We’ve learned over the years that Google is laser focused on user experience. With every recent update, Google has been focused on creating an out-of-this-world, seamless, user experience. Which makes sense, they want people to continue to come back to them!

That is why Google has made it very simple for people to find exactly what they are looking for, with little effort on the user’s end. They understand how impatient we are.

Keywords couldn’t hold any more weight in the SEO world. They are the cornerstone that every great SEO strategy is built around and the data that Google uses to determine if your content is relevant to its users.  

In the good old days, Google only considered exact phrases in the search queries. Also known as explicit data, it is the data that users input when they know exactly what they are looking for and where they are looking for it. 

It is the data that users input directly with a clear search intent ie “flower shop in toronto” or “mechanic in vancouver.”

However, with a wealth of information including, cookies, GPS, and maps, exact keywords are not the only thing Google considers when you conduct a search. 

With a keen eagerness to provide you with the perfect search result, Google has begun pulling data from its gargantuan back-end to provide search results that are directly in line with your unique preferences.

In the SEO world this  is referred to as implicit data and Google is working with both in order to find you the golden-ticket of search results. 

So what exactly is the difference between implicit and explicit search and how does Google use it to find search results?

Explicit Search Intent

In its early days, Google was only taking the exact phrases and words to interpret what users wanted. 

This means that if you want to order flowers from Toronto to a friend that lives in Vancouver, you would type “flower shop, Vancouver”. 

Plenty of users are still using explicit search to plan and book experiences, like hotels and restaurants, in other cities and to find information about their favourite topics. 

With the huge increase of data, the search landscape is a lot different today. 

This is where Implicit Search comes into play.

Implicit Search Intent

Google uses its algorithm to understand the deeper intent behind the search query. It takes into account things like your browsing history, the time of day, the device you’re using, your location, and even the string of searches just prior to get a fuller picture of what you’re really looking for. Google uses this (and a whole lot more) data to provide a more personalized search result.

But Google also understands the implications in the keywords that you’re using. Descriptive terms like ‘best’, ‘top rate’, or ‘great’ imply that you are in a research mindset. So Google will show you review sites and top ten lists. 

Implicit search intent peaks behind the curtain of your search query to provide better search results, even if you don’t fully know what it is you’re looking for. If you frequent a certain website, then that site will likely appear in your results more often.

Catering to the user experience

You can now type “restaurant” into the search bar and local restaurant suggestions will pop up that you are more likely to click on. That local sushi joint you love and frequent often? It just may be at the top of your suggestions list. 

Search results are now influenced by the types of restaurants you’ve previously shown an interest in so whether you’ve clicked, tapped to call, routed to, made a reservation with or read a restaurants menu, Google uses this information as data. 

This is information that is not directly added to the search bar by you, rather, information that Google has collected through their network of hundreds of algorithms and data points based on your past search history. 

This also includes information like, location, and search data from similar search queries done by other people.

What does this mean for business?

Keywords are no longer taken at face value, there are hundreds of data points connected to each keyword that is unique to the user. 

Now, Google is taking in additional data into consideration, which also means that local businesses are able to better leverage Google’s use of implicit data to get more eyes on their products. 

This is why it is imperative that businesses understand their end users search intent. What you want to know as a business owner is why and what your users are looking for. 

Do they want more information about a product or service? Is it to make a direct purchase online or find a specific product? Is it to directly navigate to a specific website? 

Having the answers to these questions will help business owners match and use keywords on their landing pages that are in line with user intent. 

Different intent will require the use of different keywords. 

You will know if and when you are using the right keywords when your pages begin to convert and rank well.

How can businesses use implicit search to get seen?

This can be done in many ways online! Things like blog posts, product updates, status updates, mobile optimization, regular website updates, text-to-voice optimization, local SEO are all content that can be built around new search intent. 

This also means formatting your current content by considering what type of content users are searching for and the words and phrases they are using to get there. 

Having a deep understanding of the questions that are driving traffic to your site and the context of those questions. 

These will help define who you are so Google can match you to your most ideal customer. 

Google is getting to know us better with every piece of data they collect, and because they are collecting data by the second, Google is making strides in predicting what you need and when. 

With Google updating it’s algorithms to predict the intent of the user, they have put more emphasis on more natural content that makes it easier for the user to find what they are looking for. 

This means that the more Google enhances their systems, the better they will at giving us content that is very much in line to who we are, what we like and what we’re looking for. 

We can only expect a more seamless user experience moving forward.

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