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Understanding Search Intent: The Key to Successful SEO and Content Strategy

Understanding search intent can be the pièce de résistance that takes your content strategy from good to great. The value of understanding customer or search intent goes beyond organic search. Of course, when we conduct an online search, there is always one main purpose in mind. What is search intent? And why is it important? Read along to find out.

What Is Search Intent?

Search intent, also called user or keyword intent, describes the purpose of a specific search query. Do users want to learn, do, buy, or go somewhere? In general, search intent is the motivation behind a search. Most of the time, users are searching for a particular type of answer as they search.

Numerous SEOs are centering on search intent because of Google’s changing algorithms. Additionally, relevant content is more important than ever for accurate search results. Essentially, Google wants to rank pages and content that best answer a user’s search query.

What are the Types of Search Intent?

Did you know that there are different categories of search intent? These categories determine search intent, and Google ranks them as required. This means you won’t have to search multiple times on your search engine. Here are the different search intents you should know:

1) Informational Intent

Informational intent is mainly used when users want to know more information about a topic. As you search for information, it might sometimes look like: “What is search intent?” or “Why is search intent important for my SEO strategy?” Phrases like this fall into the category of informational intent.

Sometimes, you might not know how to go about searching for information or the keywords to use. This will lead you to try until you get the information you are looking for. Keep in mind this isn’t a bad thing because search engines give you answers to queries surrounding the subject you want to know about.

Therefore, this means that you can use these queries to help you define concepts, gather information around the subject of the queries you searched for, and act on the information you have gathered.

The keywords in informational search intent revolve around “what” and “why”. Here are more examples of keywords you can use in this category:

  • Definition of
  • Example of
  • Importance of
  • Benefits of
  • Advantages of

2) Transactional Intent

Transactional intent happens when we want to purchase something online. This category involves buyers going to a specific website where they are ready to make a purchase and narrow down their choices. Of course, the user intent, in this case, is to make a final purchase by the time they are leaving a website.

As users are satisfied with the answers to their search queries, they get to know what they want. Additionally, at this point, confirmation and value. Furthermore, in this category, most users will be on specific product pages, pricing pages, coupons, testimonials, and broad e-commerce landing pages.

Here are some commercial intent keywords that could help you to navigate this category and narrow your choices down:

  • Best
  • Top
  • Compare
  • Versus
  • Coupon codes
  • Review
  • Trials
  • Samples

3) Navigational Search Intent

Navigational intent is used when someone wants to go somewhere. It can be a web page, an online business, or a physical location. For any business with an online presence, it is important to show up as the first response to a query with your business name. Therefore, your business must have good reviews.

Remember, navigational intent that relates to a specific brand usually has purchase intent. Therefore, when people search for your brand name, you should know what other search results pop up. This will allow you to be a step further, seeing other news articles about your business, competitor content, and other websites using your business name.

Common navigational intent keywords are:

  • Address
  • Contact
  • Near me
  • Directions
  • Email

4) Commercial Intent

Commercial intent refers to a user’s commitment to action when it comes to making concrete steps to execute a plan. In this stage, a user performs a commercial investigation and is looking for more detailed information. Commercial keywords show a user’s interest in specific purposes, services, and products.

Users with commercial search intent are looking to become customers. In this stage, it is best to create a content format with in-depth tutorials to take potential customers from “why” to “how” and get them to purchase soon.

Keywords that indicate commercial search intent include:

  • Techniques
  • Methods
  • Steps
  • How to

Why Is Search Intent Important?

If you want to be successful with your SEO strategy, you can craft an effective one using search intent. It has to be a large part of your efforts. Google specifically ranks content with clear search intent. It is one of the factors we discuss below. So why is search intent important?

a) Google Ranks for Search Intent

As mentioned above, Google likes to rank for search intent. Additionally, your audience’s search intent is important for search engine optimization. Furthermore, when Google ranks for user intent, it groups the same or similar information. Therefore, if a user searches for a specific term and finds unrelated information, it sends a signal to Google that the intent probably doesn’t match.

Google ranks for search intent
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A good example is if a user searches “best SEO practices,” and the results are displayed as SEO terminologies, the user will try other sites without clicking on anything. This will send a message to Google that the results of that particular query don’t match users’ search intents.

b) Improve Your Rankings

Search intent is one of the primary ranking factors for Google. Of course, when you want to optimize for search intent, you also have to factor in keyword research. Matching search intent to keywords will improve your rankings.

Improve your rankings
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When your content is apposite to search intent, the target audience will find all their answers on your site. Therefore, this will ensure that they don’t go to other sites to look for the same information. Keep in mind that if your content is relevant, then you will see an increase in the click-through rate and generate organic traffic.

Additionally, searcher intent also covers internal links. While your content might have relevant backlinks, having some internal links with information surrounding the topic is important. This proves to Google that you have the right information, so your content will pop up on search results pages. This is also a great strategy for user satisfaction on any blog post.

c) Expand Your Reach Across Funnel Stages

The funnel stages refer to the steps it takes for a user to discover your brand, to become a paying customer. Of course, running a business and developing a successful marketing strategy heavily rely on targeting keywords for search intent in the SEO community. Knowing and being able to predict a user’s intent makes a huge difference in your strategy.

The more tailored your content is to user intent in different funnel stages, the better it can rank on Google. You can always use Google Analytics to monitor your content. Additionally, it is a great tool that has valuable insights into search terms, transactional searches, and keywords.

How to Determine Search Intent

Sometimes, search intent is not clear. This means that the search term needs to be improved via keyword research. Google keyword planner is a great tool to help with this. You can determine search intent by ensuring your target keywords reflect the search intent by adding keywords like “why, where, what.”

Here are a few tips on how you can determine search intent to help your content rank better:

a) Keyword Intent Types

Most keyword research tools have a column to show you the intent type of the keyword. This means that as you conduct your keyword research, the tools can help you to determine user intent so you don’t have to guess the intent. Additionally, you can also check for SERP (Search Engine Results Page) analysis and look at the type of content that ranks for your keywords.

b) Content Planning

Content planning
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Content planning, in this case, refers to the format of the content and the angle or message you want the content to take. For instance, if your content covers “DIY,” then the angle your content will take is in-depth video tutorials with steps. The “People also ask for” feature on Google is important and can help guide and direct how your content goes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Search Intent

i) Why is search intent important for SEO?

Search intent is important because Google wants to provide users with the most relevant content for their questions. Google’s entire value proposition is based on providing the right answers, and people use Google because it provides quality content that is relevant to users.

ii) How do you identify search intent in SEO?

Enter your target keyword into the search bar and see what Google comes up with. You can probably deduce from the types of results that Google considers the most important search intent for each term.

iii) Why analyze keywords for search intent?

You want your SEO content to match the right target for each keyword. Google will not show your special offer if the page targets a keyword that has an informational purpose.

The Bottom Line

Ranking long-term is important if you want your content to be an authority site. Of course, you have to do this with regard to search intent and how it affects search engine ranking pages. Failing to provide the right and relevant content for users will lead to poor ranking.

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