Have you ever asked yourself what were you really searching for when you enter a search term in Google? And how did Google know what you had on your mind when you entered Berlin airport, for example?
Well, you may not have heard of search intent or keyword intent, but you carry out this action every day when you look something up. When you enter a search term in Google, like a DSLR camera, you might look for a camera to buy, while another person's intention may be to find tutorials about using a DSLR camera. Search intent is the why behind a search query. In other words, why did the person make this search?
Types of Search Intent
Now, if you think that your website is already optimized for keywords and you’re reaching your audience, you will ask yourself why do I need to do more. Well, if you can anticipate why a person typed a particular search query, then you can bring them to the most relevant web page or a blog post, instead of hoping for the best when a certain keyword shows up. When you expand your content for search intent, your website has a greater chance of becoming discovered because you have strategically placed yourself in front of your customers.
There are four types of search intent: Navigational, Informational, Transactional and Commercial Intent.
Someone is looking for a specific website. This person already knows exactly where he wants to go. It’s probably much easier to google for this website than to type the entire URL into the address bar. And maybe you don´t know the exact URL.
Here are some examples of navigational searches: Sony; Canon; Twitter login.
As you can see from the examples, this is very much a brand search where the searcher either wants to make his way to the main website or other high-level brand resources. The searcher has a very clear intent – to get to the particular website swiftly.
An informational search query is used when the searcher is looking for information or a solution, or in other words, when a person wants to know the answer to something. Therefore, these queries are usually question-based. For example: What is a DSLR camera? Who is the president of China? However, not all informational searches are formulated as questions.
A transactional query is used when people want to do something, like buying a product or signing up for a newsletter. They know what they want to buy and are searching for a place where they can buy the product. Here are some examples of these transactional searches: buy MacBook pro; Canon camera discount; Sony PlayStation 4 cheap.
Searchers may use certain modifiers, but also just type in the exact product name if they already know what they want to buy.
The searcher knows which specific product or service he is looking for, but has not yet made up his mind what brand is the right choice for him. The most common search is for a brand comparison or to read some reviews. Examples of commercial investigation searches best Lego Star Wars set; PS4 review; Samsung vs iPhone, top restaurants in Berlin.
That last example is of particular note because it indicates the fact that many local searches have commercial investigation intent. Other examples include the cheapest hotel in London; barber near me; etc.
Optimize your content to match search intent
Now, when you know the background of the different types of search intent, you can adjust your content appropriately.
Navigational intent optimization
To ensure your website is optimized for this search, have clear landing pages for your product/service and homepage, with details about your company, your products or what kind of service you provide. You need to optimize each page using your product or brand names in strategic positions such as page title, subheadings and meta descriptions since these are the aspects Google looks at to check if you’re the right fit for the search.
Besides this, make sure your landing pages, including your homepage, explicitly state who you are, what you do and to whom you offer your services, because that’s what searchers want to know.
Informational intent optimization
As we already explained, informational intent usually involves questions like “How to” or “What is”. Therefore, in order to improve your content for informational intent, use the question your audience asks in strategic positions such as headings, subheadings, URL, page title and descriptions. And then place the answer to the question in the first paragraph, so the reader can quickly see that you're the right match and will continue to click through the article.
Best suited content types to this search intent are articles, blog posts, how-to guides, list posts, and how-to videos.
Transactional intent optimization
Using the right kind of words both on your page and your meta information sends a clear signal to search engines that you’ve created a transactional page. Optimizing the product for search means you need to use transactional vocabularies such as product words and brand names, include categories, and use intent modifiers such as buy, discount, deal, best, coupon, sale, review, free shipping...
Have in mind that the searcher wants facts that are easy to read. So keep the design to a minimum, have the product name as the title of the page, use white space, clear product images and keep the information to one page to avoid scrolling. For the text, use lists and bullet points that could be easily scanned and have a distinct CTA button beneath.
Commercial investigation optimization
In order to rank better in these searches, you should include detailed product and service descriptions for your particular product. For instance, you can create a blog post comparing products or services that you use and how they are of benefit to you. This can set you apart because you are adding value to your customer's experiences through useful and actionable advice. Including words such as best, top, review and using descriptive language in blog posts and reviews and on the landing page will serve your page and content optimization.
By creating content optimized for these four types of search intent will help improve your rankings by making your content more relevant to the search query. Optimized content will also increase click-through rates from search engine results pages since the heading and meta description are solving a problem for the searcher. Be sure to use Google Search Console and Google Analytics to evaluate your existing content, and remember to combine search intent with keyword research when you create any new content.