Content Marketing ROI: Improve Performance for Blogs and Content Marketing With Micro Search Intents
Micro search intents complement initial keyword research to help realize 5X ROI from content marketing
How to Improve Blog and Content Marketing Performance With Micro Search Intents
Most content marketing teams do some initial keyword research, create content brief and place it on the content team’s calendar to publish new content pieces at the planned cadence. Published content is promoted through various channels and sometimes also nicely optimized for search engines. However, most new content is like an experiment and starts with a hypothesis that needs validation and needs iterative nurturing. Foremost, after an initial launch, the content needs proper follow through based on an evolving understanding of what search intents a content is performing well for and how relevance and topical coverage can be improved for the hundred to thousands of unique search terms content may have opportunity to capture clicks from.
The greatest ROI of content marketing is derived in the longer term and most often when done well it comes through search engines.
Yet it takes several weeks or sometimes months for the previously produced content to show results in search engines. Most content teams by then are busy creating the next content pieces and the iterative content optimization work often goes ignored. Due to this less than 6% of content actually gets any search engine traffic during the first year, fails to deliver its full potential and the vast majority of content delivers no ROI.
The Five Step Process for Content Marketing
The best way to improve B2B content marketing ROI is to a five step approach to iterating on each piece of content:
Step 1: Publish a high quality first draft covering a primary search intent
Step 2: Use keywords from Google Search Console to discover the full potential of the above search intent
Step 3: Group the keywords around five to ten micro-intents that together form the primary search intent
Step 4: Add and improve coverage of topics in the first draft to make your post richer in coverage for each of the above micro-intents
Step 5: Optimize the post for semantic relevance for these micro-intents
The above recipe can help you get a lot more of your content indexed and increase the qualified traffic to your website around the ideal customer profile your business is marketing to. How?
How to Realize a Five Fold Return from Content Marketing
Search Engines algorithms work based on probabilities of a URL satisfying a user’s search intent. However, user behaviors have evolved to increasingly rely on the smartness of today’s search engines.
How Users Search for Content in Search Engines?
The continuous evolution of user’s search behaviors with increasing level of sophistication of search engines has led to new and unique problems for search engines and content marketers. Here are a few scenarios for search engines to continuously improve performance towards:
Users rarely type out a crisp search term that precisely expresses what they are looking for. This leads to higher than normal search volume for head terms.
Users specify a very specific search term, get a quick answer and then go back to the search engine and type out another very specific search term and find another resource and so on. This creates a continuously growing corpus of long tail search terms.
Users challenge search engines in new ways and Google estimates that 15% of searches every day are completely new.
What Demands Do the Above User Behaviors Place On Content Marketers?
Let us take a search for ‘SEO technology platform’ as an example. Let us say today a thousand people have the search intent for this term a content marketer at Quattr is after (no fiction so far). Besides the exact term searches, a great portion of these searchers will simply type ‘SEO’ in Google, another portion will search for ‘SEO technology’ and some will search for ‘SEO technology platform with AI’ or ‘latest SEO tech platform’ etc.
This means that to tap into the full opportunity for a search intent, a content marketer needs to offer content that can disambiguate user’s intent for a family of search terms or get confined to a very a limited search volume and get stuck on later pages of Google’s search results pages.
Most often when creating content briefs, content marketers will perform keyword research to identify a few primary search terms and a few secondary search terms. A good content writer will frequently refer to this content brief to produce a piece of content optimized around these terms while offering high quality answers and informative and authoritative content. Rarely though a piece of content performs for those terms once the content is launched (and that is if it gets indexed by Google). This is where the above five step process becomes critical.
Why Current Keyword Research Process is Failing Content Marketing?
Most often the exact targeted term for a URL contributes a relatively small minority of the actual search engine impressions earned for a page. A page often ranks for hundreds to tens of thousands of different keyword variations around the target term. This corpus of keyword variations and their search impressions and clicks data is available from Google Search Console and Google Ads but it is hard for content marketers to put this to a systematic use (most may not even know where to find it).
The goal of your content is to boost a search engine’s confidence that your URL has a high ‘likelihood’ to satisfy user’s search intent. But remember that the user didn’t even type out the full search term and is expecting your content to perform well for the broader search term or presented a typed a more specific search.
The answer lies in iterating content to optimize it around a set of micro search intents that together cover the most relevant and meaningful set of keywords that define the full search engine opportunity for a piece of content or a canonical URL in SEO terms.
What is a Micro Search Intent?
A micro search intent is a specific search intent that constitutes one of the many questions to be answered or jobs to be done (JBTD) for fulfilling a user’s search session. A typical search session may involve several sequential searches for a related topic. The goal of content marketers is to capture these search journeys with landing pages that offer comprehensive content that anticipate and answer these micro search intents.
Micro search intents are often referred to as keyword clusters. However, the best results are created when these keyword clusters are manually or algorithmically clustered based on the key questions or jobs to be done described above. It is this focus that differentiates keyword clusters from micro search intents.
Micro Search Intent Driven Content Marketing
There are trillions of pages of content out there and rapidly growing (and decaying). The fierce competition content marketing teams face when competing for more clicks from search engines can be quite daunting. However, the above recipe has been proven over the past five years with numerous global brands at Quattr and previously at Realtor.com.
What Are The Three Key Elements of Content Optimization?
The key goals of content optimization are:
Achieve near 100% indexation of content in search engines
Expand the topical coverage to reach more audiences
Improve semantic relevance to increase rankings and CTR
A thoughtful effort using these micro search intents around answering user’s questions or meeting user’s is important. It helps compel search engines to index content that failed to earn their respect the first time it was published.
Secondly, knowing the micro search intents helps ensure that the content addresses the key topics that if covered would make the content high quality or topically rich.
Lastly, the understanding of user’s search behaviors in search engines that micro search intents offer helps ensure that the content is adjusted to offer a stronger and balanced relevance for the micro search intents.
Case Study: How We Achieved 95% Indexation and 3X SEO Traffic from 100M Unique Pages at Realtor.com
Prior to founding Quattr, I led engineering and data science teams at Realtor.com. We had accrued over hundred million pages that were created for homes that are not on sale currently, most of which were in the market at some point. Less than half of these pages were indexed by Google despite all the backlinks a real estate website could ask for. These pages were targeting the <address> search intent. We greatly improved the topical richness for these pages around the micro search intents like home values, property history, photos, schools and neighborhood with high quality content. We optimized the content for semantic relevance with a well defined document structure. Ensuring these improvements reached all of the 100M pages wasn’t easy, but the value was exceptional. It helped us achieve over 95% indexation that was measured to be higher than Zillow’s 92% incredibly high water mark. This not only improved our traffic to these pages two to three fold over time but also improved rankings for the higher converting for sale listings and search results pages due to overall higher site level content quality and greatly improved relevance across the set of micro search intents.
Scaling Lessons in Content Marketing ROI
The hundred million pages on an online real estate portal is essentially content marketing at massive scale. For websites with hundreds to millions of pages, the challenge is not a lot different though since the people available to tackle it are never adequate to scale the work to so many pages. Automation becomes vital to deriving ROI from content marketing efforts and investments.
Some of the best automation use cases for content marketing are:
Automatically warehouse your Google Search Console data
Utilize semantic models to cluster keywords for a page into micro search intents
Utilize topic modeling to cluster topics on competing pages into topic clusters
Measure and monitor organic search presence for micro search intents
Use large language models like GPT-3 to auto-generate first draft text for topical gaps
Measure semantic relevance of meta-data, headings, body content, link anchor texts, image alt texts and schema markups for the micro search intents
Most content marketing teams do not have the time, budget and technological sophistication to achieve any kind of automation in house. There are tools and APIs that can offer building blocks for some of the above automation ideas but rarely ever you will come across a platform that does all of the above in one single system with these inter-connected set of processes.
Automation to Scale Content Marketing Efforts for Five Fold ROI
Quattr is the first platform to deliver a true end-to-end automation solution for a brand’s content marketing needs. Our customers have achieved exceptional results by unlocking the hidden potential from all of the past content marketing efforts and the stockpiles of blog posts, product detail pages, search results pages, PDFs, videos and more. Quattr is now offering a complimentary test drive to qualified content marketing leaders, SEO professionals and very select agencies. Visit us at https://www.quattr.com/ to request a test drive of Quattr to see for yourself the first ever end-to-end automated content marketing platform.