When planning your content topics, keep user intent in mind
What are some of the topics you write about for your firm’s website? Maybe you provide tax updates, the latest internal news, or you share client stories. Different topics can serve different purposes for the user. Another way you can think about your content writing strategy is by considering the types of user intent.
What is user intent?
User intent is all about what your visitors are looking for. This could happen while they’re browsing, or when they land on a particular page of your site. If a visitor is looking for contact information, they’ll want to get something different out of the content of your website versus someone who wants to know how much money they should expect to spend for a software or a service. Here are the main types of user intent, plus the kinds of content that are good for each.
Types of User Intent
With informational intent, visitors are looking for more information on a given topic. In a buyer journey or a sales funnel, they may be at the very beginning. They may be trying to better understand a topic or be looking for more detail on something with which they are already somewhat familiar. They are likely not ready to make a purchase.
When you’re writing for informational intent, you should help visitors see why they should care about what you’re sharing. You shouldn’t make this batch of content too salesy. That could turn off potential clients who are only looking for information at the moment.
Here are some questions you could answer with informational content:
- What is outsourced accounting?
- When should I start succession planning?
- Is QuickBooks the right tool for me?
With this content, you should be specific. Include as much information as possible (1,000-1,500 words minimum). Link to other relevant resources in your post. Give opportunities for visitors to move to other levels of intent by including calls-to-action.
Users with navigational intent are looking to get somewhere, either location-based or on your page. Thinking about content navigationally is more about how you organize your content to make it easily accessible for visitors. Think about what parts of your website need to have navigational content and what it will look like. What questions do you hear the most from clients, especially when it comes to finding certain things?
Navigational content could include:
- Bill Pay
- Contact Page
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Forms clients need to fill out
When a user wants to be able to find something easily on your page, it is your responsibility to abide by user experience best practices to provide it where they expect it. For example – if they are looking for a search bar, they’ll probably go to the upper right-hand corner first. If they are looking to contact you, they’ll look in the menu and the footer. Keep your content well-organized on your site to prevent confusion. If you are worried that some users are getting lost along the way, install a tool like HotJar to see how they are behaving. That way you can make changes where people are getting lost.
With transactional intent, users are looking to make a purchase and want more information on that stage of the process. This is also the stage where a visitor is ready to take a higher-commitment action that might not be directly related to a purchase, like signing up for a webinar series, downloading and eBook, or requesting a consultation.
At this point, you know that the visitor is already interested in what you have to offer, so the content shifts from informing to harder selling. Answer the questions that may be getting in the way of that user making a purchase or requesting a consultation for services. Common questions to answer at this stage include:
- What your service packages include
- Cost comparisons of different services (or hiring in-house vs outsourced help)
- Cost tiers of different software licenses
There are two slightly newer levels of intent now recognized – the first is commercial. Commercial intent could be considered a subsection of transactional intent – the user is looking to buy something, and in this case, they are looking with a stronger intention to buy sooner. The types of search queries include words like “buy,” “pricing,” “deal,” and “discount.” While you may not have a direct eCommerce option for anything on your website, what you could do is tailor some keywords around these searches – “What you need to do before you buy ERP software,” for example. Give visitors an opportunity to make a purchase or get as far along in the buying process as you can – at the very least, make sure they can schedule an appointment with you.
Local search is a user intent that can be combined with any other type of intent previously listed. What’s important to think about for this one is that users will have search queries containing words like “near me,” “local,” or the name of the city they’re in. Creating pages for individual cities used to be popular in SEO strategy, but what you don’t want to do is inaccurately represent your location. If you have several offices, it’s a good idea to have a page for each one. If you’re working on targeting potential clients in a specific geographic area, you could also use that as a target keyword on service pages. For example, you could say “We work with manufacturing clients in the Chicago area.”
With local search, you also want to make sure your local listings are up to date and consistent, not only on your website, but also across any map listings where you may be found (Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, etc.). If so, you’ll be more likely to show up under a list of “accounting firms near me” as a map result when someone is searching and close to your office.
Types of user intent can create additional dimensions to your content that go beyond your original strategy
The next time you write blog or website content, think about the types of user intent, and what you expect users to be needing or looking for when they visit a particular page. This can help guide the nature of your content beyond thinking about personas or buyer journeys.
About Sammi Dittloff
Sammi Dittloff is the Marketing Director at Chortek LLP. Prior to Chortek LLP, Sammi spent time working in large and small agency settings, and academia.