Oh, how things change!
There was a time when you just had to optimize your website’s pages for a group of different keywords and then when someone typed those words into a search engine, you’d show up! Not anymore.
Today, the search engines are way more advanced with their algorithms and their focus on trying to make sure that the user experience is the best it can be. Especially with Google.
That means the way that you, or your SEO agency, optimizes the pages of your website has to be changing to have a chance at showing up for searches that are important for your business.
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The search engines have been getting much smarter over the years. Today, they have the ability to not only see the words that people type into the query box, but they can now look at the words and the way that the words are combined to come up with the intent behind the user’s search.
As an example, if you do a search for damaged furniture you’ll find both organic listings and paid ads for new furniture showing up. The user’s intent in the damaged furniture search indicates that they may be in the market for new furniture to replace their damaged furniture.
If you owned a furniture store, would you have a page on your site optimized for damaged furniture? Probably not. In fact, neither would most of your competitors. So, in this scenario you probably would get a top ranking for someone that most likely has the intent of purchasing a new piece of furniture, and, you wouldn’t be showing up with your competitors on the same search results page!
Types of Search Intent
In virtually every instance, when someone enters a phrase in Google’s query box, they are looking for something. They might be looking for the answer to a question that they have or they might be looking for information on a product or a service. In every case, there is an intent behind the words that they enter.
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Depending on what article on user intent you read you’ll find that there are between 3-5 types of search intent. I’ve found that the following 4 types of intent will fit 90% of businesses:
- Informational Intent: This is made up of people that are looking for information of some type. They may want to know the capital city of Wisconsin or they may want to know the city that the Indy 500 is held in.
- Navigational Intent: This type of intent is made up of people that are looking for a specific website. If someone types Twitter into Google, it’s a safe bet to say that they’re trying to get to Twitter’s website.
- Commercial Investigation: This intent us done by people that are doing research on products or services that they are probably going to make a purchase of, in the future.
- Transactional Intent: This intent is exactly what it sounds like, these people are ready to buy.
SEO & UX Together
Wait, before you stop reading, let me explain. Google has been very clear on their position regarding user experience (UX) and how a poor UX will negatively impact a website’s ability to get high rankings. User intent is a key component to what a user is expecting from their search.
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Let’s say that you own a furniture store and you show up for the search how to repair damaged furniture. Now, you own a furniture store. You don’t repair furniture. You don’t even offer advice on how to repair broken furniture and you don’t want to. Let’s also say that when the user sees your listing, for some reason they click through to your website. As you can imagine, they do not have a positive experience (your site has nothing for them).
Let’s also say that when this person comes to your site and sees that your company isn’t what they are looking for, they immediately go back to the search results page, on Google, that they came from (this is called a bounce). Google now knows that this person bounced from your site which Google will interpret as their having a poor user experience. UX, it’s been said, is a ranking signal. You’ve just made it a little bit harder for your website to rank in Google.
How To Optimize For User Intent
Now that we’ve covered what user intent is and why UX has to be brought into the mix, let’s take a look at how you go about optimizing the pages of your website for your user’s intent.
The first step to optimizing for your users is to know who your user is. If you’re like most businesses you have a couple of different types of users. They might be categorized as consumers and businesses. They might be categorized as large and small businesses, They might even be categorized and male and female customers.
Categorization of the audience that you are trying to attract, online is just the first step, the next step is to develop personas of the people. By developing personas you can identify the different questions that they would have which then identifies the different intentions that they have at both the top and the bottom of the sales funnel.
Next, identify the different intentions of your user personas at the different stages of their buying stages. We know that people that are at the top of the funnel are looking for answers to very broad-based problems. Their intent at this stage is to get very general information like is there a solution to my problem. Who could provide a solution to my problem?
As people move down through the funnel their questions or intentions, become more detailed oriented. Now they are looking at the quality of a solution or at your solution as verse another company’s solution. Make sure that you are optimizing pages for all of your personas at all of the different stages of the funnel.
Optimizing your website’s pages for your user’s intent will help get you more visibility. Ultimately, optimizing your website’s pages for your user’s intent will get you more customers. By finding the answers to their questions, on your site brings them closer to your ultimate goal of doing business with them.