How User Intent Impacts Your SEO

How User Intent Impacts Your SEO

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05. April 2018

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When strategizing your Content Marketing, you  will probably start researching trends and you will follow this up with an extensive Keyword Research. That is great, but did you think about User Intent? It is the categorization of what users search online when they type their search term into a search engine and it is a vital part of  Search Engine Optimization. In this blog post we chat you up on the different kinds of User Intent and tell you how to optimize your SEO with that knowledge. 

If a user enters "Swiss chocolate New York" into the search bar of Google, we could assume that the user wants to know where she can find Swiss chocolate in New York. It is not clear whether or not the user wants to buy Swiss chocolate. If that same user would use Voice Search to get to his goal, we could learn a lot more: "OK Google, where can I find the best Swiss chocolate in New York?" It is clear that the user does not only want know where he can find Swiss chocolate, he also wants to know where he can find the best chocolate. Because Voice Search and Virtual Assistants come with long-tail keywords and natural language, we can much easier guess what the user wants to find. This information is invaluable for SEOs and, with the rise in popularity of Voice Search, also becomes more and more readily available for website owners. 

1) Informational Intent

As its name applies, Information Intent applies when the user is looking for a specific bit of information. According to various studies about 50-80% of all searches fall into this category. When Googling "Swiss chocolate" the search engine will assume that you want to know what Swiss chocolate is. The answer to that question will be listed on the SERPs. Because you could also be interested in buying Swiss chocolate, it might also show you some Google Shopping ads. In the below example we see a classic example of Informational Intent. The user is asking Google a question, and the answer gets presented in the shape of a Featured Snippet. Featured Snippets are one of the 6 Trends in SEO that we presented last month. The intent behind the query is crystal clear, and so is the answer. 

Informational Intent could very well lead to a Featured Snippet being shown in the SERPs.

2) Navigational Intent

Although it may sound logical that Navigational Intent would include searches for the directions of a shop in a certain area in town, this is not the case. The navigational part has everything to do with getting around on the internet. Searches like "Facebook" or "Google Login" would be classified under Navigational Intent. Indeed, the user just wants to get to a certain website. When searching for "Lindt", the website of Lindt will make it to Position 1 in the search results.

With an everchanging layout of the search result pages, Google can cater for different kinds of User Intent.

Because Lindt is the producer of chocolate, Google might also suspect that you are interested in buying chocolate. Therefore, we again can see a Google Shopping ads at the very top. Although it is less likely, you could just want to know what Lindt is. The Google Knowledge Graph helps out in case the user actually had an Informational Intent behind his query. 

3) Transactional Intent

In the case of Transactional Intent, the user is prepared to buy or to perform some other online activity. This could be as simple as "buy Swiss chocolate", but in an era of Virtual Assistants, this could also be "Open Calorie Counter App" when the user wants to count the number of calories in his piece of chocolate. Ideally, a Virtual Assistant would then open the app for you. If this query would be entered in the search bar of a search engine like Google, it will show you a few different apps that could help you count calories. 

This search query will either help you opening your calorie counter app or will give you a few different apps you could install.

4) Commercial Investigation

You are not really sure what kind of chocolate you want and you would like to know the differences between Swiss and Belgian chocolate first. So, you start investigating your options. In the above screenshot the fifth search result is a great example of a User Intent we call Commercial Investigation. That is a blog post which allows you to compare different calorie counters. This type of content can convince you to choose calorie counter A of calorie counter B. In the below screenshot we see another great example of how Featured Snippets are used to meet the demands of a search query. A question that could help you further with your Commercial Investigation is the highlighted curious example of Hershey's. 

What would be the user intent behind that question?

Once the Commercial Investigation stage has come to an end, this intent can easily transform into Transactional Intent. Considering Swiss chocolate is obviously better than Belgian chocolate, the next query could be "buy Swiss chocolate near me."

How to Optimize your SEO on User Intent

When you are selling Swiss chocolate, you have the opportunity to reach customers for all kinds of User Intent. When people know your shop, you want to show up for your branded keyword in the Google Search Results. You then have Navigational Intent covered. You can write about the rich history of Swiss chocolate to get a question with Informational Intent answered. Of course, you will have a product page with different kinds of chocolate: This is there to please users who want to buy Swiss chocolate. Last but not certainly not least, you will have content that is comparing Swiss chocolate to Belgian chocolate. This page will help users who have not reached the buying stage yet. If you are trying to sell Swiss chocolates, make sure the keywords on your landing page match the right user intent.

It is vital to know your audience. One way to find out if you are targeting the right keywords and are up to date with the latest trends is to do conduct a keyword research or a Google Trends study.  This can help you in the right direction of understanding your audience. Another good way to find out what your users and customers are looking for is to check out the Search Analytics Report in the Google Search Console. This gives you an insight into what Search Terms have led to clicks in the Search Results. You can see the queries that are irrelevant, but more important, you can discover which queries you do not have the right content for yet. Make sure you create content for every user intent category out there and be found. If you need help finding out what your audience wants or if you are looking to set up your Google Search Console, do not hesitate to write me. And don't forget: Swiss chocolate it is. 

 

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