Host Britney Gardner discusses the importance of search intent in creating long-form content for solopreneurs and small team service businesses–acknowledging how different it is for us versus different business models. She explains what search intent is and how it can help build trust with your audience and improve your content’s visibility on search engines. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement at the end of the episode.

Your search volume might not be the thing that makes or breaks your business. Being the leader in your marketing, coming out with an idea first–that will. Creating content that will align closely with the different phases of that your audience is going through as they’re trying to decide whether to hire you or not, that is what is going to make or break your business.

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Highlights in this episode:

  • 00:01:58 Don’t take advice for different businesses.
  • 00:06:25 Not using funnels, but have one.
  • 00:10:00 AI tools won’t suggest niche keywords, but small businesses can target them successfully.
  • 00:10:59 Creating content aligned with audience’s decision-making phases.
  • 00:16:07 Limited time, but maintaining quality and consistency.

Understanding search intent and levels of awareness in content creation isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when most sit down to create content! Have you ever thought about the search intent of your audience when crafting your content? 

understanding search intent for the small business

Here’s the deal. I’m a fan of long-form content. BUT, according to Ahrefs, 90% of blogs just don’t get read. Ninety isn’t just a lot, it’s a landslide of content that isn’t getting any organic traffic. We are not about creating content simply to create busywork, so we need to do everything we can to ensure our content is working for our businesses!

In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into how to create content with awareness in mind, even if you’re not using a traditional sales funnel. By understanding your audience’s search intent and levels of awareness, you can create more effective content that resonates with your target audience.

What is Search Intent?

But what exactly is search intent? Simply put, it’s the goal that a user has in mind when searching for something online. By understanding why a person is searching, you can better tailor your content to meet their needs. 

For example, if someone searches for the “best way to remove vinyl tiles,” they expect instructions specifically related to vinyl tiles, not other types of tiles. However, search engines often return results for various tile types because they don’t fully grasp the search intent.

Another example: if I type in “what does chicken math mean” I absolutely expect to get a funny TikTok with a guy showing an ever-growing population of hens. I do not expect to get a Khan Academy math problem adding 2 + 3 hens.

chicken math search term

Are they both correct? They are technically both chicken and math. But one was my intent. The other was not.

Search Intent and the Small Business

So many established small businesses look at SEO and run the other way. Why? They:

  • -assume the “big boys” have it all locked up and it sounds really hard to compete
  • -it sounds like a LOT of work
  • -already have an established business without SEO work, so why put in the effort?

The truth? SEO isn’t usually going to be your first priority. But putting a few practices in place with your long-form content doesn’t take a whole lot of effort especially when you’re already creating content meant to be evergreen anyway!

BUT… we do have to pay attention to search intent if we want our content to rank on search engines. That is the secondary point of long-form content (with the first being a way to prove to your audience you know what you’re talking about and being the gateway to building the know, like, and trust factor).

How Search Intent & Levels of Awareness Intertwine

In addition to search intent, it’s important to understand your audience’s level of awareness. This refers to how familiar they are with their problem, the available solutions, the products or services that can help, and their price expectations. By identifying their level of awareness, you can create content that resonates with them at each stage of their journey.

There are four key levels of awareness: 

problem-aware chicken
  • Problem aware
  • Solution aware
  • Product aware
  • Cost aware. 

Problem Aware

Your audience knows they have a problem. They might not know the details of the problem or have a solution, but they’re aware something’s wrong. They’re seeking content that validates their concerns and educates them more about their problem.

Solution Aware

At this stage, the audience knows there’s a solution to their problem. They’re searching for the best solution, seeking to understand all alternatives before deciding.

Product Aware

Now, they know what product or service can solve their problem. They’re comparing options, and your content ought to show how your product or service stands out from others.

Cost Aware

Your audience is now ready to make a purchase and are comparing costs. They’re scrutinizing your offerings and might even be considering your competitors. Your content should justify your pricing and reinforce the value you offer.

great content creators are a category of one

Content Creation With Awareness in Mind

Even if you’re not using a standard sales funnel, understanding your audience’s level of awareness and search intent is crucial. It can guide your content creation, ensuring you provide the right content to the right people at the right time. In so doing, you stand a better chance of boosting engagement and conversion rates.

AI Keywording Tools and Search Intent

Creating content meant to rank for popular keywords is an uphill battle. And also, creating content you love and then trying to make it fit into certain keywords may mean your great content ranks for keywords it shouldn’t, messing with the audience’s search intent.

This is why all the AI keyword tools may be hindering your content progress. Trying to rank for “content marketing strategy” is not going to capture most of those awareness levels! What I need is content that tries to rank for each level I care about, and those levels are not likely to have a super high search volume… especially compared to other terms.

This is why I preach the category of one.

Being the leader in your marketing, coming out with an idea first… it’s not going to have inherent search volume. You’re out there on the pier alone. Or you’re out there counting your somehow-still-growing hen flock alone.

Create content that will align closely with the different phases your audience goes through as they decide to buy your service.

  • Gathering Information: how-tos, step-by-step
  • Looking For Expert Help: comparing services
  • Specific Product: including brand names*
  • Spending the Dollar: looking for coupons, etc*

You win when you understand the combo of problem awareness + content expected.

*Those second two are not likely to apply as much for the typical online service provider.

Key Takeaway:

Knowing you’re a category of one, create content that meets your audience where they’re at first, and worries about keywork-ranking later.


woman embraces chicken math

How can long-form content help build the know, like, and trust factor with your audience?

Long-form content allows you to dive deep into topics, showcase your expertise, and provide valuable information to your audience. This can help establish your credibility, build trust, and strengthen the know, like, and trust factor with your audience.

It’s important to balance the primary goal of building relationships with the secondary goal of ranking in search engines. While establishing trust, providing value, and connecting with your audience should be a priority, incorporating search intent ensures that your content has the potential to reach a wider audience and attract new traffic, benefiting both relationship-building and SEO efforts.

Why is it important to consider search intent when creating content?

Even if ranking on Google is not the primary goal, considering search intent is important because it informs how you create your content. By understanding what people expect to find when they search for a specific topic, you can create content that aligns with their expectations and provides value.

Understanding the audience’s level of awareness (problem aware, solution aware, product aware, cost aware) helps in tailoring content to their specific needs and stage in the customer journey.

Wherever your audience’s awareness lies, addressing it in your content helps ensure your messaging is on point. This understanding often makes the difference between content that connects and significantly overlooked content. So here’s to less frustration and more effective content!

Do you need help creating a content marketing plan that allows you to shine?

We offer complimentary one-on-one consults to help determine if a done-with-you or done-for-you approach is best for you and your business right now.

Music by Michael De La Torre. Thanks, Mikey!