What is User Intent?
There are 5.5 billion searches done on Google everyday. Each query string that is typed on Google is written differently. This is because there are 3 types of searches. The 3 subsets of user search intent are:
- Informational search
- Navigational search
- Transactional search
Informational queries follow a specific search pattern trend that is easily identifiable. These search queries are when a user is curious about a topic, and they go to Google to find the answer.
Users that are searching for informational based queries usually start their search with a question. The search pattern tends to look like this:
- “How to get a girlfriend?”
- “What is road rash?”
- “Where can I buy a bicycle in New York?”
As you can see, it is easy to assume that the user typing these search queries on Google is seeking information to get answers to their problems.
Navigational queries are when users are searching for something with the intent of finding a particular website. Users are likely to insert search queries such as:
- “Elegant themes”
- “Brian Dean”
People using navigational queries are often aware of what they’re searching for and have trust in that brand or product that they’ve searched for on Google.
As a note, claiming navigational queries on Google is now more important than ever as it is a major part of On-SERP SEO. Rand Fishkin discusses the importance of this in his presentation at Brighton SEO.
Search queries for a transactional intent are different than the former. These queries indicate that there is some sort of buying intent behind the query. For example, transactional based queries usually follow this pattern:
- Buy iPhone 10 XR
- Get car quote
- Restaurant specials
To reiterate the latter statement, these queries clearly indicate that someone is looking to make a purchase, and that is what classifies them as transactional based queries
Google Rewards Pages Matching the Right User Intent
As a result of so many searches being conducted daily, Google always aims to pair the correct content to the correct user as it enhances the performance of the search engine for the end-user.
My Thesis Statement:
This article will prove to you that UX is emerging as the number one ranking factor.
Case studies that demonstrates this point will be provided, as well as what you can do to win on the search engine results page against your competitors.
I’m not going to disclose the company, but I’m going to show you the data and tell you what increased the traffic.
In the chart below, you will see that the website in this case study went from receiving 4,000 average visitors per month to 90,000+ visitors, and averaged out at around 31,000 organic visitors per month. (Note:The decrease in traffic was unrelated to me as I was no longer working with the client anymore, nonetheless it is still much higher than what it was.)
This traffic increase was the result of optimizing this website for users by looking at what our top competitors were doing to achieve their success. The traffic to this site was not increased from link building. There were already enough links to rank for the terms that we wanted to rank for. In addition, to give more context to the situation, this domain was already 2 years old, and had a 30 DA.
I conducted a full SEO and UX analysis, and that analysis lead me to believe that the reason why we were not getting the results that we wanted to achieve was because we were not matching the intent of the user.
This website is a public records search engine, sort of like spokeo or instant checkmate.
What I did to get this result
One thing I noticed from our competitors were that they were adding content to their pages, something that the company I was working with, was lacking.
All we had was a page with a search bar and zero content.
From analysing my competitors, Google was clearly showing me that people did not care about just having the ability to search for others—They wanted clarity, they wanted to know more about the tool, how they should use the tool, if it made sense to have a membership or just make a one off purchase. The users wanted way more than what was being provided to them.
After in-depth competitor analysis, I applied the same tactics that our competitors were using to several pages on our website, and that is what allowed the traffic to skyrocket and get us these results.
What does this tell us about User Intent Optimization?
User intent is real and given the evidence, this leads me to say, in your 2019 marketing strategy, you should be focusing on User Intent Optimization to solidify rankings in the future as this trend gets noticeably larger.
How to Identify Page Intent?
Instead of rushing to create content, you should qualify the keywords that you’ve found by searching for them on Google and seeing what listings are returned in Google’s index.
If the index returns something that favors the ideal intent for your audience and will allow you to create content that benefits them, then you should target it. If it doesn’t however, I would advise you not to waste your time.
If you have access to Ahrefs, I recommend analyzing the content that’s already receiving top page rankings on your competitors websites. You can analyze this by following these steps:
- Type your competitors URL in the Ahrefs search bar
- Look to the left and search for Organic Keywords in the sidebar. Once you have found it, click on it.
- Filter the keywords by position. Order the position from lowest position number to highest.
Filter the keywords by position. Order the position from lowest position number to highest.
If the keywords match, consider using that competitor’s current page as a guide for the new page that you create on your website.
Advanced On-Page & Content Optimization for UIO
On-page SEO goes hand in hand with user experience. When users are reading your content, they want thorough in-depth articles that have graphs, images, and videos.
Content that is created for a page should be easily digestible for the end-user. The images, graphs, and videos that you provide should be used to break up all the words on the page that you’re optimizing. This is surely to help increase your webpages dwell time.
Stop relying on Yoast to do your On-Page optimization for you. This isn’t 2015, if you continue to rely on Yoast or any other tool like Yoast on WordPress for on-page optimization, you will lose to your competitors on the search engine results page.
If you want an affordable tool that’s going to impact your rankings positively, I recommend Page Optimizer Pro by Kyle Roof.
Manual On-Page Optimizations
If you can’t afford to pay for a tool, I have a solution. While this solution won’t be as good as a dedicated tool, it’s still a great option.
When you’re looking at the search results to see who’s ranking for the terms that you’d like to rank for, go through the top 3 results one by one. Use control F and type the target keyword in the “Find in document” search bar to scout out how many times your competitors are mentioning the target keyword in their article.
After you’ve done that, you should have an idea of how many times you need to mention the keyword in the content to rank. But you also want to be careful not to over optimize. Your keyword density should only be as high as 3% as a rule of thumb.
Some credible SEOs like Anthony Lam who works with Matt Diggity at Diggity Marketing also recommend using the TF-IDF feature in Rank Tracker by SEO Powersuite to avoid over optimization, I personally don’t use it, but I see no harm in doing so.
Calculating average word count, image count, li tags, and all other on-page factors are important. Remember, you are trying to match the user intent of Google to get your page shown in the SERP.
If Google realizes on average that a page performing well on the search engine results page is 5,000 words, and you write a piece of content that is 6,500 words long, you’re going to win on the search engine results page.
Keep in mind however, you’re only going to continue to win if users enjoy the piece of content you’ve created. Google will split test pages and rank your page on the top of the search engine to see how your page performs in comparison to the others.
Meeting the averages is just the first part of achieving rankings, but making content engaging for your users is what puts the icing on the cake. This is why you want very interactive content that not only matches the user intent but also allows your audience to spend more time on the page.
When you’re writing your content, you don’t want to add fluff into it. You want to make sure every single line that you’ve added into the article adds substance to your users and provides value.
The pages that rank high on the search engine results page for a given keyword are rewarded with such high rankings because Google realizes that people who read the article enjoy
Data Analysis for User Intent Optimization
Many agencies that I’ve worked at in my professional career fail to understand why using Google Search console is crucial for rankings and understanding user intent. There is a huge difference between using Google Search console and using a typical keyword research tool.
Google Search console shows you data that actually relates to the specific pages on your website. If you see search queries in your Google Search Console report, that means you’re actually being shown for those queries.
Based on your judgement, it is up to you to decide how you want to optimize accordingly. Because you’re actually being shown for these specific queries in Search Console, you will find that there are more opportunities for CTR optimization.
Something else to note about pulling keywords from Google Search console: This method of click through rate optimization and keyword targeting plays on user intent, as the data matches what google is showing you for, ultimately matching what the user is searching for.
Do links still matter?
We all know this is a question in your mind right now as you’re reading this, and my answer to that question is hell yes, links still matter. Links are what helps you to build your authority in 2019 and there is no doubt about it.
However, I would not waste my time focusing on link building. You see, getting links naturally, and link building are two different things. When you’re actively link building, you’re spending hours of your time reaching out to other websites in your niche to offer value not knowing whether or not if they’re going to respond. That is a huge amount of time that is wasted that could otherwise be put into your clients campaigns.
The reality is, unless you’re selling links, they don’t make you money, content does. Instead of focusing on outreach and link building like everyone else, focus on building real relationships and making real appearances. Focus on building your brand. When people see you, hear you, and trust your brand, it creates a better user experience, and this will allow you to gain more links naturally.
Track Your Progress
Making changes in your SEO campaigns are only part of the user intent optimization process. Tracking the impact that each change has is what’s important for you to measure your success.
Title Tag Performance – When you update your title tags, you need to evaluate whether they’ve had a positive impact or a negative impact on your organic campaign. You can track this by using the free template that I have provided here.
In this template, you will document the title tag changes that you have made. There is a column to add both your old and updated title tags, as well as, the amount of clicks that you have received in the given time period that you are tracking.
You will use the monthly data that you have gathered to compare the results. Using these numbers, it will be easy for you to indicate whether there has been an increase or decrease in clicks as a result of your change.
This gives you valuable information about the users intent because it is a direct way for you to identify what users may be looking for.
The template provided has conditional formatting. If you’ve seen an increase in clicks, the cell that contains your click data will turn green. If there is a decrease however, the cell in the spreadsheet will turn red.
Benchmarking should be conducted on a page by page basis. To understand what has affected the increase in traffic, I recommend testing single variables at a time. When I document changes in a spreadsheet, I make a note of what was changed. Documenting everything makes it easier to for you and your clients.
Increase sales with user intent optimization
Monetizing content that is optimized for User Intent is simple, it is just a matter of figuring out what stage of the funnel the user is in based on that content that you have produced and understanding how to use the content that you have produced as leverage.
For example, if you create an “Ultimate Guide to SEO for Beginners” it is fair to say that people who cater to this type of content are in the TOFU stage. By using your in-depth free content as part of value ladder in your funnel, you can quickly take these users through the path cycle TOFU > MOFU > BOFU by creating what I like to call an “internal link funnel”
But the question is “how?”:
Well let’s assume the example provided above stands true, you can have links and CTAs to MOFU based content that provides value to the users. You can create large buttons that guides the user to a webinar that you may be using to promote a course.
To get the sale and have the user at the BOFU stage, you can give your users a sneak peak (free trial) of the course that you are promoting, or you can provide different reviews and testimonials of the course from users who have already made a purchase.
In fact, this same process works well for one of the affiliate products I promote on my website called Indemandcareer by Seth Hymes.
This article ends pretty abruptly, but that’s because recently I’ve been chasing a value only blog posting type of style. I don’t want to filler to the blog for the sake of “ending the article in a nice manner”
With that being said, hopefully you’ve learned some new tips and tricks that you can apply in your marketing strategy.
Dresean Ryan is the founder of Dresean Consulting, and he seeks to help business owners generate leads at scale. He also aims to help young professionals find their path to a job in Digital Marketing