The Importance of Search Intent in SEO
If you work in the SEO Industry or use SEO to promote your own business, you may have heard of search intent.
If not, don’t worry; that’s what this article is for!
Search intent is a crucial part of SEO, as it allows you to communicate with the right people at the right time with information that suits their needs.
This post will dive into search intent and why it’s vital for a successful digital marketing campaign.
What is search intent?
Put simply, search or user intent is what a person ‘intends’ to achieve when doing an online search.
The WHY in the search query.
Whether you are aware of search intent or not, it’s something you do when you type into that search box on Google.
For example, let’s take the term “barbecue”.
The search intent for “best barbecue” is to find information on the best barbecues for sale.
Now, take the term “barbecue recipe”; clearly, this searcher wants ideas on recipes to cook on a barbecue.
As a marketer or website owner, if you establish a user’s search intent, you can provide the best content to suit their query, whether it’s a blog article, a service or product page, or another form of media.
Why search intent is so important
There are different categorisations of search intent. However, broadly speaking, they can be broken down into four types — Navigational, Informational, Transactional and Commercial Investigation.
Each category has its advantages for distinct needs, and we’ll provide some guidance for optimising each type of intent in this post.
So, why is search intent necessary for SEO?
First, understanding user intent is vital for any website. It allows you to generate a better knowledge of your visitors and the thought process of a broader range of users.
And, each type of search intent provides you with the information required to create the most relevant content to satisfy their needs. This leads to driving traffic to your site, turning content into conversions, by ranking higher for valuable keywords.
The search intent needs to correspond with what you offer.
Optimising for search intent will help you get there. When you optimise your web pages for search intent, your strategy is to place your content in the right place at the right time. It means that your visitors will find the right kind of content at the moment of their buying journey where they need it the most.
Having a more precise understanding of your customer’s needs can benefit you in several ways. Instances include better ranking in search engines, marketing to visitors who are more likely to convert, reducing your bounce rate and helping you build your brand.
But, the main benefit is that it allows you to understand more about your audience and what they need. With this understanding, you can further enhance other aspects of your content by altering or creating products and services to meet customer needs better.
Optimising web pages for search intent
Navigational search intent is when a searcher already knows the website or webpage they want to go to. The search intent couldn’t be more precise — the goal is to get to that website.
The visitor with navigational intent will know your brand. So, to optimise for this intent, it’s essential to have prominent, easy-to-read service or product pages. This makes it more straightforward for your visitor to get what they want and ideally convert quickly.
The SEO basics should be followed. Include your brand name, your products or services in the page title, headings, and descriptions.
Google will then understand that this page is a good fit for those searching for your company. The typical content types for navigational intent are your homepage or landing pages, so it’s vital to ensure you have engaging content that is optimized for SEO.
Informational intent searches tend to include questions. For example, the searcher could be looking for a simple ‘What is’ response or a longer ‘How to’ guide. To optimise for informational intent, add ‘intent modifiers’ to keywords. Such as:
How to …?
Why is …?
How long does …?
These terms indicate intent and show more understanding of the search query. They alter the purpose of the search query.
For example, if a person searches for a ‘microphone’, the search engine will list websites that sell microphones.
However, by using the phrase ‘How to use’ alongside microphone, the search engine will include guides and informative articles of an instructional type.
So, to improve your SEO for informational intent, use a question in strategic places such as your website headings, subtitles, page titles, and descriptions.
Transactional searches are when the visitor wants to purchase a product, enquire about a service or carry out a commitment action.
They can also use intent modifiers, but they often type in a product or service name to locate what they require. And if brands of these products and services have optimised their SEO well, the search user will find them.
If a search query identifies the exact product name, the website can direct the searcher to the relevant product page, easing the journey.
If converting in the intention, it’s essential to concentrate their attention on the product. You can signal this with relevant images and a compelling ‘call to action’ (also known as a CTA).
It’s essential to make the users experience easy for visitors. Therefore, it’s crucial to have high-quality images and make the information concise and unique.
The descriptions, bullet points, and lists prevent clutter and help you echo the benefits of your product or service.
Transactional queries tend to concentrate on landing pages and product or services pages. Consider how you can use intent modifiers related to the sale — such as free postage, buy, sale, offer, etc.
A person knows what product or service they are looking for with commercial investigation, but they haven’t chosen where to buy it.
They are nearly at the transactional phase but may need further information to select what best fits their requirements.
Commercial investigation applies to products and services, so include detailed descriptions and provide content that reflects your authority within your chosen industry. In addition, you should try to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Commercial searches often include reviews.
For example, The searcher may want to go out for dinner in London and likes Italian restaurants. When they search for “best Italian restaurant in London”, relevant restaurants will be listed.
Using intent modifiers such as top, review, and best will help you be found for this search intent type and help you drive visitors to your site.
Search Intent Summary
To be found in search engines by your target audience, you need to focus on your visitors’ search intent and engagement.
Understand what your audience is looking for when they use specific keywords.
Use their search intent and align it with their intentions, then use your content to target them appropriately.