Ever before Google rolled out its first update in 2003, it relied on the textual information searched by the user to return relevant results. Google first changed its ranking algorithm in 2003, known as the Florida updates. This change in its algorithm paved the way for the search engine to constantly modify its ranking criteria for satisfying every user's queries in the best way possible.
Today, the search engine has progressed leaps and bounds, with tons of SERP features and tools and its cascade of ever-changing algorithms to meet the searcher's needs.
One such update was prioritizing the user intent or search intent. In a crux, user intent is why the user searches for a specific keyword. Let's dive deeper into this algorithm update and what it means for brands and marketers.
User intent or search intent is the reason why searchers are typing to access any kind of information online. Search intent has greater scope than simple keywords; while the latter involves specific, relevant phrases, search intent can be loosely compared with user behavior.
Search intent tells us why the searcher is looking for information online in the first place. It tells a brand why the user is searching for a specific phrase and not another. This helps them to narrow down on the best possible keywords related to their niche that will attract relevant prospects likely to convert the most.
Search intent can be bifurcated into the following three categories:
Informational queries are when users look to access any kind of information online. These include blogs, tutorial videos, infographics, podcasts, etc.
These queries pertain to any commercial transaction or other activity undertaken by the searcher. E-commerce purchases, downloading e-books and brochures, or signing up for memberships are included in transactional queries.
Evident from the name, navigational queries are the ones where the user tries to locate a specific website or content on the internet.
User or search intent plays a critical role in your SEO strategy and impacts conversion rates. You focus on search intent related to your niche, and you understand your target audience better, which can, in turn, help you to focus on target groups who are most likely to buy from your brand. While keeping search intent in mind, conversion rate optimization can be done by modifying your content to appeal to your target audience and engage and compel them to buy from your business.
With its Hummingbird updates, Google realized the importance of search queries over search keywords. It looks closely at each word entered by the user to understand their query and return the most relevant results.
An example of search intent would be if and when a user searches for the word 'Apple.' This would signify to Google that the searcher is either looking for the fruit or the company and its products. Based on the words that precede or succeed Apple, the search engine will determine which one of the two is the searcher actually looking for.
Google expects you to create content that satisfies this user intent, rather than just creating content around keywords. Your content needs to be informative, detailed, relevant, and accurate so that the searcher gets what they're looking for. Your content will help Google differentiate between different topics around the same search phrase.
User intent is evolving to be a key component of marketing. It informs brands and marketers as to what their customers exactly want. Search intent helps you to craft content that is less keyword-centric and more focused on giving value to users and customers.
Before integrating search intent in your keyword research strategy, you must identify which phrases are bringing the most traffic to your site. You can do this with the help of analytical tools online, like Google Webmaster Tools, which will better understand search queries.
The second step is to look closer at those search queries and understand the intent behind them. Before, we talked about how user intent can be divided into informational, transactional, and navigational queries. The crux is to create your content in a way that complements the user intent of your targeted phrases.
With your content in place that aligns with the search intent, you simply need to find ways to enhance your prospects because you already have the information they want. You just have to compel the audience with a conversion strategy to buy from or associate with your business. By doing so, you meet the user's specific needs and significantly improve your chances of landing a customer.
Below are some common search intent optimization techniques that you can follow as a start:
We already mentioned there are three kinds of searches. Focusing on each of them will help you return relevant results to the searcher.
When someone does an informational search, he/she is looking for information on a particular subject. They aren't there to find a specific website, much less buy something. Make sure that you have the proper informational content on your site. It could be about your products or services, industry, market trends, or how your products/services can solve their problems. Just don't try to sell them anything.
Alternatively, your marketing and sales team can go all out with transactional queries to generate leads and maximize conversions. That's because the searcher is looking to buy something, and hitting them in that sweet spot will help you to gain more customers. Remember to cover the basics of conversions, including proper calls-to-action, engaging content and visuals, a catchy headline, etc. Another key point to note here is that transactional queries aren't always about buying; the user could be looking for discounts or offers towards an end product. In this case, you should then focus on guiding the searcher to the relevant source where their search intent is fulfilled.
Lastly, for navigational queries, you simply have to organize your web pages to make navigation seamlessly easy. For handling these queries, create content for guiding the user to the relevant web pages that they want to access.
You can magnify your targeting strategy by creating landing pages for each of the search query types. That means having a proper informational page and another that displays your products or services.
Building dedicated landing pages for specific search intent queries will also help you be flexible with your approach and customize each element per your conversion rate optimization strategy. Not every web page of yours should be designed to sell. Some should convey information about your brand or its offerings and other consumer awareness campaigns.
For transactional queries, build a landing page with highly optimized content created to sell. Remember to include compelling call-to-action with offers that cater to the search intent. It could be discounts, coupons, or other offers that may entice your prospects to convert into leads or customers.
A/B Testing is a research methodology that includes testing two variables, A and B, through a series of experiments or tests. This model is widely used in UX research as it follows the double sampling hypothesis model.
The A/B testing model is a popular digital marketing and products technique. The same is also useful when you're optimizing your site for user intent. Follow the A/B approach while creating content, calls-to-action, and other elements to ensure that you cover the whole ground.
Don't Ignore Search Intent in your SEO Campaign.
Turning your back on user intent could severely impact your conversion rates, especially in the long haul. You may enjoy higher rates briefly, but eventually, you'll see a drop in those numbers if you don't optimize your content and web pages as per the search intent. You need to pay attention to exactly what your prospects want. Only your ability to match their search intent and satisfy their query will optimize your conversion rates in a sustainable way.
The best practice would be to optimize for every kind of search intent and then nurture those leads further down the pipeline.
Here at NYCSEOPro, we have an acute understanding of search intent and the way it impacts SEO. We're always available to solve your problems round the clock and offer you the best digital solutions for the success of your business. Get in touch with us to know how NYC SEO Pro agency can help your business succeed on the digital front. We're passionate about delivering value to each and every one of our clients with stellar digital solutions.