Search intent What is it and why does it matter?

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1 June 2022

In the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), ‘search intent’ has become a hot topic. To be competitive it is no longer enough to use a range of keywords and phrases to improve search engine rankings. Your content needs a more strategic approach using search intent to understand and capitalise on what users are thinking. What are their motivations? Why are they searching for something? What do they want to achieve or find?

Obviously, mere mortals with a business to run aren’t blessed with superhero mind-reading powers, but finding answers to these questions can be done in a less sexy, but (almost) equally effective way. We’ll touch on that later.

For now, let’s look at search intent in more detail. Search intent, or user intent, describes the purpose or reason for an online search rather than just the search term itself. Your web pages need to take into account the search intent of your audience to compete for clicks.

Different types of search intent

It is generally agreed that there are four different types of search intent:

Informational intent

For users looking for information, Google doesn’t simply return results based on the literal meaning of the search, it guesses the reason behind the search too. For example, if someone googles ‘self-raising flour’, results will include cake recipes because Google guesses that the user’s intent is to bake.

Navigational intent

This is when a user wants to go to a specific website such as Twitter or Sky News. These are well known sites that Google simply directs people to (often when they’re too lazy to put the full url into their browser). This is why it’s important that your website is found easily when someone searches for your company name.

Transactional intent

Transactional intent occurs when a user knows what they want to buy and searches for that item, rather than going onto individual selling sites to find what they’re looking for. To tap into transactional intent and find new customers, your website needs to feature in the search results for specific products or services.

Commercial investigation

People who are researching products carry out a commercial investigation to compare products and sellers. They have long-term transactional intent but want to look around first.

How to include search intent in your SEO strategy

  • Give users what they’re looking for.

If they want information, maybe give them a how-to guide or an explainer video.

If they’re conducting a commercial investigation give them the best solution such as ‘best restaurant in Blackpool’ or a product comparison.

For users who are ready to buy and make a transaction make sure your product or service name is clear with a motivator such as ‘shop cat calendars for Christmas gifts’.

If a user is trying to find your company, give them some help, such as ‘company A login’.

  • Research your market’s search intent

Review what is currently ranking in the top 10 target market queries. This will tell you what is currently helping users with their searches. There are many keyword research tools, and different features and plugins available to help you.

  • Put intent at the heart of your content creation

Make sure whoever is creating your content, including visual content such as videos and infographics, knows to incorporate search intent and provide them with a brief on your research findings.

  • Create goals for your search intent content

Decide on your goals and create KPIs that everyone involved can work to, and regularly review the success of all content.

Can we help?

Code Galaxy are web and software developers with a universe of experience in SEO and content creation. Get in touch with the team if you’d like more information on how we can help take your reach to the stratosphere!

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