Search intent is the foundation of any successful SEO strategy. It’s the driving force behind the keywords that people search for and the content that they consume.
Simply put, it’s the reason why someone is searching for something online. It’s important to understand the user desire because it helps you to create content that is relevant to your target audience and can help your website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Let’s explore how to identify different types, and create content that satisfies your audience’s needs.
By doing so, you’ll improve your likelihood of obtaining a higher rank in search results and attracting more relevant visitors to your website. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert in SEO, comprehending the intent behind searches is vital for reaching your online objectives.
What we will cover
What is Search intent in SEO?
Search intent, also known as user search intent, refers to the reason or motivation behind a user’s online search query.
It is the purpose behind a user’s query and can be classified into four types of intent: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial investigation.
Informational Search Intent is when a user is looking for information on a specific topic. They want to learn more about a subject, solve a problem, or answer a question. The user may not have a specific product or service in mind yet. They’re just looking for information.
To optimize for informational intent, you need to provide valuable and informative content. This can include blog posts, how-to guides, and informative articles. The key is to create content that answers the user’s query and provides value.
For example, let’s say a user searches for “What is Content Angle” You could create a blog post that provides step-by-step instructions on what is content angle, why does it matter, and how to set your content angle.
This would satisfy the user’s informational intent and provide them with valuable information.
Here are a few examples of content that could target people with informational intent:
“10 Tips for Starting a Vegetable Garden”
“The History of the Eiffel Tower”
“How to Train for a Half-Marathon”
Navigational Search Intent occurs when a user wants to go to a specific website or page. They already know what they’re looking for, and they want to find it quickly.
If you are a well-known brand, you might optimize for the most visited pages on your site (ex: login page, contact us pages, etc) along with your branded keywords.
If you are not, you might optimize for queries/keywords related to other intents, as if the user knows exactly what they are looking for, it’s hard to convince him to go somewhere else, and it’s hard to “organically” compete and rank for keywords contain other brand names..unless you will bid for those keywords through Google Ads 🙂
Here are a few more examples of navigational queries:
“Amazon Prime Video”
“Nike refund policy”
Commercial Search Intent occurs when a user is looking for more information before making a purchase decision. They want to compare products or services, read product reviews, and find the best deal.
To optimize for commercial queries, you need to provide detailed information about your products or services and showcase reviews and testimonials. Your website should be easy to navigate, with clear pricing information and a variety of payment options.
For example, if a user searches for “best social media management tools” you could create a product page that showcases your best-features for what a social media management tool could do, including its benefits, and pricing. This would satisfy the user’s commercial intent and provide them with the information they need to make a purchase.
Example: Agorapulse made a page about the social media inbox, and as they know that their customers might compare them with another tools, they picked their top competitors and created different comparison pages.
A page for Agorapulse vs Hootsuite, and another page for Agorapulse vs Sprout Social.
Here are a few examples of content that could target people with commercial intent:
“Top 10 Best-Selling Laptops for Students”
“Asana vs Trello”
“Affordable Wedding Venues in Dubai”
“Best Home Gym Equipment for Small Spaces”
“Best email marketing software”
Transactional Search Intent occurs when a user wants to take action/purchase a product or service. They’re already done researching and need to be directed to a page where they can complete their specific action.
These actions could range from simple purchases, such as buying a yoga mat online, to signing up for a newsletter or downloading software. These are distinct from other types of searches because the user has specific goals and wants to complete an action. As a site/business owner, it’s important to understand this intent so that your content can be optimized for those types of queries.
To optimize your content for transactional queries, you should create landing pages dedicated & optimized for this action, you need to make it so easy to navigate and offer a clear call-to-action (CTA).
Sometimes you might want to use a dedicated landing page tool (like Swipepages) for that, or might modify your website (like what Affiliate WP did) when you visit their pricing page, they hide the menu (that runs on every page of the site except for the pricing page) so they try to minimize distracting their customers or making them have a second thought once you reach the pricing page.
Here are a few examples of content that could target people with transactional intent:
“Buy the Best Running Shoes”
“Macbook air charger”
“Adobe Photoshop discount code”
Why Is Search Intent Important in SEO?
Because it helps you create valuable content that matches the different types of queries your target persona are looking for, which can improve your website’s visibility in search results and attract more customers to your business.
Well, let me give you an example.
Imagine that you own a coffee shop in downtown, and you want to attract more customers to your business. One way to do this is by optimizing your website for search engines.
Now, let’s say that someone is searching for “coffee shops in downtown” on Google. If your website’s content is optimized for this, then you have a better chance of showing up in the search results.
But what does optimizing for “coffee shops in downtown” actually mean? It means creating a content strategy that satisfies users’ needs. In this case, the user is likely looking for a list of coffee shops in downtown.
So, you might create a blog post or webpage that lists the top coffee shops in the area, along with information about your own shop. You could even feature a coupon for customers who shop at your store.
By doing so, you increase the likelihood that the user will click on your website and potentially become a customer. Plus, by creating content that matches the keyword intent, you signal to google algorithms that your website is a valuable resource for users, which can improve your website’s visibility in search results.
How to Determine Search Intent?
There are many ways to learn and determine what users are looking for when they type something into Google or any search engine. Here are some tips to help you out
Tailor Your Content for Each Stage of the Marketing Funnel
Your content typically corresponds to the stage of the marketing funnel that users are in.
Broadly speaking, it follows this pattern:
Awareness: Users can get more information about a specific topic such as “What is CRM”
Consideration: Users are now familiar with the basics of that topic and searching for the best options they have. And they might be using commercial keywords such as “best CRM tools”
Conversion: Users have landed on a specific tool and are now searching for more information about it and here they use transactional or navigational keywords such as “HubSpot pricing.”
By understanding which stage of the funnel the user is in, businesses can create marketing strategies that are tailored to their specific needs and interests. This can help increase the likelihood of conversions and ultimately lead to greater success in search engine optimization.
Use keyword modifiers
These are words or phrases that people use to modify their search query and give you insight into what they’re looking for.
For example, if someone searches for “best coffee shops in Dubai,” the modifier “best” suggests that they’re looking for recommendations or reviews.
To find these modifiers, you can use a range of keyword research tools like Ahrefs or Semrush. They often have filter features that allow you to filter terms that include certain modifiers or phrases.
Analyze the Search Engine Research Pages (SERPs)
When you type in a keyword, Google will show you a list of results that it thinks are most relevant to that query. By looking at & analyzing the types of results that appear, you can get a good idea of what users are looking for.
For example, if the results include pages from review sites or lists of different coffee shops, then it’s safe to assume that people are looking for recommendations.
Similarly, if the results contain articles about making coffee at home and other tutorials, then you can conclude that people may be looking for more educational content.
And if most results are links to product pages and ecommerce stores, then it’s likely that people are in a “buying mode”.
Analyzing the SERP can be a great way to get an idea of what searchers are actually looking for & why they’re searching. It’s also important to remember that different results may appear for the same keyword depending on the user’s location.
Knowing exactly what people are searching for will help you create content that is tailored to their needs and provide them with the information they’re looking for. With this insight, you can optimize existing content or create new content around topics related to their search query. This will also help improve your organic rankings on search engine result pages and provide a better user experience.
How Do I find the Intent Behind a Keyword?
There are a few steps you can take:
Look at the search results
The easiest way to understand the intent behind a keyword is to look at the search results for that keyword. What types of content are ranking?
Do they blog posts, product pages, or something else?
This can provide you with a valuable indication of the type of content that Google considers to be most suitable for the search query.
Analyze the language of the query
The language that people use in their search queries can give you clues about their intent.
For example, if someone searches for “best vegan restaurants”, they are likely looking for a list of restaurants that serve vegan food, rather than information about the benefits of a vegan diet.
Consider the context
The context in which a keyword appears may offer hints about its intended meaning.
For example, if someone searches for “how to cook pasta”, they are likely looking for instructions and recipes, rather than a list of ingredients.
Check related searches
Looking at related search queries can also provide insight into user intent.
For example, if someone searches for “health benefits of apples”, related searches like “apple nutrition facts” or “apple vitamins” can give you an idea of what they’re looking for.
Analyze search terms
Analyzing a query’s individual keywords can also provide hints as to user intent.
For example, if someone searches for “buy iPhone online”, the words “buy” and “online” indicate that they are likely looking for websites or stores where they can purchase iPhone instead of going to offline store.
Consider user experience
Thinking about the type of user experience people might expect when they search for a particular query can also provide insight into what they’re looking for.
For example, if someone searches for “best Italian restaurants near me”, they are probably expecting to see results with reviews, ratings and location information.
Use appropriate online tools
Various online tools are available that can assist you in comprehending the meaning of a particular keyword.
One great option is SEMrush, which provides valuable insights into the intent behind user search queries when using their Keyword Magic Tool feature.
How do you Optimize for Search Intent?
Now that you have a clear understanding of why comprehending the purpose behind a search query is important, let’s dive into some strategies for crafting high-quality content.
1. Analyze Search Queries
The first step is to analyze the search queries that your target audience is using to find your content. Look for patterns and themes to identify the intent behind the queries.
For example, if you run a fitness blog and notice that users are frequently searching for “best ab exercises,” you can assume that the intent is informational. Users are looking for information on how to improve their fitness, specifically in the area of ab exercises.
2. Create Relevant Content
Once you’ve identified the intent behind a query, it’s important to create content that is relevant to that intent. Make sure your content is useful, informative, and meets the user’s needs.
Using the same fitness blog example, you could create a blog post that outlines the top 10 ab exercises and how to perform them. This would align with the informational intent behind the search query and provide value to the user.
3. Use Appropriate Keywords
Using the right keywords is key to optimizing your content. Use keywords that align with the purpose of the user’s search in your content. Use a mix of informational, commercial, and transactional keywords to capture users at different stages of the marketing funnel.
For example, in the fitness blog post on ab exercises, you could use keywords such as “best ab exercises,” “how to perform ab exercises,” and “ab workout routine.”
4. Optimize Your Metadata
Optimizing your metadata, including titles and meta descriptions, is important to accurately reflect the content.
Use descriptive and compelling language to entice users to click through to your content.
For example, a meta description for the fitness blog post on ab exercises could read, “Discover the best ab exercises to help you get a six-pack! Our top 10 ab exercises and workout routine will help you achieve your fitness goals.”
5. Analyze SERP Features
When you search for a query, Google displays various SERP features, such as videos, images, news, local results, and more. Analyzing these features will give you an idea of the type of content that Google deems relevant to the search query.
For example, if you’re targeting an informational query, you’ll likely see “People also ask” or “Related searches” boxes on the SERP. Look at the type of content that’s ranking in these features, and optimize your content accordingly.
6. Featured Snippets
A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user’s search query that’s displayed at the top of Google search result pages (SERPs) and the “People also ask” section. If you can optimize your content to rank in a featured snippet, it can drive significant traffic to your website.
To optimize for featured snippets, identify the questions your audience is asking and provide clear concise answers. Use headers, bullet points, and tables to make your content easy to read and understand.
7. Stay up-to-date with industry trends
Query Deserves Freshness (QDF) is a concept in search engine optimization (SEO) that describes how search engines prioritize fresh content when certain queries become “hot” or “trending”. Essentially, QDF is the idea that for some queries, search engines prefer to show the most recent or up-to-date information in their search results.
8. Monitor Performance
Finally, regularly analyze users’ behavior using Google Analytics and monitor your website performance in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) using Search Console to evaluate its effectiveness.
Here are some metrics to track engagement on your pages:
Time on site: It’s crucial to know how long people stay on your page. Do they leave right after landing, or are they spending some time reading your content? You can also add a heatmap to see how far down the page people are scrolling.
Bounce rate: This metric tells you if people are interacting with your page or not. Are they clicking through to other pages, or are they leaving right away? For transactional pages, conversions usually involve a click, so use events to track clicks that don’t send users to a new page.
Engagement rate: This is the percentage of users who interact with your page in some way. For commercial investigation optimization, you can measure how many users you convince to click through to a conversion page. Keep in mind that not all users will be ready to convert at this stage, so don’t rely too heavily on this metric.
Conversion rate: This metric is a quick and easy way to measure transactional intent optimization. If people aren’t converting, something might be off between your potential customers and the page. However, this isn’t the definitive word on optimization success, as there could be other issues in your conversion funnel causing people to drop out.
By tracking these metrics, you’ll have a better understanding of how your optimizations’ efforts are performing, and you can make adjustments accordingly.
So, to sum it all up, it’s all about understanding what people are hoping to find. And creating content that aligns with what they are looking for. by doing this, you’ll be able to better connect with your audience and improve your website rankings.
To get started with optimizing your content, start by doing a thorough content audit of your previous content to make sure you’re targeting the right keywords, producing the right type of content, and answering the right questions.
Keep an eye on your performance metrics like time on site, bounce rate, engagement rate, and conversion rate to see how well your content is resonating with your audience.
Remember, optimizing isn’t a one-and-done process – it’s an ongoing effort to ensure that your content is meeting the evolving needs of your audience. So, keep testing, tweaking, and refining your content until you’re providing the most value possible to your readers.
How Can You Create A Content Strategy For Search Intent?
To create a content strategy that meets the needs of your audience and achieves higher monthly visits from organic search, follow these steps.
1. Identify the primary search intent behind your target keywords.
2. Create a list of topics that align with that intent.
3. Determine the format of your content
4. Optimize your content for users first, and search engines afterward.
5. Analyze your results using analytics tools.
What are some common mistakes businesses make when targeting search intent?
1. Ignoring user intent.
2. Overusing keywords
3. Not focusing on user experience.
4. Not leveraging long-tail keywords.
5. Not considering search intent for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Can you optimize for multiple types of search intent for a single keyword?
Yes, it is possible to optimize for multiple types of search intent for a single keyword. In fact, doing so can help you capture a larger share of traffic and improve your overall search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
For example, The keyword “coffee beans” can be used for informational intent (“What are the best coffee beans for cold brew?”), commercial intent (“buy coffee beans online”), and navigational intent (“Starbucks coffee beans”).