Regardless of what industry you’re in, your marketing strategy almost certainly includes having a strong website. In 2018, the importance of this cannot really be overstated. One study shows that 81% of consumers will perform a Google search before buying. And if you’re in retail, 92% of consumers will visit your website before making a purchasing decision. Some say investing in a website that makes a positive first impression is just as important as investing in your physical storefront.

While the importance of a strong website is well documented, understanding exactly what constitutes a “strong website” can be tricky for a number of reasons. It varies by industry, it varies by design, it varies depending on who you’re targeting.

The concept of designing a website focused around user intent is surprisingly one that is often not prioritized as it should be, both by web developers and business owners.

Let’s unpack that.

Business owners too often view a website as a glorified brochure. They might use it to explain the features of their business offerings. They talk about what they provide. The thought is often to design a website that best communicates “what we do”. 

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a missed opportunity for business owners.

Consumers visit a website for one of two reasons: to learn or to purchase. Did you catch that? When someone visits a website, either they are there to learn something, or purchase something. Why are people visiting your website? Understanding this is the first step in delivering on user intent.

When you shift your focus to user intent you are placing yourself in your customer’s shoes. This begins by first understanding who your user is. You might think you know who your user is, but now we have the ability through Google Analytics, or social metrics to see who your user is. Are they predominately male / female? Where do they live? What do they click on when they visit on your website? Do they watch videos, view your blog, click on articles? Do they click on the “meet the team” page? The contact page? We might think we know what webpages are most important to them, but what does the data say? What webpages are actually most important to them? Often there is a discrepancy between what we think our users think is important and what they actually think.

Being in tune with your audience means viewing your business not in the way you view it as a business owner, but in the way your actual audience sees it.

Surveys can also play an important role in understanding this. How does this audience think? Why are they on your website? What needs do they have? How can you meet those needs? How can you deliver something they will not find anywhere else? How do you set yourself apart?

When a user lands on a website focused on addressing their needs, rather than reading like a brochure, it naturally converts a much higher percentage of traffic. The wording is different. The items highlighted are focused on the user, not on the company. The videos and articles provide value to the user and addresses what they may be there to learn or purchase.

One more thing about a website focused on user intent. It just so happens the byproduct of this type of site is a higher ranking on Google. One ranking factor on Google is what’s called a bounce rate. A bounce rate means the user landed on a website and, without visiting any other pages, left the site. A high bounce rate doesn’t look good because it means the user came to the site, clearly wasn’t satisfied with what was being offered and decided to go elsewhere. When you focus on user intent, the user sticks around, they spend more time on your site and visit more than one page. This tells Google you are delivering a relevant experience for the user and Google will give you bonus points!

As you look to improve your website and online presence, consider placing user intent at the forefront of your strategy!