User intent refers simply to what a user is looking for when they put a search term into Google.
This is a big consideration for any financial marketer. Not only is it a factor in SEO (search engine optimisation), it also has a big impact on CRO (conversion rate optimisation).
In plain English, this means user intent influences how high your website ranks in Google, and what kind of action they take on your website once they click on it.
All fairly clear so far. The problem arrives when we also talk about KO (keyword optimisation). This refers to how much your web page matches the exact keyword phrase your user typed into Google.
What’s wrong with that? Nothing in itself. Except there seems to be a lot of bad practice going around with KO. A financial marketer might think that simply matching web copy to a user’s search phrase is sufficient for ranking a website.
However, if the page does not actually match what a user is looking for, then Google will actually start to push the page down in search results. Why? Because people click through, see the page isn’t relevant, and then quickly leave.
Google will notice this, and will begin pushing your website down in the search engines for that keyword. User intent is clearly becoming a bigger consideration for Google in 2017, along with a host of other developments.
I remember seeing this mistake happen once with a recruitment company attempting SEO. They were trying to attract mobile app developers in Manchester to apply for the vacancies on their website. So they built a landing page targeting the phrase: “Manchester app developers.”
The page started to rank in Google for the search term. However, it quickly then plummeted. Why? Because even though the page matched the user’s keyword phrase, it wasn’t what they were looking for.
Most people typing “Manchester app developers” were likely looking for a developer to make an app for them. The users were not companies looking to employ app developers. Google saw this behaviour, and pushed the recruitment website down for that keyword phrase.
This is why your financial marketer needs to carefully consider user intent when doing SEO. There is a “keyword myth” out there which needs debunking.
Now you’re aware of it, how can you optimise your website for user intent and not just for keywords? A good place to start is Google Webmaster Tools. Go to Google Webmaster Tools → Search Traffic → Search Queries. There you will see the search terms (queries) which are bringing people to your website.
Next, it’s time to determine the intent of those queries. This isn’t as hard as it may sound. Any good financial marketer will tell you that there are, broadly, three types of queries:
These are fairly straightforward. A search time like “MarketingAdviser” is a navigational term. They are not looking, generally, for information about a marketing adviser. It’s a branded term – the name of our marketing company. This doesn’t require much CRO, since we’re basically gauranteed to win the search term.
These are people who have the acquisition of information as their intent. They aren’t looking to buy anything. When this searcher arrives at your website, you will need to be giving them great information – not a bunch of sales fluff. Providing free whitepapers and eBooks to these kinds of users is a great way to get them into your sales funnel.
If someone types “find Exeter IFA” into Google, their intent is pretty obvious. (“Find” is the giveaway word). This is where you’ll want to go all-guns-blazing on the CRO front. You’ll need a strong headline and image on your landing page. A good financial marketer will also always include a powerful call to action.
So when you conduct keyword research to optimise your website for search terms, be mindful of these kinds of queries. Be careful not to just choose keywords which have a lots of traffic, or which appear relevant. Establish the use intent, and optimise for this with conversions in mind. From here, you should start to see strong results.