It’s a familiar situation. You’re out for lunch with a friend, talking about something and a question comes up. Who won the FA Cup in 1934? When’s the next screening of Wonder Woman? What kind of cable would I need to copy Jonny’s awesome home cinema setup?

In all these situations, technology is trying to determine our search intent. Increasingly, Google’s whole purpose is to serve up results that actually answer the question, rather than just recognise keywords.

For all of the queries above, there are hundreds of terms we could search to get the answer. And there are always new questions coming up – 15% of searches that Google sees on a given day are completely new.

The question for marketers, then, is: how do you position yourself for the dizzying range of questions that could lead potential customers to your site?

The solution is simple – the only thing as random and varied as potential customers’ searches are your existing customers’ opinions.

Put it another way – every purchase started out with a problem or a question, and the search for a solution. When people come to review your product, they’re probably going to say whether it solved their initial problem.

How do you position yourself for the dizzying range of questions that could lead potential customers to your site?

Ask the right questions of your customers, and you’ve got a treasure trove of content about all the problems your product solves – including ones you might not have thought of.

Embed that UGC into your product page, and you’ve got fresh, relevant content that describes all the ways your products can solve real problems.

Can we find evidence of search intent in Reevoo reviews?

Determined to prove my hunch about this, I spent a chunk of my Monday afternoon searching the Reevoo database for proof (we know how to have fun here).

I tried looking for phrases that suggested the reviewer was talking about finding a solution – stuff like “perfect for” or “ideal for”. I got around 150,000 results – a good start. If you shorten it to just “for”, a word often used to explain or add context, you get nearly 1.4m hits. So people are definitely talking about what they use products for.

I thought I’d dig out a couple of specific examples, and map out a theoretical user journey where this sort of content might feature.

Search intent one: I want to do

Your partying days are over – now your Sundays are spent putting up a spice rack in the kitchen or hanging pictures by the staircase.

At some point, trying to figure out what kind of screws you need or whether you should varnish the wood, you’ll probably turn to your phone. In fact, Google says 91% of smartphone users are going to use their device for ideas at some point during a task.

If we take a couple of examples from Dewalt, the tool manufacturer, it’s pretty clear that there are answers to be found in the review content:

Reevoo reviews search intent

Looking for a jigsaw that can cut sheet metal, or a drill to work in the dark basement? Reviews give search engines the clue that these Dewalt products have the answer to your prayers.

The only thing as random and varied as potential customers’ searches are your existing customers’ opinions.

Search intent two: I want to buy

Take another scenario. You’re in the shop browsing for new consumer electronics – say, a new laptop. There are two models with a £50 price difference. Is it worth the extra money for the higher spec version?

82% of people turn to their phones in store to help them make decisions just like that. If your reviews are what they find, it could swing the sale your way.

Take the example below of a computer monitor review:

Reevoo reviews search intent

All the keyword optimisation in the world isn’t going to get you the same mileage as this review. It could be the answer to hundreds of different search queries.

Search intent three: I want to go

For the last example, I want to look at one particular intent filter that’s really growing in importance – location.

15 years ago finding your local hardware store or pizza place used to be a case of going through the Yellow Pages. Now all you have to do is reach for your smartphone.

Just look at the rise in searches including ‘near me’ in the last 5 years (of which 80% comes from mobile):

near me search intent

Ensuring that your business appears in local searches is vital. 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day and 18% of those searches lead to a purchase the same day. To make sure they come to your door, you need to ensure you’re in the top few results.

There are three factors that influence where you appear in ‘pack rankings’ (the local businesses that show up when someone searches for a place near them):

  1. Relevance

    How well your business matches the searcher’s query.

  2. Distance

    How far you are from the searcher

  3. Prominence

    How well known your business is. This is where reviews matter, and the only factor you can impact.

To make sure you appear at the top, your locations need good reviews. And lots of them.

But when customers start to mix location based intent with other factors – e.g. price, good service, facilities – we see that the content in reviews become particularly important. Here’s an example…

Our product marketing analyst Alex had a look at car dealerships in the Cambridge area. He found some pretty compelling evidence that details about your business in reviews are super important. Check out the two searches below, and the results:

five-near-me

Once the searcher specifies a particular quality they’re looking for – in this case, good service – we see the results completely change.

Another side-by-side comparison of the top results for each gives us an idea as to why, with fewer reviews and a worse score, KIA Cambridge comes out top for the ‘good service’ search:

intent based search

With 2 specific mentions of the service, KIA Cambridge comes out on top.

The content Honda Cambridge have collected suggests their staff are actually doing a great job. But with only 11 reviews in total, they’ve not yet diversified the terms customers are using about them enough.

What this really shows is that you should be pushing as many reviews as possible to key locations like your Google My Business profile. Broaden the range of terms people use to describe you, and you’ll start hoovering up all the long tail searches where users give away the crucial factor that’ll bring them to you.

Ultimately, there’s lots of work you can and should be doing to boost SEO performance. I’m just not sure any of it will be as easy to maintain, unique and persuasive as embedded UGC.

Consumers are turning to search for an ever-expanding list of questions. Can you really afford not to fill your site with the content that answers them?

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How to be seen in the age of search intent