Growth hacking: Analyse user intent to see search traffic shoot (Updated 2021)

You probably spend a lot of time and effort on content marketing for SEO purposes. Once that content starts to work and generate organic traffic, you can (or rather should) use this trick to take that content and give it an additional traffic boost.

This SEO tip uses intelligence coming straight from the horse’s mouth – i.e. the source of the data is coming from Google itself – specifically Google Search Console.

Google Search Console, formerly part of Google WebMasters, is a toolset that offers quite a lot of insight into the way that Google’s search engine algorithms interact with your website – specifically your website’s content and the way that organic search traffic is arriving at your website. 

The idea behind this tip is to reverse engineer the search queries which are arriving at your website – and then tailor your content to the user intent behind those queries.

(Proviso: for this trick to work, you already need to have some traffic coming from organic search)

How do you decipher user intent?

In Google Search Console under Performance > Search Results you can see what queries are sending traffic to your website. The Queries tab provides a lot of intelligence. By skimming through the queries, you should immediately see some patterns of user search intent emerging. What you see is also an accurate reflection of your best content marketing work.

Here’s an example. We worked on a content marketing piece that compares two pieces of software for one of our clients. Through Google Search Console we can see which search queries led to that particular page, as seen below. (N.B. The red & blue boxes represent the two pieces of software that we were comparing directly in our piece of content.)

It’s clear from this set of data that we’re clearly covering the intent of those searching for a direct comparison between the two. However, our digging shouldn’t stop there. We’ve satisfied the user intent of these individuals, but there may be others that arrived at our page through search queries that may provide us with hints to improve our content.

In the above screenshot, which is taken from the same search queries list as the one before it, we can make a couple of interesting observations. Several individuals have searched for the comparison of the two pieces of software, but for a different use case than the one we covered in our content. There’s also a cohort of individuals looking for a 3-way comparison with another, newer product that’s come on the market.

Using this information, there are several paths we can take to improve traffic, and fulfill user intent in a more complete way. Firstly, we can improve the content of the original piece of content to cover these queries. Or, if appropriate, we can create a companion piece that would link directly to the existing one.

Based on this lesson, here’s a list of things to keep in mind when performing this exercise with your, or your clients’’, sites.

The following are guidelines, rather than rules but they’ve worked for us

1. First and foremost, make sure your content is answering the users’ search intent exactly. If you can expand your content to hit all aspects of that intent, so much the better.

2. Use MORE of the keywords that are being searched for within that content. Whilst expanding the content on the user search intent, drop a few more keywords around the search queries.

3. Add more images and use search phrases as part of the name of the image, and in the image alt and description.

4. If possible – add a YouTube video that is also tuned towards the users’ search intent. If it doesn’t exist – create it yourself!

5. Tune your H1 title to the search query which is generating the most hits in this case.

6. Tune your meta description and meta keywords to the user’s search intent. If there are missing keywords, try to include them.

7. Be prudent – don’t overstuff your content with keywords – just make sure you have killer content for the user’s search intent.

If you do this for both the content that is generating good CTRs and especially for that content which is not generating good CTRs, you should be able to get a very good organic traffic boost.

This won’t happen overnight of course, but working in conjunction with your other SEO efforts, you should see your organic traffic climbing steadily. We’ve seen instances where the organic traffic increased by more than 30% using these techniques.

As always, also work on retaining the increased traffic. Make it easy for your new visitors to subscribe to your email newsletter or at least follow you on social media. 

Hope this helps you out!

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