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Search Intent Strategy to Raise Your Search Engine Rankings

By Michael Hoang on Apr 24, 2022

Want to increase your website traffic as well as your sales? In order to raise your SERP (search engine result pages) rankings and increase traffic of qualified prospects to your website, it’s not enough to just use some related keywords in your content. You need to understand the search intent behind the words people use to search.

Why Search Intent Is Important

“Search intent” is simply the reason people have for performing a search. Let’s say someone performs a search that includes the word “pizza”.

People may have different intents when performing a search that contains the word “pizza”. They might want to find

  • Pizza recipes
  • A place to order pizza for delivery
  • Venues that serve pizza for a child’s birthday party
  • A specific pizza place a friend recommended

Normally words other than “pizza” in the query will help indicate the intent.  You need to analyze the search and its context to try to determine that intent. Why? If your link on the SERP (search engine results page) takes your reader to a landing page that doesn’t match their intent, you’ve lost them.

Understanding Context

Generally speaking, people will use words that put their search into context. If they want to make a pizza at home, they might search for “pizza recipes” or “how to make pizza.” If they want to order a pizza, they might search for “pizza delivery in Berkeley, CA”.

Also be aware that Google makes certain assumptions depending on the terms used in a search. People turn to Google for relevant results, not a hodgepodge of unrelated pages that just use a particular term.

Since providing results that meet search intent is extremely important to Google, if you want to rank well in SERP, search intent better be a critical goal in your SEO strategy. When your link directs users to pages that don’t match their search intent, they leave quickly without clicking on anything. The Google algorithm notices.

Search Intent Categories

There are four basic categories of search intent. Let’s take a look.

Informational

Many Internet searches are just seeking information. People can search for information about recipes, directions, science, history, the weather, people, DIY projects and really anything else.

  • “When was Bill Clinton president?”
  • “How to make a pizza”
  • “What is a cat’s normal temperature?”

If someone just types in a person’s name such as “Malala Yousafzai,” they are probably looking for information on that person.

Now be aware that Google will make certain assumptions beyond contextual words. It will show results higher in its rankings that most people are seeking. So, if you search for “Mars” without any other indicators, you are going to get a lot of information about the planet and not so much on the ancient Roman god of war.

Commercial Investigation

When someone is searching with commercial investigation intent, they are past the point of just looking for general information, but they are not quite ready to buy. They want to investigate more details about products or services, often wanting to compare them. They intend to buy at some point, but not in the current Internet session. These users may search reviews among other things.

Searches could be something like

  • HP budget laptop reviews
  • HP vs. Asus laptops
  • Top budget laptops

Transactional

Transactional search intent means the user is ready to buy now. They pretty much know what they want, so they want to get to the relevant product page. They are past the research phase and don’t want to waste time being sent to a blog post.

These searches may include the words “buy” or “shop” or “sale”. They may also include very specific product names.

Navigational

Navigational search intent means the user is trying find a specific website. Therefore, these searches usually have company or brand names. Users might also add other information to try to get to the correct page such as a specific product page, a contact us page or a log-in page.

How to Determine Search Intent

Now that we’ve covered the basics, realize that the lines can be blurry. One search could have more than one search intent.

So check as many factors as you can to get the best read.

Keywords

As a starting point, just use common sense. As we’ve already described above, look at the words themselves. For example, if the search includes “How to…” the search intent is informational. If it’s just a company name without anything else, it’s probably navigational.

SERPs

One of the most direct ways to determine if you are using a keyword that matches search intent is just to type it into Google and other search engines. What websites and pages is the search bringing up?

  • If you are bringing up a lot of blog posts, informational sites and sites like Wikipedia, the search intent is informational.
  • If you are getting some information about specific brands, comparative reviews and paid results at the top of the page, the search intent may be commercial investigation. The line between commercial investigation and transactional search intent can sometimes be grey.
  • Transactional search intent results will include paid searches and reviews also, but you will also be taken to product pages where you can buy the products.
  • Navigational search intent results should be obvious, since users are seeking a specific website and often a specific page on that website. These results should be at the top of the SERP, though there will be other websites as well.

Tools

You don’t need to figure all this out on your own. There are tools out there that analyze keyword intent such as one from Semrush

For What Type of Search Intent Should I Optimize?

How heavily you should weight your search optimization for different kinds of search intent depends on your business and your goals. But you should not ignore any of them.

Sure, you want those with commercial and transactional search intent to easily find the relevant pages on your website if you are selling products or services. But don’t ignore optimizing for navigational search intent, or people looking for you may end up finding your competitors instead.

But what about informational search intent? People just looking for information may not be ready to make a purchase, but there are other benefits to this kind of traffic. Google likes sites that provide valuable, relevant content. That means your search rankings are likely to improve if you optimize for informational search intent. Then those who are ready to make a purchase will have an easier time finding your website.

Know Your Goals for Each Piece of Content

Instead of just throwing content onto your site without a plan, know what you want to accomplish with that content. Do you want to educate your audience and provide them with valuable general information hoping to drive traffic and views?

Or do you want to give detailed information about a product hoping to make an immediate sale?

Make sure the content you create matches the search intent to keep your users happy and improve your search rankings.

Umbrella Local Can Help

Most business owners and executives are busy working on their business and don’t have time to become SEO experts. If you would rather focus on your business than the day to day of optimizing your website for search engines, Umbrella Local can help. Contact us for a free consultation.

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