What Is Search Intent and Why Is It Important?Visual Media Factory
Gone are the days when you only need to write a few contents and spam them with links to rank on Google. Today, SEO is more challenging than ever before.
Every day, Google releases over five updates to improve search results. According to the American Company, most of these updates are usually less effective and have little or no impact on search results except for the core updates.
To rank on Google now, reputable digital marketing agencies advise that you must write content that answers the user’s query. But how do you understand the purpose of a search?
That is where the search intent comes in.
This article will walk you through all you need to know about search intent, including the types of search intent and why each is important for your business.
What Is Search Intent?
Search Intent (also known as audience intent, query intent, or user intent) is the purpose behind a person’s search. It is the reason why a user enters a query into search engines. When you enter a keyword into search engines like Google, you expect a specific result and hope to find it.
Search intent is one of the important pillars of SEO. It helps you understand why your users search for a query and the type of answers they expect.
Types Of Search Intent
According to Ahrefs, there are four primary types of search intents.
Informational search intent is queries that come from a user who is searching for information.
Informational queries usually come in the form of a question and help you understand that the searcher needs in-depth information or an explanation about that particular query.
For example, if a user searches for the query “How much is a PS5 console” Google expects you to write articles that provide in-depth information on the current prices of the PlayStation 5 console.
You also need to explain how you came up with that particular price range. Therefore, you are expected to link back to E-commerce sites like Amazon, Walmart, BestBuy, and more to prove that you are dishing out accurate information.
Informational content is the best form of content because it drives huge traffic to your website and increases your E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness), increasing your rankings on SERPs.
Below are common modifiers for informational queries;
- Who – Who Is Donald Trump?
- What – What Is PayPal?
- When – When Is Apple Releasing iPhone 14?
- How – How Much Is A PS4?
- Guide – Guide to Picking A Wedding Dress
Commercial search intent is a query from a user searching for a specific product or service but has yet to make a final decision on the one to purchase.
A user searching for information about a particular product or service and comparing it to others is more likely to make a purchase. All the person needs is to make a decision that will lead to conversion.
Helping them decide with a commercial article is the best way to get in front of the mid-funnel consumer. You can only achieve this by effectively providing them with the information they seek. This is why most commercial articles come in the form of product comparisons and reviews.
Below are the common commercial intent keyword modifiers:
- Best – Best Laptop For Video Conferencing
- Vs. – Samsung S22 Ultra Vs iPhone 14 Pro Max: Which Is Better?
- Top – Top 10 Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000
- Review – iPhone 14 Pro Max Review
Informational search intent queries are from a user searching for a specific thing like a product, service, website, phone number, and more.
The user already knows the specific product they are searching for and the website they want to visit. They only need to search on Google to make it faster and easier than typing the complete URL into the search bar.
Also, users who use navigational queries might be unsure of the URL they want to visit, so they search on Google to direct them to the website or product.
Below are examples of navigational searches:
- Facebook Login
- Benlola Marketing Agency
- Samsung Store
Transactional search intent refers to queries that come from a user who is ready to make a purchase. Users who use transactional queries already know what they want to buy and are looking for the best place to buy from.
Below are examples of transactional searches:
- Buy iPhone 11 pro
- Namecheap coupon
- Buy HP Pavilion
How to Identify a User Search Intent
Check Keyword Modifiers
Determining the intent behind every query depends on how the user inputs the keyword on Google. This is why it is important to check modifiers so you can get relevant and accurate search results.
For example, someone looking for Playstation Backbone (a popular PlayStation controller for Apple iPhones) may have just heard the name and is curious about what they do. However, another user may search for the same query to determine the best website to purchase the same controller.
The same keyword, PlayStation Backbone, was searched with both Informational and Navigational intent. How do you identify the one to write on?
To identify the search intent, study the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
Take a look at the answers ranking on Google’s first page. Write out the title of the ranking articles and study them to determine the category of the search intent they are relevant to. For example; “how..”; “what…”;” when…”; – Informational intent, branded queries – navigational intent, “best…”; “top…”; “vs.” – commercial intent, “buy…”; “…sale”; “…price”; – transactional intent.
Checking keyword modifiers is the best way to determine user search intent. After getting your keyword, input it into the Google search bar and analyze the top-ranking pages.
To make it practical, I’ll use the keyword “affiliate marketing” with different modifiers to describe all the search intents.
Informative vs Commercial Search Intent
After searching the keyword “affiliate marketing,” we see that the top ranking pages contain “informative contents” – a “step-by-step” and “How To” guide to Affiliate Marketing.
This implies that the type of content that Google considers to be relevant for the search term “affiliate marketing” is “How To Guides.”
If we use the keyword (affiliate marketing) with another modifier, we will get a different result. For example, if I add a commercial intent modifier to make it “best affiliate marketing,” the result will be blog posts that compare several affiliate networks.
The results in the image above show that the top-ranking page is Outbrain.com – a popular advertising agency. Outbrain analyses and compares twelve different affiliate networks suitable for publishers.
The second blog is on SERPs HubSpot. The website explains further by comparing over 50 affiliate networks you can use to monetize your traffic.
You can see that by adding just a four-letter word, “best,” we could tell the algorithm that our intent is commercial, prompting the comparison guides to appear.
Use Keyword Research Tools
You can use several keyword research tools to determine a keyword’s search intent. Tools like Ahrefs and SemRush have filter features that let you filter queries based on search intent.
How To Find Specific Intent Keywords Using SemRuah
- Enter a seed keyword related to your site into the SemRush Keyword Magic Tool.
- Click on the intent filter on the right part of the filter screen. You will see the available intent filters (Informational, Commercial, Navigational, and Transactional).
- Select your intent of choice.
- Save the keywords and start writing.
Note: The results you get after searching for a query will most likely indicate what Google considers to be the most relevant search intent for that term.
Analyze Content Format
After identifying the user search, one last thing to do is analyze the content format. Analyzing content format lets you identify the content angle.
Let’s say you found the seed keyword “affiliate marketing.” After searching on Google, the results made me identify that I would rank if I wrote informational content.
But how do you know the angle to write?
For affiliate marketing, you can write from several informational angles like; What is affiliate marketing? How do I start affiliate marketing? Guide to making money with affiliate marketing.
All these keywords are informative, but which angle do you think is best? This is where content format comes into play.
To know the best content formats with a higher chance of ranking, analyze the top 10 ranking articles and check the content format that ranks more on the first page. Pick that format and enter it on keyword tools like Ahrefs to determine the monthly traffic, related keywords, and content ideas before you start writing.
Importance of Search Intent
The primary function of the Google search algorithm is to deliver relevant search results to users. When someone searches for a specific query and finds irrelevant results, Google signals that the pages don’t satisfy the user’s intent.
But how does the Google algorithm know if a user isn’t satisfied? That’s where the bounce rate comes into play.
If your website ranks first for the keyword “How to build a gaming PC,” but users bounce off from your website to another blog where they stay longer reading a step-by-step guide that satisfies their query, you will lose the first spot.
Your bounce rate signals to the Google algorithm that you didn’t satisfy the user intent. As a result, the algorithm will rank the other website higher than yours.
Also, search intent helps you understand the reason behind a person’s search. This will guide you on what and how to write. Providing Google with relevant content encourages the algorithm to improve your rankings on SERPs, driving more visitors (or potential customers) to your site and increasing revenue.
What Is The Best Way To Optimize For Search Intent?
- Make sure you use the seed keyword in your URL and Metadata
- Update your title tag, H1, and H2 to reflect your specific keyword targeting.
- Try leveraging your title tag with some catchy copy to increase the click-through rate (without creating clickbait).
Search Intent can either make (when done right) or break (when done wrong) your campaign. Google has worked hard over the years to improve its algorithm’s ability to discern people’s search intent.
Google Algorithm only ranks pages that best match the search term and the search intent behind the search query. As a result, you must ensure that your post or page matches your audience’s search intent.