Published on July 26th, 2019 | by Sunit Nandi0
All You Need to Know About User Intent-Based SEO
Whether you’re using SEO to gain more organic traffic (if you aren’t, you should be) or to increase conversions for your PPC campaign, it’s important to stop depending strictly on the usual keywords with the most searches. It’s time to dig a little deeper to help determine user intent so you can not only improve rankings but also get a better quality of clicks. User intent considers what the searcher is most likely looking for based on the keywords they have entered. Google has tried to improve its search engines, by considering user intent.
These improvements have made it necessary for SEO experts to understand user intent-based SEO. Here’s everything you need to know about user intent-based SEO in 1000 words or less.
A good example of user intent is when someone enters a national retailer or chain restaurant. The older search engines might send a generic link, such as the head office, whereas the more modern search engine considers local business info to send the searcher the location nearest them. This is handled by the “Needs Met Rating Guidelines” provided by Google using a scale from Fully Meets (FullyM) to Fails to Meet (FailsM).
The rating also considers things such as Rich Snippets, amongst other search features. Snippets are important for users because they provide an answer right away. They are also important for you because they can get you into that coveted zero position. But that’s another topic!
Other considerations would be searches of highly generic nature such as acronyms that can apply to a multitude of terms and organizations. This is because there can be keywords used that have more than one meaning. Google has to interpret the query and decide if it has something to show that’s relevant or not.
Stages of User Intent
Because there are tons of things to consider, one of the easiest approaches to Intent-based SEO is to understand the different types of searches instead.
You can break down the types based on three stages of queries:
- Informational search queries: Here the user wants more information using specific how what, why queries. This will provide them with information for research based on their question. So if you were to enter “How to make ice cream” instead of being shown ice cream stores, or even ice cream makers, you would more likely be shown recipes or step by step instructions. You want info, not a product or service.
- Navigational search queries: Once a user has their basic info, they might progress with a navigational search query using a more specific request. In the case of making ice cream, the question might change to “What is the best ice cream making machines?” The results might now change to show lists of top rated ice cream makers, but now might also include links to buy, but not at the hard sell level.
- Transactional search queries: As the name implies this search is serious. You’ve received all the info required on ice cream making, and now know the best ice cream making machine. This query might sound more like “Where can I buy ice cream machines?” or even “What are the best deals on ice cream machines?” This will lead to results listing online stores selling ice cream machines.
As you can see these queries are all very different despite all being based on making ice cream. In order to meet the needs of each type of user intent, you have to target your content to meet their needs.
Another way to look at the stages and user intent is the Do, Know, Go approach. Do is someone ready to do something such as make a transaction. Know are the people looking for information and Go queries are more of a navigational nature either based on location, or a specific brand.
Keyword Research and User Intent
Our ice cream example helps illustrate the different phases of queries. When you’re doing your monotonous keyword research, you want to find the most helpful hints that will let Google know more about your page, and quickly. Consider:
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords
LSI keywords provide high relevancy, so robots get what your content is about quickly. An overview of words might include homemade ice cream, use ice cream machines, and ice cream recipes which shows robots you specialize in ice cream machines.
Two excellent resources for LSI keywords is to enter one of your go-to keywords in a search and then look at the auto-suggest that pops up in the search and then scroll down to look at the related searches at the bottom.
The best way to test your LSI keywords is to do a search using them and see what comes up. If it’s not your competition, chances are they aren’t relevant enough.
People often forget to use long-tail keywords. When you choose phrases that are more than two words, you’ll see higher conversions. This is because people who know what they want, will be more specific in their searches. Research long-tail keywords and don’t be discouraged when they have low or mid-volume. Less people search with specifics, but the ones who do mean business.
A competitor analysis can provide insight into the best keywords to use. Enter the closest keywords related to your business and see which companies appear on top. You can then run a keyword comparison using a tool like Serpstat or Ahrefs.
Don’t Forget Snippets
As already mentioned, snippets count. Intent is important in your snippets because it further defines the intent of your page so it can be matched up to the user. If a user is in stage three they’ll want to see words like buy to indicate they can make a purchase, whereas a user in stage one might be turned off by the word.
This information can help keep you focused on what a user wants, more than what you think search engines expect. It all works together to build your SEO expertise and hopefully your customer base as well.