What is Search Intent and Why do you need to know about it?
When you enter a query into Google, you get a result based on the kind of question you ask, the kinds of words you use. The results are given to you based on your search intent. What are you looking for? Are you looking for answers? Are you looking for a website? Or specifically, looking to buy something? This is called Search Intent, and if you can decode this and give your clients what they are intending to look for, your Page Authority and SEO rankings will skyrocket.
Think about this- if someone is looking to BUY a bookshelf, that intent is different from someone looking to find instructions to BUILD a bookshelf. You can’t serve each query equally. If you sell bookshelves, serve that intent. It would be a waste of time and money trying to capture the intent to build bookcases.
Search Intent is the WHY behind a person’s Google query. Google is getting smarter. It tracks where people go once they have got the SERP. If your page ranks high but doesn’t satisfy that user’s intent, and they click out and then go to option 2, Google will know this. And when other’s do the same, Google will rank that site higher for that search intent.
You must deliver content that is relevant to the intent of the user.
Search intent is the WHY behind a person’s search. It is the number 1 factor of importance for Google when it comes to ranking. Why? Because if you can deliver the best result for someone’s intent, if you provide a result which is most relevant, Google will rank you higher.
Google rates Search Intent so high on its list of factors for successful SEO, they have published an article about How Intent is Redefining the Marketing Funnel.
There are 4 kinds of search intent:
- Informational – They want to know stuff.
- Navigational – They are looking for something particular stuff.
- Transactional- They want to buy stuff.
- Commercial Investigation- They’re comparing different stuff to make a decision.
Let’s have a look at each one in turn.
What is Informational Search Intent?
The person who is wanting to learn about something, who wants to know information, are the ones using an informational search intent query. It is arguably the most common search type used today.
People have a question and turn to the internet for answers, quite often on a mobile device.
- When are the Oscars?
- Who won Best Director?
- Where is the nearest petrol station?
- How do I change a tyre?
- How do I learn about SEO?
Can you see the pattern? Questions being asked by users. So what you need to do is answer the questions relevant to you and your target audience.
It is said in marketing that you are solving the problems customers didn’t know they have. During your market research, your keyword research, you can discover what it is your target audience is searching for, the questions they are asking, and get in front of this.
With the combination of keyword research and search intent, you can make real advances in your Google ranking.
What is Navigational Search Intent?
Navigational searching is where you think you know what you’re looking for, but can’t quite remember. If you’re not sure about the spelling of a website or a brand, you put it into Google, hope it autocorrects you, correctly. And then you click the link and go on through.
An example of this could be when searching for stylish British shoes, are you looking for Doc Martens or Dr Martens?
These search types are dominated by brand names as well. People tend to not input websites directly into the navigation bar, rather they’ll google the brand and then click through.
An easy solution to this dilemma is marketing on brand recognition and having an easy brand to remember and spell.
What is Transactional Search Intent?
Someone who conducts a transactional search is in the mood to complete a transaction. While it generally refers to wanting to purchase a product or service, it doesn’t have to be that specific.
Someone could be looking to sign up for a course, or sign up for a newsletter to get information.
These people are pretty sure about what they want. It may be to buy online or to find where a store is to buy from, but they are focused on what they want.
Following on from the shoe example above, now we search for WHERE to buy docs. Google already assumes we’re talking about shoes, and gives us 3 search results, and a map, to where we can find shops to buy Docs.
Well-constructed category and product pages can help herd these search intents towards you. A clear Call To Action, or a hook to get email information, will help you reel in these transactional searches.
What is Commercial Investigation Search Intent?
This kind of research is where someone is comparing prices, comparing star reviews, comparing products and services to make that transactional search decision.
Do you want to buy an Apple or a PC computer? Which streaming service do you want?
These people are also comparing businesses and reviews. They’re checking out your competition. This can be where reviews can work for you and against you. This is where testimonials on your website can work for you.
This is why you always research your competitors and do a better job than they are.
Why is Search Intent Important for SEO?
Google measures how you serve customers, how you serve their intent. So if you can better service this intent this is a good thing.
But how do you do this?
Improving the User Experience (UX) is the first step. The UX design of your website allows Google to crawl your site quicker so it knows exactly what you have and can serve the intent quicker.
Niching can help you rank up with Google through a strong service of intent. The more you niche the stronger the search results for people in that niche who will find you.
If you deliver what is being searched for, Google recognises this. It lifts your Page Authority and your ranking on the Google tree.
Google has even published an article about how important it is for your marketing funnel.
How can you Tailor your Website for Search Intent?
Any advantage or strategy you can implement which gets organic search to your site is a good thing. Just remember you can’t catch all the search intent critters on the web. Target your audience, find your niche, and you shall find an abundance of critters, or customers.
As we said before, these are questions, people seeking answers. The easiest way to grab these intent searches is to use the answer of the query in the copy of the most important parts of the web page:
- Page Titles
- H1 and H2 tags on blog posts and articles
- Meta Descriptions
When people see these answers quickly and easily they will click through for a more detailed answer. You better make sure keywords, and the answer to the questions, are included in the body copy when they click through, else you will be penalised by Google.
You can see how a niche works here. If you’re answering the questions your niche always asks, then not only will Google nudge you up the rankings, but you shall soon become an authority in your field, which will draw more organic traffic.
It can be tricky to use SEO to grab these kinds of searches. What does work is marketing, getting out into social media, brand recognition, so then people search for you.
You can implement landing pages to serve the marketing campaign, so when people are searching for your brand or an aspect of your marketing campaign, then they will find that landing page, and hence your online brand.
Clarity is king here. Being able to give a user the most direct path to purchase is what you’re aiming for. More than 3 clicks to purchase is a bad design.
Have a clean design for your products and service. Have the copy focusing on the WHY a person will buy. What are the BENEFITS to them to buy? What value-adds can you give them? Visually, great product shots, a clean design with white space, and other design elements will have customers sticking around longer.
Give them a clear Call To Action. Add to Cart, Buy Now and such are good, but if you can weave your personality into the CTA, even better.
The quicker you can get the message to your potential customers the better.
The best tip we can give you for this kind of search is to have your category pages and product pages feeding the potential customer with all the benefits of shopping with you.
Do your competition research, use words in your copy that speak to your target audience, entice them to choose you over everybody else.
Testimonials and social proof can work well in this instance as well.
Like all good takeaway, it must be tasty. In the realm of SEO and content, this means you have to have QUALITY CONTENT above everything else. It is no good targeting a search intent if the users land on your page, see it is sub-par and then leave. This will increase your bounce rate, which Google notices, and will impact upon your ranking.
Deliver good content which serves the user. Answer their questions thoroughly, show them the benefits of your products and services.
And then, why not ask them to complete a small survey? This will give you insight into their intent to coming to your website. Get the news right from the search intent horse’s mouth.