You may be wondering, “What does user intent have to do with SEO?” Simple. Search engines are in the business of delivering quality, relevant results. The relevancy of search results is largely driven by the intent behind the search—i.e., the type of information searchers are hunting for. In order to perform well in the organic search engine results pages, your pages need to do more than match searchers’ query terms; your pages need to provide the information that matches their intent. And, that may be easier than you think.
Types of User Intent
To adjust your SEO strategy to accommodate user intent, you first have to know exactly what their search intentions are. Research into user behavior breaks user intent into three main categories:
- InformationalUsers are performing research. Users with this intent are often looking for:
- How-to guides
- Step-by-step instructions
- Background/historical data
Searchers with informational intent are not ready to purchase products or services.
- NavigationalUsers are comparing options to help them make a decision. Users with this intent often perform searches formulated like “The best X [product, service, brand] for Y [purpose]” or “reviews on Z”.
Users with navigational intent are not yet ready to purchase products or services but have identified general products or services that may meet their needs.
- TransactionalUsers with transactional intent are ready to buy, so their searches are intended to locate the ecommerce platform, brick-and-mortar location and/or contact information to complete their transaction.
As you can see, each type of intent maps onto a different stage of the customer journey:
Revamping Your SEO Strategy to Include User Intent
The keys to creating an SEO strategy that effective incorporates user intent are:
- Include content on your website that meets all types of user intent (but not the same page)
- Match user intent with appropriate keywords and content types
Let’s break that down further…
Make a simple table like this:
|Web Page Title||What type of intent is the content on the page likely to satisfy?|
With each page’s user intent identified, you can determine if you have content that meets all types of user intent. Many websites have mostly transactional content. That’s a cue to create content for prospective customers in the Awareness and Consideration stages of the buying journey who are looking for informative and navigational content, respectively. (If you don’t want to clog up your website navigation with new pages, consider adding a blog where you can tackle informative and navigational topics like “What every consumer needs to know about…” and “How to choose the best…” and “Top 10 widgets to simplify your life”.)
Analyze your metrics to create an actionable content strategy
Your Google Analytics tells you the top search terms by which users are finding each page. Use that information to determine which web pages need revision.
Optimizing for user intent is an SEO practice that can:
- Decrease your bounce rate
- Generate quality traffic
- Increase your conversion rate
By matching keyword terms, content and user intent, you can achieve better, sustainable search engine performance.