Although Google hasn’t revealed exactly how its algorithm works, the company’s employees often provide insight into how website owners can improve their page rankings. Hundreds of factors go into determining how one-page ranks compared to all the pages competing for the same keyword, but Google’s recent updates indicate it’s important for the content on a page to match the user’s keyword search intent. We put together this guide to help you understand what search intent is and how you can use it to improve your page rankings.
What Is Keyword Search Intent?
In simplest terms, search intent is the purpose of the user’s query. When people use Google and other search engines, they have a goal in mind. They may want to learn more about a topic, solve a problem, buy something or find a specific page on a website. If the content on your pages matches the user’s search intent, you’re more likely to make a sale, add a new subscriber to your email list or convince the user to bookmark or share your site.
Types of Search Intent
SEMrush has identified four types of keyword search intent: transactional, commercial, informational and navigational.
Transactional User Intent
Transactional means the user wants to complete some type of action. The user might want to fill out your contact form, sign up for your email list or contact your business by telephone. These actions bring people into your sales funnel and give you the opportunity to convert them into paying customers.
When it comes to generating revenue, commercial intent is probably the most valuable. Users with commercial intent are interested in buying a product or service. They may not buy from you the first time they visit your website, but they might download your lead magnet or take advantage of a free trial.
Users with informational intent want to solve a problem, answer a question or learn more about a topic that interests them. “How to do SEO” and “Why do zebras have stripes?” are examples of searches with informational intent.
Navigational Search Intent
People with navigational intent want to get to a specific website, not just any website that answers their question, solves their problem or helps them complete a purchase. For example, someone might type in Panera to find the corporate website for Panera Bread.
Matching the User’s Intent
Matching the user’s intent starts with keyword research. In many cases, it’s easy to understand what the user needs. For example, “buy mystery books” and “pet food coupon code” align with commercial intent because it’s clear the user wants to buy something or obtain a discount on a future purchase. Someone doing an informational search might enter “types of orchids” or “how to remove stains.” Keep an eye out for these signal words when you’re coming up with a list of keywords to target.
Identifying Keyword Search Intent
Some keywords are a little more difficult to figure out. The user might want information, or they might want to buy something. There are a few ways to determine the true intent of a search. The first is to contact your existing customers and ask them what keywords they use when they search for products, services and information related to your niche. You could also send out an anonymous survey to gather data from as many customers as possible.
The second way to identify a user’s search intent is to check out your competition. Type the target keyword into your search engine and look at the top-ranking pages. What kind of content do they have? How have they incorporated the keyword into their content? You don’t want to copy from your competitors, but you can get some good ideas by reading their content and figuring out what they’re doing to match user search intent.
Finally, using Google’s autocomplete feature and checking out the “People also ask” box on the search results page can give you valuable insight into a searcher’s true intent. Autocomplete makes predictions based on the text you type, making it easier to find out what terms people are using. For example, typing in “best shoes” brings up predictions for “best shoes for plantar fasciitis,” “best shoes for standing all day” and “best shoes for nurses.” Based on these suggestions, you might surmise that many searchers are interested in buying supportive shoes that can relieve pain or help with specific foot problems. The “People also ask” box displays questions that are closely related to the user’s search intent.
Optimizing Your Content
Developing New Content
Now that you understand the search intent of the people in your target audience, it’s time to optimize your content. One of the best ways to do this is to create landing pages that are optimized for commercial and transactional keywords. People “land” on these pages when they click links in emails, online advertisements and other online locations. On a typical landing page, you offer something valuable to entice the user to give you their contact information. Some business owners offer discount codes or coupons, while others promise to deliver white papers or case studies via email.
Blogging is also a great way to deliver content that matches the user intent for your target keywords. For best results, the primary keyword should appear in the post title, a few times in the body of the post and in at least one header. The title of the post is your first opportunity to convince the reader that your page matches their search intent, so it should be clear and concise. “A Guide to Buying Nutritional Supplements Online” is much better than “Nutritional Supplement Tips” because it’s likely to appeal to users with commercial intent and informational intent. It also clearly states what type of content you’ll provide.
Revising Existing Content
If you have existing content that doesn’t align with your target keywords’ search intent, go back and revise it. You may need to update an informational page to match a user’s commercial intent, for example. Revising content can be time-consuming, but it’s important to update your pages as much as possible. Just changing a few words here and there isn’t likely to change the content enough to make it match a different type of search intent. At Crowd Content, we have teams of experienced SEO content writers available to help you create new pages or update existing ones.
Changing the formatting on your existing pages can also help you do a better job matching user search intent. Incorporating keywords into your page titles, headers and descriptions give potential customers a quick overview of what each page has to offer, making it easier to convince them that the content meets their needs.
Benefits of Matching Search Intent
Matching search intent has several benefits for your business. Google’s predictive tools make it easy for the search engine to understand if your optimized content is closely related to other queries. If you focus on matching user intent, your site may show up in the results for more searches. Optimizing your content based on keyword search intent also helps reduce bounce rates. If a visitor comes to your website and the content doesn’t match their intent, they’ll probably click the back button. Once this happens, it can be difficult to convince them to come back. If the content matches their search intent, they’re more likely to stay a while and read what you have to say.
In some cases, optimizing your content for search intent makes it more likely you’ll be featured in Google’s snippets. These snippets have premium positioning at the top of the search results, making your site much more visible to potential customers. Finally, you’re likely to get more page views if a visitor sees you’ve made an effort to match their search intent. For example, a visitor might enter your site on a landing page, click over to a blog post and then visit your contact page to submit a request for information.
Tools for Online Marketing
Online marketing tools make it much easier to identify appropriate keywords, determine the user’s intent for those keywords and optimize your content to appeal to your site’s visitors. The SEMrush tool is one of the most comprehensive as it helps users identify appropriate keywords, determine the user’s search intent for each keyword and optimize their content accordingly. SEMrush also takes the guesswork out of building links, creating a content marketing campaign and analyzing traffic.
Quality content is one of the most important aspects of a successful website. Blog posts, articles, case studies and other types of content position you as an expert and can help you match each user’s keyword search intent, giving you more opportunities to generate revenue. If you’d rather focus on SEO and web development, Crowd Content’s experienced writers are ready to create reader-friendly content that gets results