An organization’s credibility strengthens when the information it provides online is relevant to the search queries of its consumers. Search queries of the users reflect their search intent. Keeping in mind the billions of searches performed on Google per day, a digital marketing agency reinforces a company’s brand & multiplies its marketing success by correctly fathoming users’ search intent (aka keyword intent) and implementing the right SEO strategy to solidify a robust online presence.
Companies strive to optimize search by identifying keyword intent of its users, implementing best search intent optimizations & targeting them with relevant information about its products and services.
What Is Search Intent?
Search intent, an intangible component of a user’s search, is the ‘expectation’ of the user behind the query. Thus, search engines sift through & process tons of user data to ascertain what the online crowd is thinking or talking about.
Also known as keyword intent, search intent also pertains to the reason which prompts the user to fire a specific online query. It maps to vibes of the consumers about the products and services offered to them.
For instance, a user who has to travel to Mumbai may look up ‘hotels in Mumbai’ in a search engine. A result page which gives the user information about list of hotels, best occupancy rates, customer ratings for hotels, meals & other facilities, discount offers on bookings, nearby sightseeing places, availability of flights to Mumbai etc. has very closely interpreted multiple dimensions to the actual intent of the user – travelling to Mumbai (and not ‘hotels in Mumbai’).
It is no exaggeration that search engines these days have to be a good mind reader, without interacting directly with the other party!
What is the importance of search intent in SEO?
Today, consumers search & decide online on the go. It could be about a product or service or for entertainment. Search engines have evolved over the years with improved algorithms for determining users’ search intent. Google is smart to rank pages not just on the basis of the search term but also as per the intent behind it. This necessitates that your post or page should fit the search intent of your audience.
A user looking for ‘strawberry jam’ on Google is not interested in its historical relevance. The intent of the user here can be:
- Finding recipe to make strawberry jam
- Where to buy strawberry jam around user’s location
That’s why the content your page provides should be able to capture the implied, intangible underlying query.
Merely focusing on integrating the keywords into your content is insufficient. The focus of search optimizing has to be shifted from merely providing information to defining users’ experience.
Search engines take into account signals like load speeds, backlinks and many others to determine if a web page answers the user’s query as ideally as possible. The faster users’ queries (both explicit & implicit) are answered to their satisfaction, the better the odds of their sticking around your content.
General Data, one of the best SEO companies, implements search intent optimization for targeting your customers with the best results that satisfy their immediate needs. If you can precisely gauge the hidden WHY/HOW in your customers’ searches, you can unlock a plethora of optimization strategies for satisfying their intents. Search intent optimization enhances the experience of users browsing through your content, aids in retaining them on your page & draws leads to your site. All this significantly contributes to expand your brand awareness.
What Are The Types Of Search Intent?
- Informational Intent
A significant chunk of the online searches have informational intent. People could be looking for information about, say, weather in a city. A search query ‘weather in Mumbai’ gives a result as shown ahead.
Some of the sample keywords of informational queries are:
- ‘what is/was/are’
- ‘how to’
- ‘where is/was/are’ etc.
Users firing informational queries in the search engines have the primary motive of getting factual, clear & concise data.
Signals of informational search intent are visuals (like images & video carousels), ‘People also ask’ (at the bottom in the above picture), rich snippets etc. Google’s understanding of intent goes far. If you look-up ‘guacamole’ on Google, it understands that the user is looking for its recipes and would display videos links for the same.
- Navigational Intent
Searches of this type are conducted by those users who already have a specific company or product/service in mind. They only need help getting to a particular website. The results to their queries often have the brand knowledge panel, also known as the Authoritative OneBox.
Say, a user looks up ‘YouTube’ on Google & get shown the following result.
The result contains site links the user can navigate to & also the rating it has on the Play Store. The panel on the right hand side shows brand information like its logo, CEO, founded, parent organization, revenue, founders etc. It mentions that YouTube is a video sharing company. It also has ‘Films produced’ section on the panel.
The snippet under the heading ‘People also ask’ has other related informational content to which the user might intend to navigate. It will immensely benefit to learn how to add rich snippets to your pages with schema markup.
Google understands that no matter how generic the search keyword ‘YouTube’ might be, the results have always to be skewed towards the brand YouTube to broadly accommodate the search intent.
- Transactional Intent
If a user is browsing the web for buying stuff, the underlying intent is transactional. The aim here is to complete an action, like downloading a software, purchasing a product or hiring a content writer etc. The keywords for a search with transactional intent can be:
- ‘best offer for’
- ‘discount on’
- product name etc.
Some of the signals of transactional intent are product carousel, brand carousel etc. in the results. For instance, looking up for ‘best gaming laptop’ on Google fetches the following result.
It displays the prices, ratings etc. of gaming laptops that are most commonly bought online, in addition to the list of various brands.
Optimize Your Content For Search Intent
Identifying the most dominant intent for a search term is tricky. It requires a lot of brainstorming and planning to grasp the underlying intent in a search query & ensuring the landing page fits it.
As an example, looking up the keyword ‘salt’ on Google may have different underlying intents for different people. For the general mass, it would be the common salt; for chemistry teachers, it would be the salts related to acids and bases.
Take it a step further and you’d get a famous movie of that name in the results if you’re a Hollywood movie buff! But since the word ‘salt’ is most commonly associated with the common salt so that becomes the dominant intent which tops the SERP in the end.
It is a great skill to be able to separate the intent (both implicit & explicit) from the queries & visualize it from every perspective. For instance, an explicit query like ‘the best SEO agency in Mumbai’ implicitly asks for information like location, review, photos etc. It takes some insight to draw out the intent like that hidden behind the query.
As a business owner, you have to map the intent conveyed by your content to the implied user intent. Think about the different ways the audience may query the search engine pertaining to what you are presenting to them in your content.
The verbiage, length of the query, limitations of your product, cultural/linguistic/religion background of the audience, tools used by users to access the search engine (e.g. laptop, desktop, smartphone etc.) – all these considerations help you to better map the user queries to the respective answers in your web page.
It is advised not to stick to search optimizing from the perspective of just one search engine. Optimize search for other engines as well. If you are optimizing only for Google, you are losing out the traffic searching content on Bing & Yahoo. Optimizing as per other engines will give you a broad insight about the overall audience’s intent with respect to the content you are going to publish on your website.
Be a step ahead of your users. Anticipate what they will search for in the near future and thus drive your content to them accordingly. Keep an eye on the current & upcoming trends.
Next, it won’t make sense to show your audience a products page when all they are looking for is informational content.
This holds true the other way round as well. If a user wants to buy your product/service, don’t keep him tangled in long articles; lead him directly to your products page. It is a good idea to optimize your products page with commercial driven keywords.
For example, if your website sells gym equipment, you can optimize a page for the same (e.g. buy gym equipment). What’s more, you could have a blog on ‘how to properly handle gym equipment’, or ‘HIIT exercises at home’ etc.
To make the content intent friendly, use an SERP checker to analyze the keywords you are going to optimize the content for. Identify the type of intent which is most dominant. Is it the informational intent or the transactional one? What are the related searches? Which images are coming up on the results pages for the chosen keywords? Align your content in line with what you observed in the SERP checker. Strive to match the intent as much as possible. If you find that the intent in the results page is highly divergent from the content you wish to publish, readjust your strategy taking different but related keywords.
The other important aspect of a successful content is its CTA (call to action) effectiveness. It could be administering a survey to the audience for feedback about a product or asking them to register on the website for getting discounts on future products purchases. Proper in-content CTA can help in conversion. Some of the action words for creating in-content CTA are categorized ahead:
- Sense of urgency: ‘Today only’, ‘Hurry!’, ‘Last day!’, ‘Order now’, ‘Ending today’ etc.
- Emotional: ‘Let’s do it’, ‘Party now’, ‘Here’s the secret’, ‘See for yourself’ etc.
- Sense of belongingness: ‘Join the community’, ‘Be a part of’ etc.
- Instructional: ‘Register’, ‘Subscribe’, ‘Click here’ etc.
- Power words: ‘Guaranteed’, ‘Now’, ‘Free today’ etc.
Location is another aspect you need to factor into before publishing the content on your page. Search results vary from location to location as IP addresses are used by engines to customize search results. It implies that your website may rank highly in some locations as compared to the others. It could also rank low. Also, the search history of the user directly affects his/her search experience. This calls for an extensive research about the extent of mapping that needs to be done between your content’s conveyed intent & the users’ intent.
Bear in mind that the faster, & more consistently, your content resolves users’ queries, the surer you can be of them scrolling your content all the way down. Strive to present your content into bite-sized pieces. If your content is providing a solution to some problem, make sure the steps to do so are clear & concise. The keywords you place in the URL, headings and metadata will decide how close your content will be to audience’s intent.
Use conversion rate optimization tools to gain insights about user experience. If you think your page might not map with the implicit query in users’ search despite all the measures you have taken, facilitate your users with FAQs. It is an open secret that informative content hidden behind a login requirement chases the audience away. Do away with it, if possible. Keep things simple, transparent & valuable.
Is Your Website Optimized For Search Intent?
Now that you’re aware how vital it is to optimize your web pages for matching your users’ search intent, it is high time that you implement the best search intent optimization practices. The team of experts at General Data, an SEO and digital marketing agency, can help you with connecting your content with your audience’s search intent in the best way. We can assist you to capture the segment of online traffic which you have been losing hitherto for the lack of implementation of accurate search intent optimizations. Customer behavior is forever changing & our in-depth SEO audit & audience analysis can help you keep ahead of them. Feel free to reach out to us at GDATA.