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November 23, 2020

Position Strength

Improve your Search Engine Rankings

Satisfying search intent is the main goal of Google. But the search engine is getting more sophisticated. It changes algorithms and become more strict at measuring how well webpages match user intent.

That’s why it is essential to understand the impact of the search intent to create the content that your audience will be totally satisfied with. By figuring out user intent behind target keywords, you can boost your rankings and traffic.

So let’s go through what search intent is, how it works, and how you can get the most out of it.

Search Intent: types and how it works.

Search Intent (also known as User Intent) is the main goal that a user has in mind when typing a search query.

For instance, if a user types “SEO agency London” into a search engine, there can be a few ultimate goals:

  • A user wants to compare agencies in London
  • He wants to find an agency to hire
  • Or maybe he wants to apply for a job opportunity

These are my suggestions only because there are lots of possibilities. Some queries can be quite ambiguous.

The classic division of user intent highlights 4 variations of search queries:

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Transactional
  • Commercial

Let’s look at these types in detail.

Types of Search Intent that impact the results

Informational intent is when a user wants to find more information about a certain topic. Such queries are the most common and most have the largest search volume. The studies have estimated that almost 80% of all search queries have informational user intent.

Examples of informational search intents:

  • How to become a pro in SEO in 3 months
  • Why cats are selfish
  • What is RankBrain

Bill Slawski identified common characteristics of informational queries:

Question words(e.g. “How to”, “why”, “what is”, etc)

Using informational terms (e.g. list, playlist)

For example, here are results, provided by Google, when I typed “what is rankbrain”.

Search Intent: What is rankbrain

So you can see that Google identifies my query as informational and returns with answers to my question.

Navigational search intent is about looking for a specific webpage or website. Searchers with such intent usually already know the company or brand that they are looking for. So they just need help with the navigation to a desirable site.

Queries with navigational user intent often feature a specific product, company, or brand name.

Examples:

  • “Nike”
  • “Wincher rank tracker”
  • “Brian Dean backlinko”

Queries with transactional search intent usually come from users, who are interested in taking an action – for instance, making a purchase. Common keywords that searchers with transactional intent use: “how much”, “discount”, “buy”, “subscribe”, “price” etc.

Examples:

  • “Rank Tracker subscribe”
  • “How much youtube premium cost”

Such queries are so valued by business owners because users have the intent to buy or order something. That’s why there are lots of adds and over the competition on such queries. Everyone wants to rank on the first page and unfortunately, if your website isn’t well optimized and has low DA, there is super challenging to reach the top.

Equally, here is the SERP for the query “rank tracker subscribe”.

Search Intent : Rank Tracker

Commercial intent often looks like transactional, but there is an important difference. This intent describes users, who are interested in a specific product or service, but they’re not ready for making a purchase right now. Searchers usually do some research before purchasing and look for reviews and more information about the product. So commercial intent is some kind of mix of informational and transactional user intents.

For instance, you are looking for a powerful SEO tool to use for the growth of your website. You’ve been a customer of SEMrush, but now you consider moving to Ahrefs. So you type “semrush vs ahrefs” and find lots of detailed comparisons that will help you to choose the best product.

So as you see, people have various intents when typing a search query. Some are quite simple to understand. But other ones look ambiguous. And Google has to interpret the query, understand the intent, and then return with the most relevant search results. Let’s take into account the fact that Google processes over 4 billion search queries per day. Sounds like it’s impossible to identify the goal of each user’s query?

Satisfying user intent is a permanent key goal for Google. So it gets help from RankBrain.

Google RankBrain

Google RankBrain is a machine-learning system, that was rolled out in October 2015. Its primary goal is to refine search queries that Google processes to return the most relevant search results.

The search engine used to give search results based mostly on webpage research and finding keyword matched. But it doesn’t yield the most accurate results, especially in terms of user intent. Over time, Google has launched lots of sophisticated algorithms with one goal in mind – provide the most relevant search results as much as possible.

RankBrain is an excellent assistant in defining search intent. It examines search queries based on context. For instance, location, a combination of words, previous search queries. So there are lots of factors play matter.

So how we can the most out of defining user intent? By optimizing the website, that will lead to higher rankings and traffic growth.

How to optimize your website for search intent

Now we know why search intent is so important for rankings and how it works. Check the list of top tips on how to take advantage of user intent.

Explore the highest-ranking pages

You can get clarity on the search intent behind any specific query just by checking Google’s search results.

For instance, if you want to rank for “trip to istanbul”, below is search results when entering the term into Google.

Trip to Istanbul

As you can see, most of the results are commercial and some of them also cover informational intent. This highlights that people who type such keywords in the search engine are looking for the information to choose the best organizer of tours to Istanbul as well as compare different options.

So you prepare content that will highlight all the benefits of your trips to Istanbul and share information about tours, like why people travel to Istanbul, how affordable it is etc.

Pay attention to content types

Let’s have a look at the search query “wix tutorial”.

Search Intent : Wix Tutorial

Such an example is interesting because as you can see the search result page includes lots of videos on the top. It means that:

People who search for “wix tutorials” are mostly looking for video tutorials – The most popular are tutorials for beginners. So creating a video tutorial for beginners is quite a good idea.

Note the Questions Section

The questions Section is also known as “People also ask”. I am sure that you noticed it many times. It’s really helpful when you are looking for a quick answer.

This section can also help you to further understand the search intent of users.

Let’s get back to the example of Wix.

Search Intent : People Also Ask

It’s a good resource for content ideas! So if you want to create content that your audience loves, you can answer questions from the PAA section in your blog posts, web copy, etc.

Collect keywords and order them by search intent

When you create your website copy and blog posts it’s important to remember that it needs to cater to different types of user intent. Doing this will increase your conversions as you will meet the needs of your target audience at different stages of the buyer journey.

First of all, figure out your target keywords. For instance, if you run a furniture store, it can be:

  • Furniture near me cheap
  • Furniture store online
  • Buy cheap furniture
  • How to repair wood furniture
  • Affordable furniture
  • Beautiful furniture examples
  • Wood furniture
  • How to clean wooden furniture
  • Ikea furniture
  • Order furniture online

Now it’s time to sort the entries by the user intent.

Informational

  • How to repair wood furniture
  • Beautiful furniture examples

Commercial

  • Furniture near me cheap
  • Furniture store online
  • Affordable furniture

Transactional

  • Order furniture online
  • Buy cheap furniture

Navigational

  • Ikea furniture

Use keywords in the right places

When you have such list, it’s time to create content or update existing website copy. It’s important to use keywords in the places to meet the search intent. Here is the best way on how to do that:

Informational – use these types of keywords in your blog, e-books, how-to guides and other informational content

Commercial – you can use keywords with commercial search intent in your product/service pages

Transactional – create or update your landing and sales pages, using those keywords

If you want to be sure where exactly you should place the keywords, check this on-page SEO guide.

Conclusion

When you create fresh content for your audience, pay attention to what they want and try to match their search intent. It’ll help to improve your rankings and attract more visitors and potential customers.

Together with SEO, keyword research and proper optimization, matching user intent can boost your traffic a lot.

This content has been created in collaboration with Julia Burova from Wincher.

Further reading:

Post from Milosz Krasinski

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