Keywords will always be important for SEO; afterall, every search begins with a keyword query. However, content must match a keyword’s search intent to receive visibility.
Optimizing content for search intent is the way to achieve success in organic search. Understanding what exactly someone is searching for and writing content to match that intent increases the likelihood of ranking for that target keyword query.
This focus on intent has shifted how content creators need to think about SEO. Search engines’ algorithms are advanced enough now — and only getting more advanced — that they can understand the association between words rather than just the words themselves.
Understanding Search Intent
Content that earns visibility and traffic from search engines must have search insights included from the very beginning. This means identifying a target keyword, or set of keywords, and understanding search intent and the competitive landscape before putting pen to paper.
Google and others are a well of information related to search intent. To understand a keyword’s search intent, simply google it yourself to see and understand what is already ranking on page one.
As you read through what is ranking, consider the following:
What sort of domains are ranking? Are they education-focused websites, such as Wikipedia or academic institutions? Or are they newsier-based publishers, such as National Geographic or a digital magazine?
What sort of content formats are earning organic visibility? Do results include videos? Is the ranking content long-form or short-form? Are news articles sitting at the top of the search results page?
With these observations in mind, you have a better understanding of what your content will be competing against. And to outrank what is already ranking, your content needs to provide an even better experience.