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How to Optimize Your Content for User Intent

When it comes to SEO, or search engine optimization, there are a lot of ways that companies can boost their websites and be seen by more users. However, increased traffic should not be your primary goal. Instead, your primary goal should be an increased number of viewers who want to see your content. Would you rather have 1,000 users in a day that immediately leave your website and move on to a better fit or have 50 users that stay on your website, learn more and eventually turn into customers?

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Cortez

Textbroker Marketing and Communications

If you have any kind of digital content, then you’re probably already familiar with the concept of SEO. Search engine optimization, as the name implies, revolves around search engines like Google and Bing. But how, exactly, do search engines know what users are looking for, and how can you ensure that the right users find your content?

The answer boils down to user intent. As you create content for your brand, it is important to keep your users’ intent in mind because search engines like Google will be doing the same thing. There are over 63,000 Google searches performed every second of every day, so knowing the intent of users and targeting them specifically can be a huge part of your online marketing strategy. Find out how you can better optimize your content for user intent and reach more of your desired audience.
 

What Is User Intent

 
The last time that you personally used the search function of Google or Bing, what were you trying to learn? Were you looking for a funny video to send to a friend, or were you looking up reviews for a local pizza place? Perhaps you were searching for the address to the nearest Starbucks, or you were finding the email address for a local politician. Whatever your intent, you probably assumed that Google would do its best to find you what you were looking for.

Google takes the user’s intent into consideration when providing search engine
results, and you should be doing the same thing when you create content for your business. Knowing a user’s intent is the first step in providing content tailored to their specific needs. There are three primary types of intent to learn about, and they are informational, transactional and navigational.
 
Informational: Informational searches are known as “Know” searches. As the name suggests, these are searches where the user wants to know something. When users search for information, they usually aren’t interested in making a purchase just yet. Instead, they want to learn something new. The right content for informational users is information, and it should provide value. A common mistake is to jam a sales pitch into your informational content, which can sometimes turn users off altogether. A better choice is to provide unbiased, expert information in response to a common query in your field. Then, add a simple call to action so that users can learn more about your brand, products or services if they wish.

Transactional: Transactional searches are known as “Do” searches. This type of search is motivated by the intent to do something, like make a purchase. A transactional search might include looking for the best lawnmowers for sale, finding the nearest bridal dress shop or looking for flooring samples before remodeling a bathroom. If you can identify a user’s intent as transactional, then you can optimize your content so that it matches up with their desired course of action. If someone wants free samples of a product you carry, don’t try to push a bulk order on them. Instead, create content that shows users the benefits of your products and perhaps even offer trial sizes to better align with their perceived needs.

Navigational: Navigational searches are known as “Go” searches. These are some of the most common searches. The intent of the user is very clear in navigational searches: They want to find out where something is located. While these are straightforward searches, search engines do need to make some assumptions about intent along the way. For example, if you are searching for the local IKEA and type, “IKEA location” into your search engine, you won’t get the address for the IKEA headquarters. Instead, the top of the search engine results page will direct you to your closest IKEA store.

 

Content Should Add Value, Not Appeal to Robots

 
When it comes to SEO, or search engine optimization, there are a lot of ways that companies can boost their websites and be seen by more users. However, increased traffic should not be your primary goal. Instead, your primary goal should be an increased number of viewers who want to see your content. Would you rather have 1,000 users in a day that immediately leave your website and move on to a better fit or have 50 users that stay on your website, learn more and eventually turn into customers?

In order to end up with the right kind of audience, you need to appeal to real people rather than robots. Far too many businesses think of SEO as a numbers game, tweaking one element and then the next in order to boost their rankings on search engine results pages. There is no doubt that things like meta data, headers and other metrics matter. However, they should be used in addition to your underlying strategy of providing valuable content to your audience. With every blog post you write and landing page you create, think about whether your target audience would truly want to read through it. If it is informational, entertaining or otherwise appealing to people, not just search engine crawlers, then you are on the right track.
 

Why Search Engines Want to Provide the Right Match to Users

 
It is important to remember that search engines have a vested interest in matching users up with content that aligns with their intent. Most people can probably remember a time when they used a search engine and the results were comically skewed from what they actually wanted. When this happens, it is known as a search misinterpretation. For example, you might want to find the address to your local Walmart and search “Walmart address.” If the top result is the address for the Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, that is probably not going to sufficiently answer your query.

Therefore, search engines do what they can to cut down on misinterpreted searches. They do everything possible to accurately judge a user’s intent and then present relevant search engine results. If a search engine does this well over and over again, users will come back to that search engine. If a search engine does it poorly, then a user will turn to a different search engine as an alternative.

If a search engine doesn’t pull up your company or website in response to a specific search query, it is not because they don’t know about your business. Instead, it is because their algorithm suggests your content is not the best match for the search. Rather than trying to trick search engines into boosting your rankings, aim to create better content that will make it onto results pages organically.
 

Understanding Your Target Audience

 
Knowing the intent of all your users all the time is a tall order, and in most cases, it just isn’t realistic. However, what you can focus on instead is understanding the general intent and needs of your target audience. Armed with this information, you can tailor content to match up the intent of most users.

A great place to start is by creating buyer personas for your target audience. If you aren’t sure what your buyer personas might be, take a look at any data you already have. How would you classify your typical customers or subscribers? You might be able to say that your average customer is female, a mother and between the ages of 30 and 50. With this information in hand, you can start to paint a picture of what your target audience might want to know. It is worth creating multiple buyer personas depending on the size and scope of your business. When you create any content moving forward, think about how it could directly apply to and benefit one or more of these buyer personas.
 

Optimizing Your Content to the Intent and Needs of Your Desired Audience

 
By now, you understand why knowing the user’s intent is important, why search engines use intent when bringing up search results and why it is critical to create content that appeals to your target audience. Now, you can focus on specific ways to optimize your content so that it takes intent into consideration.

A fantastic place to begin is by looking at information you already have on hand. For example, you could start with all the emails you receive in your customer service email inbox. After combing through them, do you notice some similar questions? Perhaps multiple users want to know how to use a certain product or what services are ideal for them. Repeated questions mean that multiple people in your audience are all asking the same thing, and your content should address those questions. You could choose to create a blog post answering a question, or you might want to adjust your FAQ page so that it includes the most commonly asked questions.

All of these actions are things that can boost your SEO rankings and increase visibility in search engines. More importantly, they are directly relevant to your customer base, which means that they are also likely to match up with the intent of your target users.

For SEO purposes and to better connect with your target audience, it is important to optimize your content. If you can understand user intent and then convey that through your content, your business can thrive in a digital landscape. With more informed content, you will make meaningful and valuable connections with your intended audience.

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