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Diving into the anatomy of a user’s inquiry can reveal a great deal about their intent. While it can be tempting to target high-volume keywords, popularity alone isn’t the best indicator of whether or not a user is likely to convert. Breaking down the keywords that you’re receiving traffic for (and the keywords you want to receive traffic for) by user intent can help you better serve your audience and achieve even better positions in the search results.

Navigation Queries

Unfortunately for data and reporting purposes, a good deal of organic search traffic comes from users that probably should have reached the site directly. Generally, these searchers use terms contained within the URL of the site they are trying to reach. For instance, a user might search for the term “Facebook” or even full URLs “www.facebook.com” and click through from the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), instead of simply visiting that page directly via the browser’s navigation bar. These types of brand-specific terms tell us very little about what a user intends to do on a site, only that they want to get there.

Transactional Queries

The bread and butter for most sites, transactional queries are the most valuable type of search in terms of potential conversions. Users use this type of inquiry when they want to do something: such as stream TV show, buy a pair of shoes, or submit a job application. While varying from “buy team USA jackets” to “stream Olympics live,” users are generally telling you in their own words exactly what they want to do. While these tend to be the most highly converting terms, they can also be extremely competitive.

Informational Queries

Users search with informational queries when they want to learn something. While easy to dismiss as window shoppers, the value of traffic from these users can’t be discounted. Not only do informational inquiries serve as opportunities to establish authority on certain topics, they are also a great resource to capture high-funnel traffic. Today, someone might simply be curious about “how do hybrid cars work” whereas a few weeks later, they might be looking to actually purchase.

How to Strategize Appropriately

Once you’ve identified exactly what type of traffic a certain keyword is bringing in, it’s important to develop clear strategies to address each type.

Clear Titles & Descriptions

The biggest value in meta data descriptions lies in its ability to draw the user’s attention and draw traffic to the site. Encourage clickthrough by showing how your page addresses the user’s specific need. Then, follow up with callouts like “Shop Now” for transactional searches, or “Learn More” for informational ones.

Variety in the SERP

Google offers its users a variety of ways to access what they need, straight from the search results. Does your strategy involve multiple touch-points in the SERP? Local SEO strategy, a Google AdWords or Shopping campaign, and optimizing for Quick Answers are all great ways of reaching users and catering to their specific needs.

Dedicated Landing Pages

Consider what your target audience wants to see. If nothing on your site currently addresses an informational query or interest, don’t simply send the traffic to the next best thing. Create a page for it! Fill demand where you see a need and address specific interests along the way. Optimize transactional pages by following best practices for product descriptions and variation.

A lot of great research, data, and tried-and-true best practices go into creating a successful SEO campaign. With so much to pay attention to, it’s easy to forget that the marketing mindset must remain at the heart of any SEO strategy. Considering the intentions and needs of the user is just one crucial step towards building a campaign that truly dominates.

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