How do we rank at the top of search engines?
And then, when we do that, how do we get people to actually read our content and share it with the world?
And then, after we’ve achieved all that, how do we get the people that love our content to actually convert?
Loaded questions… to say the least.
Entire books have been written that attempt to answer these questions. Yet still, there are no universal answers about how to check all the boxes.
But, at the end of the day, every part of the process, from ranking in search engines to converting users, comes down to focusing on people first.
And fortunately for us, people are predictable.
Their intent when they search follows a familiar path that, when understood, can be used to inspire our future content. Let’s discuss!
user search intent guide

7 Facts You Need to Know Right Now About the Intent Behind People Searching for Your Content

Let’s dive in and take a look at a few facts about user intent when utilizing search engines.

1. Users Follow Similar Principles When They Interact With Search Engines

Understanding how the majority of people interact with search engines is absolutely vital to your success in content marketing.
Moz outlines this perfectly in their detailed beginner’s guide to SEO.
interacting with search engines
Creating great content that gets results can seem like an insurmountable challenge.
As Moz shows, most people follow similar principles when they use a search engine.
First and foremost, they’re there to find an answer, solution, or piece of information. They then formulate that need into a string of words (keywords) and type it into the search engine.
Knowing these principles alone should serve as a guideline for every piece of content that you create.
If your content isn’t answering a question, offering a solution, or providing useful information, it serves very little purpose to users.
But you can’t just provide bland and unsubstantiated answers, solutions, and information.
As you can see with the 7th principle, users will return to the search results if they’re unsatisfied with their initial results.
Knowing this, your focus should be on identifying why users are finding your content and ensuring that you satisfy their needs when they get there.

2. How Users Search is Based on Their Stage of Awareness

We’ve already identified that, when a user performs a search, they’re generally attempting to find an answer, solution, or piece of information.
The one they search for is almost always determined by their current stage of awareness.
For this reason, when you’re writing content, it’s always a good idea to think like a copywriter.
You want to focus your efforts on determining the user’s current stage of awareness and use your content to walk them through to the next stage.
Legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz laid out the five levels of awareness like this:
Eugene Schwartz five levels of awareness
Let’s use the example of a 40-year-old man who lacks motivation.
He understands that this is affecting his life and is currently in the problem aware stage.
He decides to go to Google and find a solution, so he types in how to get motivated.
The results look like this:
getting motivated
He sees a few solid options, but the article about How to Get Motivated When You Don’t Feel Like It sticks out. He clicks on it and sees this:
James Clear
As he reads through the article, he begins to see that he isn’t alone in his lack of motivation and that there are solutions to his problem.
So he’s now in the solution aware stage.
The author understands this and, once the reader has finished the article, offers up an email opt-in that promises to help the unmotivated user even more.
motivation email capture
The man enters his email, receives the ebooks, and is now in the product aware stage as he knows that the author has also published books that he can purchase to help him even further.
Since the initial content, and the ebooks, provided the solution he was looking for, he doesn’t return to Google to check out other potential solutions.
The author begins sending content through emails that slowly works him into the most aware stage where he is ready to make a purchase.
This example shows the power of understanding how users interact with search engines based on their stage of awareness.
Use it to your advantage and optimize your content to work users to the most aware stage.

3. Your Users Want Landing Pages

We know that users search based on their stage of awareness.
But, if this is the case, why isn’t all of the content we create based on walking visitors through to the next stage of awareness?
This is a great question, and one that many content marketers can’t answer.
To solve this problem, Search Engine Land puts it in the most simple terms possible: businesses need to look at every page as a landing page.
They advise that you ask yourself three questions when creating content. These are:
3 questions seo
As you answer these questions, you arm yourself with the necessary information to create content that gets visitors to say, “This is exactly what I need right now!”
By doing this, your content doubles as a landing page and can directly contribute to conversions for your business.
And isn’t the goal of content marketing to serve as an avenue to generate revenue?
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4. Long-Tail Keywords are Used in Searches More Often

The data shows that about 70% of search traffic is through long-tail keywords.
long tail keywords
And, if you’ve been following along so far, this makes sense.
After all, if a user is typically looking for an answer, solution, or information when they use a search engine, they’re generally not going to find what they’re looking for by using a single word.
Let’s go back to the example of the unmotivated 40-year-old man. His search was “how to get motivated.”
Had he just typed in “motivation,” he would have seen this:
motivation results

I’m guessing he already has a pretty firm grasp of the definition of motivation.
And, because this isn’t what he was looking for, the principles of user search interaction tell us that his next step would be to go back and reframe his search to something more specific.
But not only is the utilization of long-tail keywords important because of how users search, they also make a huge difference when it comes to search rankings and conversion.
long tail seo

As you can see, attempting to rank for a one-word phrase comes with a whole lot of competition and high costs. Not to mention the low probability of conversion.
Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are low cost, have little competition, and have a much higher probability of conversion because the user is almost always in the problem aware stage when they’re searching for them.
If your goal is to satisfy the needs of your users (which it should be), then utilizing long-tail keywords is clearly the way to go.

5. User Search Queries Are Becoming More Conversational

Another important reason that long tail keywords work so well with user search intent is because searches are becoming more conversational.
In mid 2016, Google CEO Sundar Pichai mentioned that voice searches now account for about 20% of all mobile searches.
Think about what you say when you use voice search. If you own an iPhone and want to find out how to cook boiled eggs, you’d likely say, “Siri, how do I boil eggs?”
You see the digital assistant as someone you can have a conversation with, and therefore ask them the same way you would ask an expert on the topic.
And with the continued improvement of digital assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Voice, Amazon Alexa, and others, the number of people using digital assistants is expected to continue to rise.
statista chart
The shift to conversational search queries is also causing a change in how people are creating content.
Content creators are beginning to avoid the journalistic approach and are instead using their content as a way to have a conversation with readers.
Think about mega influencers like Neil Patel and Seth Godin.
They emphasize the need to speak directly to their readers within their blogs. And, judging by their success, their readers appreciate and trust them for it.

6. Users Make the Decision to Click Based on the Headline

You know that headlines are important. You probably also know that 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will move on from there.
But just how important are they when a user is performing a search?
According to UpWorthy co-founder Peter Koechley, “The difference between a good headline and a bad headline can be just massive…When we test headlines, we see a 20%, 50%, or even 500% difference.”
500% difference?!? That’s huge.
Let’s take a look at an example of the impact of intriguing headlines.
If you were to search for “how to make money blogging,” your search results would look like this:
Headline Example
As you look at these four results, How to Make Money Blogging: How This Blog Makes $100K per Month clearly sticks out.
Why? Well, for one, because it’s specific. The user is searching for how to make money blogging, so they obviously want to generate income.
Smart Blogger’s headline is telling the user that, if they click on the link, they’ll learn how to make $100K per month. The other three headlines, on the other hand, fail to be specific enough to intrigue users.
While this is a simple example, it shows that taking the time to create great headlines is absolutely crucial if you want to stand out.

7. Users Process Visuals Faster

By now, you’ve probably read and heard plenty about how important it is to include visuals in your content.
But as search engines are getting more sophisticated, images are providing a way for websites to stand out there as well.
The reason for this is simple; people process visuals 60,000x faster than text.
Because of this, having an image alongside your headline, URL, and meta description sets you up to be the first thing a user sees when they browse search results.
Take a look at this example when we search for “how to boil eggs”:
Visuals example
If you’re like most people, your eyes were immediately guided to the two pictures of the boiled eggs.
And, because of this, you’ve become more likely to click on one of those links.
Now unfortunately, Google doesn’t actually let you upload an image directly into search results.
Instead, you have to first put yourself in a position to have your image picked up by Google’s images index.
Here’s how you can do that:
adding an image to google
While it’s a bit annoying that this is a “wait and hope” scenario, the power of having an image featured makes the process well worth it.

Using These Facts to Inspire Better Content

Armed with these facts, you now have the ammunition you need to start creating content that is made for users.
Focus on your audience, understand what stage of awareness they are in, and hone in on long-tail keywords.
And, if you want to skyrocket your conversion rates from search results, optimize that headline.
Do these things and you’ll be well on your way to creating content that ranks at the top of search engines and generates clicks from intrigued users.
If you’d like some assistance creating user-focused content for your website, our team of experts would be more than happy to help. Get in touch with us today!
express writers