Want to improve the traffic you get from search engines? Create content that’s optimized for search intent. In this article, I’ll explain why this is important and how to optimize content for search intent.
Search engines have moved their concentration from keyword optimization to user experience. Every search engine is looking to satisfy user experience and, in doing so, the search intent of a searcher.
That’s how it keeps the money coming in; if searchers are satisfied with Google, they keep coming back, and Google keeps making advertising revenue.
Search engines use algorithms to determine search intent and produce results that could satisfy them. Those algorithms include backlinks, phrases, keywords, and clues in the search phrase to determine if a website can provide information that can meet the search intent.
Enough of this constant talk of search intent. What is it really?
What is Search Intent?
Search intent simply is the reason for making a search on the internet. It is the particular information that a person is seeking when they type their search phrase or word into the search box on any search engine; it could be that they are searching for a website, a book, etc.
Google has gained more ground among search engines on the internet. As the years have gone by, it has been increasingly able to ascertain internet users’ search intent.
All of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) are trying to provide the best fit for the search intent rather than the keyword entered into the search box.
In some cases, the term entered into the search box is not included in the Google search results page because Google has gotten better at ascertaining the user intent.
Why Search intent Is So Important
Below are some of the things that intent-based search optimization helps you achieve:
- Fulfil the needs of the audience that are interested in your content.
- Pull sustainable, qualified leads to your website.
- Bring customers to your page and make them stay.
- Position your company or brand as an authority in your particular industry.
- Promote awareness for your company and brand.
How User Intent Affects SEO
User intent is the same as search intent, which is the user’s goal and intention when entering a search query into search engines. In SEO, user intent is gradually overshadowing keywords in SERP rankings.
Imagine going on Google and searching for something, but no result on the first page satisfies you – none is geared at your search intent. You’ll end up frustrated, and Google hates that.
The essence of Google Search is to provide quick solutions. As I mentioned earlier, Google’s whole system revolves around making the searcher happy. Without great search experience, it wouldn’t have billions of searches daily.
Google and other search engines keep improving their algorithms every day to ensure they satisfy search intent. So, SEOs need to buckle up and satisfy it too. That’s the key to keeping the traffic coming in and increasing the dwell time on your site.
The most significant way to achieve success with SEO and content marketing is to make the most of search intent.
The latest edition of Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines shows that the search engine is focused on search intent SEO, and it even published a report recently titled, “How Search Intent is Redefining the Marketing Funnel,” to show just how important the search intent of each individual user is to search results.
You must ensure that your website’s content provides the most relevant results for a search query if you want your website to be among the top-ranking results on the SERP of search engines. To do that, your website must satisfy search intent.
Types of Search Intent
There are three common or major types of search intent; they are:
- Informational search intent
- Navigational search intent
- Transactional search intent
Although these are the three common ones, there’s a fourth which most people are beginning to recognize. That’s local search intent. That has to do with people looking for businesses or solutions near them.
Informational Search intent
Most of the users who go on the web to search are usually seeking a piece of specific information.
These users who have information intent have questions that they want answers to or have a particular topic that they want to know more about for clarity. They probably want to know about the weather or types of schools around them or the latest news for the season.
Google is a great search engine in that it understands search intent in a way that goes beyond just merely providing information regarding a particular search. For example, Google understands that a person searching for tomato sauce is looking for a recipe and not the spice’s history in cooking.
Also, it can differentiate between the element and the planet when people search for Mercury. Google also understands that for ‘How to’ questions such as ‘How to create an email account,’ it needs to include videos and images.
That’s why it’s important to look at the already existing content and Google’s patterns. That way, you can match your content to what Google wants to see.
Navigational intent is used to describe users who go on the web because they want to visit a particular website. The user is looking to reach a specific website or product/service that they already know about with a navigational query.
For instance, if a user searches for Nike support, they are trying to visit Nike’s support or contact page.
The thing with navigational search intent is that searchers already know what they want. They are not open to suggestions or explanations – they just want the answer straight up.
So, Google first analyzes the keywords entered into the search box and then finds the best website that best fits what the user is searching for. If your website does not seem to relate to the search query directly, the chances are that it will not appear on the first page of the SERP.
Although you don’t stand much of a chance targeting a navigational query – unless your site is the one that the person is looking for -, there is room for optimizing for navigational queries.
That opportunity is on your brand; you must own your business’s navigational queries. It might look weird, but some brands aren’t ranking first for their brand name or navigational query.
Buying on the internet is great and convenient, and a lot of people go on the web to purchase products from e-commerce stores or services from other businesses.
Transaction intent is the term used to describe a user’s intent when they want to make a purchase.
There is a kind of transaction intent called commercial investigating intent or commercial intent, which is used to describe people who are still weighing their options.
The searcher is in the market for a specific product or service but has yet to decide which solution is right for them. They’re most likely looking for reviews and comparisons.
Here are some commercial investigation search intent examples: “the best SEO courses” or “Mailchimp vs. Convertkit.”. Note that users with a commercial investigation intent have a transaction intent, but they need more time to be won over.
How Do I Find Search Intent?
To establish an online presence for your brand on SERPs, you need to have an in-depth understanding of user intent and search queries; to do this, you must conduct a search intent analysis. A search intent analysis will show you why users are searching with that particular key phrase you want to optimize.
Below are some of the steps to follow to conduct a search intent analysis:
Step One: Look At The Keywords
One thing that provides an understanding of user intent is the words users enter into the search box. Here are keywords that could give you insight into what intent your article or page fulfills or should fulfill.
For informational queries, here are keyword intents that will give you an insight:
- How can I
- What is
- How to
- What are the benefits of
- How do/does
- Ways to
Navigational keywords include any one or more of these contents:
- Brand name
- Service/Product name
- Brand Login
- Location of
- Directions to
- Near me
- Hours of
- Cost of
With transactional intent, searchers use buyer or transactional intent keywords that can include:
- Where to buy
- Schedule appointment
- For sale
Then, there’s commercial intent or commercial investigative intent, which can include words such as:
Also, understand that what Google understands as the intent for a keyword change as well.
Our research showed that Google’s understanding of search intent changes. In the past year alone, many results that used to come up for transactional queries moved to informational and commercial investigation.
Step 2: Examine the SERPs
To get an insight into user intent when they make a search query, you need to study the Search Engine Results Pages because each component on the SERP can provide a clue. Ensure to look out for the following:
- Paid ads
- Organic listings
- Knowledge graph results.
The results that show up will help you understand Google’s answers when users search using that keyword. If the kind of sites showing up is e-commerce product pages, understand that Google sees that intent as transactional.
Also, use common sense.
Someone searching for “Adidas” might be searching to get pictures for a blog post or content for a research paper on the Adidas brand. If you sell Adidas shoes, your website doesn’t match their intent. It’s better to pick “buy Adidas shoes” or “Adidas shoes for women” or “Adidas workout shoes” as your focus keyword for your product page rather than “Adidas shoes”.
I’ll give you a bonus tip here:
The SERP features give an insight into what the search intent is. For example, if a map pack, such as the one below, shows up, the search intent is local.
Where you have a knowledge pack with no commercial investigation words such as review or best, the intent is informational.
Step 3: Check The Ranking History Of The Keyword
Check the ranking history of the search keyword in an SEO tool such as Ahrefs and SEMrush. When you research a keyword on them, you can check what pages ranked last year and so on for that keyword to see if things change rapidly in terms of the type of content.
Step 4: Use Google Ads to determine the extent of intent
Regardless of whether you are expecting much out of a keyword or not, you must check to see if your competition is willing to pay for ads and how much competition is involved; the lower the bid and competition, the lower the intent.
Google Ads can also help you understand what people are bidding for and marketing. With high competition on a keyword and the copy around that keyword, you can understand what users are looking to see.
How To Optimize Your Content For Search Intent
Every website owner wants to attract the right customers to their website. To do this, you will need to adopt an intent-based search optimization strategy that is data-driven. Doing this will also help you to reduce your bounce rates. In this section, we’ll look at exactly how to optimize your content for search intent
Below are some of the steps you have to follow to optimize your web pages for search intent:
1. Think About How People Search
When it comes to learning how to optimize your content for search intent, the most important thing to remember is how to find the search intent. We’ve looked at this briefly above, here are additional tips:
- Study analytics using Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Study clicks, impressions, average site ranking, and click-through rates (CTR)
- Duplicate the search experiences from the point of view of your customers.
- Consider some of the things that people might be searching for
- Most importantly, determine search intent using the steps outlined in the previous section.
With the above, you will realize opportunities from your own site and optimize for them.
More so, you get to see the rate at which an impression will bring forth a click. An additional benefit of using those tools is getting to see where your website ranks on the average in the organic search results for a particular keyword.
2. Leverage All Search Engines and Online Platforms
If you ignore other search engines in your optimization strategies, you will be missing out on the opportunity to rank on them. Even though the most widely-known search engine is Google, you need to make an effort to have your website stand among the highest rankings of other search engines such as YouTube and Bing.
On the web, YouTube is the second biggest social media platform, with an estimated value of 2 billion users worldwide. You can’t ignore it. The right captions and descriptions can take you places from there.
Another internet platform that most people don’t care about most of the time is Bing. Although not many people use Bing, some users don’t install Google Chrome and still use Bing. As a result, “ignoring Bing” means that you will be ignoring a large number of people.
3. Dissect Intent from Queries and Usage
Internet users have specific things they prefer that they might not share precisely and clearly. As a marketer, your responsibility is to optimize your content for both exhibited intent – that is, active queries – and concealed intent – that is, passive queries.
Active queries refer to search intent that is clearly expressed by the phrase structure of the query, while Passive queries refer to search intent that you have to extract from perception and understanding.
A user may, for instance, search for “the best SEO company in Los Angeles.” The search query above is actively asking for a list of SEO agencies in Los Angeles; however, it is also passively asking for further information like maps, reviews, and photographs.
Being able to satisfy active queries and passive queries is vital in promoting user engagement band conversion on your website.
By doing so, you provide your target audience with quick, relevant, and valuable information. Also, by satisfying the passive intent of your audience, you create value.
4. Map Queries to Answers
It is not news that people with search queries on the internet have different search intent and that many times, they don’t enter what they mean in the search box. The problem then lies in figuring out what customers are looking for and how your website can satisfy their needs.
As a marketer or the owner of a company or brand, you need to plan and optimize for the exhibited and concealed user intent. When mapping out search queries, below are some of the tips you can follow:
- Brainstorm the various ways people may present questions to a search engine.
- Examine the variations in the phrase used and the length of the query.
- Ascertain the local language demographic of your target audience. You must conduct buyer persona research.
- Think about different cultures, languages, and religions if your business targets more than one.
- Find out how your personas might search the web.
- Consider some of the product or service limitations that your customers and prospects would want information on.
- Think about the various tools people employ to access Google Search, such as mobile, voice, and desktop.
When you map search keywords, it will help you make particular SEO recommendations, making your website more relevant to search queries.
5. Put A Blog On Your Website
You might think this is basic, but many businesses still ignore a blog. I mentioned above that a large percentage of transactional keywords turned informational or commercial investigation recently. You cant optimize your content for search intent if you only have transactional pages.
You can’t only focus on service and product pages and expect to succeed with search engine optimization.
6. Ignore Some Keywords
The reason why some businesses don’t succeed with SEO is that they are targeting the wrong keywords. If you can’t satisfy your target keywords’ search intent, you need to find a new one.
If you ignore that and create content – probably pack all semantically related keywords and do all sorts of backlinking for that page -, you will fail. The reason is, if it isn’t related to you, you can’t sufficiently create great content. Your site needs to have a focus.
If you are not creating great content, people who get into your site will go away fast ‘cos they can’t find solutions with you. When that happens, Google will drag you down the search results, and you will lose any high ranking you managed to get.
7. Create The Type Of Content That’s In Line With The Search Intent
When writing content, this is vital. Google Search results always provide insights into this. Look at the pages/posts ranking on the first page; what kind of content are they?
I’ll break down the effective types of content for the three common search intents here.
For informational search intent, here are effective content types to target:
- blog posts with tips
- how-to blogs and videos
- step by step guides
The content that answers this would and should relate to your brand name and/or product:
- Clear landing pages and online forms
- Product demo videos
- Case studies
- Presentation pages
- Product and service lists
You should target transactional keywords + brand/product/service name/industry terms for transactional search intent. For example, discount Adidas shoes or Adidas shoe retailer, etc.
You can easily target transactional queries with lots of optimized content or even blog posts or pages optimized for local SEO.
- Product pages
- Pricing pages
- Sign up pages
- Live demos
- Appointments pages
- Free consultations
- Sales pages
8. Write and Optimize Your Content For Search Intent
The whole idea of search intent optimization is to provide the best solutions to your target audience’s needs when they need them. If your content immediately provides answers to the user’s query and gives them a satisfactory result, they will almost always scroll through your page rather than visit your competitor’s website.
Here are some steps you can follow to optimize your content for search intent:
- Create a great content marketing strategy
- Do content and keyword research to know what key phrases to use within the content.
- Use relevant keywords in the title of your post/page.
- Include precise and clear steps for solving a problem in your content
- Include relevant images and graphs.
- Take full advantage of internal linking.
- Create a balance between detail and concision on your website pages and blog posts
- Make it easier for your website visitors to carry out an online search by providing FAQs and a table of content to aid readability and navigation.
- Make the information on your content accessible, simple, and easy to digest
To optimize your content for search intent, Your site must provide relevant and valuable information to users. Furthermore, the information must correspond with and elaborate on their search queries on Google. So, build pages and posts that provide satisfactory answers to users’ explicit and implicit questions; that is, pages that provide search intent-oriented content.
Want to increase your share of clicks from searches on Google and the other search engines? Write content that is optimized to satisfy the search intent of searchers.
If you have a good grasp of why or how internet users search for certain kinds of information, you will become open to many opportunities to increase your SEO further.
Have a great sales funnel, too; create content that matches all the different types of intent. If you focus only on transactional intent, you will not get the traffic you want.
I hope you have now grasped how to optimize your content for search intent to increase your traffic. Do you have questions? Contributions? Let me know in the comments. New to SEO? Take our SEO course.