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SEO: What is User Intent?

SEO: What is User Intent?

pizza has user intentWhat’s the User Intent of “Pizza”

Long focused on technical strategies and tactics (keywords, H1 tags, page links etc) for optimizing websites, search-engine optimization experts have begun to adopt a different approach – something called User Intent. Mind you, they aren’t doing this willingly.  It’s simply a reflection of Google’s constant desire to improve search results by delivering the most relevant information based on the search query a user enters.

Type the word ‘pizza’ into Google and the top results will be information about ordering pizza from pizza shops in your
local area.  Google has started to learn that the ‘user intent’ for the word pizza is to ORDER pizza from a local restaurant.

Rather than keep only to narrow concerns such as anchor-text placements, URL-construction tactics, tailored keyword profiles and measured keyword densities, a growing number of SEO mavens are heeding the call from Google and others for high-quality content that genuinely meets the expectations and needs of consumers. The twin hammer blows of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates merely reflect an ongoing algorithmic evolution from static keywords toward the liveliness of semantic awareness and direct relevance to the intentions of visitors.

The Semantics of Pizza

semantic search

Semantic understanding of a website’s content has long been the goal of search-engine companies and artificial-intelligence researchers. Much work remains before natural-language queries allow for true comprehension, but search-engine-industry leaders are determined to get there and are introducing increasingly sophisticated algorithms meant to deliver only the most relevant results to their customers. Staying ahead in this competitive environment requires the creation of high-quality content that serves the implied meanings behind the users search phrase.

In other words, it’s not about creating content with the ‘right’ of keywords. It’s about creating content that answers the questions implied by those keywords.

Among other tactics, optimization experts will study search-engine autocompletion suggestions, localization results, impulse-purchase signals and knowledge graphs for possible matches to their targeted website profiles. Relevancy trees may be constructed as necessary at websites to rapidly narrow down possibilities and identify specific visitor desires that can immediately be met with buying opportunities, requests for contact information, clickable social-media approval links, prospect-referral forms or other desirable actions. Some consideration for especially common misspellings may also be useful as part of an overall semantic-awareness strategy for increasing brand awareness and attracting the ‘right’ traffic (traffic which results in sales for your business).

What are your Goals?
What do you want to accomplish with your website and your company? What can you offer potential visitors and customers? A full comprehension of your goals and the needs of your targeted prospects will help a great deal with knowing which tactics and strategies to follow for success. Having clarified your essential meanings, some important questions appear below:

  • Bored or confused visitors tend to leave quickly. Is your website easy to navigate? Can a visitor find desired information, opportunities, products and services quickly and without confusion?
  • Is the content for each page clearly written and focused on a specific topic? Are links to closely related topics easily found throughout that page?
  • A customer who wants to buy something or perform another action should always be obliged as quickly as possible. Are transactional paths sharply distinguishable and easily followed with unmistakable feedback on success or failure?
  • Persistently unanswered questions are maddening and likely to alienate prospects, but completely answered questions tend to soothe visitors and put them into a mood to post positive remarks about your website on social networks. Does the website content specifically address the who, the what, the where, the when and the why for all obvious questions that might be asked by a visitor?

As with any business, much depends on the subtle art of persuasion and the consumer psychology attendant to a specific product or service, but you should make the most of the work you’ve already put into honing an understanding the needs of your customers.

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Kelly Brown, has 20+ years of experience leading entrepreneurial organizations. Kelly joined Sanctuary Marketing Group after serving 10 years as the Chief Operating Officer and Marketing Director of Communication Resources, Inc., a Canton, Ohio-based publisher serving the church market for over 38 years.

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