User Intent

Once you know your audience, the next step is to understand them a little more and figure out what they want and need. User intent is an important concept when designing and building webpages to help increase both search rankings and the value of your pages to your audience. This should be the cornerstone of building and editing your webpages.

According to Wikipedia, user intent, also known as query intent or search intent, is what a user intended or wanted to find when they did their search. These intentions are often categorized into three goals:

  • Navigation: getting to a specific site (Go)
  • Information: getting more information about a particular topic (Know)
  • Transaction: performing an action, such as purchasing or applying (Do)

Knowing the user intent when they get to your webpage is important in determining how you structure your page and what links or buttons you may add. Often our pages cover all of these intentions, but certain pages may be more geared to one category than another.

There are a few ways you can find the search terms people are using to get to your pages, or even search impressions where the user searched and your page was listed but not clicked on:

  • Within Google Search Console, go to Performance > Search Results
  • Within Google Analytics go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels, then click the Organic Search link in the results. For privacy reasons, this information may be limited, so use it with a grain of salt!
  • Use Moz or another tool.
  • You can also see what things people are searching for once they are actually on your site. Within Google Analytics, go to Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms. This can help you see what people are searching for and may not be able to find at all.

Looking at the search terms, you should identify what type of results they intended to find (Go, Know, or Do). From there you can evaluate your pages that show up in those results to determine if you are providing the information or actions that the user is looking for. Or, with the information from that last bullet point, you can see what things the user looked for and didn’t find that maybe you need to add to your site.

This can help you create pages that users want at their particular point in time and help funnel them towards your end goal, whether that be applying to the University and becoming a student, attending your events, or understanding a particular topic.

There is so much information available about user intent! Here are some additional resources for you to check out:

The next step would be to design for user experience.