A Basic Guide To Search Intent: Why Does It Matter to SEO?

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Since Google processes more than 5.5 billion searches every day, ranking high in the SERPs almost seems like a pipe dream. Chances are, you’re starting to think of search intent to make sense of Google’s ever-changing algorithm. 

You must remember that when a user searches for something online, they already have a purpose. For instance, they might be thinking about boosting their brand’s visibility, and they’re trying to find a good digital marketing agency to work with. 

But when your keywords and intent don’t match, you have little to no chance of getting the clicks and attention you aim for. If your page doesn’t answer the searcher’s query, the third page of the SERPs is probably where you’re going to end up.

This is why understanding the nuances of search intent is crucial. Continue reading below to learn more!

What Is Search Intent?

Google search box
Tablet search engine system screen

Search intent—also known as audience intent or user intent—refers to a user’s main goal when making a search query on search engines. Why did this particular user perform this search? Do they want to learn more about a subject matter? Or are they planning to make a purchase?

Take coffee for example. Searching for a coffee shop has a different intent than searching for a coffee recipe, which is also different from importing coffee. Keep in mind that even though they follow only one topic, each query has various intents. 

Lots of algorithm adjustments have been made over the years. Now, even if you type in a gibberish question, Google instantly picks it up and shows you the best results that align with it. That’s why optimising your web pages to fit the search intent of your audience may just be the key to boosting visibility. 

Why Does Search Intent Matter?

Google’s number one aim is to satisfy search intent, above all else. Even their quality rater guidelines mostly revolve around the importance of this approach when it comes to content marketing and SEO strategy. 

They also published a report called ‘How Search Intent Is Redefining the Marketing Funnel’. Its content discusses that although backlinks and other common Google ranking signals are still crucial, your ranking isn’t going to be higher when you don’t prioritise user intent. 

Let’s say you’re a user who’s curious about how cars work. However, when you type in your search query, the SERPs don’t show you anything related to it. All you see are pages trying to sell you cars and proving that a certain brand is the best in the industry.

Isn’t it frustrating? Google knows exactly what they want to show in this query. They want blog posts, how-to guides and other informational content. 

Remember, relevance remains to be one of the most important foundations of SEO. 

The Four Types Of Search Intent

To learn more about search intent, here are its four primary types:

Informational Intent

Informational intent might be one of the most well-known types of search intent. Keep in mind that a huge chunk of users look for information on the Internet. This could be anything under the sun such as dogs, weather, vehicles, digital marketing agencies and many more. 

Simply put: if a user has an informational intent, they have a specific question on a subject matter and would like to learn more about it.

Here are some examples you should know:

  • What are the types of blockchain technology?
  • How do financial transactions work in banks?
  • Who is the oldest person in the world?
  • Programming languages
  • Zendaya
  • Tourist spots in Singapore

Google’s understanding of intent simply doesn’t focus on showing results that provide information about a certain term. For example, if people are looking for pizza sauce, they are most likely looking for a recipe and not for its origin or history. 

example of search intent

Navigational Intent

Users with a navigational intent want to visit a specific website, domain or physical address. It means that they already know where they want to go, so proposing something else will be futile. 

Google wants to deliver results in the most straightforward way possible. To accomplish this, the platform uses SERP features including local packs or knowledge panels. Here’s an example:

navigational intent example

If your business wants to achieve the same results above, make sure your local listings are updated and accurate. Also, your contact information and location should be easily accessible on your webpage. 

Transactional Intent

When it comes to transactional intent, searchers are planning to make a purchase. It could be a subscription, product or service. Since they are in buying mode, they already have an idea of what they’re looking for so they use branded terms. 

Remember that in this stage, they are done researching the product. They are looking for an established place or website to purchase what they want.

Let’s say a person is looking to purchase Alex drawers from Ikea. Their search query is ‘Ikea Alex drawers’. Here is what the search results would look like:

transactional intent example

The example used above shows that the knowledge panel has transactional and commercial content. It displays the prices offered by different stores, user reviews and basic product information. 

Commercial Investigation

A commercial investigation is somewhat a combination of transactional and informational intent. They are still on the fence about what brand to invest in before they make a final purchase decision. 

For instance, you’ve decided to buy a mirrorless camera. However, you’re not a tech expert and find it hard to choose between Fujifilm and Sony. To help you decide which one fits your needs best, you search for ‘Fujifilm vs Sony’:

commercial investigation

The search results give you several comparison blog articles on the topic which were written by experts and camera enthusiasts. However, product comparisons aren’t the only kind of commercial investigation. Potential customers may also search for:

  • Free trials
  • Technical specifications of a product
  • Reliable reviews from users
  • Brand agnostic recommendations (e.g., ‘best laptops to buy in 2022’ or ‘photo editing software for beginners)

How To Optimise Your Content For Search Intent

The best way to start optimising your content for search intent is to determine your marketing personas. In this way, you can exactly predict the intent behind a search query because you understand what they need. 

This will lead to a better website ranking, higher conversion rates, a wider reach and a lower bounce rate, among others. If you do things right, you may even get a Featured Snippet right above the first search result.

To help you get started, here are some tips you may consider: 

Tip # 1: Determine The Keyword Search Intent

When building your SEO plan, every keyword you include targets a certain intent. This means that even the slightest change in words can result in a different search intent. So, you need to be extra careful when researching keywords to make sure they align with the intent you’re aiming for. 

Ask yourself: why do users type a specific keyword? Are they looking for information or blog posts? Or are they planning to make a purchase in the near future?

Make sure that you do thorough keyword research to answer these questions. To get started, write down your list of relevant keywords and include the intent for each keyword variation. 

According to search intent, organise the list and prioritise keywords accordingly using various SEO tools online. 

Here’s a tip: most sites prefer to use all kinds of tactics to highlight their relevance for specific searches on search engines. They use local packs, product listings, charts, images and other SERP features. You can try checking what’s common in your niche and what works for your direct competitors. 

Tip # 2: Bring Value And Experience For The User

Another good tip to ensure that your webpage is optimised for search intent is to publish content that adds value to users. Take a closer look at the qualities of valuable content:

Trustworthy

To make your content trustworthy, you should begin by looking at your spelling and grammar. Remember that spelling mistakes and grammatical errors will make you look unprofessional and unreliable. 

If you won’t do the simple act of proofreading your content, then how are you going to prove to your audience that they can trust you?

You also have to provide the source when stating a fact o statistics. Make sure that you link to a source that backs up your claims to build authority. 

In-Depth

Creating detailed and in-depth content does not mean that you solely focus on word count. You should also prioritise the pieces of information you include to make sure that your readers will have little to no questions after they read your article.

Take enough time to do some research and find out what people find valuable when it comes to content. Always take note of the content on the top pages in the SERPs when you start investigating search intent for your prioritised keywords. 

However, rewriting popular blog posts or articles is not recommended. You should put your own spin on a topic and find opportunities to expand the given information. This is also called the skyscraper technique

Tip # 3: Study Organic Competitors

Starting SEO research means you have to know what benchmarking is. This is where you collect data and information on your direct competitors within the industry. However, in the case of search intent, you have to determine the organic ones for better ranking on search engines. 

You should know who you compete against for impressions and clicks from your target keywords. Bear in mind that some of these websites may not be in the same industry or niche you’re in. 

Performing a competitive SEO analysis is a great starting point. It means that you should conduct a thorough backlink analysis, traffic analysis and keyword research, to name a few.

Tip # 4: Examine Your Existing Content

Audit your website to assess if your SEO content aligns with search intent. For example, if a page targets keywords with informational intent, it should provide answers and educate users. But if it’s trying to sell a product or service and offer discounts, users will likely leave your web page alone. 

However, there are some instances where two types of search intent may overlap. 

Let’s say your informational content can link to pages targeting keywords with commercial investigation. That way, you give more detailed answers and solutions to users, helping you rank higher on the SERPs.

Tip # 5: Make It Easier For Machines To Read Your Content

If you’re planning to make better content, there are simple ways you can optimise your significant web pages to help search engines understand the questions you want to answer.

For informational and commercial intent, find a relevant question and rephrase it as the solution. For example, instead of saying ‘why did my washing machine stop spinning?’, you can write ‘how to repair your washing machine’. Use it in the title tag.

Use h2 tags when providing troubleshooting tips. This will help your readers follow the process easier, especially for the ones who are not familiar with DIY repairs. 

For transactional content, however, your page should convert leads into paying customers. You must write a visible CTA and put it in the centre to make it stand out. 

Make sure that your CTA is also descriptive and straightforward! Communicate to your visitors about what you want them to accomplish when they click the button.

Using SEO Tools to Find the Right Search Intent for Your Website 

We understand that learning about search intent seems a little complex. Possibly, there are hundreds and even thousands of keywords relevant to your niche. So, how are you supposed to learn the intent of every keyword to help your overall SEO strategy?

Fortunately, several SEO tools have included search intent in their keyword research features. Check them out below:

Search Intent on Ahrefs

Ahrefs is considered to be one of the most effective keyword research tools in the SEO industry. The platform helps you find related search terms that you can take advantage of to boost your SERP ranking.

Here are some tips on how to use Ahrefs when determining search intent:

Look at the ‘People Also Ask’ Box

Google has a feature called ‘People Also Ask’ that tells you other questions users typically ask. For example, here is the result for ‘best laptop brands 2022’:

People also ask feature

Now, you have a guide on what to put in your content. Make sure that it gives detailed answers to the questions listed above.

Just keep in mind that not every search query will include a ‘People also ask’ box. This is mostly present in informational queries. 

Run a Content-Gap Analysis

To find content gaps at the domain and page level, a content-gap analysis is usually conducted. This gives you an idea of what subtopics users want to find in your content. 

Ahrefs has a content gap analysis tool you can use to find relevant keywords and their volume. So, if you type in ‘best laptop brands 2022’, the platform will give you related queries to help you generate traffic. 

Search Intent on SEMrush

In 2021, SEMrush launched its intent analysis feature. This tool allows users to filter their keyword lists and choose the ones that drive the most traffic to their competitors’ websites.

The platform also integrated this feature into the keyword magic tool, competitive reports, position tracking and keyword gap analysis. 

Let’s say you type in ‘e-commerce’ filtered by informational intent. This is what the results will look like:

search intent of semrush

Source: https://www.practicalecommerce.com/

Search Intent on SE Ranking

SE Ranking is one of the most effective all-in-one SEO tools you can find online. It has a competitive research tool where you can view your competitors’ SEO data, including the keywords they are ranking for. You can also check their historical data to view their performance in a specific time frame. 

Why is this helpful? Using this data can help you check how your competitors are performing based on your shared keywords. Are they doing great in the SERPs and ranking higher than before? If so, you can change your strategy accordingly. 

Another tool you can use is the SERP Analyzer tool. You have the freedom to choose the depth of analysis, pick your target region/country and input a keyword to find top-performing sites. This is how it looks like:

SERP analyzer

Final Thoughts

Making your content optimised for certain search intents may look a lot more complicated if you’re just starting out in digital marketing. You have to evaluate the structure of your website so it responds to your target audience and organise your content for a higher ranking.

However, as long as your content and SEO strategies perfectly align with what your audience needs, then you’re off to a great start. Put your customers first and identify the intent behind their search query, and Google will surely reward you.

Don’t worry if you don’t know where to begin. Our SEO agency is made up of talented and passionate SEO experts to help you optimise your content for search intent. Give us a call—we are ready to work with you anytime. 

FAQs

What are the 4 types of search intent?

The four types of search intent are:

– Informational intent (data, statistics, instructions, how-to guides)
– Transactional intent (making purchases)
– Commercial intent (assessing a product, service, offer or subscription)
– Navigational intent (finding websites, domain or physical locations)

What is search intent and why does it matter?

Search intent refers to the why behind a search query, describing the main purpose of an online search. It matters because Google’s number one priority is providing relevant platforms and websites that answer the questions of their audience.

Looking for a trusted SEO agency in Singapore? Schedule a consultation with us today.

About Roots Digital

Roots Digital is an award-winning digital marketing agency and SEO agency headquartered in Singapore, specialising in eCommerce Marketing and lead generation. We are a Google and Meta Business certified partner working to deliver the best-in-class digital marketing campaigns from large enterprises and SMEs to growing start-ups.

Some of our core digital marketing services include SEO servicesSEM services, Google Ads management servicesGoogle Analytics services and more.

Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in working with us. Connect with us via our service enquiry form. You may schedule a call for more information and to know more about our digital marketing services.

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Ian Ong
Ian Ong
Marketing Director @ Roots Digital, a digital marketing agency in Singapore. Aka the guy responsible for growing the digital marketing agency.
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