It’s Time to Focus on User Intent

Improving SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the continuing goal for online businesses. For years, the recommended practice for improving a site’s ranking was to focus on choosing the right keywords. While keyword strategies still have their place, Google’s latest algorithm has decreased the effectiveness of this tactic alone. Instead of relying on content and backlinks to rate sites, content that meets the user’s needs is being promoted. The days of keyword strategies are no longer king, and user intent strategies now reign supreme.


If you do a Google search for “SEO tactics” suggestions on choosing the right type of keywords, having quality links and writing good content appear. While these are all quality suggestions, they are missing one crucial thing. They don’t consider the larger picture, namely the intent of the user.

user intent and SEO



Why User Intent Is So Important

When you create an SEO strategy around a product, the assumption is that this great content will just naturally draw an audience. You optimize your site for keywords you think are applicable and hope that your site will appear on page one of the SERP (search engine results page) when a user needs to find you.


However, SEO strategies built around what users are actually searching for are far more likely to get picked up by the search engines. You are understanding the user intent and are creating content that meets those needs.


SEO strategies built around what users are actually searching for are more likely to get picked up by search engines Click To Tweet


What is User Intent?

Jeremy Smith has a simple and concise way of explaining this concept. He defines user intent as what a user is looking for when they conduct a search query. It’s important to note that user intent is not describing the keywords used in queries. Instead, this technique dives deeper and looks at the reason behind that keyword search.


Using User Intent Categories to Your Advantage

After examining numerous reasons for searches, three main intent categories have been determined. They are:

1. Navigational – the user knows their desired end point and needs to get there
2. Informational – the user is looking for more information on a topic
3. Transactional – the user is prepared to undertake a specific action, whether it be a purchase or some other specific online activity.


Now that you know the different user intent categories, you can begin to tailor your content to meet your audience’s needs. Using Google Analytics, you can review your top-performing keywords to customize your landing pages to make the most of these searches. Let’s look at how you can use user intent to your advantage.


Understanding the Transactional Search

When a user types in the word “buy” or “purchase” into the search bar, they are conducting a transactional search. Their intention is to buy something, and they are ready to do it now. In reviewing your site’s top keywords, if one of these verbs show up, you know your site’s visitors are looking to complete a transaction.


To use this to your advantage, create landing pages that will allow the user to make a purchase. This is what the user is looking for, and by giving it to them chances are high that they will make that purchase through you. Now on the other hand, if you had directed the user to an informational page instead of a purchasing page, you may have lost that visitor completely.


The Informational Search

If the purpose of your site is to offer information to its users, you need to make it clear that you have the answers they are looking for.


To begin, choose a headline and site description that scream this to the reader. For example, a potential reader wants to know more about the concept of user intent, so they type into their search engine “what is user intent”. If you want to capitalize on that search, choose a headline that will correspond with that search. If your headline reads “What is User Intent and How It Can Help You”, both the search engine and the reader will know your page will be useful.


The Navigational Search

This type of search is the easiest to understand and to capture an audience. If someone does a search for “WP Website Help”, this site should be one of the top search results returned. Not a lot of effort is needed as the reader knows what they are after.


Although not a lot of work needs to go into getting navigational traffic, you do need to spend time ensuring that you are offering visitors great content and useful links.


Final Thoughts

Traditional SEO tactics are important to improve your site’s ranking but understanding the deeper meaning behind the user intent is crucial. In understanding the heart of the matter, you will build customer loyalty and a better digital audience. By implementing simple user intent strategies your company will become more relevant and will appeal to more search engines.



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