Editor’s Note: This is the third blog post in a series entitled: How to Create Insanely Good Content.
We’ve all done it.
Had a question, need, problem, or circumstance arise to which we need to find a solution, answer, or more information.
And what’s the first thought that pops into our heads? “Google it!“
So let’s start right there, at what’s happening in your mind. And let’s simply call whatever the question or problem you have, ‘the query.’
Before you’ve tapped a key or started asking Siri, your mind has put this query into two mental frames.
1. The query frame: How am I going to ask the query? What search term, question, or phrase will I use?
2. The solution frame: Even if your query is about a subject that you know nothing about, you still create a frame for what the solution might look like based on criteria you feel are relevant to the solution. (Price, location, quality etc.)
These frames speak to two critical considerations of search:
• Intent – What are you looking for?
• Context – What gives it meaning?
The basis of Search Psychology is understanding the concepts of intent and context as they relate to a given subject or query.
And, by understanding these two concepts with your target market in mind, you will achieve two objectives:
1. You will have a framework for content ideas that resonate with your market, and
2. You’ll naturally start optimizing for search engine results.
As online technologies and consumer behavior have become more sophisticated, we have seen a major shift from simple keyword or phrase searches to more specific long-tail search.
In the world of SEO this is known as semantic search, which Wikipedia defines as:
Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable data-space, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results.
How can you use semantic search for your business?
There’s really no way around it. You’re going to have to dump your assumptions about your target market and actually do some research to discover the answer to this question.
Thankfully, this is neither as difficult, nor as big a pain in the butt as you might think.
Let’s look at three simple things you can do to establish these frames of intent and context.
Talk to your current or past clients and ask them:
• What prompted you to look for our product or service? What was the need, pain, or circumstance?
• What specific search terms did you use to find us online?
• What are the key things that make our business more attractive to you over our competitors?
Tip: You can ask these questions in person or through an online survey.
Now that you have an understanding of Semantic Search, use it. Take your business shoes off, put on your client slippers, and start using search engines as a tool.
• Start with simple keywords and look at the suggested searches that appear below the search bar and the related search section at the bottom of the search engine results page (SERP).
• Look at which sites are appearing on the SERP as a result of the different queries you are testing.
• Best of all, search for market research relevant to your industry. Use specific questions or statement searches, like “Why do…,” or “Top 10 reasons people buy…” These types of searches alone can create a content idea goldmine for you because you can look at each reason and BAM! You have 10 subjects you can expand upon.
• Don’t forget to look at the other search result categories you are presented with, like Images, Videos, and News. All of these channels can provide insights to help you plan the type of content and subject matter you need to craft for your business.
3. Research Data
There are a host of tools you can use to access quality data and gain more search insight.
• Google Keyword Planner is an obvious one. You can search for keywords relevant to your industry and view search volume and trends.
• Google Trends is also an excellent tool to use to identify top industry trends.
• Facebook Trends allows you to keep track of what’s trending within the largest social media platform on the planet.
• Quora is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated tools out there, yet well worth looking at, and even contributing to, because it is dedicated to answering people’s questions on every topic imaginable. What you often find, with a little digging, is that these questions arise from currently trending subjects.
• LinkedIn is great, especially if you’re a B2B business. Joining relevant groups and following relevant influencers can give you a rich source of both customer needs and content ideas.
By understanding the search psychology of your target audience, you can deliver content that resonates with them every time.
Use this approach to develop contextual content that provides answers and solutions to your audience’s most common questions and problems.
You’ll soon discover a rich vein of content gold to keep your calendar full of topics, perfectly tailored for your audience.