One of the great things about SEO is that the rules of the game constantly change and so those participating always need to think one step ahead to thrive and remain successful. It is this aspect that makes SEO so dynamic, exciting and interesting. The most profound recent change concerns keywords and the growing importance of user intent.

A Different Google

From as long as I can certainly remember SEO has heavily relied on keywords to define URL structure, anchor text tactics and content development. However, since Google’s Penguin and Panda updates there’s been a considerable change in SEO strategies and tactics by SEOs in regards to keywords. The focus for many has shifted more to user intent.

Google users and internet users in general have become more sophisticated and search algorithms have matured. As such, whereas in the past we were typing simple keywords in order to conjure up simple Google results, we are now entering specific search intent matching phrases, or “queries”, for want of a sufficient word.

Through search and click data, and heuristics, Google now attempts to match that intent;  serving richer results, based more on the intent of the user.

Through spelling corrections, dictionary results for definition queries, Google Autocomplete, local results, knowledge graph instant results and product listings, Google has grown, matured and become more sophisticated. As such, we are now in the age of user search intent.

User Search Intent

Now that we have understood that nowadays we know what we’re looking for and know how to find what we’re looking for, and that search engines likewise know how to satisfy our search intentions through their search results; SEOs must of course adapt to market their businesses and brands successfully online.

Rather than traditional keywords focused optimization, we must learn how to align around targeted consumer intent. SEO tactics should now understand Google’s more complex side. Aligned content creation, intent research and mapping queries to actions are all such tactics.

Consider all the things that your company does and will want to be found for. Consider what queries and topics should appear in relation to the business you are trying to market.

Is Keyword Research Still Necessary

Traditional keyword research is still very much necessary. The difference however is that search marketers must also understand a user’s intent behind a specific query or keyword.

Changes to Content

It is now more important than ever to create content that actually connects and engages with readers. Your content must satisfy user intent and also of course, your brand’s goals.