Your New Content Optimization Focus: Search Intent and Context

 content optimization for search context and intent.png

Content is content, right?

Does this sound like your current content philosophy? "An article or a blog is an end point, and the only variance are the paths that lead to it."

If it does echo your content strategy,  we've got some news for you: you're missing out on some incredibly targeted opportunities. There may have been a point in internet history where a single article could do it all, but the art - yes, the art - of the search has become so nuanced and responsive, a one-size-fits-all chunk of content will feel terribly outdated to a search-savvy customer. You need to consider search context as an integral part of your content optimization at every level, from the size, to the tone, and even the placement of your content. 

Here at 21 Handshake, we're always searching for new ways to help our clients reach their customers - not only an audience in general, but one that's primed to be receptive to their message. Using context and intent to form that strategy adds clarity and breaks down the "static" that stands between a lead and conversion. So what does this new content strategy look like in practice?

The What and the How

In a nutshell, intent is what a prospect is searching for and context is why they are searching for it. If a customer is mulling over renovating their bathroom, they might want to browse toilet options online. However, another individual might be searching the same kinds of toilets because a plumbing issue just destroyed their existing unit. While our DIY enthusiast may be months out from purchasing and price-sensitive as well, our disaster-managing prospect is looking to purchase today and cares more about ready access to the product than the price tag. While both potentials hold value, placing the right content in the path of the latter - say, a geo-targeted post about how to determine what size replacement toilet is needed from a damaged footing - can drive an immediate sale with a higher profit margin. 

The Subtle Lead

Forbes' Jonathan Laberge also makes an excellent point on the use of transition content to spark interest without an overt 'sell' message. Wary of overly-aggressive sales messages, approaching the consumer throughout their buying process, rather than solely at the end that benefits your company, lends authority and trust. Say our disaster-managing prospect noticed a few troubling signs about a month ago; a musty odor in the wall behind the toilet, the sound of dripping with no visible water. He might have searched some DIY plumbing remedies to try to identify the source, and if your company was the one providing the content - assuming it wasn't transparently over-branded - suddenly you're a shoo-in when his old porcelain throne finally bites the duest. While it can seem counter-intuitive to create content that doesn't directly do-not-pass-go connect to your products or services, it's actually building you a very strong case and familiarity in a competitive market. 

Intent Informs Keywords

Once again, if you're focusing on your product as the core of your content optimization, you're leaving search context and search intent entirely out of the equation. While you naturally want to capture leads searching for the "Toiletmaster 3000 Store," you may also want to tap into those searching for strings like "best replacement toilet options," "fast toilet fixes" and "how to tell if toilet is broken" in their smartphone browser. If you want to really get to the heart of modern search, consider that the truly tech-savvy consumer is also using tools like voice search,  barcode scanning shopping apps, and more to find what they need, and plan your content positioning accordingly. Omni-channel and omni-device campaigns have the power to overcome the limitations of screen size or browser type, and that means less barriers between you and your customer.

Context and user intent are the unsung superheroes of true content optimization - if you haven't met them yet, consider yourself introduced! Learn to listen to your customers' actions and thought processes as closely as their buying patterns, and you'll be well on your way to mastering both of these lucrative marketing facets.

Download SEO Audit Checklist

Sarah Hayes

Project Manager at 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. A self described life long learner that thrives on detail, I love bringing these skills to the table to help others succeed.

Find me on: