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Don’t Ignore User Intent in SEO

by Rolando Herrera
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Article Originally Published in Upcity.

If you’re producing content for a website, then presumably your primary goal is to get as many views for that content as possible. Once you’ve secured the attention of your visitors, then your content should convince them to do whatever it is that your business model dictates.

If you’re running an e-commerce site, you’ll be trying to get them to buy your products. You might want them to subscribe to your social media platforms, or perhaps sign up for your email marketing list. Whatever the case might be, though, it would be a critical mistake to ignore user intent.

What is User Intent?

Simply put, user intent refers to the reason a visitor came to your site. They might be there to get some information, in which case they’ll be headed to your FAQ section, or possibly they’ll want to read one of your blogs. If they’ve come to buy something from you then they’ll go straight to your product pages. If they have a question that your FAQ section doesn’t cover, then they’re likely looking for your contact information.

Analytics Can Reveal User Intent

If you feel like user intent shouldn’t have anything to do with your SEO strategy, then you need to reassess the situation. Not everyone is going to come to your website for the same reason, but you can assume that the majority will have the same idea in mind.

It’s helpful to use analytics to determine user intent. Whichever platform you’re running for your site is going to have many analytics features, and you should quickly learn how to use them if you haven’t done so yet. Analytics will show you how people are behaving on your site, and that will go a long way toward telling you their intentions.

Create a Customer Profile

Compiling a customer profile can also help you where user intent is concerned. You can think of your customer profile as a compilation of everything you’ve learned about the people who are purchasing your products.

No two of your customers are going to be identical, but the majority of them are going to fit into certain categories as it relates to age, gender, ethnicity, income bracket, geographic region, etc. Your customer profile is going to be directly related to whatever it is you’re selling. If you’re selling bras, for instance, then the overwhelming majority of your customers are probably going to be female.

Use Your Social Media

There are different ways for you to create a customer profile. The most obvious way is to ask your customers directly. One way you can do it is through your social media accounts. Ask your followers on Twitter, Facebook, etc. questions about themselves. You can incentivize it by offering them a prize or an exclusive discount on one of your products. To create a sense of urgency, mention that they can only claim the prize if they answer the question during the next 24-hour period. If you’re offering a discount, you should only make it usable for the next couple of days.

Website Surveys

You can also set up surveys for your customers to take on your website. Again, the idea is to learn as much about them as you can, and you can offer something of value, sometimes referred to as a “value proposition,” that will encourage them to give you details about themselves, their lives, and their habits. There are different services that you can use that will create a survey for you, or you can create one yourself if you or someone on your staff has the requisite skill set.

Modify Your Website Once You Have Your Customer Profile

Once you have your customer profile, you can modify your SEO strategy. Let’s say that you’ve determined that the majority of your customers are dog owners. You can post some blogs about dog ownership on your site, or you can mention that you’re partnering with a local animal shelter for an adoption event. You can spread the word using your social media too.

Concentrate on Local SEO

If your business is smaller and you feel like you’ve determined user intent for most of your site visitors, it’s likely that local SEO is going to become a huge part of your strategy. If your website is for a large national chain, then you won’t use these techniques. If you want to become known within a specific locale, though, then your SEO strategy is going to require a two-pronged approach.

First, you’re going to want to optimize your content with plenty of keywords having to do with the town, city, or state in which you are located. Second, you’ll want to refine your content so that your typical customer can find what they were looking for quickly and easily once they arrive at your site. This leads us to the subject of UX, or user experience.

UX is the Final Piece of the Puzzle

You now know about your typical customer, and you know the likeliest reason they’ve come to your website. Your next job is to make it as easy as possible for them to get to what they need.

You should structure your website in such a way that there is no confusion when your customers arrive at your landing page. There should be no distracting graphics, and it should take no more than two clicks for your customer to find the blog, product page, or whatever else is most important to them.

This is even more vital in the case that they are using your mobile site. Your loading speed should be lightning-quick, and there should be no distracting pop-up ads. Knowing user intent is one thing, but poor UX means that your visitors will leave your sales funnel without converting.

User Intent and SEO Strategy are Directly Linked

To put it as bluntly as possible, you’re going to lose business if you don’t take user intent into account when you’re planning out your SEO strategy. If you set up your site without creating customer profiles, using your analytics tools, strategic keyword usage, link building, etc., then your competitors are likely to poach some of your customers. User intent should dictate even the smallest details of your website structure and content.

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