All too often – and way too much in my opinion – I read the top online marketing articles referring to keywords being lost and no longer available inside of Google Analytics. Coincidentally, after those articles are a few articles about writing good content. These two concepts are intimately related. At some point, I expect the masses who bolster these “keywords are gone and we’re all going to die” articles into my view will move beyond that narrow view of search marketing to fully understand the interplay between keywords, intent, and content. Until then, and for those of us that look to the future, here is a glimpse from behind the magic curtain.

Behind the Magic Curtain

To start, we need to understand why the search query has been stripped away from marketers. It can be surmised that the search phrases coming to our sites are not the real search phrases initiated by the searcher, hence the resulting block on that information. There is one big hint as to why that is true: “conversational search.” Conversational search is based on multiple search queries where the previous queries give context to the current query. From an implementation standpoint, the current query being executed must be changed so that it can include all relevant context from the previous queries. So what we have is a double edge sword; if we were to be given the current changed search phrase with all inherited context from the queries before it, it gives us – and Google’s competitors – an x-ray into their advanced algorithm. If we were given the current searcher’s real query, it would be useless without the full context of the previous queries.

Conversation Search vs Keyword Search

Let’s look at a breakdown of a conversational search:

  • Real Query 1: “Who is Eric Patterson”
  • Real Query 2: “Where does he work”
  • Real Query 3: “What is his contact info”

Now, let’s theorize how that could be translated so each query can have full context and executed independently:

  • Change Query 1: “Eric Patterson Grand Rapids MI”
  • Change Query 2: “Eric Patterson Grand Rapids work”
  • Change Query 3: “Eric Patterson Grand Rapids MI contact information”

What would we actually get from the first real search query? Absolutely nothing, each real query by itself has little meaning or actionable item that can be addressed. On top of that small part, throw in some salt and pepper of the searcher’s current geographical location, what their social friends are talking about, and their old browsing history to get the worst tasting thing you’ve ever experienced.

It’s About Language and Intent

Notice our attention being drawn to the main intent of this page: Explore.

There are some other special things going on, even in my example, that should remind you of your childhood grammar teacher. In order to get the context of the search, we have to break it down to its English parts. The bare minimum parts of the sentence we need are the noun and verb. The noun gives us the subject item we want, and the verb tells us what we want to do with the subject item. This is what we call context with intent, and it becomes the grounding rule for online content marketing. No more real search queries. No more keyword stuffing. And no more black hat SEOs. All we have to do is stick with what our English teacher taught us; focus the content around the noun and verb we want the intended visitor’s search phrase to match and watch the success pour in.

What are your thoughts?

Read Part 2 >