Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best ways to get organic traffic to your business’s website. As your website ranks high in search engine results, you’ll attract more potential customers and increase your sales.
One of the key components of SEO is optimizing your website and all its content with specific keywords that your target audience is searching for. To select keywords that people will be searching for to lead them to your website, you need to take search intent into account.
What’s search intent? If you’ve never heard the term before, don’t worry. I’m going to go over everything you need to know about it and how to optimize your website’s content for search intent.
What’s Search Intent?
Search intent also goes by user or audience intent. The term is used to describe the purpose of a person’s online search. It’s the reason why they type certain keywords into the search bar. When someone conducts an online search, they’re hoping to find something. It can be an answer to a question, a product, service, or business. These different types of searches are all part of the user journey.
The Four Types of Search Intent
There are different types of search intent, but I’m going to focus on the most commonly used ones.
1. Navigational Intent
With navigational intent, users are looking for a specific website. It’s one of the least common forms of search intent. It benefits your company’s website since it drives organic traffic to it as users find your website in the search results. The downside is that your website has to be the one they’re looking for, otherwise you won’t get any traffic.
Here are some examples of navigation search intent:
An example of how navigational intent doesn’t benefit your website is Yoast. A few years ago, Yoast had a plugin for Google Analytics, and they ranked well for that search term. However, that didn’t help drive traffic to their website as people searching for “Google Analytics” were looking for that specific website, not the Yoast plugin.
2. Informational Intent
Many searches that happen on the internet are because of informational intent. People could be looking for information about recipes, childraising tips; you name it. This type of user intent is focused on finding out more information surrounding a topic or locating an answer to a question. The results search engines like Google show people go beyond giving them information solely around the specific term they search for. For example, if someone searches for “how to make a bird feeder,” Google knows it’s helpful to show them images and videos. If a person searches for “tomato sauce,” Google is also aware that users don’t want to know about the history of the sauce. They’re mostly interested in finding recipes.
3. Commercial Intent/Investigation
With commercial intent or investigation, the user is looking for a specific service or product but hasn’t decided what is best for their needs. They’re typically looking for comparisons or reviews to help them weigh their options.
Some examples of commercial investigation include:
- What’s the best Italian restaurant in Boston?
- Is Tik-Tok safe for my child?
- What’s the best brand of washing machine?
These types of users need a bit more convincing before they make their selection or complete a purchase. They need a bit more time before they make their final decision.
4. Transactional Intent
Users with transactional intent have taken to the internet to make a purchase. These users differ from people with commercial intent because they’re ready to make a purchase, and they usually know what they want to buy. Their main concern is finding a business to buy that product or service from. Transactional intent has increased over the past year as more potential shoppers had to turn to the internet to find the items they wanted to purchase.
Transactional intent is one of the most important forms of search intent because you want your business to be the website they decide to purchase from. Informational and transactional intent can be used in tandem with one another. For example, a user can be searching for the best product available (informational intent) at the best price available (transactional intent).
Some examples of transactional intent include:
- Cheap iPhone 11
- Buy Toyota Corolla
We can look at the words customers use in their search inquiries to get insights into their search intent. You can also select keywords that have intent-specific words.
Some examples of transactional intent keywords include:
- Product names
Some informational intent keywords often contain the below words:
- How to
- Best way to
How Do I Optimize My Content for Search Intent?
When optimizing your content for search intent, you want your website’s landing page to fit your audience’s search intent. For example, when people are looking for information, you don’t want to lead them directly to a product page. However, if users want to purchase your product, don’t lead them to a long article or blog; take them straight to your e-shop.
Your product pages should be optimized for commercial-driven keywords. For example, if you sell cat vitamins, you can optimize a product page for the keywords “buy cat vitamins.” If you have an article about how to give your cat vitamins, you can optimize it for “how to give my cat vitamins.”
It can be difficult to figure out what a specific query’s search intent is. A user may have a slightly different intent than another person, but they both end up on the same page of your website.
One way to discover the search intent is to ask your audience directly. You can create a survey with questions about what they’re searching for and have the survey pop up when someone goes to your website. There are many different tools available for small business owners to gain additional insights into their audience.
A tactic you can use is to search the keywords that you’ve selected. What type of content do you see on the search engine results page? Evaluate if it’s commercial, informational, etc. Is there one search intent that’s more dominant than the other?
Then, look at the content that you already have and plan to publish. See if it lines up with the content that you saw on the results pages. If it does line up, then you’re on the right track. If it doesn’t, you might need to rethink your strategy.
Increase Your Organic Traffic With Search Intent
The goal of understanding search intent is to properly optimize the content on your website for what your audience is looking for. Of course, you want your website to rank high on the search engine results pages, but you also want to ensure that when you do, it syncs up with what the user is looking for.
For your website to rank high, your content must fit the terms that users are searching for in addition to their search intent. If someone is searching with informational intent, you want to lead them to an article or blog. If a person is ready to make a purchase, take them to your sales page. Leading them to the right page will increase your authority as a small business and boost your sales.
Do you have any experience with optimizing your website with search intent in mind? Drop a comment below with what you’ve learned.