Google is all about making their search engine both easy to access and navigate. Built around solving problems, Google provides users with featured snippets and search results based on a user’s specific location. To develop a successful content strategy, it’s important to understand how Google interprets user intent to rank websites. Luckily for us, Google shares their approach in published research papers! Take a look at three of the ways Google ranks websites below.
Links Aren’t Always the Answer
Quality backlinks aren’t the only thing that helps you rank well in search results. Neither is keyword relevance or the number of keywords you place in your meta titles and descriptions. All of these are important together and focusing on one instead of the other will only hurt SEO results as opposed to helping them. But, the most popular ranking factor these days is user intent. What this means is that if your intent on Google is not commercial in nature, then commercial links will likely never rank near the top of the page. It won’t matter how many quality links that commercial site contains either. If the user’s intent is non-commercial then commercial sites will rank lower in search results.
Search Results Are Based on What People Want to See
Google wants to make sure users are receiving results that satisfy them. Sometimes these results are based on a large population and might not necessarily be what you want to see. The reason for this is because overall click-through rates and certain other metrics indicate what users have been indulging in. Say goodbye to the days where your search results are based on the keywords you type into the search box and say hello to the days where your search results are the product of what Google thinks you want to see most.
Dropping in Rank Can Be Related to User Intent
If you notice a drop in your rankings, it could be due to a shift in Google’s interpretation of user intent. Trying to diagnose what went wrong can be fruitless because there may be nothing to fix in the first place. Your rankings depend on what Google is ranking at the time. If user intent doesn’t match up with your content, your site will naturally rank lower. This is certainly unfortunate but at least you can accept solace in the fact that the drop in rankings was not personally your fault. Google lowering your rank means they may have changed the process by which they interpret user intent.
User intent is a big factor in SERPs these days. Brush up on how this can impact your search results rankings since this factor certainly isn’t going anywhere. Remember, this is not the end all be all. Quality links, good content, quality keywords, and a high functioning site are all important factors when ranking highly on Google. Remain vigilant on good SEO practices and keep an eye on what’s popular on the web. If you can play into user intent and use it to your advantage, perfect. If user intent is causing you to rank a bit lower, don’t fret. The tides will likely change again and if you remain on top of quality SEO, you’ll be consistently sitting pretty in search results.