Why You Need to Optimize Your Content for Search Intent
Learn about the four types of Search Intent and how to optimize your content to improve your rankings, increase click through rates from search engines and boost visitor engagement on your page.
What is Search Intent?
Search intent is the reason behind a person's search. It is the searcher's ‘why' to what they type into the search engine. You may not have heard of search intent, or keyword intent, but you carry out this action everyday when you look something up.
For example, when you type Lego into the search bar, your intention might be to find the Lego website. But another person's intention may be to find instructional videos about building Lego kits.
There are four types of search intent, namely Navigational, Informational, Transactional and Commercial Intent.
You might be thinking to yourself, hey, my website is already optimized for keywords AND I'm producing content that I know is reaching my audience. So why do I need to put in even more work?!
It's not enough to optimize your website for keywords as they don't provide enough context. If you can figure out why a searcher typed a particular search query, you can bring them to the most relevant page, blog post or guide, instead of hoping for the best when a certain keyword shows up.
The Importance of Search Intent
Each type of search intent will give you great insight into the forms of content you need to produce for your audience, based on their rationale behind the search. This not only makes it easier for you to come up with content ideas and plans, but you'll also see how they suit your customers' needs and will have you hitting those higher ranks in no time!
When you augment 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.
Because you concisely understand the needs and wants of your customers, you'll start ranking higher in the SERPs. This goes back to my previous point about brand discovery, which will also lead to higher traffic for your website as everything is tailored directly to the searcher's needs.
As you delve into the search intent area, you will get a clear understanding of what it is your customer searches for in relation to your product or service and whether they land on your website or actually buy your product. Having this insight can help you tweak your product/service, or else describe it in a manner that is better suited to your customer's needs.
With search intent assessed, you will attract the right clientele to your website and keep the bounce rate to a minimum as your content will be a perfect fit for their search.
How to Optimize Your Content For Search Intent
Navigational Search Intent
Navigational searches are carried out when the user already knows what website or webpage they want to visit. They have a very clear intent — to get to that particular website, pronto!
As you can see from the example below, this is very much a brand search where the searcher either wants to make their way to the main Lego website or other high level brand resources.
As such, Google prioritises the main Lego website for this type of search. The Lego Twitter feed also appears in a high position in the form of a carousel. This is common for brand based searches where the brand has an active and engaged Twitter audience.
If a searcher has this intention type, they will most likely already know you or your brand name. To ensure your website is optimized for this search, have clear landing pages for your product/service and homepage, with details about your company, what your service is and who you cater to.
Include your brand and product/service name in the page title, subheadings and meta description as these are the factors Google looks at to see if you're the right fit for the search.
In the above example, you can see "Lego" is clearly stated in the title as well as in the URL.
The most common type of content produced for these searches are landing pages and homepages, so having clear web copy along with the steps above will produce a high search rank when your brand is searched for.
Informational Search Intent
These queries are used when the searcher is looking for information or a solution.
Informational searches are usually questions, for example 'How to' or 'What is', where the searcher is either looking for a simple answer or a longer guide-type post.
We showed you how to do keyword research in a previous guide. Optimizing content for informational search intent involves adding what are known as 'intent modifiers' to your keywords.
Intent modifiers are words that imply intent, because when they are used they change the meaning of the search. Take the Lego example below, if the searcher were to type in "Lego camper van", Google would show a list of camper vans and possible products to buy. But by using the phrase "How to", Google knows that the searcher is looking for an answer in the form of a guide or instructional video.
You can see an extensive list of intent modifiers here to match with your keywords.
In order to enhance your page and content for informational intent, use the question your audience asks in strategic positions such as headings, subheadings, URL, page title and descriptions.
Have the answer to this question in the first paragraph, so the reader (and Google!) can quickly see that you're the right match and will continue to click through the article.
Intent modifiers associated with informational intent are how, what, who, guide, tutorial and resource.
Content types best suited to informational intent are blog posts and articles, how-to guides, list posts and step-by-step posts, as well as how-to videos.
Here the searcher knows what product they are looking for on the market, but are not yet sure what brand they want to buy from. They are not quite at the transactional phase just yet, but are looking to compare brands and various products to see what matches their needs.
In this Lego example, the searcher is looking for the best Lego Volkswagen set but the first result isn't actually produced by the Lego company.
Other examples of commercial searches include reviews, which are more localised searches. The searcher might be looking to go out for dinner in Boston, but specifically wants to go to a Thai-food restaurant. If they type in "best Boston Thai", a variety of restaurants will show.
To rank well in these searches, include detailed product and service descriptions for your particular product. Avoid being outshone by other companies!
Depending on the industry you are in, you could write 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, reviews and roundups of products/services and in the landing page will aid your page and content optimization.
Transactional Search Intent
Transactional queries are also known as doing queries because the searcher typically wants to carry out an action like buying a product or sign up for a newsletter.
Searchers may use certain modifiers, but could also just type in the exact product name if they already know what they are buying.
The Lego example here is an example of the latter; the searcher has specified exactly the product type so Lego know to tailor their results so that the searcher can go straight to that product page to make a swift purchase.
Arrange your page and content to keep the buyer focused on the main outcome - buying the product.
The searcher wants facts that are easily 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 are scannable and have an obvious CTA button underneath.
In order to optimize the product for search, use transactional vocab such as product words and brand names, include categories, and use intent modifiers such as buy, discount, coupon, sale, free shipping.
Transactional query content is focused on landing pages and easy-to-read product/service pages.
Go Forth and Optimize
Creating content that is optimized for these four types of search intent will help improve your rankings by making your content more relevant to the search query.
Content that has been optimized for search intent also increases click through rates from search engine results pages since the heading and meta description are solving a problem for the searcher.
Additionally, having content on your page that is highly relevant to the searchers intent will mean more engagement with the page, for example increased dwell time and decreased bounces, all of which feeds back into your ability to rank well.