Your Complete Guide
While search intent is often overlooked, it is one of the most crucial ranking factors. Even if your page has valuable content and keywords, you may still not rank without optimized search intent. Let’s go over what search intent is, the different types of search intent, along with examples, why it matters, and how to optimize it for your page.
What is Search Intent?
Search intent (otherwise known as user intent or audience intent) describes the actual purpose of an online search. It’s the reason why someone conducts a specific search. For example, users may be asking a question, looking for a particular website, trying to buy something, and more. These goals can often be determined by certain words – if a search contains the word “how,” they may be looking for information or if a search includes the word “buy,” they are most likely trying to make a purchase. By aligning your content to the search intent, you can provide a relevant solution to the user while also improving your ranking.
Search Intent Types
There are four different types of search intent – informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial. Learn more about each other kind below, along with some search intent examples.
Informational: Lots of searches on the web are done by people seeking information. That could be information about the weather, recipes, information about SEO, etc. These searches are usually formulated as questions, such as “how many calories are in a bagel” or “what is the weather like today.” However, there are some exceptions. Informational searches can also be presented as a non-question, such as “strategies for growing an email list” or “best gluten-free blogs.”
Navigational: The second type of search intent is navigational, referring to when someone wants to visit a specific website. For example, people who search the term “Twitter” are usually on their way to the Twitter website. It may just be easier for the user to search for the website instead of typing in the URL. Sometimes users use navigational intent to find a specific website section, such as “LinkedIn login.”
Commercial: Some people have the intention to buy in the near future and are using the web to do their research. Like informational intent, this search is often used to compare different products or services to provide users with detailed information that will help them decide on their purchase. Some examples of online commercial intent include “Star Trek posters,” “best washing machines,” or “massage in Philadelphia.”
Transactional: These types of searches occur when the user is nearing the end of the buying cycle and is ready to make a purchase now. This type of search usually contains language cues like “buy” or “buy online.” In addition, these searches include anything related to price or where to buy something. Examples of this type of search are “life insurance quotes” or “buy groceries online.”
Importance of Search Intent for SEO
SEO and search intent go hand-in-hand, especially with search engine algorithms improving by the day. Search engines can now determine the intent better, therefore displaying content most relevant to that particular intent. Aligning your pages to this is essential to gain higher rankings. It’s also important to properly convey your page’s intent via the title or meta description. Well-optimized meta will help users find the solution to their search on your page and encourage them to click through.
In addition, attracting the correct type of user to your page helps with conversion. This makes sense because if your page matches the user’s search intent, you can provide that solution for them. Furthermore, if they see you as a useful source of information, they are more likely to visit your page in the future for products or services, increasing their trust in you as a reputable website.
Optimizing your Search Intent
So, how do you optimize your page for search intent? The first step is SERP analysis. Look at the search engine results pages and look at the language used to determine the search intent’s purpose. Are they trying to buy something? Are they asking a question? Once you have determined that, review the top results and see how the page is formatted and what kind of information is included. Certain SERP features may also provide further clues. For example, if a product carousel is present, the user’s search is most likely transactional. The key is to carry out a detailed analysis of all top search results for the best determination.
After your SERP analysis, you should have a better grasp on what type of content is ranking highly (blogs, landing pages), the style (video, infographic), how it is formatted (guide, review), and what angle it takes. After looking at all of these factors, you should have a solid plan for adjusting your page to match user search intent. For example, if “how-to” guides rank highly, create your own and attempt to offer even more helpful information than the top search result.
If you want to know more about your audience’s search intent, another way is to ask them simply. For example, providing a small survey containing questions about what people were searching for as a pop-up as they enter your website can provide valuable insight into your audience.
Search intent is perhaps the most critical ranking factor today. If you fail to give searchers what they want, the chances of ranking are slim to none. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your content fits both the terms people are searching for and the intent of your audience. For example, make sure your pages are informational when users are searching for information and lead people to your sales pages when looking to buy a product. Also, search intent can fluctuate and change over time, so it’s best to review your SERP regularly. If you notice any significant keyword drops, your first step should be to check the search intent and repeat the analysis.