How to Leverage People’s Search Behavior in Your Content Marketing

There are a virtually unlimited number of reasons people search topics online.

If you take any 3 people searching for a topic, one of them could be doing research for a school paper, the second one could be comparing features for an upcoming purchase, and the third one could be thinking about starting a career related to that topic. 

And the list of “reasons why” goes on…

But generally, we say people are doing one of 4 things when they search online. They are:

  • Becoming aware of a topic
  • Considering a topic more deeply
  • Purchasing something related to the topic
  • Getting support related to the topic after the purchase

What is “Searcher Intent”?

When you group these 4 things together, you have what is known as “searcher intent.”

Knowing the searcher’s intent––their big why––is arguably the most important part of your content strategy. 

Why? That bit of insider knowledge drives what you say in each content piece, what format the content is in, where you place the content in your funnel, and even how you drive traffic to the content.

Why Searcher Intent Is the Foundation of Good Content Strategy (Even More So Than On-page SEO, Backlinks, or Quality Content)

But what about on-page SEO tricks and backlinks? Aren’t they important?

On-page SEO and backlinks are important elements of your SEO strategy for driving traffic and increasing your rank in the search engine. 

But remember, we’re talking about laying a solid foundation for your content’s “house.” So, we’ll leave discussions about the bathroom tiles (ie: driving traffic and increasing rank) for a different day.

So what about creating quality content? Isn’t that more important than searcher intent?

Search engines love content that serves users. 

They want the user to say, “I used that search engine and I got what I needed in one click. It was great.” So knowing that’s Google’s intent, you can boil your strategy down to one idea…

To make search work for your business, you need to meet people where they’re at.

That simple idea is what causes big domains to rank well, even if their content isn’t great. But the flipside is also true… 

Small domains can rank well for competitive keywords by organizing their content into topic-specific clusters that––you guessed it––meet people’s needs.

What’s a Content Cluster?

Content clusters are collections of posts around a single topic. 

They offer a competitive advantage because the search engines perceive “that site has a lot of content about this topic” as equivalent to “that site is an authority on this topic.”

Which means… 

Strategically organizing your content improves your authority in Google’s eyes.

One way to organize your content into clusters is to create a pillar page. A pillar page is a regular blog post (or stand-alone page) that serves as a hub for content on a certain topic.

Pillar pages tend to have:

  • Lots of words
  • A table of contents 
  • Links to related content pages and clusters
  • Structure that meet the searcher’s needs, including: awareness, consideration, purchase, and post-purchase

Really great pillar pages will also:

  • Be search-optimized so people can easily find the content
  • Have graphics and fonts that make it easy and enjoyable to consume the content
  • Include a download link so people can get their own copy of the content to refer to later
  • Encourage people to join the email list or get a free gift, so you can keep in touch with them later

Once your pillar content has gotten attention and converted the reader to your email list, it has done its job. 

Tip: Don’t expect your content to do all the heavy lifting of converting a site visitor into a buyer. Direct response strategies and on-going follow up are better suited to the task of selling your product or service and increasing the lifetime value of each customer.

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