KEO Marketing

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Search: How to Optimize for User Intent

Optimizing for User IntentMost marketers know that search engine optimization has evolved by huge leaps recently. We have gone way beyond the days of basic keywords. Today, SEO encompasses intent—meaning, evaluating a user’s motivation and guessing at what they really want to know, and what the motivations are behind this particular search.

For marketers, this isn’t a situation you can handle passively. You cannot just sit around and hope that intent-driven SEO happens to push people in your direction. You must optimize your content and refine paid search campaigns to best capitalize on search intent capabilities.

There are at least three main intent types:

Navigational: The user is trying to get to a particular destination. As a marketer, your goal is to guide them to specific sites.

Informational: This one is self-explanatory. The person is looking for information, and you want to answer their question or help them solve a problem.

Transactional: The user is ready to buy or take some other type of action. Your goal is to assist them in making a purchase (from your company, of course).

So, how do you optimize to capture leads based on intent, and drive conversions from all of these users? The basic answer is that this boils down to things you should be doing anyway. You want to find out what people need and then make sure you give it to them.

Use your analytics—and all of the related tools available to you—to find out what people are looking for, and what they want to know. Again, don’t just look at the words or phrases. Delve deeper and think about what the user was hoping to achieve via that search. What answers are they hoping to find? What products or services do they need?

Figuring out what users want is just the first step. The more important part of the equation is following through in giving it to them. You must ensure that your content answers their question or provides a solution to their need or challenge. If people visit your site but leave quickly or fail to convert, you are likely dropping the ball.

Analyze your current sites or pages and look for places where you can expand or improve your existing content, with the user intent data you have gathered in mind. This is where the optimization comes in. You either need to enrich the content you already have, or create new materials designed to address user goals and needs. At this point, you aren’t trying to get the attention of search engines, you are optimizing with visitors in mind.

In addition to providing information, you also want to do everything you can to make visitors feel comfortable about doing business with you, so they are more likely to convert. This is where trust-building elements such as testimonials, guarantees and customer reviews can help.

As with any sort of change or new tactic, you should keep an eye on your analytics following your optimization efforts, and continue to tweak or make adjustments as needed.

For all of your search engine optimization and online advertising needs, KEO Marketing can help.


With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.