You want people to visit your blog posts and read your fantastic content. You want them to come back for more and you want to provide them with engaging and entertaining content too. These aims are great but achieving them can be a little tricky, especially if you don’t take into account visitors intent.
Understanding the intentions of searchers is a tricky process, you can’t read their minds! However, you can look more closely at searcher or visitor intent in general and plan your SEO around this. I strongly believe that keyword strategy is incomplete without taking user intent into account.
There are only three different ways in which a searcher can make a search:
- To learn something: a search will be made to research or to gain information
- To do something: a search will be made for shopping or similar actions
- To go somewhere: a search will be made to directly reach a destination
The perspective which most users come to your site is something you can learn. Is your site a place where visitors can shop or a specific destination? If not, it is likely most visitors will land on your site with the intention of gaining information.
Why is it important to understand know User Intent?
Understanding the intent of users or potential visitors to your site will help in getting click-throughs and conversations because you know what people are looking for. What’s more, it can help from an SEO perspective and puts you in the position of being able to provide value for you visitors in every piece of content you post. User intent matters because:
- You know what your audience is looking for
When any keyword is searched for a set of suggestions appear as the query is being written in the query box. If you test your keywords in this way you can see the most popular and hopefully relevant searches using that word, a hint at what people are searching for.
- You have a new source for unique keywords
To get unique keywords and attract highly engaged, niche readers and the best place to find such keywords is from your users. Thinking from a user perspective as well as an SEO perspective will deliver even more useful and relevant keywords. So, if you have user intent at the heart of all your keyword planning processes, you can choose the right niche keywords for your ideal reader.
- You have access to clearer demographic data
Visitor intent based research will give you very specific demographic data. This makes it easier to hone future content and it may mean you can tailor your content in a new direction. For example, if you discover a large proportion of your readers searching for ‘Christmas recipes’ are actually based in the USA, you could modify your recipes to include US measurements as well as the UK.
- You can create better content strategies
Understanding visitor intent will help you to create a content strategy which focuses on what they want to read. Your content can be much more closely tailored to the desires and expectations of your audience.
How do People Search?
There are only four different ways of searching via search engines. Understanding these four search processes is key to your SEO planning.
1. Navigational Search
Navigational search queries are direct searches made to find a particular website. It is common for people looking for shopping sites and brands. The user often doesn’t remember the URL so chooses to search for the site name via a search engine instead. Navigational search queries include: ‘What are the newest Sony products” or “Login to Barclays Online Banking”.
2. Informational Search
The most common type of search query is the informational search. The aim is to gain information about the topic, product or service searched for. They do not have a main focus on any transaction and they usually relate to commonplace things such as the weather, directions or simply because you need some information on any subject.
3. Transactional Search
Transactional search queries are those which relate specifically to online transactions, usually those currently underway but also those where there may be a transaction at a later date. Transactional search queries include everything from reserving restaurant tables to signing up for a new email account to subscribing to something.
4. Commercial Search
Commercial search queries are specifically those which involve a transaction after the information has been found. It combines both the content of a transactional and informational query. For example, if you search for ‘shop for coats online’ it is likely a commercial transaction will take place after the initial informational search.
Research carried out by Pennsylvania State University and the Queensland University of Technology found that over 80% of all searches are informational in nature. Unless you run an online store or similar then it is likely your visitors will come through informational search queries too.
Visitor intent governs the traffic to your site. Understanding what and why people are searching for and the way in which they searching can inform your SEO and ensure you make tweaks in the right places.