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How To Leverage “User Intent” To Dramatically Improve Your SEO And Web Content

What if I told you that there were simple changes that you could make to your website’s existing content which would dramatically increase your rankings, leads and conversions? That would make taking the time to read this article well worth it right?

The good news is that for 99% of websites this is the case.

There are many common SEO and content marketing misconceptions so it isn’t any surprise that web marketers and business owners so often miss the mark.

For example:

How many times have we heard that fresh content is the key to incredible high Organic Search Rankings? Too many in my opinion – and considering that this really isn’t the case, I think it is quite a time that we put it to bed.

Sure, fresh content is great; it can help viewers to stay on top of what’s hot and what’s not, or to keep up to date with the latest products and services offered by a company – but is that really the be-all and end-all of their requirements?

In short, it’s not

There’s a HUGE difference between fresh text and quality content – and the quality of a piece doesn’t always refer to correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.

In fact, in SEO terms, it relates to the relevance of the content itself. Now, you might already know this, but Google has come a long, long way since its early introduction.

Instead of the typical, mundane way of connecting searchers with what they are looking for; search engines now rely on advanced techniques to ensure that their results are as precise as possible.

So far we’ve seen the long tailed keyword, geotokens and even IP-based searches, but as expected Google have developed an even better way to identify exactly what it is that their audiences want – and we like to call it ‘user intent’.

What you need to know

The first thing that you have to come to terms with is that search engines genuinely don’t care for the people that are trying to rank their websites highly within search results. That’s you, me and most other digital marketing agencies.

What they care about is being the first port of call for people looking for things online – and that’s where user intent comes into the fray. In short, the term is used to describe what a particular person might be looking for when searching via Google and other engines.

These search platforms are constantly trying to improve a variety of services to better-suit the people that make them what they are; the users. These individuals will typically turn to the web for one of three things, according to the Content Marketing Institute:

  • Transactions – to find out the best places to buy a particular product, or to invest in a specific service
  • Information – to learn about a topic that may be of interest; for example finding out how to get past a particular mission in Call of Duty
  • Navigation – to locate a specific website, blog, or forum for personal or professional purposes

What is user intent, exactly?

Marketing guru Neil Patel recently stated that the best way to describe the activity is by referring to it as the goal that a person has in mind when they are looking for something of interest.

Now we know that Google use a range of factors (more than 200, in fact) to decide how best to display their results; but what you might not know is that you could actually utilise the concept of user intent for your own ranking purposes.

Have you noticed how Google are starting to turn to priority websites for answers to generic questions? If you type in ‘how to change a tyre’ for example, before any sites even come up you’ll probably notice a step by step guide from a priority website.

It’s these sites that we want to emanate, as marketers. By doing so, we can offer information, sell a product, or appeal to a person’s interest – while demonstrating to Google just how much of a priority we are.

How can you do this?

It’s quite simple really – you just need to be able to gauge the reason that a person may want to visit your website, social media page, or even your blog. As I mentioned above, fresh text might be great; but relevant, quality content is even more effective. Just consider this for a moment: if you want to appeal to an audience based on their intent that’s all well and good, but if they can’t find you – what’s the point?

This is where platforms like Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools come in handy. Just sign into your account, view the web property and then take a look at the highest performing keywords. If you can recognise how people are finding you, you can then modify your on-page content to reflect their interests.

Google Analytics in particular can help you to see how your visitors are finding you, what they are looking at and even the cause of their departure. By checking what pages have the highest bounce rate, you can even begin to understand where your content is going wrong.

For example, if you notice that your users are visiting your website to buy a particular product and there’s no obvious buy button – then you can already see the problem. Taking a hard-sell approach for the latest brand of bleach to somebody who is simply looking for cleaning tips, you’re not likely to get the right response either.

Now that you have a better idea of what is causing lack of interaction, you can do what Google does and cater your services to best suit the user.

Creating the right content

Striking a balance between what Google wants to see for you to rank and what your users want from your website isn’t as hard as you might think. First of all, you will have to look into the types of keywords that your visitors are searching for in order to find you (or other companies like you).

Once you know what to target, you can begin focusing on those keywords within your content. But instead of creating unorthodox and often unappealing phrases solely to suit a search engine, you should aim to focus on targeting one of the above user intentions.

Now, if you’re wondering how you could implement this into your own business right now sit back and relax because I have somewhat of a powerhouse of info for you.

First, consider modifying your Meta data; as this will help Google to identify your website’s purpose. Second, tailor your content to better suit your target audience. The careful combination of relevancy and information can be pretty appealing – especially when it comes to minimising your bounce rate.

By pairing your Meta data and on-page content, you could begin to see ranking improvements within a very short amount of time.

For example, if you are selling a brand new product why beat around the bush? Tell Google what it is and then make sure that your landing pages are ready for the influx of visitors. Keep your titles on topic, specifically along the lines of ‘How to Choose the Best XX’, or ‘How to Find the Perfect XX’.

In a nutshell, as long as you get the user intent techniques right within your website you could appeal to a search engine while addressing your audience in a way that will compel them into action.

To summarise

Don’t stretch your intentions – if you sell products, focus on transactional keywords and content. If you inform users, focus on relevant data for your audience. If you already have a clear audience base, then give them a reason to navigate back to you in the form of blog posts and regularly updated content. Don’t be afraid to go over each page of your website and modify it to make it more appealing.

The more you focus on creating content that is relevant, the greater the results can be.

The more on-topic and user-focused your particular pages are, the better their potential will be when it comes to compelling your visitors into action – and isn’t this what we all want? I’d love to hear from you, so if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me directly at Nathan@MarketingJuice.com.au and until next time, good luck with introducing user intent to your content strategies.

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