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Did you know that Google processes more than 5.5 billion search queries a day?
While you may want your web pages to rank in the search results, do you know what’s worse than not ranking there?
It’s when you try to optimise and rank your page for the query that’s not relevant for the user search intent. It harms your site more than it does good to it because visitors quickly leave your web page when they don’t get what they are looking for.
Search engines call this a negative user experience and so it may adversely affect your website ranking. Also, you miss out on the engagement possibilities with your users when they don’t stay longer on your site and ultimately lose sales opportunities.
Sounds scary right?
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’ll learn why user intent is important and how to identify it correctly. Moreover, we’ll also discuss the best search intent practices that can help you enhance your users’ search experience. If you want some hands-on help in formulating an SEO strategy with a focus on user intent, you can always get in touch with the leading SEO agency in Melbourne.
What is Search Intent?
Search intent or user intent can be defined as the main objective of the user while typing a query in a search engine. It’s termed “intent” because the end goal is not always evident from the query.
For instance, you searched the keyword backpacks in Google. Now, this isn’t a specific search query for Google. It doesn’t know whether you want to learn about types of backpacks, buy one, or compare the best options. So it interprets your generic query and presents results accordingly.
Now, let’s say you typed a specific query like best hiking backpacks under $200. Here, you have a very clear intent that you want to see hiking backpacks only, ideally with a list of brands and their features. Also, you have a spending budget in mind that indicates that you’re looking forward to buying it soon.
Types of Search Intent
Search engines process innumerable search queries every day. We can divide these queries into four broad categories.
Informational search intent means the searcher is looking for information. For example, you searched Google for “what is calisthenics workout”. This is an informational query as you’re looking for a definition.
So you can see here Google returned the results with images and definitions. What’s more interesting is since you asked for a definition, Google algorithms assumed that you could be aspiring to start a callisthenics workout. Hence, it also suggested exercises for beginners.
Here are some more examples of informational searches:
- “prime minister of australia”
- “biggest airports in the world”
- “how to write blog post”
Here you already know what you want to buy, but you’re not sure where you’ll buy it from. For instance, when you type “buy iphone 13” into Google, it’s clear from your words that your intent is to purchase.
Hence, Google delivers results with phone variants and prices available from top-ranking eCommerce pages.
Some other examples include:
“buy nike jordan”
“pre owned cars”
“sell my apartment”
When you already know you want to go to a specific website and type its brand name in a search engine, it’s called navigational search. For most people, it’s easier to type it in Google than entering its URL into the address bar.
Let’s say, you want to log into your Twitter account. So you searched “twitter” in Google and it gave you the link to the homepage.
A few more examples of navigational search intent are:
- “gmail login”
In this case, your product or service need is specific but you’re still figuring out which brand or solution best fits your requirements. So you would most likely check the product reviews or comparisons.
Here your search queries may look like:
- “moz vs semrush”
- “best gaming laptop”
- “dyson cyclone v10 reviews”
Why is Search Intent Important for SEO?
The short answer is:
Anything that enhances the users’ search experience, it’s valuable for SEO. And the best way you can do this is by giving an accurate resolution to their questions.
That said, let’s dive deeper into the reasons why search intent is the ultimate SEO hack.
It’s No.1 Priority for Search Engines
The main purpose of existence for search engines is to satisfy their searchers’ queries. Hence, it’s their topmost priority.
Take a look at Google’s mission statement for instance.
Their goal is not just to make information accessible, but to provide relevant and valuable information to their users. As a result, search intent automatically becomes an SEO priority.
So if you want your website or web pages to rank on Google, your content should provide the most relevant and satisfying answers to users’ search intent.
Now you may be wondering, “how does this apply to my business?”
Say, you’re targeting the keyword “best health insurance”.
In this case, neither the user nor search engine is looking for your landing page. They most likely want information like blog posts, comparison charts etc. so that they can learn more about the benefits before making a buying decision.
Google knows this. So they may not rank your landing page for the given keywords. Even if your landing page ranks and users click on it, they’ll leave without taking further action. Instead, provide them exactly what they need.
Higher Ranking in Search Results
Since Google puts a great emphasis on the relevance and usability of the information, you are well on your way to appearing in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) provided you are also optimising for other important factors.
Here’s how it works.
When you provide the right content for user intent, your clickthrough rate (CTR) increases because searchers are finding value in your web pages. Consequently, improved CTR boosts the chances of your page ranking higher.
Increases Your Website Traffic and Conversions
Once your page starts ranking higher in Google, it gets exposed to more eyeballs. For instance, the top three organic search results capture 75.1% of all clicks.
In other words, the better you rank in Google search, the more traffic comes your way. Owing to your valuable content, visitors would stay longer on your site. This increases your opportunities to engage more with them.
With greater engagement, you are better equipped to convert these visitors into potential leads and customers.
Thus, your efforts into serving the right kind of content to your visitors create a snowball effect and bring in more engaged users and revenue for your business.
Helps you Establish Authority
When you keep matching the user search intent consistently over time, users start looking at your brand as an authority in your niche. They believe that you know the what, why, and how of your industry.
With this authority, you automatically gain your users’ trust. Needless to say, for any business, there is no bigger reward than earning its target audience’s faith. Eventually, this trust converts into abundant business opportunities in the longer run.
Improves Your Brand Awareness
With all the above reasons combined, your site and web pages start appearing in top search results for targeted search intent. Once your audience keeps seeing your brand name repeatedly, they start associating with it and also spread the word about it.
Identifying the Search Intent
Now that we know what is search intent and why it’s crucial for the success of your SEO strategy, it’s time to learn some actionable ways to identify the right user search intent to target.
Examine Top 10 Search Results
This is the first and most basic yet important step in uncovering the search intent.
Type the keyword in Google and see the results it returns. Then analyse the top 10 search results one by one. This will give you insights into the type of content that searchers look for and ranks on top in SERPs.
Suppose you are a SaaS company specialising in email marketing software. So we’ll enter the keyword “email marketing” in Google and check the organic results. The keyword suggests that it is informational search intent.
On analysing the top 10 ranked pages, we can infer that the results highlighted in blue boxes are the most relevant content for the user search intent for the word “email marketing” because they talk about:
- What is email marketing
- How email marketing works
- Email marketing strategies, tools, tips
- In-depth guidance on email marketing
- How to get started with email marketing
At the same time, yellow boxes are the listicles that satisfy commercial investigation intent and best suit a keyword like “best email marketing services”. The users may want to explore them later when they want to compare different software and services.
Whereas the red boxes are the landing pages. They meet the transactional search intent that users may expect to see when they type “buy email marketing software”.
Here, your SEO and content strategy must be complementing each other to target the accurate keywords for the search intent and produce relevant content.
Check Related Searches
This time let’s take the keyword related to Electric Vehicles (EV). So we very subtly whispered “ev charging” in Google’s ears to see what else it shows besides the paid and organic search results.
Here we can see a section “people also ask” that represents what other queries people have with regards to electric vehicles.
Moreover, Google algorithms also recommend related searches from its database.
These recommendations are goldmines of consumer insights when it comes to creating content around the search intent.
For instance, “home ev charging station price” in related search indicates that there’s a good search volume for this query and searchers may be looking for price comparison charts.
So you may want to create a blog post that meets this search needs.
You may also want to do some advanced user search intent research beyond what you can find on SERPs. There are plenty of free and premium keyword research tools available that can aid your research.
In this case, we’ve used the KWFinder SEO tool to give you an idea. Let’s see what do we find for the keyword “ecommerce platforms”.
Here’s what we got.
What it means if you’re an eCommerce platform provider:
- Search intent popularity: This keyword has a high search volume i.e. more than 28,000 people search for it every month. So you should target this or similar keywords given in the list.
- Competition: It’s difficult to rank for this exact keyword in SERPs because of competitiveness. Hence, you need to provide better user intent value than the ranking competitors. You can do this by creating better content than what’s already there.
Thus, you get deeper insights and alternatives that you may not have thought of earlier.
Search Intent Best Practices
Since we’ve learnt how to uncover the user search intent, it also makes sense to touch base on a few search intent practices to enhance the searcher’s experience.
Here they are.
Create Content That Aligns to Search Intent
First things first. Ensure that your content is in alignment with user intent. For this, check:
- Content type: With what type of content can you best answer users’ queries? Blogpost, landing page, or product page?
- Content format: Analyse the format of your content that will make it easier for your reader to digest content. Some of the common formats include how-to guides, listicles, reviews, infographics, comparison charts etc.
User Experience (UX) Optimisation
Google algorithms know what’s a good fit for user search intent. Also, it can detect when people have negative experiences on web pages. Hence, you must treat your website UX (User Experience) as a priority.
To optimise your UX:
- Use readable font-size: It’s advisable to use a font size of 14 to make your content easily readable.
- Use sections and subsections: Using subheadings can help readers skim through your content easily. Besides, it also helps search engines to understand your web page faster.
- Limit popups: Too many popups and ads can deteriorate your UX and visitors may exit your website quickly. It’s a signal for Google that they didn’t have a good experience on your site.
- Use visual content: Because people can retain only 20% of what they read but 80% of what they see, it’s a great practice to add relevant images and videos with the written content on your site. It helps readers to understand the information easily. Moreover, of all the searches in Google over one-third are for images and 12.5% of SERPs feature an image pack.
As discussed earlier, some people already know the website they want to visit but they use search engines instead of typing URLs. Hence, you must optimise your website for navigational queries.
- Website homepage and about page
- Login page
- Product or service pages (For people who search your products in Google)
- Pricing page, etc.
This is how it appears in Google when a site is well optimised for navigational search intent.
Thus, users find all the relevant links within your website when they search your brand name on Google and they can easily visit the section directly from the search result.
Revamp Content on Website
Search intent optimisation and analysis is not limited only to the new content you would publish. It’s equally important to optimise your existing content if you think it should be ranking in SERPs but it’s not.
Once you audit old content on your website for all the parameters discussed in this post, it may generate new insights whether you need to update the content for relevance or rewrite it to address your audience.
Keywords with Multiple Search Intent
Sometimes you may find it difficult to differentiate between a transactional and commercial intent.
For example, the keyword “smart watches”. It’s quite evident there’s a transactional intent, but it’s not clear whether the searcher is ready to buy right now or wants to compare different options.
Here you can see that Google has ranked landing pages as well as the comparison lists for the smart watches.
Hence, you need to create content that meets both transactional and commercial investigation intent.
Understanding your users’ search intent is a prerequisite to answering their questions satisfactorily. It not only helps the searchers but also benefits your website with higher SERP ranking, traffic, conversions, and brand authority.
So use the above tactics to identify the correct search intent of your target audience and deliver them what they are looking for. Also, check your existing content whether it’s optimised for search intent. There could be a possibility that your existing pages may need to be improved to match the user intent.
Furthermore, follow the best practices we discussed in this post to align your SEO strategy with user intent for long-term results.