Tag Archive | "Intent"

SearchCap: Google tests AMP labels, AdWords personalization & understanding user intent

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How Google Gives Us insight into Searcher Intent Through the Results – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

When Google isn’t quite sure what a searcher means just by their search query, the results (appropriately) cater to multiple possible meanings. Those SERPs, if we examine them carefully, are full of useful information. In this episode of Whiteboard Friday, Rand offers some real-world examples of what we can glean just by skimming the kinds of things Google decides are relevant.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about how Google is giving us insight through their search results, their suggested searches, and their related searches into the intent that searchers have when they perform their query and how if we’re smart enough and we look closely and study well, we can actually get SEO and content opportunities out of this analysis.

So the way I thought I’d run this Whiteboard Friday is a little bit different than usual. Rather than being purely prescriptive, I thought I’d try and illustrate some actual results. I’ve pared them down a bit and removed the descriptions and taken some out, but to try and show the process of that.

Query 1: Damaged furniture

So here’s a query for damaged furniture. If I am trying to reach searchers for this query — let’s assume that I’m in the furniture business — I might see here that there are some ads up at the top, like this one from Wayfair, inexpensive furniture up to 70% off. I scroll through the organic results — Everyday Clearance Furniture Outlet, MyBobs.com, okay, that’s a local place here in Seattle, Seattle Furniture Repairs and Touchups. Okay, this is interesting. This is a different type of result, or it’s serving a different searcher intent. This is, “We will repair your furniture,” not, “We will sell you cheap, damaged furniture,” which these two are. Then How Stuff Works, which is saying, “We will show you how to repair wooden furniture.”

Now I scroll down even further and I get to the related searches — scratch and dent furniture near me, which suggests one of the intents absolutely behind this query is what Wayfair and My Bob’s are serving, which is cheap furniture, inexpensive furniture that’s been previously damaged in some way. Clearance Furniture Outlet, similar intent, Bob’s Discount Furniture Pit, I’m not totally sure about the pit naming convention, and then there are some queries that are similar to these other ones.

So here’s what’s happening. When you see search results like this, what you should pay close attention to is the intent to position ratio. Let’s say…

Intent A: I want to buy furniture

Intent B: I am looking to touch up or repair my furniture

Intent C: Show me how to do it myself

If you see more A’s ranking near the top, not in the advertising results, because those don’t need a very high click-through rate in order to exist. They can be at 1% or 2% and still do fine here. But if you see these higher up here, that is an indication that a higher percent of Google searchers are preferring or looking for this A intent stuff. You can apply this to any search that you look at.

Thus, if you are doing SEO or creating content to try and target a query, but the content you’re creating or the purpose you’re trying to serve is in the lower ranked stuff, you might be trapped in a world where you can’t rise any higher. Position four, maybe position three is the best you’re going to do because Google is always going to be serving the different intent, the intent that more of the searchers for this query are seeking out.

What’s also nice about this is if you perform this and you see a single intent being served throughout and a single intent in the related searches, you can guess that it’s probably going to be very difficult to change the searcher intent or to serve an entirely different searcher intent with that same query. You might need to look at different ones.

Query 2: E-commerce site design

All right. Next up, e-commerce site design. So an ad up here, again, from Shopify. This one is “Our e-commerce solution just works.” They’re trying to sell something. I’m going to go with they’re trying to sell you e-commerce site design.

Intent A: They are trying to sell you ecommerce design

Intent B: I am looking for successful e-commerce design inspiration/ideas

30 Beautiful and Creative E-commerce Website Designs, this is also from Shopify, because they just took my advice, well, okay, obviously they took my advice long before this Whiteboard Friday. But they’re ranking with exactly what we talked about in intent B, which was essentially, “Hey, I am looking for inspiration. I’m looking for ideas. I’m trying to figure out what my e-commerce website should look like or what designs are successful.” You can see that again — intent B. So what’s ranking higher here? It’s not the serve the purchase intent. It’s serve the examples intent.

When we get to related searches, you see that again, e-commerce website examples, top e-commerce websites, best e-commerce sites 2016, these are all intent B. If you’re trying to serve intent A, you better advertise, because ranking in the top results here is just not going to happen. That’s not what searchers are seeking. It’s going to be very, very tough.

Slight side note:

Whenever you see this, this late in the year, we’re in October right now as we’re filming this Whiteboard Friday. I did this search today, and I saw Best E-commerce Sites 2016 still in here. That suggests to me that there were a lot more people searching for it last year than there are this year. You will see there’s like the same thing for 2017 down below, but it’s lower in the related searches. It doesn’t have as much volume. Again, that suggests to me it’s on a downward trend. You can double-check that in Google trends, but good to pay attention to. Okay, side note over.

Query 3: Halloween laboratory props

Let’s move on to our last example here, Halloween laboratory props. So Halloween is coming up. Lots and lots of people looking for laboratory props and props and costumes and decorations of all kinds. There’s a huge business around this, especially in the United States and emerging in the United Kingdom and Australia and other places.

So, up at the top, Google is showing us ads. They are showing us the shopping ads, shop for Halloween laboratory props, and they’ve got some chemistry sets and a Frankenstein-style light switch that you can buy and some radioactive props and that kind of thing from Target, Etsy, and Oriental Trading Company.

Then they show images, which is not surprising. But hot tip, if you see images ranking in the top of the organic results, you should absolutely be doing image SEO. This is a clear indication that a lot of the searchers want images. That means Google Images is probably getting a significant portion of the search volume. When I see this up here, my guess is always it’s going to be 20% plus of searchers are going to the image results rather than the organic search results, and ranking here is often way easier than ranking here.

More interesting things happening next. This result is from Pinterest, “Best 25 Mad Scientist Lab Ideas on Pinterest,” “913 Best Laboratory, Frankenstein, Haunt Ideas Images on Pinterest,” “DIY Mad Scientist Lab Prop on Pinterest.” By the way, there’s a video segment in here, which is all YouTube. This happens quite a bit when there is heavy, heavy visual content. You essentially see the domain crowding single-domain domination of search results. What does that mean? Don’t do SEO on your site, or fine, do it on your site, but also do it on Pinterest and also do it on YouTube.

If you’re creating content like these guys are over here, BigCommerce and Shopify created these great pieces for beautiful ecommerce designs, they’ve put together a ton of images, wonderful. You can apply that same strategy for this. But then what should you do? Go to Pinterest, upload all those images, create a board, try and get your images shared, do some Pinterest SEO essentially. Do the same thing on YouTube. Have a bunch of examples in a short video that shows all the stuff that you’re creating and then upload that to YouTube. Preferably have a channel. Preferably have a few videos so that you can potentially rank multiple times in here, because you know that many people are going here. This is pretty far down. So this is probably less than 10% of searchers make it here, but still a ton of opportunity. Very different type of search intent than what we saw in these previous two.

Look at the related searches — homemade mad scientist lab props, mad scientist props DIY, do it yourself, how to make mad scientist props. These intents are, generally speaking, not being served by any of these results yet. If you scroll far enough in the YouTube videos here, there’s actually one video that is a how-to, but most of these are just showing stuff off. That to me is a content opportunity. You could make your Pinterest board potentially using some of these, DIY homemade, how to make, make that your Pinterest board, and probably, I’m going to guess that you will have a very good chance of pushing these other Pinterest results out of here and dominating those.

So a few takeaways, just some short ones before we end here.

  1. In the SEO world, don’t target content without first understanding the searcher. We can be very misled by just looking at keywords. If we look at the search results first, we can get inside the searcher’s head a little bit. Hopefully, we can have some real conversations with those folks too.
  2. Second, Google SERPs, search suggest, related searches, they can all help with problem number one.
  3. Three, gaps in serving intent can yield ranking opportunity, like we showed in a few of these examples.
  4. Finally, don’t be afraid to disrupt your own business or your own content or your own selfish interest in order to serve searchers. In the long term, it will be better for you.

You can see that exemplified here by Shopify saying, “We’re going to show off a bunch of beautiful ecommerce designs even though some of them are not from Shopify.” BigCommerce did the same thing. Even though some of them are not using BigCommerce’s platform, they basically are willing to sacrifice some of that in order to serve searchers and build their brand, because they know if they don’t, somebody else clearly will.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I would love to hear your examples in the comments about how you’ve done search intent interpretation through looking at search results. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Hunting Down SERP Features to Understand Intent & Drive Traffic – Next Level

Posted by jocameron

Welcome to the seventh installment of our educational Next Level series! In our last episode, Jo showed us how to better optimize our sites when we think we’ve done it all (but still aren’t ranking). This time around she’s giving us the tools and the knowledge to finally capture ourselves a SERP feature. Read on and level up!

Are you within striking distance of traffic-bumping SERP features?

The content on your freakin’ awesome site better be targeting the intent of the searcher.

People of the world want different types of content depending on what they search. If you get this right, your content will earn the engagement signals that tell search engines you’re fighting the good fight.

The stakes are even higher now. Not only are you battling it out in the organic results, but there are attention-grabbing features that draw clicks away from organic results.

But, hey now, chin up! You can use these features to focus on keywords with higher opportunity and win those bobby-dazzlers to drive even more traffic.

I’m going to show you how to use the ever-impressive SERP features to check whether you’re targeting intent and whether the entirety of your content satisfies searcher intent, putting you within striking distance of owning some of those queue-jumping features.

Follow along in your Moz Pro account or start a free trial, it’ll be fun, trust me.

What is searcher intent?

Intent is the nuanced language people use to search different things, and it drastically changes what they’re really, truly seeking.

Every single time a human inputs their heart’s desire into that blank, judgement-free rectangle, they’re asking Google to satisfy their intent.

Show me your best “headphone reviews,” your most reliable “sewing machine repairs,” your funniest “cat vs printer gifs,” I command thee!

Headphone reviews – I want comparisons, specs, images, first-hand experiences. Maybe I’ll buy something, eventually.

Sewing machine repairs – I’m looking for a local business who I can call or visit. Or an instructional article or video.

Cat vs printer gifs – Desperately seeking images in the .gif format of a furry friend freaking out over a machine friend.

With a few simple clicks on my keyboard, my intention is revealed. As a marketer, if you’re targeting keywords with particular intent, then this needs to be reflected in your content. As a searcher, I haven’t got time to read a long article about cat gifs and printers. I want an array of images to choose from. Likewise, I don’t want to scroll through an image gallery when I’m looking for a service, or an in-depth guide when I’m on the precipice of entering that ever-so-tempting sales funnel.

Now let’s look more specifically at the headphone niche. If you sell headphones you might think, “If I can stuff my landing page with a bit of jazzy content and get it in front of every person who searches for ‘headphones’ in every weird and wonderful way, I’m bound to get a chunk of traffic and *bam*, I’ll sell a bunch of headphones.”

It doesn’t really work like that. If your content doesn’t satisfy the intent indicated by the searcher, they’re likely to head back to search — and you just know Google is paying attention to this behavior. So you could end up sending signals to Google that your content isn’t all that good as it sends your visitors back to search. And because Google wants everyone to find what they’re after, your rankings could take a trip to page-two obscurity.

The different types of searcher intent

Intent for the purpose of marketing your content can be lumped into three different types that broadly encapsulate what warm bodies are looking for. This is explained in more detail in this post by Tom Anthony. Here is a brief recap that looks at how searches in the headphone niche can fit into vastly different intent types:

Informational: what were the first earbud headphones?*

Navigational: cnet headphone reviews

Transactional: cheap travel headphones

* I’m going to go all hipster on you and say it was the stethoscope, which morphed into it’s current shape around the 1850s according to Wiki.

Can you see how the implied intent varies depending on the phrasing around the search term? As you research your own target keywords, build up lists, and use those lists to formulate content, the implied intent of the searcher plays an important role in what form your awesome content will take.

It also goes hand-in-hand with your journey into long-tail keywords.

As the marketers of the world have been paying attention to the implied intent to guide their content creation, so indeed has the biggest website on the planet. The website that reduced internet usage by 40% when it went down for 2 minutes a few years ago. Yeah, you’ve heard of them, right? Well, they’re taking a big, old, sloppy bite of the intent pie. In their quest to give the people what they want right in the results pages, Google unleashed The Glorious SERP Feature.

What the wicky-wack are SERP features?

The fancy-schmancy SERP feature is Google’s way of dazzling users with its more-than-a-result result.

It’s Google’s way of saying ‘I hear you’ with its finger guns out, blowing imaginary smoke and reholstering them back into its pockets whilst leaning over the back of your chair, all pleased with itself.

Features might pop up all over the results, like this:

The one with its paw in the air ready to swat? Argh, too cute.

Or they might shuffle into the results, like so:

Then again, they may hang out over here, all nonchalant but desperate to please at the same time:

With 16 different varieties currently documented, they’re like the chameleon of the SERP kingdom: taking relevant content and reinventing itself like a shapeshifting lizard queen (or Madonna).

What SERP features can I win?

There are a handful of features you can reasonably have a punt at without throwing cash at Google: Featured Snippets, Related Questions, Image Packs, Site Links, Tweets, Videos, and the News Box. I’m going to focus on Featured Snippets, Related Questions, and Image Packs.

The rest of the features are within the reach of larger sites, Google partners, or local businesses. I’m not going to dive into the local aspect in this post, as our Local Learning Center is a good place to start that journey.

For regular schmoes like us, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on all 16 features and their presence in the results for keywords you’re tracking. Even if you can’t win them they will elbow out organic results.

Featured Snippets: These are like having those fast-track passes at your local theme park. You can jump from somewhere else in the results to position ZERO, and then you’re pretty much owning that SERP.

Rob Bucci is my featured snippet guru and you’ll probably join the ranks after watching his talk at Brighton SEO.

Related Questions: If you’re tracking Featured Snippets, then you’ll want to familiarize yourself with their buddies, the Related Question.

Winning a Related Question will most likely get you a small bump in clicks through to your site; nothing wrong with that. However, the treat you don’t want to miss out on is grabbing those questions and adding them to your tracked keywords in Moz Pro. Often, this will help you sniff out a Featured Snippet you can target.

Image Packs: I looove image packs — there aren’t enough ways to display that in text form. I’m very visually motivated and I spend a fair bit of time searching for animated .gifs. If you watch Rob Bucci’s talk then you’ll know that they didn’t tend to find overlap with Featured Snippets. So these are a good opportunity to target the visually minded and increase your chances of getting traffic through features across more keywords.

How to use SERP Features to target intent

Back in the olden days, like 6 months ago, you would look at keyword modifiers and find transactional terms like ‘buy,’ ‘cheap,’ and so on, then bundle these into the ‘transactional’ pile, and so on and so forth and rinse and repeat.

Now, in the bright and shiny land-of-the-future, we can use the presence of particular features to understand the intent as Google sees it. You’re doing two very important things here: lumping your keywords into piles to understand intent that you will use to guide your content, AND identifying features you can win and those that may push you out of the results.

Identify the features present for your target keywords

As with every job there is a manual method and a tool-based method. Manual is totally fine for people with small sites, like a personal blog, and a handful of keywords. I hope that by explaining the basic manual method it will lay the foundation of understanding when we ramp up to the tool-based method.

Okey dokey spreadsheet fans, get ready for the keyboard + mouse dance we do when filling up a spreadsheet with lovely data. Start by searching your keywords one-by-one, use incognito mode to avoid personalised results, and add a mark to the sheet next to the features that are present.

Here’s a sheet with all the features already added to get you started. I even added some gentle colors inspired by the first episode of Black Mirror Season 3. Lacie’s giving it 5 stars.

Don’t forget to check out the second tab with your handy-dandy SERP feature cheatsheet.

This is a good way to start understanding more about the different SERP features, identify what they look like, where they hang out, and how intrusive they are.

Identify and track SERP features with Moz Pro

Got more than a handful of keywords? Want all this data for your site and your competitors? Want a tool to do the heavy lifting for you? Don’t we all.

Did I mention before about the Moz Pro has a 30-day free trial? I’m pretty sure I did, but it was so far up the page and the follow-along-with-me part is starting right now! It will do all the SERP feature hunting, tracking, and cataloguing for you.

Moz Pro will identify the presence of all 16 SERP features and will also be able to show you if your site is present in Featured Snippets, Image Packs, In-depth Articles, Local Packs, Reviews, Site Links, and Videos.

First off, head to the SERP Features tab under Rankings.

You’ll see the percentage of features present for the keywords you’re tracking (in gray), along with the percentage of features your site is present in (in blue).

Find out how you are performing against your competitors

Underneath the Overview chart look for the filter icon, click it and scroll down to choose SERP Features and enter your desired feature. I’m going to start with Image Packs. It’s fairly easy to optimize some image — don’t forget to add informative file names, alt text, and correctly compress your images.

This little feature key will help you decipher the results:

blue Blue: Your site is in the feature.
orange Orange: You and one or more of your competitors are in the feature.
red Red: You are not in the feature, but one or more of your competitors are.
gray Gray: A SERP Feature exists but no one in your campaign is present.

Keep an eye out for features your competitor is dominating by clicking the SERP Features header to filter the results.

Identify keywords you’re on page one for with features that you could win

If you’re on page one for your desired keyword, and there is a Feature Snippet present, then there is a gift there, just waiting for you. Kind of like when you had that Amazon parcel sitting on your front doorstep, getting chewed on by your neighbor’s dog and piddled on by their cat and you’re in your house just meters away, blissfully unaware.

Become aware by heading to the SERP Features tab and filtering by Featured Snippets.

Hit that Rank header until the arrow is pointing up, then scroll down to peruse keywords with Feature Snippets present sorted by your rank. The tooltip Insights indicates I’m within striking distance of owning this snippet.

Ronell outlines a strategy for winning and keeping a Featured Snippet. At its heart, it’s about pure laser-focus on intent, find the question, answer said question, add value, and make it accessible to humans and bots.

Identify pages that are dropping in the rankings and check that the content matches intent

For this I’m going to head to my Rankings tab, containing all the keywords I’m tracking in my Moz Pro campaign.

Double click the little up/down icon header twice to filter all the down-arrow keywords to the top of the pile.

I’ve noticed that my rankings have dropped for my coveted keyword ”learn how to moz,” and I want to figure out if there are some SERP features present that could indicate whether my content could be targeting intent better. So I’ll click the keyword to open up the Keyword Analysis. Then scroll down to Your Performance and toggle to SERP Features from the drop-down menu.

You’ll see all the different types of features on the left-hand column and when they were present in the results for your keyword indicated by the light gray line.

I’m not seeing any Featured Snippets or Image Packs, but lookie here! A Related Question…

Remember what we said about Related Questions? Track those beauties down and add the questions to your bundle — you might just find a Featured Snippet hiding out there.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll snap up those questions and add them to my Moz Pro campaign.

Now the next time my campaign updates I can check for tasty little Featured Snippets to target.

Now back to analyzing intent. I’m going to look at that page and see what can be improved to better match the intent as implied by Google.

I can see that videos are present, so I’m going to pop a video into my content. It may not show up as a feature on the results page, but I’m responding to what the searchers of the world are seeking, and I’m also thinking this will keep people on the page whilst serving their needs.

Repeat, and sort your Tracked Keywords by Rank

You can also follow this same process by sorting by Rank to find keywords where you’re on the bottom of the first page or the top of the second page to suss out the intent as indicated by the presence of certain SERP Features.

Then zip back up to the last step and repeat the process of analyzing keywords for features to figure out intent and hunt down those tasty features.

Wrapping up

Here’s a quick recap: SERP features are your insight into what content Google thinks best serves the needs of searchers for any given keyword.

You can use the presence of features to quickly understand the implied intent for your target keywords and cross-reference this with a drop in rankings to improve how your content meets the needs of searchers.

By combining the feature power of Image Packs, Related Keywords, and Featured Snippets you’ll be covering the most effective organic features and potentially queue-jumping your way to position ZERO.

For the organic fanatics, you’ll also be able to track all 16 features and give more love to those with features you can win whilst artfully stepping around keywords with unobtainable features overcrowding the results and pushing your tasty URL into the lost land of page 2.

Happy hunting!

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