User Intent: A View Through SEO

Welcome to our new blog series on the importance of user intent. It’s the buzzword in digital marketing today, and with good reason: it’s the source of all relevant and timely digital marketing best practices today.

Our new blog series aims to help you understand what user intent is all about, and why it matters in today’s digital marketing world. You’ll learn from our experts how key service areas inside digital marketing, such as display advertising and SEO, are being directly affected by our current, and ever-evolving, understanding of user intent. Today’s expert is Sean Van Guilder, Point It’s Director of SEO.

Here’s my take on

…The importance of user intent in digital marketing:

Google has made a move towards “semantic search.” Essentially, that means improving search accuracy by building algorithms to discern what a user is trying to accomplish when performing a particular search. That means optimizing a website for single keywords alone will miss the mark. Semantic search is the “algorithm” equivalent of user intent: the focus is on understanding not only the specific words typed into a search query, but also the “what” and “why” of user search behavior. Understanding how semantic search works is going to be crucial for anyone looking to develop a successful digital marketing strategy.

…The importance of user intent in SEO:

It used to be that good SEO meant knowing how to optimize a title tag. Now it means understanding how a website works from a marketing perspective. Bringing user intent into the SEO conversation now means forcing everyone in the industry to focus on how a person might search in order to solve a particular problem, and then asking ourselves whether the content provided on a particular site or page would be useful for the task that person is trying to accomplish.

…The future of user intent:

I feel fortunate in that SEO has always been about user intent and user experience, so these new developments in semantic search and improved algorithms are, in my view, a great addition to a robust search technology. In the future, I think an understanding of user intent and user experience will continue to grow and spread across other aspects of digital marketing. SEO and pay-per-click (PPC), for example, are now more closely aligned than ever, in terms of ranking signals—almost to the point of overlap. I expect that kind of cross-pollination to continue as we continue to gain a more sophisticated understanding of user intent with the search algorithms now being developed.

Sean Van Guilder About the author

Sean Van Guilder has been helping businesses get found on the internet for over 20 years. He has a 10,000 foot view of digital marketing that helps shed light on SEO as a business driver.  Sean has worn almost every digital marketing hat out there and brings strategies and tactics that have knocked the socks off of companies such as Microsoft, MSN and WONGDOODY, to name a few.  Currently, Sean is leading the SEO Practice for premier digital marketing agency, Point It, in Seattle.  Sean is a self-taught digital marketer and loves every minute of it.  When he’s not in front of a computer, he’s teasing his co-workers, playing sports, hanging with his kids, making music and collecting HO scale trains.

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