What Is Search Intent?

Search Intent is a crucial concept in the digital marketing world. Our guide hopes to provide you with all the information that there is to know about keyword intent in research.

Danny Mahoney

Danny Mahoney — 13 minute read.

As it’s widely known, SEO is a potent piece of content capable of driving traffic to any website.

You can optimise your site to attract potential customers with proper keyword research. The most effective use of keyword research tools to identify these search terms to identify these keywords, the higher your chances of ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Search Intent

Another way to look at it is that even if keyword research does help people locate your products and services, there’s not necessarily a doubt they’ll commit to a purchase or come back to your website. This is where the ability to determine search intent becomes crucial, prompting visitors to take action.

Look at this guide, where we discuss the basics of keyword search intent and its types (informational, transactional, commercial, and navigational intent); at the end of the guide, we will answer the question, “Is search intent important”. We’ll also help you target and capture the right keywords and build an intent-based keyword list.

Keyword Intent Types Graphic

What Is Search Intent in SEO?

Let’s start by referencing a third party’s basic definition of keyword search intent before identifying the common types of search intents. That being said, target search intent surrounds the idea of why a particular search query was made. Or better known as user intent, what was their motive for performing the search?

Understanding search intent is vital to improving the quality of your traffic; that’s why we have this how-to guide.

Google will want to know if the person is looking for information, an immediate answer to a question or if they’re to be redirected to a specific website they want to go to. It will also determine if people want to buy the product or service. The different kinds of searches conducted by the user, in turn, play crucial parts in every user journey.

Suppose you need an instant answer; The search engine might serve a featured snippet based on your intent, and the list of results will differ from those displayed when you’re looking for a specific site. The keywords included in the search might be similar in both cases, but the difference in intent determines how Google lists the results, including which website appears as the first result.

To sum up, search engines like Google tend to provide search results – or SERP features based on the relevant keywords and the intent or motive of the search.

Keyword Research Matrix

Does Search Intent Matter?

Search intent matters in SEO; after all, Google’s primary focus is to provide you with the most relevant results for your search query. That’s where its success story stems from. You’ll need to focus on creating content for search intent and relevance through keyword research to rank higher in Google’s SERPs.

Search Intent Sembyotic

This doesn’t mean that you force keywords into your content to get your website’s landing pages to rank in the SERPs. You must create relevant content that aligns with a user’s search intent through proper keyword optimisation. This is the key to improving user experience and achieving success in digital marketing.

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Types Of Keyword Search Intent

Here, we’ll discuss the various types of intent in keyword searches, starting with the three commonly used types of search intent.

1. Informational Intent

When a user searches for relevant information, that’s called informational search intent. For example, it might just be a brief answer to a simple question or even a deep dive into a broad topic, thereby expecting to learn something more extensive related to HTML, football, the weather or even directions to an airport.

Once a user types in queries like “What is search intent?” or “How do you optimise a website for SEO?” Google begins compiling a list of the top and relevant sites that may best answer these queries.

These long-tail keywords and modifiers (how, what, etc.) used to conduct informational searches are referred to as informational keywords. Initially, they rarely progress to a boost in conversion rates. Instead, they help in identifying the problem and finding a quick solution.

Keyword Intent Search Modifiers

Keeping this in mind, every website should include content, answering a few questions relevant to their business. This will improve local and national SEO rankings and build your brand name, placing the business as an authority in the industry.

2. Navigational Intent

With navigational search intent in place, the searcher uses certain navigational keywords searches a specific website to know which site landing page they want to visit. It would probably be quicker if they typed the website URL on the Google Search bar, but they might not know the exact web address.

For example, if you want to visit social media platforms, you’ll probably conduct searches for Facebook or Twitter. Or suppose you know a few details of a particular Sunshine Coast Web Design agency, including its name, dates, and location. Your search will resemble something like “Web Design Sunshine Coast sitecentre”.

As a result, Google will identify the concert and present you with a list of websites. Your intent behind the search may not be to buy a ticket; you might want to know about the musicians performing or the other important details.

So, like informational queries, navigational intent may not lead to a conversion, but it’s the first step to helping brands build an online presence. Visitors may eventually want to buy something from your website.

3. Transactional Intent

Transactional search intent is when a user conducts a specific search to buy a product or service. Ideally, they already know what they wish to buy. But they might not know where to buy it.

So, optimise your landing page with transactional search intent keywords if you wish to boost your conversion rates and sales. They are also referred to as “buy now keywords” and help enhance eCommerce sales by huge margins.

For example, people searching for products and services with words such as “buy”, “coupon”, “discount”, “free shipping”, and “cheap” in their transactional intent phrases will more likely want to buy them. If you can use relevant transactional intent keywords to make your brand visible to these people, there’s a high chance of a conversion.

Transactional Intent Examples

It’s always a good idea to keep the user’s transactional intent in mind to develop your landing page. This will help attract highly motivated searchers and potential customers.

4. Commercial Intent

In most cases, the intent behind a search is to buy something; the user might be looking for information related to the specific product with transactional intent. The combination of transactional and informational purposes is referred to as commercial investigation.

A user who is exploring purchase options but isn’t ready to commit immediately will want to learn more about the options before deciding. They’ll look for customer reviews and compare brands offering the same product or service.

When adequately informed and ready to buy, individuals will be more likely to purchase the product. For example, queries such as “top 10 LED TVs”, “top restaurants near me”, and “best toasters” — are conducted by users’ searches with commercial search intent in mind. They are probably looking for the best option before committing to one.

Capturing The Right Search Intent

As an SEO strategist, it’s essential to Understand the user intent and apply intent optimisation when building an SEO strategy. This will help you optimise your website content in a way that enables you to rank higher in SERPs and attract potential customers.

Identify the specific terms people use when they are looking to buy something. Suppose they use words like “buy”, “coupon”, “order”, or “purchase” in their search queries. In that case, it’s a signal that people are looking to make a purchase, indicating a commercial investigation with transactional intent.

On the other hand, users with an informational intent will be conducting searches using modifiers like “how to”, “what is”, “the best way to”, and so on. These users may come back to your website to purchase in the future. So, make sure you develop a content strategy that addresses their queries.

Search Demand Curve

Targeting Search Intent

Ensure you understand your target audience before creating a specific content type, such as a landing page for your website. Those transferring their informational intent into an online search will likely prefer to read a blog post and articles that address their queries. Then again, this type of content wouldn’t be ideal for people to purchase. You must direct them to your product pages by matching search intent.

Defining Target Audience

So, for businesses selling furniture, you’ll want the eCommerce website to cover all bases, including “buy a sofa” and “how to choose the best sofa set.” This way, you’ll be attracting users with both transactional and informational intent.

High-Intent Keywords

Without a proper understanding of search intent, even the most funded Google ad campaign is bound to fail. However, you can increase traffic to your site with search intent.

Coming high-intent keywords signify a strong commercial search intent of a searcher to conduct a navigational, transactional, or informational search. Commercial search intent keywords only pertain to transactional queries and can be considered powerful “signals” from promising and potential customers.

On the other hand, low-intent keywords can be either informational or navigational. The commercial or transactional intent of this type of search is relatively low. People using these keywords may not be looking or planning to buy a product; however, you can use them to drive organic traffic to your website pages.

That said, there are two types of commercial intent keywords — “product” and “buy now” keywords. Of all the “buy now” keywords, “buy” has the highest intent as it signifies the strongest intentions of people willing to make a purchase.

Even “product” keywords, such as “cheapest”, “review”, “best”, “top”, and “comparison”, indicate a commitment to purchase. The terms “review” and “comparison” may not appear strong; they can still lead to a conversion. However, you might have to work harder for the conversion as an SEO strategist and advertiser.

Competition Conversion Graph

On the contrary, keywords specific to the product and branded searches, being comparatively more competitive, improve SEO rankings and convert significantly well.

Identifying High-Intent Keywords

Using WordStream Advisor to identify relevant high-commercial intent keywords that will work for your business is a good idea. This tool can also specify negative high-intent keywords and recommend some of the best ways to optimise ad text to boost conversion rates and reduce unnecessary expenses.

Keyword Search Intent And Keyword Research

Businesses conduct keyword research and optimise for search intent so that their SEO rankings SEO rankings are higher in Google SERPs; in turn, it allows their products or services to be easily found by target audiences to satisfy user intent to be seen on the search result pages. That’s a great way to kickstart any company’s content marketing campaign.

After all, website content and blog posts lacking relevant keywords related to the particular business won’t capture a suitable position in the search results pages. Ensure you produce quality content and use a robust keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs. These will help keep track of the target keywords with high search volumes and lower competition.

However, it’s a bit more challenging to outrank big and reputable brands, so you’ll have to search for long and short-tail keywords. Finally, you can use tools like Google Analytics to see how your site performs compared to competitors using similar keywords.

Ahref Keyword Difficulty Scale

How To Build Intent-Based Keyword Lists

Before you determine your audience’s search intent or even create content surrounding it, you’ll need to build a list of intent-based keywords to optimise your content. Once the list is made, it needs to be intent-based, and you need to add “modifiers” which signify the purpose or intent behind the search query.

As mentioned, tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Answer The Public, Ahrefs, UberSuggest, and Google Search Console can help identify the core keywords. Just make sure you refrain from using auto-generated keyword lists.

You could also go to Google’s “people also ask” box after typing a few of these keywords in the search bar. The questions included in the “people also ask” section can be added as intent-based keywords on the list.

However, it’s essential to remember that keywords vary based on your location and language. For example, the spelling and choice of words differ for people living in America and Australia. As a result, the specific keywords used in both regions might vary. For example, “sweater” is known as “jumper” in Australia, while “optimisation” is spelt as “optimisation” in the US.

So, if you wish to capture the international market, you’ll have to target the keywords of both areas accordingly. Once your keyword list is ready, add suitable modifiers, depending on the intent. For informational queries, you’ll want to focus your content surrounding searches like “What is (product)?” and “How does (product) work?”

On the contrary, transactional queries should centre around words like “sale”, “low cost”, and so on. You can also try to be more specific while conducting keyword research. If you sell clothes, such as jeans, colour-based keywords like blue, black, grey, etc., and size-based keywords like small, medium and large can be used to attract the target audience.

Keyword Research Graphic

Final Thoughts on Keyword Intent

The first step to building a successful content marketing campaign is creating a list of keywords based on the purpose of the search. Once that’s done, you’ll have to shortlist the ones to keep based on search volume, relevance, ranking opportunity and competition.

It’s better to opt for high-intent keywords; by using them, the searcher makes their intention of buying the product transparent. They are also more cost-effective, saving you from wasted expenditure and helping boost conversion rates.

You must choose a suitable advertising format to attract searchers with commercial or transactional intent.

Danny Mahoney

Danny Mahoney

As the accomplished head of web design at sitecentre®, Danny boasts an impressive career of 20+ years in web design and digital marketing. He employs a highly effective approach, harnessing user-behaviour metrics to enhance UX/UI to fuel conversion rates. Danny’s unique skill set allows him to deliver award-winning websites to SMBs at an unrivalled pace while maintaining superior results. His unique skills and vast experience make Danny a powerhouse in the industry.

Find them on their website: sitecentre®.

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