Google’s ranking algorithm might remain a mystery, but it’s always surprising to me that all marketers don’t rally around the same important concept as the most crucial of all: intent.

By “intent,” I mean both user intent and what I call “creation intent.” That is, we should always be focused on what people are looking for and why we’re creating something because where those two elements meet is where the most successful content lies. Don’t get me wrong: There are other important elements, of course, like quality backlinks and keyword optimization, which can greatly boost your chance of ranking highly.

But intent should always be the foundation you’re building on. Without it, it’s like serving someone steak when they ordered a cheeseburger. Sure, steak is great, but it’s not what they wanted. So, figure out what they want first — start with that cheeseburger. And then dress it up with crunchy fried onions and some chipotle aioli and some pepper jack cheese… and now I’ll go get some lunch.

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