A young woman is looking for a nice place to take her boyfriend for their anniversary dinner. She opens up Google and enters the search term “best restaurants in Hudson Florida.” After looking at a few of the options and choosing a few that seem promising, she closes her browser to mull over her options a bit.
A few days later, she searches with the same query.
In the past, Google would treat both of these searches as unique, disconnected from one another. The algorithm would simply focus on the search phrase itself, returning roughly the same results. Times have changed, however.
You’re doubtless already aware that Google’s been pushing for quite some time to shift the focus of its search engine from keywords and keyphrases to user intent. It wants its algorithms to understand not just what the user is searching for, but why they’re searching for it. It wants as much context as possible.
Part of that, as noted by Search Engine Journal, involves moving from answer-based searches to journey-based searches. What that means is actually quite simple. With journey-based search, Google takes into account the user’s existing history. It looks at what it knows about the searcher, and uses that information to tailor content in the best way possible.
Let’s go back to our earlier example. Let’s say that, over the past few months, the woman made the following searches.
- Most romantic anniversary gifts
- Anniversary gifts for boyfriend
- Romantic dinner for two
- Hudson Florida jewelers
Suddenly, Google understands that this woman isn’t simply a foodie looking for a good place to fill her stomach. She wants somewhere meaningful and memorable that she and her partner can dine. It can tweak the results of her initial search accordingly.
Then, once she searches again, Google will have taken note of which restaurants she looked at the first time – it can give contextual results that include reviews, user feedback, and so on.
That’s all well and good, but what does any of this have to do with you?
Just as Google now endeavors to understand the journey taken by its users, so too must you understand the journey that brings customers to your website. Initially, they’re probably there seeking information. From there, they start searching for a specific product or service, and finally, they search with intent to buy.
Your best bet is to create high-quality content to appeal to users at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Informative blog posts, high-quality product listings, user reviews, comparison pieces, contact information…you get the idea. As you may have noticed, all of this is stuff you should already be incorporating into your site.
That’s no accident – at the end of the day, the best way to adapt to Google’s journey-focused approach to search is to strive to provide the best content possible. To meet the specific needs of your audience. Do that, and everything else should fall into place with relative ease.