In the ultra-competitive online world, mastering SEO can not only help you survive but thrive at the expense of your competitors. Search engine optimisation can often be the difference between failure and success, yet, a lot of brands struggle to position themselves as the experts at the top of the results.
Whilst there are many factors that should be considered as part of SEO (Google uses over 200 indicators), search intent is one that no company owner should ignore. Even if you are the best in your market segment and your product/service offers tremendous value and benefits to your customers if they cannot find you then none of that matters. If your customers are not looking for what you have to offer, or cannot find you then you will remain in the dark oblivion of Google’s second-page results.
So here’s how you can tip the scales in your favour and use your customers’ search intent to rank at the top of SERPs.
What is Search Intent?
Search intent is simply what users look for in search engines, it’s the words that they use to find your products. It’s the “easy dinner recipe” you browse for on a weeknight after an exhausting day at work or the “best Italian restaurant near me” that they look for when they still can’t be bothered to cook. It can even be the smartphone comparison you’ve been meaning to look into.
Search intent comes down to queries about things users want to learn more about, find, buy, or even places to go. The inquiries people make are what SEO refers to as keywords or key phrases.
Why Should Your Business Care For Search Intent?
By finding out what people want to know more about when browsing the internet will help you get noticed by your target audience, it’s simple as that.
Strategising search engine intent will guide your SEO efforts in the right direction. You’ll be able to:
- Effectively perform keyword research and target search terms that affiliate with your audience’s and brand’s needs
- Build the content that answers the questions your target audience has and become the ‘go-to’ solution provider for your customers’ problems
- Organise your website pages so that they are user-friendly and seamless
- Structure and create expert content in a way that search engines categorise it as most valuable and relevant to users
Learning how people use search engines and offering the right answers to their questions gets your page ranked higher in search results, which gets your brand better organic exposure to new potential customers.
Every SEO specialist and business owner should be aware of the four basic types of search intent. These are:
Navigational – a search for a particular website.
Informational – a search for knowledge.
Commercial – a search for data (like reviews) to make an informed purchase decision.
Transactional – a search to make a purchase (where to buy).
How To Improve Your SEO Rankings Using Search Intent
You don’t need to have a comprehensive technical background to improve the ranking of your content, and most importantly match the search intents of your target audience. Here are just a few simple steps to follow.
Research & Analyse
Search intent is tremendously useful in improving rankings. To take advantage of it, however, you need to do the groundwork.
Start by researching what types of keywords people are looking for in your business niche. The easiest way to do so is by typing the phrases in Google. Answer the Public is another free social listening tool that can help you analyse what people want to learn more about in search engines. SEO tools, like Ahrefs, Semrush, and KWfinder, are also worth the investment.
Looking at your competitors and what they’re ranking for also gives you an idea of where you need to improve.
Once you have a substantial list of keywords and phrases, you’ll need to figure out the type of search intent. The fastest way to do that is to analyse the key phrase itself. If people are searching for “what is the paleo diet” you’d know people want to know more about the topic, not to buy something, and you’d offer that.
Not all types of search intent involve strategising long-form content, however. Occasionally, people are ready for the next step, and by searching for “free trial” or “book a call” you’ll know the intent is transactional. In that case, you’d provide a landing page where people can get exactly that.
It’s important to make sure you know what people mean by looking for a certain thing and provide an answer or easy-to-follow steps to achieving their goal.
Optimise for Each Search Intent Category
Well-structured and helpful content will make all the difference for your brand. Covering each intent category will ensure your audience that your website is the best place they can get what they’re looking for.
Optimise for Informational Intent
Offer well-structured and easy to browse through articles that answer users’ questions and concerns. You can go a step further and create a hub of related topics that cover any additional questions users might have. An article about “paleo diets” can prompt them to look for “keto diet”, “veganism”, and so on.
Optimise for Transactional Intent
Optimising for transactional words means offering straight-to-the-point landing pages. These should contain all necessary information for users to complete the desired action like “sign up” “start free trial” and so forth.
To do that make sure you have clear page titles and descriptions, and that the content formatting is correct (headers, subheaders, etc.). Your calls to action should be clearly distinguishable, and your page design seamless.
Optimise for Navigational Intent
For navigational intent, you need to look at your website and how each web page is structured. Each section should have its appropriate titles, tags, and descriptions. This will make it easier for users to navigate through, but it also helps search engines pull information from websites fast.
Every one of your products or services should have a dedicated section or better yet landing page with all the relevant information. Use your brand and product names, and add related terms and benefits (what problem your product/service solves).
Moreover, optimise your URLs so they are easy to read and indicate what the page is about.
Optimise for Commercial Intent
For commercial search intent, you should directly show your audience what your value proposition is. Visual information like tables with features and benefits, videos of the product in use, comparisons with previous models, and lots of images will help sell your product as something the audience can easily understand and take advantage of.
Improve Your Existing Content
Following the above strategy for optimising your website for search intent shouldn’t be limited just to your new content. You can go back and re-optimise what you already have built.
To help with that you can look at Google’s section “People also ask” concerning the content you already have. Take one of your blog article topics and look at the results for it in the search engine. This will give you ideas on how to edit the post to make it more attractive and useful for audiences.
Adjusting your existing content helps ramp up the rankings of pages even further than what they’re already performing at.