Steps to Create an SEO Strategy Based on User-Intent
Search engine optimization strategies are still largely dependent on keywords. Outbound and inbound links, optimized website design and relevant, unique and informative content continue to be important. However, an SEO strategy should also factor in the intent of users. Every internet user initiating a search on Google has a specific intention. The intent could be informational or navigation. It may be transactional. Most people who start searching for something are not at a stage wherein they will make a decision to purchase a product or sign up for a service. Only such a stage requires transactional content. Other stages require either informational or navigational contents.
The first step to create an SEO strategy based on user intent is to understand the three kinds of contents that Google find relevant depending on the search initiated. Google is constantly trying to rank relevant pages for all kinds of search criteria. The search engine giant is hence not only considering but actually recognizing the intent of users. It is ranking pages or displaying search engine results according to that intent. Let us factor in a few real examples.
>Users initiating informational searches look for guides or illustrated content. For instance, if a user searches for ‘how to edit photos/videos’, then Google will prioritize content that are basically guides. The search results in this case will not have any products listed for sale. There may be sponsored posts but organic search results will be devoid of ecommerce landing pages and other sales content. The most relevant pages will be stepwise guides, blog posts or tutorials, usually a combination of these, such as the ones found on WikiHow and Instructables.
The second type of intent is navigational search. Such type of search may be initiated with queries like ‘which is the best photo/video editing software?’ This is clearly a question but the user is not exactly looking for one product. The user is searching for information related to such software and wants to learn more about the options. The first page of search results in this case will be mostly buying guides. Comparative studies of different software, top ten lists and similar posts will feature prominently in the search results. Landing pages, sales pages and other similar website contents will not feature on the results for such navigational searches.
The third type of intent is transactional. This is more definitive and indicates a user is ready to purchase something. Search queries like ‘where can I buy photo/video editing software’ will lead to sales pages or the ecommerce webpage for the type of product the user wants. The search engine result page in this case is mostly populated by ecommerce pages or products listed on online stores. There may be a few posts informing the user about the various stores where the product is available for sale but the priority is to list the websites that are actually selling the item.
Bearing in mind these three types of user intent, a webmaster or a business owner should have enough diversity in the kinds of content they have on the website so all types of search results reflect their presence. A sales page is unlikely to show up for an informational search query. Pages relevant for navigational search queries will not show up for transactional searches. Likewise, informational posts will not be the priority when a user intends to buy a product and wants specific websites where they can do so.
The review of any SEO strategy for user intent should not be at the cost of other effective tactics. However, ignoring user intent will have a serious adverse effect on the search engine result page ranking of a website.