When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), it’s about pulling out all the stops. SEO is one of the most important ways to get traffic to your website, and ranking high on Google can be dependent on how you arrange your content in relation to the ever-changing SEO parameters. So how do you ensure that you are ranking high and not falling off the first page on Google? Search Intent. It is one of the key components to increasing your chances of ranking. Never heard of it? Read on to uncover how to optimise your content for this all-important goal.
What Is Search Intent?
Search Intent, also known as user intent or audience intent, is a term used to describe the purpose of an online search. In essence, it is the main goal a user has when they type a query into a search engine.
For example, if you are looking for a quick way to cook a chicken for dinner, you might go into Google and type in the search term “quick chicken recipes.” But if you find a result where the recipe takes over an hour, this hasn’t satisfied your search purpose because you were looking specifically for “quick” chicken meals. So you may go over the search results to find something that fulfills your search term “quick chicken recipes.” If you find something that takes 15 minutes, this is very likely what you are looking for. So if enough people search for that same term and feel the same way, the end result may mean a significant boost in the search engine rankings – the result has matched the intent.
Why Search Intent Matters
The purpose of Google is to satisfy users’ Search Intent. The aim of Google is to deliver users the most relevant The purpose of Google is to satisfy users’ Search Intent. The aim of Google is to deliver users the most relevant results for their queries. When looking for a specific term on Google, the searcher needs to find the best fit based on their needs at the time. So if you want to improve your SEO, you need to utilise Search Intent as a big part of your approach.
You can use a number of traditional ranking signals to rank on Google, but if your webpage does not satisfy the intent behind the search, it may struggle to rank. People going on Google need information, not landing pages. Being relevant is the foundation of your success, which is why Search Intent matters the most.
Search Intent Targeting Benefits in SEO
SEO is geared towards relevant search results, so having better intent targeting will result in more relevant traffic to your website. Some of the benefits of Search Intent targeting include the following:
- Wider Audience Reach – The Google algorithm is clever enough to interpret multiple queries as having the same intent, so it will show your intended optimised page from more diverse queries.
- More Page Views – Meeting the intent of a user means they will be more likely to click through the rest of your website, resulting in reduced bounce rates because the customers are getting what they want.
- More Answer Boxes – If you can get your content selected for the featured snippets on Google, you can rank in the almighty Position 0 located above the search engine results, which, at the end of the day, is the ultimate goal!
Four Different Types of Search Intent
While there are a few distinct types of Search Intent, these are the four that are the most commonly used:
Informational intent is where the searcher is, very simply, looking for information. This could be an answer to a very simple question, for example, “who is the Prime Minister of Australia?” It could also be something that requires a more in-depth answer, for example, “what is the history of Bitcoin?” But not all informational searches are formed as questions. A few additional examples include:
- “how to get to Hobart airport”
- “football scores”
Google will understand that your intent goes beyond showing the results that give information about a certain term. For example, if you typed in the term “chicken curry,” it knows that people are more likely looking for recipes rather than the history of the chicken curry meal, and will not just show recipes, but pictures too.
Navigational intent is where searchers are looking for a specific website. The user already knows where they want to go, so if they don’t know the URL or don’t want to type the entire URL into the address bar, they find it easier to go onto Google. Some examples of navigational searches include:
- “facebook login”
It is worth bearing in mind that a navigational term is usually beneficial if your website is the website they are looking for.
This is when the searcher is looking to make a purchase. Nowadays, many people buy items online and they browse the internet to find the best purchase. When searching for the purpose of purchasing something right there and then, this is referred to as searching with transactional intent. Some examples include:
- “netflix discount”
- “buy acer laptop”
- “buy iphone 12 cheap”
This usually means that people know exactly what they want to buy and just need to get to the product they want right away.
This is where the searcher is looking for a specific service or product but they haven’t made a final decision on what is right for them. For example:
- “best vegan protein”
- “android or iphone”
- “top restaurant in Hobart”
The last one also highlights the fact that many local searches have commercial investigation intent. When you go on Google and look for a commercial service like a plumber, you will see the result “plumber near me”. This is classed as a commercial investigation.
How to Dominate SEO Through Proper Search Intent
Using Search Intent in SEO is about optimising your content to match the most common intent associated with your target keywords. But this is where we have to play detective. Figuring out the most common keyword intent related to a specific keyword may seem difficult, but we can take cues from the Google algorithm. The whole purpose of Google’s algorithm is to provide you with the most common and useful answers to your search query, and it does this by looking at a number of ranking signals to determine the type of content other users have found helpful when they use the same query.
A user types the term “damaged car” into Google. Google will identify a few different keyword intents that the searcher may have. Based on this term, Google has inferred that either:
- They may want to purchase a new car to replace the damaged one.
- They may want to visit a mechanic that fixes damaged cars.
- They may want to learn how to fix their damaged car.
Google will produce the results based on the historical data and ranking signals that will match the most common intent, and the most helpful answers that serve that Search Intent. In a nutshell, when it comes to positioning yourself at the top of the search engine, the rule of thumb is that the higher up a piece of content is in the SERP, the more common the intent it is answering. For example, if you search for “damaged car,” the top results correlate with the desire to buy a new car, so if you want to rank for this search term, you need to address that need.
How to Optimise Content for Search Intent
Optimising for Search Intent may seem like a massive undertaking, but the simplest explanation is to make sure that the page associated with the keywords that you want to rank for actually matches what the searcher is looking for. In other words, making sure the keywords match the intent. For example, if you are creating a page for people learning how to play baseball, and a user typed in “how to play baseball” but ended up with links to balls and bats, this does not match their Search Intent. You need to identify keywords you want to target, and then conduct searches for these terms. You can see what Google is already displaying on the results page and what the Search Intent falls under. This can fall into three different groups:
- Learning About Something – This would include queries like “how to” and “what is.” To optimise for this, you need to make sure the page gives the user what they are looking for. You could include content about any related questions someone may wonder about after gathering this information.
- To Find Something – Where they know what they’re looking for and are using Google to get to it. While you cannot optimise your content this way, ensuring that your business name is easy to spell can help.
- Taking Action – This is where the user wants to do something like purchase an item or sign up for a service. If you are trying to optimise for this motive, you need to make it very clear that you are offering what the searcher is looking for. For example, if they are looking for a free service and this is what you offer, it has to be abundantly clear in your title and meta descriptions. Additionally, when the user goes to your website, ensuring the page is navigable and there are calls to action on each page can stimulate the user to sign up.
How to Use Search Intent for Your Business
The great thing about using Search Intent for your business is that each specific type can represent a unique opportunity for your organisation. Here are some ways to make the most of Search Intent based on each type of intent.
Optimising for Informational Intent
To optimise for this, which make up the vast majority of searches performed, you need to leverage these queries as opportunities to acquire leads that you can convert later. You can do this by, very simply, doing good business, by making people aware of what you have in store, and establishing your brand as an authority.
Optimising for Navigational Intent
The best method to optimise for navigational intent is to have landing pages for each product and service. You can optimise these pages using brand and product names in the title tags and meta descriptions.
Optimising for Transactional Intent
To truly “capitalise” in this area, you need to create landing pages that will allow your users to make the transaction there and then. For example, you could have “add to cart” buttons and sign-up forms.
Optimising for Commercial Investigation
When a customer hasn’t made up their mind, this is where you can offer free versions of your services or products and create pages to target these queries.
It is vital to ensure the content you are creating fits not just the terms the user is searching for, but it also needs to match the Search Intent of your audience. You need to be ranking for what people are looking for, and Search Intent is probably the most important ranking factor in SEO right now as most people won’t look beyond the first page of Google.
If you do not give the searchers what they want, you are unlikely to rank. You cannot “work around” the algorithm, and try to trick Google by ranking with a low-quality page, as Google will soon catch onto you. If you want to rank in the long run, perfecting your Search Intent should be at the top of your list.