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What CROs Need to Know About SEO in 2015 (Hint: It’s User Intent)

by Sharon Hurley Hall

Google has changed the search engine optimization (SEO) game. Again.

That’s why in the last few months, people have started to focus on a particular aspect of optimizing content: user intent.

What’s interesting about Google’s algorithm changes is that they always demand SEOs to adhere to better, more user-friendly marketing. As a result, optimizing for search often helps you optimize your conversion rate as well. That’s certainly the case with these changes.

Understanding user intent and conversions will improve your SEO results, but they’ll likely improve your conversion rates as well. To help you catch up quickly, here’s your required reading list: 10 articles on user intent, with with a key takeaway from each.

Tips on User Intent

Image: Pixabay

1. Understand the Implications

Sanctuary has an excellent article on user intent and SEO. The article explains that Google wants to ensure that users get relevant results based on the keywords they type in. If you think that sounds just like what happened with old-style SEO, think again. The example given shows that when people type in the word “pizza,” they’re usually searching for is somewhere that delivers pizza within their local area. This is user intent.

Key takeaway: “It’s not about creating content with the ‘right’ keywords. It’s about creating content that answers the questions implied by those keywords.”

2. Answer Users’ Questions

That’s pretty much what Marketecture says about Google’s new focus. This article goes behind the scenes of a search to show how Google attempts to match quality content to user intent. According to Marketecture, we need to rethink SEO. Searchers often use conversational language, and search results have to understand this.

Key takeaway: “Hummingbird has prioritized websites which provide ‘useful’ content which meets real-life questions.”

3. Identify User Intent Keywords

Unbounce takes a different approach, looking at how user intent affects pay per click (PPC) campaigns and landing page optimization strategies. The article outlines three types of keywords that show user intent and shows how you can include these in your landing pages. That allows you to improve conversions whether people are at an early stage of the buying process, seriously shopping around or ready to buy. And it says that optimization has to follow through to your call to action.

Key takeaway: “With PPC, the key is to maintain the message match between your call to action in your ad and your landing page.”

4. Find the Type of Search

Make it Rain also talks about how different user intent keywords match different types of search. It outlines four types of searches—navigational, informational, commercial and transactional—that correspond to different stages of the conversion funnel and different buying intent. The framework outlined helps you to understand which words and phrases are most likely to convert and why there might be failure points.

Key takeaway: This model, says the article: “shows you the holes in your keyword strategy from a funnel perspective–critical to increasing conversions.”

5. Site Search and User Intent

PPC Hero shows how using the site search and behavior flow report within Google Analytics can give you insight into user intent by letting you visualize what happens to users after they land on your website.

Key takeaway: “If you’re sending traffic to a certain page on your site and they are either navigating away or searching for something else, it can be a good indicator of intent.”

6. Match Content to User Intent

Search Engine Land provides another way of looking at user intent. It segments queries into three sections: do something, know something or go somewhere. The article illustrates how the content that is returned for different search terms matches these intentions. It suggests that companies can play “Google Jeopardy” to find out what the intent is and then use this to guide content development.

Key takeaway: “Decoding user intent is not a difficult process, and you already have the tools you need. As with most problems and challenges these days, the easiest and best place to start is to just Google it.”

7. Measure User Intent with Analytics

SEM Rush has a useful article on how to decrypt user intent. While it covers similar ground to previous articles in relation to the types of queries, the golden part of this article is information about how you can use different metrics such as bounce rate and click through rate to see how you are doing on user intent. It suggests several ways to identify user intent and includes three survey questions you can ask to help you to get at this information.

Key takeaway: “Writing a survey according to Dr. Livingston’s formula will not only give you detailed information about user intent—it will also give your copywriters the finest information they’ll get for writing killer copy.”

8. How User Intent Helps with Marketing

Tom Fanelli outlines some of the major benefits of considering user intent in your marketing. It’s about connecting more deeply with users, catering for your local market and increasing conversions. The article gives examples of how using user intent can help achieve these aims.

Key takeaway: “Focus on creating good content—blog posts, landing pages, videos, and more—that anticipates your customers’ wants and needs.”

9. Combine Keyword Research and Webmaster Tools Data

Switch Digital shows how to use data in Google Webmaster Tools which reveals user intent with traditional keyword research to create content that exactly matches user intent. That’s the key to improving conversions. The same keyword research can also be used for meta descriptions, image descriptions and image names for even better results.

Key takeaway: “We’ve seen instances where the organic traffic increased by more than 30% using these techniques.”

10. Group Keywords by Intent

A presentation from Moz on SEO in 2015 (fast forward to slide 34) shows how marketers need to change their strategy to create content that matches user intent. It provides examples of how you think about keywords in a new way and improve SEO with user-focused content.

Key takeaway: Keyword consolidation is the best approach, as multiple keywords can have the same intent.

Two Examples of User Intent

Now that you’ve seen how to use user intent in your marketing, here are a couple of examples of user intent in action.

  • AdParlor helped a client define customers who were more likely to buy by including user intent as a metric in advanced audience segmentation. This resulted in a 380% increase in conversions.
  • Search Engine Land shows how the Content Marketing Institute snagged the top four search results by providing content that matches different user intents.

How has user intent helped you with marketing conversions? If you need more help, check out this recent guide.

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sharon Hurley Hall.

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Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 25 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website.

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  1. Jason Fonceca says:
    August 28, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing all this, Sharon, some helpful links and interesting perspectives on User Intent and SEO 🙂

    • Sharon Hurley Hall says:
      September 2, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Glad you found it useful, Jason. 🙂

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