Search Intent and SEO – A Complete Guide

Search Intent (or “User Intent”) is the main goal that the user has while typing any kind of query in the search engine. Some common kinds of Search Intent will include commercial, informational, transactional and navigational. For instance, let us say that you wish to cook up fresh food for dinner.

But you are hungry and like to eat it NOW.

And you directly head to Google & search for the “quick recipes”.

User searches on Google with a particular purpose

The first result that you click on the looks OK.

But when you realize that the recipe takes an hour. The first result clicked on doesn’t satisfy search purposes. You click over to search results and find out something else. So, next time you got gold. The result is the recipe, which takes just ten minutes from beginning to end …

Informational searches

They are searches that are conducted generic. They’re done by the people who would like to learn more about the particular subject or aren’t expected to convert. In our website example, the queries will be:

  • “How to clean my fridge naturally?”
  • “Freezer sizes”
  • “How can you clean ovens?”

Google shows a lot more many “People Ask” queries in SERPs, it’s simple to identify as well as capitalize on such keywords and phrases. Even though the likelihood for the conversion at such point in searcher’s journey is very minimal, and these are the queries you would like to rank for.

Having such type of content on the website offers you an opportunity of putting your brand and website to users at the start of the journey. While your rank for such kinds of queries, you’re placing where the competitors are not. Google shows featured snippets or other SERP features, and you will increase the organic footprint whereas serving the potential customers’ requirements.

I recommend reading to optimize for the featured snippets “People Also Ask” on Google.

Nothing is assured but I have seen that more content that you optimize, the higher chance you will have to get coveted spots in SERPs.

Transactional searches

The transactional searches happen when the user is prepared to make the purchase. They will be related to categories and products on the website. Suppose I return to appliance site example, you will find queries, which look like:

  • “Best cooking stove for $1000”
  • “Buy dishwasher”
  • “Buy [product here] online”
  • “[brand] tea and coffee machines”

The transactional searches are essential for fictional appliance site. They must take the precedence over informational searches and when you begin to optimize the website.

Navigational searches

The Navigational searches are simplest to understand and need very little in optimization. The searches are when a user has the destination in mind (generally known brand and website), and there’s just one search term, which they need.

Your website.

How does search intent relate to Google?

Google is tackling intent & how to serve the top results for a long time now. Quality rater guidelines show how they will define three kinds of searches.

They will call them:

  • “Do” for transactional searches
  • “Go” for navigational searches
  • “Know” for informational searches

Google eloquently has taken the concept of Andrei Broder and broken this down in 3 words.

Using “know,” “go” and “do” as a part of the research, you will bucket keywords with intent.

How to infer the search/user intent

Often search intent is obvious from the wording of your query itself. For instance, take the keyword “bitcoin.” It is very clear that searcher is in the market for buying cryptocurrency (or transactional). Alternatively, somebody looking for “how to make a tie” is generally looking for the answer (or informational).

So, here are a few keyword “modifiers,” which generally indicate some kind of search intent:

If you are using a keyword research tool, you may use modifiers to filter keywords with specific intent while doing your keyword research. Thus, if you are looking for relevant informational keywords on blog posts, you need to first, enter some seed keywords in Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, and hit search, and select reports from the left-hand menu and see keyword ideas.

Then, copy and paste modifier words in the “Include” box or switch toggle on “Any word.”

Now, you will see keywords having those modifiers. You will do the same thing while looking for the transactional, navigational or commercial investigation keywords. Copy and paste a list of the modifiers in the “include” box. Searching for the fast way of finding the informational keywords? Try and Questions report in the Keywords Explorer and it filters for the question-type keywords that have the informational intent.

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