Search intent is one of the key elements that can take your SEO strategy from slow-paced to showing actual results much faster, and at a larger scale. It can be the boost you need if you find yourself investing a lot of time and effort in your SEO tactics, but the results aren’t matching your investment.
In this article, we’ll talk about what user intent is and how you can match it when implementing your SEO strategies.
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What Is Search Intent?
As its name suggests, search intent in digital marketing is what a user actually means to find when introducing search terms in a search engine bar. We all have our personal experience to refer to, so you might be aware that the search terms we use are not always given the results we want.
For example, when you search for a broad term, like “eggs”, you can get a lot of types of results:
- The definition of an egg
- Where you can buy eggs from
- Recipes containing eggs
- Egg-related art
- And so on.
As you can see, search intent is the reason why the user is using the search engine in the first place. They might use vague words or highly specific search phrasing, but it won’t always be 100% deductible for a search engine’s algorithm. This is where SEO comes in.
Why Is Search Intent Important in SEO?
As an online business, being found by your visitors for a purpose that you can actually fulfill is very important. Otherwise, they will just bounce off your landing page, or even get annoyed with your brand. This can hurt your website’s ranking, as Google wants to give its users the most relevant, useful results.
Naturally, your interest in matching the search intent shouldn’t be just for the sake of Google, but from your desire to help your audience find the products or services they actually need. However, the reality is that your business will benefit from a higher Google ranking, more exposure, and visitors who find what they need on your website. And, all that can translate into one thing: sales.
It’s a simple mechanism with a few nuances we will get into below.
Types of Search Intent
The search terms used in search bars are incredibly varied, but the intent behind them can be categorised in a few main types of searches:
- Informational intent: examples of this type of search intent are users looking for definitions, guides, detailed information on something, and so on. Usually, the search query used is simple and straight-forward.
- Preferential/Commercial investigation: when users have the intent to buy something and they want to research their options. Usually, they are looking for reviews, tops, local searches based on proximity.
- Transactional intent: users already have the intent to buy a specific thing and they are looking for information about prices, availability, places where they can buy from, promotions, and discounts.
- Navigational intent: the user wants to get to a specific website and they either don’t know the exact address of the web page, or they find it more convenient to use Google or another search engine to get there.
SERPs for Each Type of Search Intent
Now that we know more about the types of search intent users have in mind when introducing certain queries in the search bar, it’s easier to determine it based on what keywords bring them to your website.
In order to find out what people searching for certain keywords really want to find, and how well your website performs in this sense, you can do an easy check. Researching the search engine results page (SERPs) for the keywords you are targeting is an easy way to achieve that.
SERP for informational intent
Google organises the results for a query hinting towards informational intent by including:
- Featured snippets
- A preview of the first image results
- Questions related to the topic
- Dictionary entries
- Informative blog posts (“how to”, everything you need to know about…”)
SERP for preferential/commercial search intent
Google will offer the user compilations of reviews, comparisons of different brands, top-rated products, as well as also paid ads on the same topic.
SERP for transactional intent
When a user searches for information on products, prices, availability, and so on, the search results include:
- Paid ads
- Shopping carousels
- Reviews of the products
- Places where you can buy
SERP for navigational intent
To organise the results in an easy to navigate style, Google will use:
- Main links to the website
- Top stories
- Top rank pages by relevance
By researching the search results pages, you can learn how to optimise your own content to match the intent that leads users to become your customers.
How to Do SEO to Match the Search Intent
Once you understand how search engines organise their results based on the most probable search intent behind a search query, you can deliver content optimised for search intent.
- What Is Your Competition Doing Right?
By taking a look at what your top-ranking competitors are doing, you can find inspiration in your own content marketing strategies. Look into the type of language used, the topics they approach, and how they respond to readers’ feedback.
You can use the same kind of approach, while trying to bring something new to the story, or create better, newer content on the same topics.
- Update Your Metadata, Titles, and Subtitles
This is one SEO basic task that should be done regularly, every time you post a piece of content. Make sure you include your keywords in meta descriptions, tags (title tags, H1, H2), and review your older content, updating them where needed.
- Aim for Your Content to Become a Rich Search Results
Since Google likes to promote its own services and keep people on the Google page for longer, aim to be chosen as a rich result, such as a snippet, related question, and so on. Make sure that the information contained by a product page, for example, has all the relevant information listed, and that you use Schema mark-ups.
In conclusion, matching the user intent should be on your mind from the moment you create your content to the way you create and implement your whole marketing plan.
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