Alright. Let’s talk search intent.
What is search intent?
Search intent, AKA user intent, is what a person wants, and to some extent, expects, when they perform a query on a search engine.
For every search that’s carried out, there is a common desire to have the search satisfied.
Whether one searches for a product, or searches for the time in Sydney Australia at the moment of the search, there is a need to have the search satisfied.
That’s a commonality across all search queries – have the query satisfied.
This intent – to be satisfied – goes without saying. It’s the basis of a search intent.
It’s also an intent that’s very broad.
Since everyone has this intent when they search, how would one differentiate one type of query from another?
And, firstly, why would one differentiate one query from another?
The ‘why’ comes down to marketing.
By being able to differentiate one search query from another, you’re able to assess the intent behind the query in order to satisfy the query as best as you can.
This translate to having the best, most appropriate page that targets the keyword that’s used in the search query.
So once again, it’s all about users.
Knowing what they intend on seeing when they search, what they want, gives you the insight to provide a satisfactory offering, i.e. a satisfactory page that they can visit by clicking-on through the SERPs.
Why does a person’s search intent matter?
It matters because it gives you an insight into what they want and expect from their search, allowing you to determine whether or not you’re able to deliver what they want and expect – beyond just targeting the keywords they search with.
SEO isn’t just about keywords, is it?
Keywords are just an element of a practice – the Art and Science of SEO.
OK, so having an intent satisfied is essential.
But how do you determine what a searcher’s intent is?
How does the intent behind the keyword ‘car insurance’, for example, differ from the intent behind the keyword ‘history of car insurance’?
Let me draw back the curtain here and unveil how SEOs do it.
I’ll share with you the standard set of intents that can be applied across all verticals.
Keywords are typically grouped into 3 buckets, which are used to interpret the intent behind the keywords.
You have Informational-based keywords, Navigational-based keywords, and Transactional-based keywords.
Informational keywords are terms that searchers use when they want to gather knowledge, or want to research a little about a topic.
For example, ‘what does car insurance cover’, is a search query that has an informational-gathering intent to it.
Someone using this query is in the research phase of their search journey.
Navigational keywords are those used in search in an attempt to get to a site. You tend to have a lot of branded terms with this bucket of keywords.
For example, ‘Aviva’, ‘Admiral’, ‘TFL’. Someone searching with a brand name already have the company in mind.
They are not interested in any other company, and are most likely only using the search engine as a gateway to enter the company’s site.
Rather than typing the company’s URL in the address bar, they search for the brand and enter the company’s site via search.
Transactional keywords are used when the searcher has the intent to buy, or subscribe, to make a purchase of some sort very soon, or (usually) right away.
A searcher with this type of intent has already carried out their research on what they seek – so they’ve had their research phase satisfied, and are now ready to purchase, or take action.
For example, ‘car insurance deals’, ‘discount mercedes’, ‘disney plus subscription’.
These types of keywords are an affiliate site’s pot of gold.
International brands have been built off targeting transactional keywords – just look at Money Supermarket, GoCompare, Confused.com.
These guys love transactional keywords.
Why do you think this is?
Why do you think comparison sites, review sites and voucher sites are very lucrative types of businesses?
These industries specialise in satisfying users who have the intent on making a purchase decision immediately, or very near after, searching for something on a search engine.
Sites in these industries rely heavily on SEO.
Organic search likely makes up 80% and even 90% of their business.
Yes, this is how important SEO is to some industries.
Entire businesses, entire industries, functions off the the Art and Science of SEO.
Still think SEO is all about keywords and links? It is not.
The more you’re able to ‘see’ (or interpret) the user intent behind a keyword, the more you’re able to better satisfy the user’s query – with your pages.
And the reward for doing this well is great! And unlimited.
Achieving this requires you to go beyond looking at keywords as simply keywords.
When SEOs look at a keyword, we immediately consider the intent behind it.
It’s part of the strategic thinking – being able to target the right keywords to attract users via search.
When we target keywords, we aren’t just thinking of satisfying users with the keywords, no, no.
We’re thinking of satisfying users with the appropriate content that matches what they’re seeking.
So, you see, keyword targeting on a page has no meaning if there isn’t content on the page.
How do we know what type of content to create for a keyword?
By identifying the user intent behind the keyword.