As a content marketer, I guess that you already know about the importance of content in your strategy.
You know that your message is important, that you need to convey it properly and that you need to convince the audience that it is the right message for them. However, everything depends on the type of the message you deliver and also, on its effectiveness in terms of information and value.
Content marketing may still be your main strategy and I would recommend to keep it that way. People are constantly looking for new information in several areas of interest and as long as you manage to satisfy that need, you are OK.
You can use content marketing in order to optimize your strategy, attract more customers and keep the existing customers engaged and involved, It will allow you to get the best results in the shortest time span and with minimum costs.
However, there is a question you should ask yourself: “Is it enough?” Well, the “enough” idea depends on several variables. And, one of these variables, maybe the most important of them, is the search engine variable.
Here, everything depends on user intent and the way you manage to understand this valuable idea.
What is user intent?
Let’s start by admitting that user intent is a major factor in search engine optimization because the term describes what the users are looking for when they conduct search queries. In other words, “user intent” refers to what the user intends to find when they open a search engine page, types in the query and hits enter.
There are many types of user intent. Nevertheless, the most important types are the following:
In this case, the user tries to find out a certain site and get to it. He may be using a specific keyword when the website is not certain or, the name of the website if they know it but they forgot the address. Also, people may use the name of the brand in order to find the official website for that said brand.
Here’s an example:
The user’s intent is to find a specific website. He inputs the keywords and the results take him there.
This type refers to the user’s intent to collect information and/or to acquire knowledge in one field or another. This is the most common user intent that needs to be addressed by the content marketer. As a promoter/writer, you should always focus on targeting people that need to be informed and make sure you are delivering valuable information to them, hoping that they will stick to your website and become regulars.
Whether they become regular customers, fans or regular readers depends on your type of strategy and your main goals.
The above image shows us what informational user intent means.
As you can see, the user tries to find a specific piece of information. He inputs the keywords and the search engine delivers the articles that are most likely to be relevant for his querrie.
In this case, the user is prepared to buy or perform some adjacent/related commercial activity related to the products you are selling or your brand. It is your job as a content marketer to make sure that specific keywords and search queries lead to your website and pages of your website.
To this end, the content should be adapted in order to meet specific user intents and cover all their potential wants and needs.
In the above example, the user has the specific intent to buy a specific product. Websites and businesses who understood that specific need, built their websites and contributed with content so that the search engine may pick them at the top of the list of results for that search. They understood a need and tried to satisfy it immediately.
What do you need to understand is that everyone who performs an online search as a specific intent. Whether they want to buy something, find information on a specific brand or acquire knowledge in a specific field, they hit enter with the specific intention of finding what they are searching for.
Meeting this expectation is paramount for a marketer should they want to achieve their goals and make the most out of each marketing campaign.
How to use user intent in content marketing
As I have already mentioned in the previous sections of this article, user intent is something you can use in your content marketing campaigns. In this section, I will address the matter of “how”. Let’s take a look at some of the best options for you regarding this issue:
Use keywords and key phrases
Keywords are paramount in search engine optimization and when we think about user intent, they become paramount in content marketing as well.
First, you need to identify the queries that can possibly bring users to your website. It does not matter at first what you want those users to do. At this point, it is important to convince them to click on your website’s link and in order to do that, you need to combine content marketing with search engine optimization.
This is the tricky part but it should be tricky only the first time you do it. Once you learn the basics, everything will fall into place and the time spent with the SEO part will be minimal.
Here’s what you need to do from the content marketer’s point of view:
- Research the market and the user intent for your topics of interest. It includes a keyword research targeted on the topics that are suitable for your blog or website.
- Type in Google Search the chosen keywords. This is important because it will allow you to evaluate your competition. At first, it will show you who are your main competitors on the selected keywords. These main competitors are the first websites that will be listed by the search engine, on the main page.
- Read the top 3 results. But, not only read them, try to evaluate them. Open each of these pages and read them, read the articles or the blog posts that are listed. Try to understand why they are there and why they were picked by the search engine and listed on top of other pages.
- What do you see in common? Why are these pages listed there? How did they compose their messages? Is the keyword present? How many times? What other questions do they answer? What is the tone of the voice? All these questions should be answered before actually starting to write your own piece. They are all about user intent and they will teach everything you need to know about this concept.
- What kind of intent do these results satisfy? Is it navigational? Is it informational? Is it commercial? Whatever this intent may be, you need to know it before writing your pieces. Why? Because you need to know what type of user intent you are addressing. It’s a different type of article when you want to spread knowledge on a topic and a whole other type when you need to sell a service or a product.
- How can I satisfy user intent? This is the last question you should ask and at the same time, one of the most important of all. This is the moment you should decide the type of content you need to create and how it can contribute to satisfying the user’s intent. Overall, it should be informative, easy to understand and in line with your branding elements including the visual ones and the literary ones as well.
In order to understand the strategy easier, let’s take a look at an article I have published a while ago and the user intent regarding its main keywords:
What did I do? How is this article first in the list provided by the search engine for that specific keyword regarding the same specific informational user intent?
Well, what i did first is to perform the same search on Google, before writing my piece. I have noticed what other websites have already published and the informational aspects covered by their articles. I have decided to come up with something new, something original and informative as well.
This, however, was not all. Observe the description of my article. It mentions the same keywords three times, at least.
Apart from that, I have tried to compose a blog post that is easy to understand and read but at the same time, one that actually answers a series of questions that are all suitable for that specific user intent such as: “What is visual content?”; “What is the purpose of a visual content marketing strategy?”; “How can one create a visual content marketing strategy?”
These are all adjacent topics that are strongly related to the main one and contribute to the overall ranking of the page. Why? Because people who search for the specific query i have already mentioned above, are also interested on this topic beyond the answer itself. They need to know what the topic is about, how can they apply the answers to their own campaigns and why.
In conclusion, you can clearly see that all those steps and questions listed above are important and each one of them can effectively help you understand what you have to do and how to do it in order to be successful.
How to create a solid user experience
Besides fulfilling the user intent as a need, you should always aim at creating your content as easy to read and understand as possible. These two are elements that regard the overall user experience. Apart from them, here are three important pieces of advice you should undertake. They will help you improve the SEO aspect of your pages and the user experience as well:
- Have an easy to read the introduction. This part should be paramount. The description of your page or the first paragraphs is what people will see first when the search engine delivers your link. This description should always be easy to read and understand and of course, it should convince the audience that they need to click the link for more information.
- Create a table of contents. It will help the users understand better your article, browse through the data provided and of course, select the article from the search engine’s list. The table of contents may appear as a description in Google or, as an answer should the audience pose a question. Here’s an example of such an article from this blog: A marketer’s guide to composition.
- Use H2 and H3 titles and subtitles. These are important elements in SEO and content marketing as well. From an SEO perspective, the titles and subtitles act as keywords carriers for your audience. They mark specific pieces of text with specific designations and keywords that may prove to be important by fulfilling a specific user intent. From content marketing perspectives, they act as important breaks between chunks of texts, breaks that define each section in particular and at the same time, that delimitate them from other areas that serve another purpose or debate another topic. You can check all the articles posted on this website, such as this one, and observe how these titles and subtitles serve the purpose of the intended marketing goals.
User intent is an essential concept in content marketing and search engine optimization. Whatever your purpose may be, it cannot ignore this idea and the goal should be always aligned with the concept of covering this aspect.
With this article, I tried to shed some light upon the basics of user intent, underline the principles that influence content marketing based on it and give some valuable pieces of advice towards meeting the required industry standards in this aspect.
Are you aware of the importance of user intent in your content marketing strategy? What other important facts about user intent can you add to this article?