February 24, 2010
Written for Newfangled’s Blog

“It’s up to you as a website administrator to carefully craft your meta description, meta title, and the content on the page so that they match the intentions of the users visiting your site.”

This line, from a recent screencast in which l discussed keywords and user intent with Brian Chiou, really stood out for me. It hits the nail on the head an terms of basic things you can do to improve website traffic and user engagement. Accurate keywords in meta data and site content are some of the easiest and most effective tools available to our clients yet so many overlook them!

(Note: Throughout this post, I’m talking about search keywords, not meta keywords Search keywords are words and phrases that a user will most likely search for on a search engine. Meta keywords, a list of words included in your meta data, are a whole other story.)

To fully understand keywords and user intent, you first need to understand the two types of traffic:

  1. Direct: visitors who already know you, and who type your URL directly into their browser or click a direct link
  2. Organic: visitors who find your site through a search engine

Direct visitors are looking specifically for your site, so their user intent will inherently match your content. On the other hand, organic visitors are looking for their search queries. An organic visitor’s search query is his user intent – if he searched how to build a website and your site appears in the results, he expects your site will have the information he’s looking for. The only thing he knows about your site is what search engines have told him, and they get their information by analyzing your content, meta data, etc.

There is a lot of potential to expand your customer base through organic traffic, so you want to make sure you’re targeting organic visitors successfully. However, you don’t want to target any old search engine user. It’s not how many visitors you get; it’s how many of the right visitors you get. You want to attract those users who are actively seeking out, and will benefit from, your site’s offerings. When a visitor’s intent matches your content, he is more likely to be satisfied with your site and to act accordingly – whether it be conversions, referrals, repeat visits, etc.

The easiest way to make sure intent and content match is by using popular and pertinent search phrases, or search keywords, throughout site content and meta data. Our three part screencast series will provide a more in depth review of keywords.