How to Tailor Site Content to Capitalize on Google’s New Search Journeys Concept
Traditional question-and-answer-based searching is rapidly giving way to more advanced models incorporating machine learning and intuition. This artificial intelligence-fueled searching, termed "Search Journeys" by Google, not only delivers answers to queries but tailors results based on the specific preferences and needs of users.
Understanding this radical shift in the search engine landscape is critical for startups looking to keep pace with potential customers. Grasping the path consumers take on a search journey is essential to align your marketing and advertising strategies with users’ needs.
What Is a Search Journey?
Late last year, Google published an article discussing enhancing the online search experience for users over the coming two decades. A crucial part of this announcement focused on transitioning users’ search experience from a linear question-and-answer-based paradigm to a more fluid, and intuitive system, able to anticipate users’ needs. This “Search Journey” concept focuses on continuing information needs, not just one-time searches.
How Does It Work?
On a basic level, this enhanced search function is fueled by machine learning and artificial intelligence. Instead of focusing on individual words in a query, machines can now digest underlying concepts and user intent. Google refers to this practice as neural matching, or a “super-synonym system” able to ingest streams of words and spit out context about a user’s overall desires and information needs.
Potential Impacts of Intuitive Searching on SEO
How does this shifting search engine landscape apply to the future of SEO? By examining user behavior and tracking the history of an individual's specific queries, Google hopes to surface relevant information to a user instead of forcing them to dig for the nuggets of data they need. Additionally, the new system can even anticipate a consumer’s specific stage in the purchasing journey. Are they simply gathering basic information about a service or product, are they comparing similar products, or are they ready to buy right away? Google’s ability to track this intent may fluctuate site ranking based on a specific user’s needs.
Content Strategies to Target Each Stage of a Consumer’s Search Journey
Startups and SMBs jockeying for position and hoping to attract new clients must now take a more nuanced approach to content development and keyword creation. When developing content and keyword strategies to target users in this next-generation of intuitive searching, it is important to tailor content to each stage of a consumer’s journey. If they are simply at the information-seeking stage, consider creating:
- Informative blog posts
- Listicles and “how-to” guides
- Frequently asked question lists
Conversely, targeting consumers at the comparison stage of a buying journey may require content and keywords such as:
- Headings featuring qualifiers like “Best,” “Most Trusted,” etc.
- Keywords designed to help users transition to the purchasing stage
- Informative “Contact Us” pages where potential customers can ask questions
Lastly, reaching users at the all-important purchasing stage of a journey may necessitate the creation of content and keywords including:
- Strong calls to action such as “Buy Now”
- Emotional appeals including “Act Now Before It Is Too Late”
- Keywords including “Discounted,” “Special Offers” and more
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