time, converting them immediately into loyal, long-term customers.