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Using User Intent to Grow a Stronger Audience

Do you want your content marketing strategy and web pages to not only improve your SEO ranking on Google, but also connect with your audience in a meaningful way? If so (hint: you do) User Intent is a critical piece of the puzzle.

When we create content for our websites, be it blog or pages, we prioritize making it easy reading for our humans … and also our robots. This strategic way of writing (to connect with both humans and robots) will help reach our target audience. Bringing them to your website when they’re ready to take the action that you want them to take.

So, if you’re committed to using online marketing and website improvements to achieve a better ranking on search engines, you had better keep your content marketing search engine and Google-friendly. 

In this quick guide to understanding user intent for SEO you’ll discover more about this important ranking factor. Including:

  • What user intent means to your content approach;
  • What are the main user intent categories;
  • What user intent has to do with Google’s page experience update;
  • Tips for understanding user intent in content marketing

Let’s get started.

What is user intent? What does it have to do with Google, search engines and SEO?

The way Google’s algorithm updates have been going tell us that search results are trending towards being more user-centric.

Your content strategy should reflect this. Since your target audience is likely made up of humans, your marketing and content strategy should be working to connect with them.

The best content marketing approach for SEO in 2020 is to gain an in-depth understanding of what your audience is looking for and why. Or rather, their intent. If you can define user intent and get it right at implementation, you won’t ever have to worry about another quick fire Google update ruining your paid or organic traffic again.

Check out the state of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the past decade and you’ll notice one major pattern: SEO has mainly revolved around keywords.

But towards the end of 2019, Google updated its search algorithm in a way that’s made keyword use less crucial to ranking high on search results. With the BERT update, satisfying user intent has a larger potential for impacting SEO and determining where you’ll rank on search results.

Good content with well-understood user intent can have a huge uplift on online visibility and SEO overall.

Simply put: user intent is the goal a searcher has in mind when they Google anything. It is about what they are trying to achieve through their search.

Your content team should think like this: What does the person searching on Google want to know or do? Where do they want to go?

Why is the user searching?

Why does user intent matter so much in SEO?

Being able to target the right intent is critical to successfully connecting your content strategy to attracting the right users through Google. When you understand what a searcher wants to find out, you can serve them with useful answers to their burning questions or curiosity in the form of useful content.  A solid content strategy will help.

Picture this:

Google is always trying to help searchers get the most relevant, satisfying results to their search queries in the shortest time possible.

That means Google ranks the content that appears the most relevant and satisfying to the particular words or phrases a searcher enters into the search bar.

The higher up Google ranks your content or site, the higher the chances that many people looking for content like it will click and visit the relevant page in your site.

So, how do you convince Google and searchers that you’ve got the most relevant, useful, and satisfying result compared to other sites?

By understanding your users’ intent.

And then putting what you learn into action for you.

How?

Start by understanding the categories of user intent to provide a better user experience.

Three main user intent categories

When a person searches on the search engines, their goal can take several different forms. Often, though, it is usually one of these three:

  • Informational Google Search: They want to learn for the first time, gain additional knowledge on a topic, or get answers to a question
  • Navigational Google Search: They know what they want; a specific page, site or resource
  • Transactional Google Search: They want to buy something specific

You might see these three reduced further to just two categories: informational and commercial (transactional and navigational).

Here’s an illustration to help explain how search intent works:

how to write good content in content marketing

In the figure above, notice the “low value” and “high value” tags on the opposite sides of the arrow?

Those phrases might be a bit misleading without contextualizing them.

To avoid confusion, it is smart to start by further understanding each category.

Let’s break it down…

1. Informational user intent

When you want to educate yourself nowadays, you google. Yes, that’s become a verb.

Most organic traffic goes to informational articles and blog posts—including news.

The intent is to learn. Not necessarily to buy something after that. That’s why the intent may seem like a low-value intent to your business.

For example, searching for “how to clean a humidifier” doesn’t mean you want to buy a humidifier cleaner immediately. But with a bit more nurturing, you can guide the searcher towards your humidifier cleaning product’s funnel.

Searching for “skating boot sizes” doesn’t mean they want to buy your skating boots immediately.

While that search intent belongs at the top of the funnel, you can create content that pulls the searcher in, have them think of you when they finally are ready to buy or guide them through your funnel and all the way to the “Add to Cart” or “Buy Now” button in a few clicks.

To attract and satisfy informational user intent, take advantage of relevant keyword intent. Use keyword modifiers like “…step-by-step”, “…naturally”, or “ultimate guide to…”.

So, your content’s headlines would read:

  • How to Clean a Humidifier Step-by-Step
  • How to Clean a Humidifier Naturally
  • Ultimate Guide to Skating Boot Sizes

Notice too, that these headlines closely resemble longtail keywords in their specificity.

Informational user intent is satisfied by content that answers a specific searcher’s concern.

Check the “People Also Ask” and “Searches Related to…” sections of search results to see what Google thinks its users’ intent is and pick your keyword intent.

user intent in SEO

People Also Ask

Google searches related to “What is user intent?”

2. Navigational user intent

Here, the google search includes a brand name, website name or resource name.

This type of search query is usually commercial in that the searcher is looking for something specific that they already know about.

For example, an “OGNO digital marketing” search will quickly bring up the digital agency’s website and related social media channels, news, and images. A “Germany digital agency” search will only show agencies based in Germany.

To optimize your content marketing for this search type, add modifiers to your niche’s keywords such as “near me” for local search optimization.

Here’s an example:

When a person makes a “best digital agency in Germany” search, the intent is likely to compare agencies and hire the top one. The same goes for search queries modified with words such as “reviews”, “top…”, “compare”, and “best [product usage] under $500”.

3. Transactional user intent

This is the most vital intent to understand and satisfy because most purchases are directly linked to it.

The searcher is usually ready to make a purchase on a product or service they have considered.

These types of searches typically consist of keywords such as “[product name] price”, “coupon codes”, “discounts”, “affordable”, “[model name] cost”, “best [product name] under $500”, “[brand service] fees”, and “buy [name] online”.

Transactional queries are “do” types of searches—the kind you’ll use in a call to action button. They are also regarded as high-value user intent because they open an opportunity to make a favorable transaction.

What user intent has to do with Google’s page experience update

As you can already see, understanding intent can be the deciding factor on your rank and the type of traffic that you’re getting to your website. The better you target intent, the better the traffic, the better the traffic, the better your Google ranking and so on and so forth.

Matching user intent also contributes to a strong user experience (UX). Something that continues to gain importance in the world of search engine optimization. When we talk about user intent as it relates to UX, we’re referring to a step past the click. This is the confirmation that your visitors have made the right selection and see the content they were expecting from their query.

We know now that UX will be an even more important ranking factor as we move into 2021. When Google announced its Page Experience Update  we learnt that it will combine existing ranking factors with a greater focus on their ‘Core Web Vitals’.

Knowing that the update is coming gives us time to get ahead of it. A good UX that matches user intent takes time to build.

Tips for understanding user intent in content marketing

Here are some surefire ways to improve your user intent understanding so you can craft your website content accordingly —and increase click-throughs while at it.

  • Analyze the questions your sales and customer service teams receive
  • Enter and search your primary keywords in Quora or AlsoAsked.com
  • Check your competitors’ FAQ and Help Centres online
  • Put yourself in your ideal users’ shoes and use the kind of words they would enter on Google to find your site or content

What Next?

If you want to master your SEO for 2020 and beyond as well as web content and your ranking on Google, understanding user intent is the first step. It is also an important step to attracting, retaining, and converting ideal readers, customers, and partners. Improve your organic traffic with a better content marketing strategy.

By segmenting your niche keywords into the three main user intent categories discussed here, you can determine how to transform the user intent into answers that satisfy that intent. Next step: shaking up keywords using a long-tail strategy.

Sounds hard? At OGNO we can help you do SEO the right way.


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