What is Search Intent?
Why Search Intent Matters
The Four Types of Search Intent
Commercial Investigation Intent
The importance of content marketing can’t be overstated. With the upcoming iOS privacy changes affecting how ads are going to perform, businesses are looking to inbound and content marketing to help bolster their results. The real challenge is developing a content strategy that makes your content appear higher in search results. Your content is only useful if it reaches your audience, and this is where the topic of search intent comes into play.
A good content strategy takes user intent into account and tackles a topic in a way that optimizes the content for multiple types of searches and keeps your pages’ ranks high in Google search results. By leveraging the right search intent, you can scale traffic and conversions to help grow your business.
What is Search Intent?
Search intent is the reason a user runs a specific search query. In other words, search intent represents what a user means to know when making a search.
Why Search Intent Matters
Search intent matters because Google (and other search engines) is always looking to optimize the user experience. At the end of the day, Google wants searchers to find the answer to their search query as fast as possible. Their algorithm looks at countless data points like time spent on site, click-through rates, bounce rates, and more to check if content is truly useful to readers.
The way we search has changed. Even Google had this to say in their Search Intent Report:
“Today, people are no longer following a linear path from awareness to consideration to purchase. They are narrowing and broadening their consideration set in unique and unpredictable moments. People turn to their devices to get immediate answers. And every time they do, they are expressing intent and reshaping the traditional marketing funnel along the way.”
Your content strategy must take search intent into account. Even with all of Google’s core search engine updates, one thing has never changed: high-quality content is king.
The Four Types of Search Intent
If a user types “winter clothes” into a search engine, it will depend on their search intent what he/she wants to know. It’s hard to say whether they want to know about what kind of fabrics are used to make winter clothes, the places where they can find winter clothes, or the latest trends in winter clothes.
Here are the four common types of search intent:
Informational intent is when a searcher wants to know more about a topic. When the user intent is informational, some users use target keywords like “what is” or “how to.”
These keywords help the search engines understand the user’s intent better and hence show them the most relevant content. If you intend to create content that answers informational queries, then one way to rank higher in informational searches is to use title tags with words such as “what is” and “how-to” in your blog posts.
A navigational query is one in which the searcher intends to find a website. Most of the time, it happens that for the sake of convenience, instead of typing the full URL of the website in the browser, users type the name of the website and rely on the search engine to show them the website in search results so they can go to the landing page with a simple click.
If you run a website that a navigational query is made on, it’s a good strategy to make sure that you come at the top of the search results organically and as a paid promotion. This will ensure more clicks for you and keep your competitor from taking the top paid spot.
Transactional intent is where the user has already made up their mind about a product or a service that they want and is only looking for the best place to buy it or the best option available for making the purchase. When people place a search query with transactional search intent, one of the most common target keywords is “buy.”
Users also use words like “where to buy” and “the best place to buy” in their searches when ready for a transaction. To convert these transactional queries into sales, landing pages need to use words and some call-to-action buttons that reflect urgency. Some of the examples can be “buy now,” “get a free discount coupon today,” “free shipping,” and “limited time offer.”
Commercial Investigation Intent
Commercial investigation intent is when the user is interested in buying something soon but wants to do their investigation first. The investigation can compare rates of different products or simply find out what is the best available thing in the market that will serve their purpose. Commercial investigation can also result in a transaction if your content is convincing enough and, more importantly, if it shows in the search results.
How to use Google Search to understand Search Intent for any query
People Also Ask
Getting included in the People also ask feature is one of the best ways to grow your search traffic. By creating content that’s relevant to the questions people are asking, you can ensure your search traffic goes up.
Getting featured in a Snippet is one of the best ways to increase search traffic. A Snippet is basically the featured result for a specific search (as seen in the image above). While Snippets are mostly used for Informational intent, they can be powerful for Transactional or Navigational intent.
While the Knowledge Graph isn’t a major focus for most SEO work, it can help with establishing your company’s presence to ensure there’s no confusion about your brand. For example, if your brand has a similar name to other companies in your industry, the Knowledge Graph can ensure that your company’s name shows up instead of your competitors.
How to use search intent to influence your content strategy
A high-performing content strategy needs to have a mixture of different search intents. Each type of search intent also has different search volumes. For example, Informational search intent has huge volume, but you may not immediately see conversions or sales when ranking for informational queries.
On the flip side, transactional search intent is low volume so you may question if it’s worth the effort. When determining your content strategy, you must use a mix of search intent to determine what type of content you create.
Speaking from personal experience, we find that Informational intent is great for bringing in top of funnel traffic (TOFU) that can subscribe to updates and go through a nurture sequence. For Transactional and Commercial Investigation intent, even though the searches may be lower, they’re going to drive conversions and likely result in revenue for your business.
How to find high-intent keywords
Depending on the type of business you run, the intent behind keywords can differ. For example, if you’re a software company, keyword phrases like “free trial” or “alternative” can signal intent for your audience. If you’re running an eCommerce business, phrases like “buy” or “best” can signal intent from users. Knowing which high-intent keyword phrases to use can have a massive impact on the conversions you see from your organic search results.
Here are some examples of common high-intent phrases that can be used in searches:
Alternative is a high-intent keyword because it shows that the user is looking for an alternative to a product to a service they’re already using. For example, if you search for “asana alternative,” you’ll get plenty of results showing different competitors to Asana. When looking up keywords for “alternative,” we recommend looking up the keyword data for your competitors. If you’re using SEMrush for example, you would search for “company alternative” in the Keyword Magic Tool to view the search volume for your competitor.
Software is a great high-intent keyword because it signals the user is looking to solve a problem with the help of software. For example, if your accounting team is tired of the manual accounts payable process, they might look up “accounts payable automation software” that can help them automate their tasks.
When performing keyword research for “software,” we recommend search for your industry + software. For example, if your company sells invoicing software, you should research the keyword data for “invoicing software” to see what the current search landscape looks like.
Buy seems obvious but it’s definitely worth mentioning. Buy indicates the user is looking to make a purchase for a specific product. Buy is amongst one of the most competitive keyword phrases to rank. When researching this keyword phrase, look for opportunities to rank for less competitive niches to improve your search rankings.
A “versus” search indicates the user is comparing two products or services. This can be great content to rank for because you want to show why your product is better than your competitors. If you’re competing against bigger, legacy competitors, the “versus” keyword can be a great way to show how your pricing or features are better than your competitors. If you’re competing against smaller companies, you can use the “versus” keyword to show why your company is the leader in your space.
Best indicates the user is looking for the best product or service for a specific keyword phrase. It’s a great keyword to rank for but is highly competitive. When creating content using the “best” keyword, you want to aim for showing why your product or service is the best. It can also be a great way to write competitor content because you can phrase your posts as “The Best [Competitor] Alternative” to help boost your search rankings.
How to Optimize your Content for Search Intent
Optimizing your content for search intent is a major step in the process of content marketing.
The process involves:
- Determining your target audience.
- Performing keyword research.
- Using that research to create content that ranks high in search results and leads to conversions.
Perform Keyword Research
The first step towards optimizing your content for search intent is to perform keyword research. Find out what your audiences are looking for through audience research and surveys, and do not forget to take search intent and the purpose of your content into account while deciding which keywords will work best for you.
Different types of searches mean other things, and to perform intent optimization, you must first determine what kind of audiences you’re targeting. If you target people with informational search intent, you must include keywords that audiences use with such intent.
Use a Content Optimization Tool
Using content optimization tools can go a long way for you, and create a content marketing strategy much easier for you. Tools like Topic can help you create top-ranking pages no matter the category your content belongs to. Topic does the hard work for you by analyzing keyword trends and performance of existing content. Using the top-ranking pages as a reference, Topic helps you naturally include the most relevant keywords in your content.
Publish or Update New Content once it’s Optimized
Before you hit the publish button, it’s vital to review your content for its accuracy and relevance. You don’t want to be putting content out there just for the sake of putting content out there. To establish your website or brand’s reputation, your content must add value to the reader.
Apart from checking your content’s relevance and accuracy, you must also check if it is SEO-friendly and if the keywords used mesh naturally with the content. It’s also an excellent strategy to continuously update existing content to ensure it stays relevant and can still benefit both you and your users.
Search Intent FAQs
Search intent is an important concept when it comes to succeeding in the digital space. We have answered some frequently asked questions related to search intent below to help you better understand the concept.
What are High-Intent Keywords?
High-intent keywords indicate extreme likelihood on the part of the searcher to perform a transaction or conversion event related to the keyword. The keyword can be related to inquiries about products or services. But as long as it has a likelihood to end in a purchase, it’s considered a high-intent keyword.
Why is Search Intent Important for SEO?
Taking search intent into account while performing SEO results in contextual relevance. In other words, search intent can help you in bringing the most relevant and qualified traffic to your website.
What are Good Keywords?
A good keyword is any keyword that has a high search rate, a high conversion rate, high relevance, and a good amount of competition. In short, a good keyword is the one that ultimately benefits you in terms of high ranking and conversions.
Digital platforms are becoming more and more competitive with each passing day. One way to rise above your rivals in a highly competitive environment such as this is to adopt precision in your content marketing strategy.
Know that staying alive in the digital world is not just about bombarding the internet with new content every day. The key is to identify the problems users are looking to solve and then to provide a solution in a way that is mutually beneficial. Search intent can help you be precise in your content marketing strategy and help improve search rankings to ultimately grow your business.
Get started with Topic today to learn how we can help improve your content strategy and performance.