When the billions of users input a search in Google’s search engine, there’s a clear intention behind it, whether the user is aware or not. This is described as search intent.
As you can imagine, the intentions behind a search query are endless, ranging from seeking practical advice to making a purchase to even indulging in a full-out escape by watching your favourite Youtube clip.
Yet from a marketing perspective, we take these intentions for granted. But we shouldn’t – understanding them plays a huge role in whether your online presence becomes noticed.
For instance, when you understand the intentions behind search queries (keywords) that are related to your brand, you can craft and align content like product pages and blog posts more accurately to your audience’s needs. Not to mention the needs to search engines.
Then, you’ll receive more visitors, they’ll spend more time and engage with your website, and as a result, your website’s search engine rankings will rise.
So if you’re interested in crafting more relevant content and devising a more effective SEO strategy by understanding search intent, we’ll breakdown the most important elements along with critical steps for success. Ready?
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is search intent
- The 3 categories of search intent
- How to leverage search intent in 4 steps
- Key Takeaways for using search intent
What is Search Intent?
The ‘why’ behind search queries is called user intent, or search intent. Search intent is divided into 4 different categories: informational, navigational, commercial and transactional.
Each of these different categories captures different intentions behind why a person may be searching for a particular thing online. Understanding each category is vital for crafting a good SEO and content strategy that’s relevant to your targeted audience.
Here’s a breakdown of the categories in more detail.
Informational search intent includes queries that focus on finding information on topics or answers to problems. For example, in terms of SEO, an informational search can look like the question “What is SEO?”.
Information queries are a great way for leading people to your website as they search for businesses like you: “Best SEO Services in Vancouver”, “How to build a good website…”, and so forth. The user’s intent is to discover information.
This is why you’ll typically see informational searches with key phrases including ‘I need to…’, ‘How to…’, ‘What is…’, ‘What are…’, and ‘Best ways to…’.
Tip: The best way to target informational search intent queries is by becoming an authority on your topic. How exactly? Through blogging, videos, infographics, guides and overall, by producing high-quality SEO content that offers useful information to the user.
And this all starts with keyword research.
Navigational search queries are those that seek a specific website or brand. This kind of search intent includes queries that typically involve a brand, product, or service name, followed by a phrase such as ‘Cost’, ‘Reviews’, ‘Services’. One example is “Upwork writing services”.
Tip: Because the user has a specific idea of what website they’re searching for, you can’t hope to rank for navigational queries unless you own the website. Google has labelled this as “go query” and narrows down results to 7 to assist the searcher.
The 2 best ways to target these users is by becoming the owner of your brand’s navigational query. And by purchasing relevant keywords so that you feature at the top of Google’s sponsored and organic results. Think pay-per-click ads.
Transactional or Commercial Intent
Transactional or Commercial queries reveal the user’s intent to complete a transaction, such as making a purchase. Transactional intent shows a person has already searched for information, made a decision and is ready to buy.
Commercial intent refers to keywords that are only relevant to transactional searches such as ‘buy now’, or ‘product’ keywords. These keywords indicate high commercial intent like “organic collagen powder online”.
Tip: These keywords are all highly commercial and therefore of high-value. These users are at the end of the sales funnel – credit card in hand and ready to buy right now! It’s important not only to target these keywords but be prepared for the arrival of potential customers once they arrive. Have you made it easy for them to reach their goals once they land on your site? Think conversion-rate-optimization tactics.
How to Leverage Search Intent
Once you understand the four categories of user intent, you can use this understanding to improve your SEO strategy.
1. Align content with relevant keywords
Firstly, take a look at your top-performing keywords on Google Analytics or Google Search Console, and examine which of the search intent categories they fit into.
For instance, if the top-performing keyword phrase for an article is “grooming pitbulls” and your article is about how to groom dogs in general, add more relevant information on pitbulls. This way you’ll tailor your content more towards what search engines think its about and what users are visiting it for.
Another tip is to include Google’s “people also ask” content into your article, creating headers and subheaders where necessary.
2. Align content to user Intent
Secondly, think about what kind of users you want to draw to your online presence. If you want users to come to learn about how to bind books, but your blog posts are about comparing the prices of different paper manufacturers, you won’t rank highly in Google searches for informative bookbinding queries.
Think carefully about what kind of searches you are targeting, and ensure that your pages fit that category neatly.
3. Take note from your competitors
Thirdly, take a look at what your competitors are doing, using tools such as SEMrush, AHREFS, Moz and SpyFu. This can show you which keywords they are targeting, which may help you to refine your niche. It’s also one effective way of doing keyword research. You can scan their content and find ways of how you can improve on it, such as by including more relevant “people also ask” content.
4. Long tail keywords are the future
Finally, make sure all of your keyword targeting and SEO is focused on natural language searches. Voice searches are becoming increasingly common, and by ensuring you are on top of this trend, you might be able to get ahead of the game.
Key Takeaways for Leveraging Search Intent
Now you know what goes behind every Google query (a specific intent), you content developing goals will be easier by 10-fold.
The main things to remember are:
- Search intent is the goal of users when they type in a query. Understanding this search intent is the cornerstone of SEO and modern content marketing because it should inform what content you create online.
- With search, the type of intent will depend largely on what stage of the buying process the user is at. There are 4 general categories: commercial, navigational, informational and transactional.
- Once you understand the 4 categories of user intent, use this understanding to improve your rankings and engagement. Understanding search intent ensures that your products and services are optimised for users to find you at that crucial point when they’re searching for a business like yours.
Analyzing how Google interprets user intent through the steps listed above can be a little time consuming, and might appear complex at first. Nevertheless, this is time well-spent that will help your business to succeed.