- wants more information
- wants to go to a site or
- wants to buy.
How To Create User Intent Optimized Content That Delights Your CustomersClick To Tweet
DOWNLOAD: User Intent + Keyword Research TemplatesKeep your keyword research organized and ensure content is mapped to the correct user intent with this pair of simple Excel templates:
What is User Intent?This term describes what a search engine user is attempting to accomplish when they enter a query.
Three Types of Search QueriesHere are the three types of user intent you can capitalize on for this:
#1: Informational Search QueriesThese queries have the searcher looking for information centered around a problem. The searcher is in an information gathering phase. They don’t know of products or solutions. In this phase they’re trying to understand all they can about their pain.
#2: Navigational QueriesNavigational queries have the user searching for the brand name. Or using internal site search. The intent is to find relevant information from within the site. Why is this important? Internal site search is one of the last things on your mind when you create a site. It only gets better from there. Being the underdog, there’s a lot of scope for optimizing results. This helps you get better conversions.
#3: Transactional QueriesOnce research is done, the user is ready to buy services and products. He’s ready to key in credit card details and make the purchase. A little bit more research on core features, on pricing and discounts later, you have a customer. Terms like “best washing machines” or “washing machine discounts” mirror transactional queries. When you create content targeted for people at these stages you must remember that the right keywords can make or break your strategy. Optimizing for intent begins with keyword research.
How To Do Keyword Research Right?Don’t let anyone tell you that keywords are pointless. Google’s smart. But ranking your site is still old school. Want to rank for more terms? Add the right keywords. The way keyword research is done right now leaves a lot to be desired. When someone researches keywords the general idea is to find buyers. That’s its biggest fallacy. Customers who are ready to buy comprise only a small fragment of the whole buyer’s journey. If all you want to do is to quickly find leads and sell to them, you’re going to have a hard time. The strategy is flawed. Plus, sites that focus exclusively on bottom of the funnel leads are getting penalized left and right. With keyword research, the goal is to find keywords for all stages of the buyer’s journey. Starting from the awareness stage. To do this, map queries to user intent. The queries give you insight on what prospects’ concerns and motivations are. These queries tell you how they frame their searches when close to a purchase. It’s like peeking into their brains. Ultimately, by publishing equal amounts of content that answer informational queries, navigational queries and bottom of the funnel transactional queries, you’ll achieve balance. In this manner, you push content relevant to each stage of the buyer’s journey. Now that’s settled, let’s go into more detail on each query type in the context of keyword research. Here’s how keyword research captures the essence of writing for user intent.
#1: Informational QueriesInformational queries have prospects trying to phrase their problem as best as they can. They embark on a journey. A journey sets them on a path to discovery. These are people who are only beginning to realize they have a problem. Being on the brink of this realization, they respond by searching online. These searches are done with the intent of getting a better grasp at their problem. They’re discovering. They haven’t yet begun to properly articulate their problem. They’re grasping at the fringes, trying to wrap their head around it. This path takes them to a deeper understanding of their problems. They get to know about solutions too. A buyer’s journey consists of multiple moving parts with people present at all stages. And the earlier you’re able to make them part of your funnel the more chances you have of converting them. When you create content for top-of-the-funnel queries, make it easy to read. Address problems with your content. Write for a beginner audience. Most are looking for how to articles pertaining to issues or problems they’re facing. They’re looking to troubleshoot. Say how to get rid of problems, how to start dieting and so on and so forth. Here’s a list of keywords to give you an idea:
- Get rid of
- Not opening
- Not closing
- How tos and others
1. Create a Blog Post With Tips and TricksA blog post that shares tips and ideas on an industry relevant topic is one way to create information rich articles. This article is targeted at people at the beginner stages. Let’s say you’re a coach. Someone who wants to help others start a business. Create a list of tips say “10 Things You Must Know When Starting Your First Business”. It must list mistakes beginners make. Include anything a beginner might want to know.
2. Create a Full-on Tutorial or GuideAim for a tutorial that has hundreds of words, graphics, screenshots, and templates that help anyone to be up and running within minutes of reading the guide. Step-by-step guides with detailed screenshots is one of the better ways to approach informational content. An alternative is a full-on video tutorial. Videos are a great way to provide information. Talk about the steps and show them in action. Say everything someone needs to do to create a blog. Such guides tend to attract lots of links and helps propel your site’s rankings.
What about eCommerce sites?Create a buyer’s guide. Not everyone (96%) visiting an eCommerce site wants to purchase stuff. Look at BestBuy. They have tons of buyer’s guides. They’re clearly targeted at top-of-the-funnel prospects. The guides are easy to understand. They cover all relevant aspects from top to bottom. There are no product links. The guide is meant as a primer. As something that helps people understand the different types of microwaves or refrigerators or cooktops. Source: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/clp/buying-guides/pcmcat322800050004.c There’s no need to think outside the box. The goal’s to appear as a trustworthy and authoritative source of information. Don’t turn your guides into a sales pitch. No one’s interested in being sold to at this stage. With these guides and tutorials you’re answering their questions. The benefits? You build reputation. When they’re on the edge of conversion they might think of you.
3. Don’t Try to Rank for Generic KeywordsFinally, skip over generic keywords. Here are few examples: “social media”, “apple”, “president” and so on. It’s easy to be blindsided in your pursuit of keywords. So much so you unwittingly buzz past the thin line separating generic keywords and informational keywords. There are a lot of generic keywords that look like informational keywords. The two are different. Generic keywords don’t show strong intent. They are way too general to be considered part of your strategy. You will be wasting a lot of time and effort with those keywords. And get nowhere. So, what gives? Long tail keywords. They have some more meat around intent. With long tails, intent is much more specific. By targeting and ranking for longtails, you may not get leads that are ready to convert just yet. You have to wait. But you get lots of targeted leads who you can nurture. The best strategy is to make a list of all the pain points your customers are experiencing. And create posts around them. How am I so sure they will remember you when the time comes? Whether you like it or not, most decisions are driven by emotions. We make decisions first and paint them with shades of logic later. By appearing first in the buyer’s journey you’re allowing time for an emotional investment. Plus, you drive referrals. For example, 44% of podcast listeners start listening to a podcast because someone recommended it to them. With an emotional connection, you’re making a strong case for your brand to generate word of mouth.
#2: Navigational QueriesThere are two types of navigational queries. The first kind consists of searches for brand names happening on search engines. The second? Internally inside your site. If you don’t own the brand getting ahead on navigational search queries is next to impossible. For example, people searching for “Yahoo” most likely to want to go to Yahoo. It doesn’t matter whether you appear second or third for the query. The usual division of CTR by SERP positions doesn’t apply here. The first link gets all the traffic. But, there are opportunities. Let’s say you write product reviews. Instead of typing product + review some might simply search for the product name. They want reviews on the product. Or news articles surrounding the product. There lies your opportunity. The second kind of navigational queries happen inside your site. Let’s say you’re an eCommerce site. People are constantly searching for products on your site. Whether they choose to buy then or later is for another day. But the fact remains— they’re searching. Lots of marketers never really look at their search function. Much less optimize it. It sits there gathering dust. Here’s why you shouldn’t ignore internal site search. Up to 30% of ecommerce visitors use internal site search. People discovering products with internal search have higher conversion rates compared to people who drop by from search. There are many opportunities hiding in plain sight with site search. Here’s what you can do. Look at the top searches happening inside your website. Optimize search results for those top queries. How? By taking stock of commonly made searches and analyzing the links they return. And then going deeper. If the landing pages that appear in response to the search have a high bounce rate that means there’s something you can fix. People are leaving because they’re dissatisfied. They don’t find what they’re looking for. Other than optimizing site search
- Make the search bar easy to find, and big enough to get noticed.
- Monitor and analyze present searches.
- Enhance mobile usability.
#3: Transactional QueriesTransactional queries reflect the intent of the buyer to purchase something. He knows about solutions. He’s ready to whip out his credit card as soon as he gets a handle on a couple more things. At this stage he’s cost comparing different solutions. He’s poring over feature sets. Soon-to-be consumers in the decision stage might key in queries like this:
- Pros vs. cons
- Vendor comparison
- This tool vs that tool
- Tool pricing
- Tool reviews
- Competitor pricing
- Under [price range]
High-intent QueriesWith transactional queries there’s also a certain segment that show high intent. This group searches for coupons and discounts for the product. Ensure that you’re ranking first for these terms. Disallow affiliates from taking away these sweet spots. Say coupon + product name These are easy sales. Here’s an example. While the keywords that get clubbed under the awareness stage are often generic in nature, that doesn’t mean you should go for highly competitive one word terms in the hope that you will able be to rank for them. Keyword research tools and brainstorming template to follow. We saw different types of queries. Let’s go into how to create content.
How To Create Content The Right Way
#1: Content length should be a proxy of user intentDon’t be blindsided by myths around content length. Everybody tells you to write 2000 word posts. It’s also true... in certain cases. Know this— content length and user intent go hand in hand. Before we try and understand why that’s important let’s understand what’s Google. It’s a search engine. That much is obvious. They’re the biggest search engine. And in all likelihood the best. We can at least try and agree that they do a pretty good job. That’s why around 80% of all searches happen on Google. Nowhere else. For Google to thrive, to make its investors and shareholders more money they have to be good at what they do. This means they need to be consistently providing great customer experience. For Google, that comes on the back of satisfying user intent. It’s a myth that long-form content ranks. And today I will be shaking that myth a little. Content that’s relevant and satisfies user intent has the best odds of ranking high. So short content if it satisfies user intent can rank. Do not unnecessarily string paragraphs and balloon word count to stretch the length of your content. For Matthew Woodward deleting a lot of content on his post on SEMrush review allowed him to take the number 1 position. It sounds counterintuitive at first. And why wouldn’t it? His review article checked all the boxes. It was in-depth. He wrote 26,083 freaking words. The post was wireframed with the perfect combination of detailed screenshots, videos and external links. It should have ranked. Except it didn’t. With a few SEO tools he realized that his post had 85% more content than other posts on the first page. And made the connection that this was probably the culprit. Everyone would tell you to write skyscraper content and to bloat word counts. Sometimes unnecessarily. The content with its sheer size made it the odd one out. It stuck out like a sore thumb. As a result the post ranked way down on the first page. This overnight jump was a result of:
- Deleting most of the content on the post.
- Deleting summaries for sections.
- Deleting over 900 or so comments that the post had accrued.
#2: Match search queries to landing pagesIf your search engine page makes a promise on Google’s results, fulfill that promise on the landing page. The simplest way to do this? Match the copy on SERP to the words on the landing page. For Example: Let’s assume that you are looking for a CRM (I was). You’re still confused even after collecting all possible information about the product. You want a free trial. To that end you will key in something like this: “CRM free trial” And you expect to find a page that matches your query. Ideally with the words free trial, get started for free, or register free. Not a page that makes no mention of a free trial. There will be a link to a software trial with the landing page talking all about the trial. This is where the search query matches landing pages.
#3: Create Content That Lives Up To ExpectationsBrian Dean recently shared this case study where he described how living up to people’s expectations helped him rank better. A simple tweak resulted in 650% more traffic. He wrote a post titled “SEO checklist”. His post checked all the boxes. Within days of publishing, it accrued 200 backlinks. If links are the currency of the web, the post accrued tons of them. It got lots of comments. Proof of high engagement. And organic social media shares to complement the links. It started ranking on the first page. But after the first few days of overwhelming interest, the page dragged itself to page 2. Traffic tanked. He got to digging. To find what tanked the page. The bounce rates were high. He figured the guide was way too complicated for people than it was supposed to be. Two, it lacked a checklist. The post didn’t deliver on what the headline promised. Once he fixed the issues by introducing a checklist and 2. Simplifying the post to a level beginners would understand he regained his rankings and traffic. I am summarizing the above two sections here: To correctly nail expectations start by analyzing your industry’s search engine page results. To sum up, here’s how to understand search intent.
- Search for your target keywords and note down the top ten results on Google.
- To understand user intent, here’s what you’re looking for:
- The word count
- Anything common on most pages.