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When copywriting for SEO, you also make the important choice for a content format, which can make or break your rankings. Which content formats you use strongly depend on the search intent of the user. But which formats match which search intent? What do you do when there is mixed search intent? And how do you ensure that you always stay two steps ahead of the competition? You can read that here!

Anyone who thinks that copywriting for SEO is nothing more than writing texts with keywords in them has probably never met a good SEO copywriter. Before the first word is on paper (or rather: the screen), you have to make a number of important choices. One of these is choosing the right content format.

Online we see a wide range of content formats passing by. Blog articles, product pages, videos, white papers, reviews (user generated content), tools, infographics… You name it. As an SEO copywriter, the form of your content is just as important as the content. It determines the way the audience receives your message.

You can hit the nail on the head in terms of content, but only with the right content format will you reach the customer and the Google positions you hope for.

Determine the right content format in 5 steps:

Step 1. Find out the user’s search intent

Finding out the search intent is sometimes forgotten, but it is a crucial step in conquering good SEO positions. Google determines the rankings based on relevance: the highest positions are for the pages that best meet the needs of the user. That is why it is important to first know the search intent of the user. Only then can you choose the content format that best meets this need.

Different types of search intent

Discovering the search intent behind a particular keyword may sound like abracadabra, but it’s easier than you think. Google always shows the pages that best answer the user’s needs. This means that you can simply read the searcher’s intention based on the results in Google.

There are different types of search intent, each of which has its own place in the marketing funnel. I share 4:

  1. The informational intent ( awareness phase ): the searcher’s goal is to find information about a particular topic.
  2. The navigating intent ( interest phase ): The searcher’s goal is to navigate to a specific place (e.g. a park or store) or a specific url.
  3. The commercial intent ( conversion phase ): the goal of the searcher is to buy a product or service.
  4. Comparative intent ( consideration phase ): The searcher’s goal is to compare products or services.

Most used content formats per search intent

Various content formats can be used to accommodate these search intentions. Each intention is linked to a different format. Below you can read the most used content formats per search intention. These formats give an indication of the direction in which you can think, but are not a blueprint for how you should shape your content.

Go through all the steps in this step-by-step plan to arrive at the most suitable content format. This way you don’t miss any opportunities and you are always one step ahead of the competition.

Informational intent

Blog articles, long reads, guides, images and infographics are often used to capture the informative intention. Depending on the subject, we also see tools (such as a calculation tool, symptom checker or a test) and videos.

Navigating intent

For the navigating intention, it is important that you have your contact page, with address details, opening hours and contact details, in order. Create separate landing pages for the different locations, so that the user will be taken directly to a local search.

Do you want to be found (better) in Google Local Pack? Then use structured data (code that helps search engines understand content) to inform Google about the physical locations of your branches. In addition, use Google My Business to become more visible on local search terms.

Commercial intent

The commercial intent is inter alia captured with product pages such as PDPs (Product Detailing Pages), PLPs (Product Listing Pages) and other formats on which you can buy products or services.

Comparative intent

The comparative search intent is in the consideration phase in the marketing funnel. This is the phase in which the visitor wants to buy something, but does not yet know exactly which product is most suitable. People are looking for information about products and product comparisons, but also want to be able to purchase the most suitable product immediately.

Hybrid content formats lend themselves well to this: pages containing a combination of information in text blocks (often in the form of top X lists and product USPs), images and shop entries to products.

Mixed search intent: a fifth search intent?

You now know how to distinguish the different search intents in the search engine and what the most commonly used content formats are. But sometimes the search intent is less clear, because Google returns different needs. There are then multiple search intents at the same time. This is called mixed search intent. Most mixed search intent keywords are generic terms with a high search volume.

An example of a mixed intent term is the keyword “coffee”. Google shows results for this search from:

  1. Webshops where you can buy coffee online (commercial search intent)
  2. Local search results for nearby coffee shops (navigating search intent)
  3. Blogs about the best coffee hotspots in town (comparative search intent)
  4. Video tutorials on how to make the perfect cup of coffee (informative search intent)

As you can see, all four of the previously described intentions are reflected here in the results. Google is sending mixed signals about user needs. A classic case of a mixed intention. Go through the rest of the steps in this step-by-step plan to determine the correct content format, even with a mixed search intent.

Step 2. Investigate which content formats the competition uses

To determine the search intent, you have already looked at the content formats of the competition. Now look at these content formats again with a fresh, critical eye.

  • Which formats do they use to meet the needs of the customer?
  • What elements does the page consist of?
  • What are the similarities of the top ranking pages?

If they all use (approximately) the same format, then this already reveals how you can best design your page. If the first three results all have a calculation tool on the page, this is an indication, for example, that you will not make it with just copy.

Focus on competitors who essentially do the same as you

Do you see different formats passing by, for example because there is a mixed search intent? Then focus mainly on the formats of comparable parties. Is your company’s main activity writing blogs? Then investigate how blogs with good positions shape their content.

Do they use images or videos to best answer the user’s query? Do they let experts speak to improve the quality of their content? Or do they use a specific tool to capture the search intent? This gives you insights into the best way to build and shape your content.

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Step 3. Think beyond the competition

In step 2 you researched the content formats of the competition. Of course you can now create content that is comparable to that of your competitors, but admit it: in such a case your content does not add anything extra for the user. The content you create is not unique. A good position in Google often fails to materialize. That’s why we want to challenge you to think further. Learn from what the competition is doing, but above all learn from what the competition is not yet doing.

Learn from what the competition is doing, but above all learn from what the competition is not yet doing

To create unique and valuable content, you need to know what makes you as a party unique from the other players. What can you do to provide an even better answer to the user’s query? Ask yourself what you as a visitor would need.

For example, do you miss a certain tool or advice from an expert? Or is a video a much better means of getting the message across than the blog articles used by the competition? Don’t think too complicated and use common sense. Also ask your family, friends or colleagues for advice. Such a fresh look often provides you with great insights.

Step 4. Compile the ideal content formats

Now that you know which content format is best suited for your message, the question remains whether you have access to such a format. As SEO copywriters, we often tend to use the same content formats over and over again. Many companies use a number of standard formats. Often every article looks about the same. Standard templates give structure to your online content, but can be a hindrance for SEO copywriters. It is a clincher for creativity.

Think beyond standard content templates

I advise you to let go of the standard templates for a while. Go back to basics and let your creativity speak again. Think about which format best meets the needs of the user. Then search the CMS for the content blocks with which you can compose such a page. Often only part of the available content blocks is used for the standard templates, so there is a good chance that more is possible than you think.

Need a format that you don’t have access to? Then hook up with a colleague with the right expertise and see if you can help each other further, investigate whether an online tool can help you further or ask your manager for advice. Your colleagues also benefit from good SEO positions, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Step 5. Test and reuse the content formats that work

Spending time determining the right content format is important. But to be able to say with 100% certainty whether a content format works, there is only one thing to do: test it! Ultimately, Google is the ultimate measure of success. If you are rewarded with a high position, then you know that the content format is well suited to the needs of the user.

Is the (good) position not forthcoming? Some causes:

  1. The content format does not match the search intent
  2. The competition is better off than you in terms of SEO factors (content, technique and authority).
  3. The page is not (yet) indexed (properly) by Google

In the latter case, use Google Search Console’s URL inspection tool to help Google index your page faster.

Turn your content format into a formula for success

Have you found a content format that works well for capturing a specific search intent? Then investigate whether there are more interesting keywords with a similar search intent and use your new content format to accommodate those terms. This is how you turn your content format into a real success formula!