SEO specialists are often the content marketers who think the most about user intent; if they understand what their target audience is looking for in the search results, they can write website pages that are better optimized and will hopefully rank higher in Google’s search results. However, you don’t have to be an expert in SEO to understand user intent, and the better you understand it, the more likely it is that you will create quality content that your target audience actually wants to see and engage with. Read on for a deeper explanation on how to understand user intent, especially for your desired audience, and how you can incorporate user intent into your content marketing strategy.
What is user intent?
User intent, often also referred to as “search intent,” refers to the information the searcher is trying to find by inputting certain keywords. These keywords can be very specific, or very broad. For example, if a user typed the keyword “pizza” into Google, they might be searching for pizza places near them, recipes for pizza, or the history of pizza, to name just a few. However, if they typed in “pizza restaurants near me,” their search intent is very clear.
Often, search intent relates to where the user is in the marketing funnel. Typically, the more specific the keyword, the closer the user is to making their final decision about a purchase. Using the example above, the keyword “pizza” could mean that the user just wants to learn more about the process of making pizza and is at the very top of the funnel, in the “awareness” stage; not looking to buy pizza at all yet. On the other hand, if they search “pizza restaurants near me,” then it is clear they have moved towards the bottom of the funnel, looking to make a decision on where to purchase pizza soon.
Another way to understand search intent is to think of the phrase “do, know, go.” Each word signifies what the user wants from their search:
- Do: This signifies transactional intent. The searcher wants to do something, specifically, to make a purchase.
- Know: This signifies informational intent. The searcher does not necessarily want to make a purchase but wants to know more about a certain topic or product. Although these types of searches do not always end with a purchase, it is possible that the searcher will come across information that will lead them to make a purchase later on (for example, if they are searching for information on dog grooming and your grooming business appears in their results).
- Go: This signifies navigational intent. The searcher knows exactly what they want to purchase and from where. They simply want to get to that website. These searches will often include branded keywords, such as “Gap baby clothes.”
Ways To Incorporate User Intent Into Your Marketing Strategy
Now that you have a better understanding of search intent, here are a few ideas for how to incorporate it into your marketing strategy:
- Find long-tail keywords and optimize for them. “Long-tail keywords” refer to the more specific searches mentioned earlier; think “wood-fired pizza restaurant Nashville” instead of just “pizza Nashville.” Long-tail keywords often get lower search volume because they are so specific, but that also means there is less competition for them. If you optimize for a long-tail keyword, you will likely come up more in search results whenever that phrase is searched for.
- Understand what Google thinks of keywords you want to optimize for. Google plays a huge role in determining which pages show up in the top search results. Therefore, it is helpful to understand what content Google thinks is valuable for your keywords. To find this out, you can simply search the keywords you are trying to optimize for, and see what kind of content comes up in the top results. Doing this can help you confirm you are creating the kind of content that Google thinks the searcher will find valuable.
- Provide valuable, well-researched information to your user. This one might seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how much subpar content is out there. Google looks for content that is expert and authoritative, so it is important to ensure your content is well-researched and well-written.
If you were not considering user intent when developing your marketing strategy before, now is the time to do so. Knowing what your target audience’s goals are when they type in certain keywords can help you create content that will rank higher in search results and get more engagement.