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In Cannabiz Media’s Guide to SEO for Cannabis and Cannabis-Related Businesses, I explained how on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and on-page SEO work together to improve your website’s search rankings and traffic. I also mentioned that a key part of on-page SEO is matching your content to search intent. It’s time to dive deeper into the topic of search intent.
Traffic to your website will only help your business when it’s the right traffic. In other words, if the content on your web pages doesn’t match relevant queries that people type into search engines, then your site won’t get a boost in the right visitors. Without the right visitors, you won’t generate sales, so matching content to search intent is critical to realize measurable gains from your SEO investments.
On the flip side, if searchers come to your site because your web page appeared in a search engine results page (SERP), but the content of your page doesn’t actually match their query or search intent, you can bet they’ll leave your site right away and not be happy with your brand. You don’t want that to happen either. To avoid the problem, search intent and content must match.
What is Search Intent?
Search intent refers to the reason why a person types a query into a search engine. Why are they conducting a search? What information do they need? There are four types of search intent:
- Informational: These searches are conducted by people who want to learn something.
- Commercial: A commercial search is conducted to gather information before making a purchase.
- Navigational: When a person is looking for a specific website, a specific store location, or something else that is very specific, they’re conducting a navigational search.
- Transactional: A transactional search is conducted to complete a specific action like making a purchase.
When you consider why someone conducts a search, you can make sure that a page with all of the information they need is on your website providing the perfect place for a search engine to send them.
Why Matching Your Content to Search Intent is Critical
Search engine algorithms are built to help searchers find the best answers to their queries, so it makes sense that search intent is an important piece of the puzzle. Think of it this way, if someone enters “What is the best cannabis POS?” into Google’s search box, and the first non-paid results (i.e., the organic results) lead directly to pages where a specific printer can be purchased, those results likely don’t match the search intent. Better results would be pages with a list of reviewed or ranked POS platforms, because the search intent was likely commercial – to gather information before making a purchase.
An even more extreme mismatch between search intent and content is this – imagine someone types “What is a cannabis POS?” into Google’s search box. This is likely an informational search, and the searcher is probably looking for basic information about what a cannabis POS is and what it does. Now, imagine the first search results lead to specific cannabis POS systems. Those results would be great for a transactional search, but they’re completely wrong for an informational search.
Bottom-line, a key part of your search engine optimization strategy and content marketing plan should be to create content that delivers on the search intent of popular queries related to your products, services, and business. Having comprehensive, authoritative, fresh content on your website that provides the best answer to relevant search queries based on search intent will lead to the right kind of increased organic traffic (i.e., unpaid traffic) to your website.
Steps to Get Started
To create content that matches search intent, begin by doing some keyword and search query research. There are many SEO tools to help you identify a list of search queries that lead people to your website (or your competitors’ websites), including Semrush and ahrefs. You can also visit Google.com and type in a search query you think people would use to find your website.
Another great way to find questions that people might type into search engines to find a website like yours is to visit Google.com and type in a relevant query. Then, scroll down the results page to see similar questions in the “People Also Ask” section. For example, I typed “what is the best cannabis POS?” into Google. I scrolled down to the “People Also Ask” section on the results page, and found a few related queries.
Once you have a list of questions and identify what the search intent is for each, you can write content to thoroughly and expertly answer each question on your website. Blog posts work extremely well for this, but you can also create a resources section on your website to publish this type of content or a frequently asked questions section. A great tool to help you write this type of content is Surfer.
As you write your content, keep the search intent as it relates to your product, services, and business in mind, and think about where a person with that search query could be in the buyer journey and marketing funnel. For example, people in the early stages of the buyer journey are likely to conduct informational searches, while people in the mid-stages of the buyer journey are more likely to conduct commercial and navigational searches. Finally, people near the end of the buyer journey are most likely to conduct navigational and transactional searches.
The most important thing is to get the content published and keep it updated (Google and other search engines typically rank fresh content higher than similar older content). You can also share your content across social media and your email marketing to promote it, and consider sharing it with relevant media sites or journalists too. You just might be able to secure some valuable backlinks to boost organic traffic to your site even more.
Key Takeaways about Matching Content to Search Intent to Boost Traffic to Your Website
Excellent content published frequently is the cornerstone of any search engine optimization strategy, but the content has to match the search intent of your target audience in order to increase traffic to your website from the right audiences.
Therefore, when you’re creating content for your website, remember to write well, write often, and write for your audience, not for yourself. It’s their needs, goals, problems, and search intent that matter the most.