Why Your SEO Strategy Should Include User Intent

Date: June 9, 2019

Understanding the “why” behind your audience’s search queries can inform everything from your keyword research to your content strategy. It’s time to start paying attention to user intent.

There is more to a successful SEO strategy than the more popular considerations. It goes beyond relevant keywords and well-written content. If you want to drive traffic and then convert that traffic into leads, then you need to provide exactly what users are seeking.

This is why user intent should be a top priority for all content creators. It leads to much higher rankings and conversion rates and also helps ensure that users will stay on your site to read your content, as opposed to going back to the search engine results to find their desired information.

What is user intent?

Optimizing for user intent means aligning your content with the “why” behind users’ search queries. Are they searching because they want an answer to a specific question? Are they looking for a specific website, or perhaps they are searching to buy something?

Throughout Google’s evolution, the search engine has become more adept at determining the search intent of its users. Therefore, Google will award high rankings to those pages that not only include the keywords used in the search but who also consider the intent behind those inquiries. This is why you need to write content that aligns with the search intent of your audience.

So, how do you decipher user intent? It helps to break it into categories. Here are three types of user or search intent:

  1. Informational: Searches performed to answer questions or learn something potentially present on one or more websites.

Examples: “Flu symptoms”, “Stroller reviews”, “Home decorating trends”

  1. Navigational: Searches performed to locate a specific website.

Examples:” Wells Fargo login”, “9Sail website”, “LinkedIn”

  1. Transactional: Searches performed to buy something.

Examples: “Get insurance quotes”, “Buy winter coat online, “USA Today subscription”

When search engines like Google assess whether or not your site’s content matches a user’s search intent, it takes the following factors into consideration:

  • Whether the search is informational, navigational, or transactional
  • The context of the entire query
  • The language used in the query
  • The location of the user (if the search is navigational)

Why is user intent valuable for SEO?

  1. It tells you what users are looking for

Understanding user intent begins with examining your data to see what your users are actually searching for. To do this, look past popular search terms and instead examine what people are searching for specifically with the help of something like Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

You can also learn more about your users’ intent by examining your own marketing analytics through the use of a keyword analytics tool. This will help you to uncover the keywords being used to find your website specifically, and through a thorough review, search for elements of user intent.

Using your own data can also be useful to see if people are finding the information they need once they’re on your site. To do this, compare your search traffic keywords with the search terms people are using while on your site. If they don’t match, then it’s clear that the information that your audience is looking for is not readily accessible on your website.

  1. It provides valuable keyword suggestions

It can be difficult not to be blinded by search volume count when researching keywords. This is why many SEO professionals miss valuable opportunities to utilize long-tail keywords with strong user intent. But, once you shift your attention to user intent, you’ll uncover what users are actually typing (or saying) into search fields, helping you to approach the situation more like a user yourself, instead of an SEO guru.

  1. It helps define demographics

Location-based keywords and local searches are great ways to learn more about user intent that is tagged with an actual place. This type of information allows you to research the demographics associated with particular locations, and then tailor your content to align with their specific needs.

  1. It helps you design better landing pages

Understanding user intent is a great way to optimize your site for conversions, and make your landing pages more effective, overall. Basically, if you understand why your user is on your page, you can design it to meet their needs directly.

  1. It helps to guide and strengthen content strategies

Relevant, quality, and original content has always been a pillar for successful SEO strategies, but the key is creating content that speaks directly to the needs and interests of the audience that you’re trying to reach. It’s about uncovering which long-tail keywords are being used, and then what information you’re able to derive from that. From there, it’s about using that information to inform your content strategies. Content that is based on user intent is much more focused, and therefore, more impactful.

To understand user intent, you need to be prepared to take a deep dive into the minds of your audience to proactively understand and meet their needs through strategic content. Once those needs are met, then your conversion rates and sales will skyrocket.