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Search Intent SEO: what it is and how to exploit it

Search intent is a deceptively simple SEO concept that can supercharge your SEO efforts, if you get it right. If keyword research answers the questions of your potential customers, the search intent answers the question of “why” they are looking for it

The idea of search intent SEO can be resolved in one word: why?

“Why” is the most important question you can ask yourself before creating SEO content< /a> for your website, not just because you’re creating the content, but because your customer needs it, because it’s valuable, and because someone is looking for it.

Understanding the answers to these questions puts your content in front of the people who need it most. Being clear about why someone is looking for your solution differentiates highly useful, super-optimized, high-converting content from articles that pack a trivial “keyword stuffing” and that aren’t really helpful to users.

Search intent may be one of the most underrated tactics in your SEO toolkit. This means that if you are using search intent and your competitors are not, you have a competitive advantage.

What is search intent

Search intent gives you insight into the reason behind a search query. In other words, why did the person conduct this research? Are they looking for products and want to read the reviews? Are they ready to make a purchase? Do they want to learn how to do something? Or are they trying to find a particular website?

Why is search intent important for SEO?

Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful“.

In short, Google’s raison d’être is to provide users with the most relevant search results for their query.

If you want to rank on Google, you need to create highly relevant content for a specific query. As a matter of fact, search intent is so important to Google that it devoted 17% of its search quality rating guidelines to understanding user intent. That’s 13 pages of a 175-page document.

Google even goes so far as to claim that intent is redefining the marketing funnel by emphasizing that people no longer follow a linear path from awareness to consideration to purchase. Instead, their attention expands and contracts in unique and unpredictable moments.

Every time someone turns to their device for an immediate response, they’re expressing intent and redefining the traditional marketing funnel along their conversion journey.

What types of Search Intent SEO are there?

Chances are you’ve already done keyword research to establish a strong foundation of core keywords that are important to your business. Understanding search intent is the next step in extending your primary keywords into themes that align with specific categories of search purposes.

Your intention-specific content will send a stronger signal to Google about the concept and purpose of that page. This, in turn, helps Google match what you offer with what specific users are looking for.

Let’s take a closer look at the four types of search intent

1 – Informative: the researcher is looking for information. They may need to answer a simple question, such as “How many grains of sand are there on all the beaches in the world?” Or, they may seek a more detailed explanation for a question such as “How ask for a raise?” While it’s helpful to think of informational search queries as questions, they aren’t always phrased as such. Other examples include: “Road directions for Roma Termini“.

2 – Navigation: someone already knows where they want to go, but maybe they’re not sure of the exact URL, or think it’s faster and easier to have Google return the link rather than type the URL in the address bar. Some examples: “Mediaworld” “Zara” “Gucci” “Givenchy”.

3 – Transactional: The researcher wants to buy something. They know what they want to buy and are looking for the best place to buy it from. Examples of transactional queries: “smart desk at best price” “buy iphone” “phone headset discount” “cheap bluetooth headset< /em>“

4 – Survey Commercial: This researcher is in the research phase before making a final purchase decision. They are still weighing their options and looking for reviews, summaries and cons. fronts to guide them in the right direction. Some examples of business survey searches: “best desk chair” “Zara vs H&M“, “Best restaurant in Milan”. The latest example is a local search. It is common for local searches to have commercial inquiry intent, such as “coffee near me” or “real estate agent Rome”. Now that you have a thorough understanding of search intent types, let’s look at how to interpret intent.

How to interpret the search intent.

Many times, the wording of a query indicates the intention behind it, which can help us look at them in the aggregate. For example, the intent of someone who Googled “buy iPhone” is clearly to buy an iPhone (a transactional query).

Someone searching for “how to make sourdough” is obviously looking for instructions on how to do something (an informative question).

Find Search Intent SEO

A quick and easy way to apply search intent principles to see what people are looking for is to take advantage of Google’s autocomplete feature.

When you query Google, the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) will contain organic results, paid results, and SERP features.

Some SERP Features include:

  • advertisements
  • questions
  • related questions
  • video results

The Search Intent SEO is not always accurate.

While the techniques we’ve outlined here are helpful ways to understand search intent, you’ll need to apply your knowledge to sort keywords with mixed search intent. Mixed search intent is more common in results for brand searches. For example, if you use Google to search for “iPhone“, you will likely see search results that contain transactional investigation intent, informational, navigation and commercial because users using that query might be looking for reviews, historical information, a place to buy, or Apple’s website.

Create a content type for informational purposes and a content type for transactional purposes.

Your understanding of search intent will determine the type of content you create. If the keyword has informational intent, you will write a blog post. If it has transactional intent, you will create a product page.

Easy right? Well yes.
And no.

Trying to apply just four categories of search intent to billions of web pages makes it painfully obvious that these categories are too broad to apply to any particular situation.

So, we need to delve a little deeper to take a closer look at the SERPs.

Here’s how:

1 – :Know your story: when you do a keyword search, you see a discrete snapshot over time. You’ll want to look at your keyword’s history to figure out if and how seasonal, social, or market factors might be affecting the number of searches for that keyword at any given time. For example, a search for “hand sanitizer” would most likely have had transactional intent prior to March 2020. Between March and July 2020, you’d likely see people performing the same search because they couldn’t find hand sanitizer in the store and they wanted to let him know how to do it (informative).

2 – Match your content to search intent: after verifying that your keyword has clear search intent, you want to analyze the SERPs for that keyword to determine these two things :

1 – The right kind of content to create.

2 – The right format to present your content.

Look at the search results for a keyword and see what type of content is returned.

What do you see? blog posts product pages category pages landing pages The content types on the first page of the SERPs are most relevant to the search intent you are targeting (Google ranks them higher for their relevance to the query) . Follow the example of the high-level results and choose the content type based on what you see here.

Similarly, ask yourself which format Google deems most relevant to the search intent of your keyword.
Creating SEO content involves some trial and error. You create content and watch how it performs, adjust for next time and then see how it performs.

Get inspired action from high-level content is a way to bypass time-consuming trial and error. The content you find in the top ten search results for the keyword you want to rank for is probably doing something right.

Click on high-level pages and learn from them. Are there charts and graphs? Lots of links to related content? A clear structure with easy-to-find information? Embedded videos? Infographics?

Your job is to identify what works in high-ranking content and apply those principles to your original content.

The concept of search intent doesn’t just apply to creating new content. Intent optimization is a great way to revive older content that didn’t rank well. Dive into your older pages and see how you could improve them by evaluating how well they align with specific user intent.


Leveraging search intent aligns you with Google’s mission, and helping Google help users is a win.
Intentionally design your content to match search intent.
Understanding what users are looking for and why will help you meet them exactly where they are with what they need and in the format that is most useful.

Need help with SEO strategy and tactics? We are here for you.

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