Why you need to understand search intent for SEO

Digital Marketing

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is still the most cost effective way to drive more traffic to your website and win customers.

By creating content that ranks highly on search engines (Google) you can get found online by people looking for information, services or products organically, rather than spending money on advertising.

If you’ve managed to fill your website with useful information you can get people to your business and eventually turn them into customers.

But getting ranked on Google isn’t just about finding the right keywords and chucking them on a page.

More and more, search engines are presenting people with information based on the intent of the search.

Search intent is quickly becoming the board on which we’re playing the game of search and Google ranking.

It’s now a huge part of any SEO and content marketing strategy.

In this blog we’ll take you through search intent so you understand it better, and can start creating content to match different searches and get more website traffic.


What’s search intent?

Search intent (sometimes called keyword intent) is basically figuring out what a person is trying to find when they make a particular enquiry online.

When we search in Google, we’re always looking for something.

But the something we’re looking for changes depending on our needs.

Sometimes we’re looking specifically for a product or service.

Other times we’re just looking to get information so we can figure something out, or solve a problem ourselves.

Of the changes Google has made to its algorithm over the years (and it’s made A LOT), this has made a huge change to the way content needs to be created.

Remember, the main purpose of Google from a user perspective, is to provide us with the most relevant results based on what we’re looking for.

To do this, it needs to understand our intentions when looking for something.


Understanding search intent for SEO

There are a few types of search intent to keep in mind when planning your keywords and content:

  • Information: As it suggests, this is when we’re looking for information. “What is” “How does” “Why is” and similar searches usually make up information searches
  • Navigational: This is when we’re looking for a specific website or page like LinkedIn.
  • Transactional: When we’re looking to buy something specific like an iPhone 11 Plus or MacBook Pro etc
  • Commercial: You’re looking to buy something but haven’t decided on a specific product yet. These are searches like HubSpot CMS vs WordPress or best cafe in Liverpool.

Each type of search intent is also linked to a different stage of buyer journey, so it’s important you look to create content that matches different types of search intent.


Why does search intent matter for SEO?

Understanding search intent is important because if you don’t understand what people are looking for, you can end up targeting the wrong keywords.

This can result in you either missing out on traffic altogether, or getting more traffic that doesn’t convert.

It’s easy to get sucked into wanting to rank for attractive sounding keywords like “best of” lists and “top 10”.

And these might be good for a particular website.

Informational sites for example do well out of these types of searches.

But what if you’re trying to sell a product?

In this case you should focus more on transactional keywords.

This includes drawing on specific product details and descriptions on the page and within alt text to improve your search ranking.

These are phrases like golf clubs, iPhone etc.

Once you understand these kinds of searches, you can start to optimise your different pages around different search intent and get the right traffic to the right parts of your website.

For example, optimising your blog or resource page around informational searches for customers at the start of their buyer journey and optimising product pages around transactional searches for those looking for products, and more likely to buy.

Want to get a free SEO audit of your website to see how you can improve your rankings for search?

Get in touch with one of our SEO consultants today.

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