Search intent, as the name suggests, is the goal is whoever is conducting an online search: what are they hoping to find when they search on Google? This concept is also referred to as “keyword intent”, and it’s a crucial component of modern SEO efforts.
Generally speaking, online searches can be broken down into three basic categories: navigational, informational, and transactional. Understanding and optimizing for search intent is crucial for any online business.
Defining different searches
Navigational searches are made with the intent of finding a particular website or webpage, and these typically include branded keywords (names of websites or companies). Informational searches are looking for answers and will be dominated by questions.
Lastly, transactional searches are made with the intent of completing an action (also known as conversion), which could be a purchase, a subscription, an email, or any other action from the user.
Why is search intent important?
Search intent matters for any business trying to rank higher on Google — which every business should, considering Google’s absolutely dominant performance. Google’s mission is to provide users with the most relevant possible results for their searches, so if you want to rank, you have to offer users the best solutions to their problems and have unique, attention grabbing content. Thinking about search intent will help you get there.
Users are constantly researching products and services, and they’re always looking for new information on their topics of interest. Search intent is a tool you can use to get ahead of their questions and set your business up as the answer before they even know they need you.
This doesn’t mean just trying to get your landing page to rank high in search results. Not every search is made with the intent of seeing a company’s main page. You need to optimize efforts for each type of search to consistently provide relevant content.
Optimizing for searches
Navigational searches are the simplest type, and they don’t really require anything in the way of optimization on your part. The user already has a destination in mind, and they’re simply using the search engine to get to your site.
You can optimize for informational searches by focusing on interrogatives as well as modifiers that could potentially reveal the intention of a search. You can easily get ideas for this by searching a question relevant to your business yourself and then checking the People Also Ask (PAA) results.
These days, PAA results are becoming fairly dominant in search engine results pages (SERPs), and the PAA box is another opportunity to reach users. By using simple language that plainly answers a question and avoids sales talk, you’ll have a good chance of being featured in PAAs. While the odds of a conversion at the informational stage aren’t especially high, appearing in front of users at this stage still puts your brand in their minds.
Optimizing for transactional searches means making it as easy as possible for the user to convert. These may include sales language or pricing information, if a sale is the goal, or they may simply instruct users on how to take advantage of special codes or how to subscribe to content.
Regardless of your goal, transactional landing pages need to have a clear call to action for the user to follow, they need to be simple, and they need to make conversions inviting. For further help on optimizing for search intent, you might consider seeking the assistance of an SEO specialist like LinkGraph.
Understanding search intent provides more benefits than conversion. It also helps you secure more page views, it keeps users on your site for longer, and it helps expose your business to a wider audience. Being featured in PAA snippets can help you regularly appear before even the first result in SERPs.