What Exactly Is Your Intent With That Teddy Bear?

EAG, April 1, 2020

Knowing whether users are looking for specific information or general knowledge can make or break your digital advertising success (and budget).

Recently, Google posted a blog about how they are improving search results by improving the way Google Search understands language. Specifically, Google introduced a technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training called Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or as they call it, BERT.

What do all those techy words mean to SEO professionals and small businesses? The better keywords, content and digital campaigns match prospects’ intents the better use of your digital advertising budget. Take teddy bears vs. teddy bear for example. A user could want to buy a teddy bear online or want to know how to make one at home. If you’re selling teddy bears, Google’s BERT will attempt to place your website in the top results for users who want to buy one. On the flip side, if you’re selling teddy bear-making patterns, BERT will try to place your website at the top for users who want to make their own bear.

However, teddy bear or teddy bears or even “find a teddy bear” is ambiguous when typed into a search bar or said to a device. It’s not only frustrating for the user to click to the wrong website, but it can also drain a digital marketing budget. Teddy bear buyers will bounce off a website selling sewing patterns, and crafty types will bounce off a site selling the actual bears. When you’re paying for sponsored results and digital ads, every click to your site costs money so it’s imperative to drive people looking for what you sell to your site.

Small Words Make a Big Difference

Your English teacher was right. Prepositions matter and can flip the meaning of a sentence (or search query) on its ear. For Google searches, they help BERT decipher context. And, we cannot forget that users are saying and typing in longer, more elaborate phrases to improve the relevancy of the search results they get back.

Search “stuffing teddy bear” and “stuffed teddy bear.” The “ing” and “ed” word endings mean Google returns different results for each, which proves just how powerful a few letters can be between making a sale and wasting digital advertising budget.

Every Google Search has an Intent (Duh)

Of course, users search the web to buy products and services. But, the buying cycle often starts with research. Even if your company sells teddy bears, your future customer will likely want to do a little teddy bear comparison. That means using keywords and posting content that helps buyers decide what kind of teddy bears are best, their sizes, durable materials, etc. That means ensuring you have content available that matches their intent at any specific time in the buying cycle.

It can be difficult to know people’s intent when you’re interacting with them in person, much less online with ZERO interaction. Take the search “Southwest,” which could mean the user is searching for flights or looking for information on desert climate.

Search queries fall in three categories: Do. Know. Go.

“Do” searchers are ready to act, such as buy a teddy bear or book a birthday party where their kid’s friends can build their own bear.

“Know” searchers want information about teddy bears. Could be the most famous brands, their history, the name’s origination, etc.

“Go” searchers type a URL into the search bar, such as a teddy bear company name or a teddy bear making business’s name.

Searchers can switch from “Do” to “Know” to “Go” searches in seconds, making it imperative to understand your customers’ buyer journey and have the right information in the right place to lead them to where you’d like them to go… becoming a customer. This is why it’s important to:

  • Optimize your website content for keywords that drive converting traffic
  • Provide user value and topical relevancy to their searches
  • Correctly setup digital marketing campaigns on Google
  • Take voice search into account when choosing keywords
  • And, the seemingly million other details with which an SEO expert can help

Doing so will help minimize bounces from your website that come from clicks on your digital ads and cost you money.


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