Maximize your conversions, improve bounce rates, and use your time better by learning to discover, understand, and leverage search intent to drive the needle on your website! In this article, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about search intent to help you ensure the content you are writing resonates with users properly.
You'll learn what search intent is, why it is important, how you determine it, the four different types, and how you can fulfill and target it to leave your users feeling satisfied with your content. Now, let's get started!
What Is Search Intent?
Search intent is what the users searching for specific queries want to see in the content that appears in search results. Your job when creating content for yourself or for customers is to ensure that your content matches this intent.
You cannot define search intent without mentioning the fact that there are two types of intent you need to consider: one describes where the user is in their customer journey, and the other describes the type of content they are interested in seeing based on the query they provide. We'll go into detail regarding each type below.
Journey-Based Search Intent
Journey-based search intent is a type of search intent that deals with where in the customer journey a user is. Are they at the beginning of their journey?
If they are at the beginning of their journey, they most likely want to learn more about a parent topic before they start diving into specific products or companies. This part of the customer journey helps them understand the niche or industry enough to narrow their choices based on their needs.
If they are more toward the end of their customer journey, they have already done the research needed to narrow their choices and are focused on 1-5 specific products.
Later on, we'll walk you through how exactly you can understand where in the customer journey people are based on the specific keyword you're analyzing.
Query-Based Search Intent
Query-based search intent deals more with the type of content the user expects to see. We will not create a comprehensive list of the different types of query-based intent here, but we will share a couple of examples.
For example, if a user searches for queries like "20 best..." or "top 10...", they expect to see content in a list format - also known as "listicles." You would not want to target a "20 best", "top 10", or "top 5" keyword by creating instructional content.
Users who type in queries like "how to..." expect to see some guide, educational, or instructional content, not a listicle. You would not want to create a listicle or a blog post for a "how to" query.
Why Is Search Intent Important For SEO?
Search intent is incredibly important for SEO because it determines what type of content makes the most sense for specific keywords. If you don't match the content you are making to the search intent of the keyword you are targeting, no matter how well-optimized you make the page, you will not convert any of the traffic you receive.
In fact, failing to match search intent will cause users to react poorly to your content and will cause search engines to punish your page. So, not only can failing to recognize, understand, and match search intent cause your content to have poor conversion rates and CTR, but it can also lead to your page being intentionally pushed down in rankings.
The only way to ensure the content you create will resonate with users is by understanding keywords. Once you understand keyword intent, you can determine the direction your content needs to take.
How Do You Determine Search Intent?
The best way to determine search intent is to simply Google your target keyword and see what structure the majority of the pages in search results are reflecting. You want to ensure your content matches the general style of those already ranking, so if you mainly see recipes, listicles, or guides, make sure your content follows suit.
Certain SEO tools also provide methods for recognizing search intent, and below, we'll discuss these types of search intent. Typically, all SEO tools recognize and state the journey-based search intent that is broken down into four types we'll discuss below.
Understanding The 4 Types Of Search Intent
The four types of search intent below are journey-based and will only be mentioned by SEO tools. However, it is crucial to understand their distinct differences to help you determine what type of content you should make for certain keywords.
Informational Search Intent
Keywords with informational search intent are usually geared toward helping users understand more about a certain person, place, process, or thing.
Informational content will typically not directly result in sales, but it can eventually. With informational keywords, your goal is to create content helping customers educate themselves, where you can position your brand in front of prospects so that later on in their journey, they will be more likely to remember your website, your company, and your brand, and spend their money with you.
Commercial Search Intent
Commercial search intent reflects keywords sought by users who have already gone through the informational phase. They already know what they want, but they want to narrow their choices down between products, companies, brands, etc.
Commercial keywords are generally more lucrative keywords to target than informational keywords because users seeking commercial keywords out are much closer to making a purchase. Creating content targeting these types of keywords is a great way to get in front of prospects at another stage of their journey.
Transactional Search Intent
Transactional search intent is by far the most profitable type of keyword to go after because the users searching for these types of keywords already know what they want. They just need a place to make a purchase.
Navigational Search Intent
Navigational search intent is when a user is looking for a particular company. Never make content targeting navigational keywords. As long as your company has been managed properly online, you will naturally generate these types of keywords. If you see a keyword that is navigational in almost every instance, you would be better off ignoring it and moving on.
Even if you make content 10 times better than the company the navigational keyword is targeting, users are looking for that company specifically. Once they see that you have essentially "tricked" them, they will instantly leave.
How Do You Fulfill Search Intent
You fulfill search intent by doing thorough research into your target keywords and ensuring that you match the type of content you create to what is being rewarded in search results. If 9/10 pages in search results are listicles, you need to write a listicle. If 8/10 pages are in recipe format, create a recipe page, etc.
You want to analyze the top 3-5 competitors ranking for your target keyword to determine what holes exist with those competitors, what you can improve upon, and to ensure you cover everything they do. Creating comprehensive content in this way will ensure that you fulfill search intent and provide something no one else does that is currently ranking.
What Type Of Search Intent Should You Target?
Ultimately you should target all types of search intent at one point or another. You need to create content targeting informational, commercial, and transactional keywords because that is how you facilitate trust with your prospects.
Your goal should be to hold the hands of your prospective customers and take them from discovering and identifying their needs, understanding them, and giving them a place to meet those needs.