Search intent optimization: How to make the most of search results
Every day, billions of people use search engines to find products and services or simply discover answers to their questions. With a well-thought-out SEO strategy, you can get more leads and sell more products. However, in order to achieve that, you have to tick some boxes. One of the most important ones is labeled “search intent“. Why exactly is search intent important? What can you do to optimize your website and search results for search intent? That’s what we’re going to discuss today.
Before we switch to search intent optimization, it is crucial to understand what search intents really are and how they reflect your customers’ needs and expectations.
What is search intent (keyword intent)?
Shortly put, it’s why people search for something online. It’s all about what they want to achieve and what information they want to get. There are three major search intents; we’ll talk about them in a minute.
When it comes to optimizing your website towards diverse search intents, it’s all about analyzing data that comes from Google. Understanding peoples’ behaviors will help you thrive in Google and attract more potential customers to your website. Generally speaking, people use Google to either deal with a specific problem or gain something valuable to them. Almost all queries can be divided into these two categories. And you have to be aware of that. On the other side, there’s Google with its own objective. It wants to provide users with the most relevant results they can get. That’s what made Google undisputable number one in the search engines market. And Google experts analyze a lot of information about users and their searches to understand their expectations and fulfill them as well as possible.
Three types of search intent
The most common way of dividing search intents is based on three major categories:
Informational queries are asked to find informational content – that’s apparent. Users with informational search intent want to know more about the specific topic. For instance, when a user types in Google “How to buy a house”, it’s a typical informational query. They are interested in purchasing a house, probably for the first time ever, and they want to know more about the process. If you’re on the other side, let’s say selling houses, you can create several blog posts informing your target audience about how this process looks and what are the crucial elements to consider. At the end of each post, you can recommend your realtor’s services so that people interested in buying a house will know that they can ask you for help.
Typical informational keywords are “how to”, “why”, “what is”, “what to do”, etc.
People with navigational search intent usually already have a specific solution in mind. They want to discover more to make sure their decision is good. Here, navigational keywords are very important. For instance, a user can type in “KTM bikes”. They already know the brand and most likely are highly interested in buying a KTM bike. They are not yet ready to buy, but they are close. What can you do at this stage? Provide information on why KTM is a good manufacturer, why customers value their products, and how to choose the perfect KTM bike. This way, you will gently push potential customers towards the third category.
The transactional search intent is the most advanced one in the sales funnel. People using transactional queries are ready to buy. They may need some last piece of information, but in general, the decision is made. So when customers with navigational intent type in Google queries like “KTM bikes”, customers with transactional intent will write, e.g., “KTM SCARP MT EXONIC” – to browse available offers. Transactional keywords like “cheap”, “offer”, “for sale”, “buy” come in handy here. At the end of the transactional intent, there is almost always a transaction. It’s up to you whether it will be with your online store. What can you do at this point? The simplest answer is to provide a great offer for customers with transactional search intent. Make sure your prices are attractive and that your listings are available in the most common places (your website, Google Shopping, Amazon).
When you know these three types of search intent, you can adjust the content on your website and social media profiles to accommodate people with different search intents. In the perfect situation, you’ll have materials (blog posts, articles, product listing, newsletters, social media posts, etc.) that fit in all of these three categories. Creating content is one of the best ways of reaching potential customers.
Why is search intent important for SEO success?
Shortly put – because Google concentrates on user experience. What does it mean? In the olden days, search engines were interested primarily in keywords. That’s why techniques like keyword stuffing were so popular in the past. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should throw your keyword research tool away! But you have to be smarter than just putting some keywords on your website. Google works differently now. This search engine tries to determine search intent and provide results satisfying that type of search intent. Google bots try to understand not just WHAT people look for but also WHY.
As a result, top-ranking pages with high search volume are those understanding search intent and responding to it. That’s why in all three categories, we showed you how you could answer a specific search with your website and its content. So although what we talk about here is mostly about Google search results, it’s a valid part of your on-page SEO. Understanding that matter and implementing these guidelines on your website can get you more satisfied users.
Google satisfies search intent
Perhaps you’ve noticed that different people, even typing similar queries, can get different results. Well, that’s because Google tries to provide users with personalized results matching their expectations. Search queries are very different, and Google continually uses a whole list of algorithms that analyze what people look for and why. Based on that knowledge, Google improves the results displayed in the SERP. There are three essential factors influencing what each user will see in Google:
- Location: If a person in London is looking for a Thai restaurant, they most likely won’t see results from Sydney. And that’s perfectly reasonable! Google uses your location data to assess which results will be the most accurate in your particular situation.
- Search history: Yes, Google analyzes what you were looking for in the past (as well as the clicked links) and tailors the results to your needs.
- Search algorithms: Google uses different algorithms that decide what users see in the SERP. Plus, these algorithms frequently change, so if right now your website is high in the Google ranking for a specific query, it doesn’t mean it will stay there forever.
One query, different intents
Here’s an interesting scenario to consider. Suppose you type in “on-page SEO” in Google. In general, that’s an informational intent. But what happens when you want to view a specific website and, in fact, you have a commercial intent? In such a situation, you can take several steps:
- Adjust your query, maybe use a target keyword that will lead you to a particular website
- Search for something alternate or similar (e.g., “on-page SEO services London”)
- Go somewhere else (e.g., Bing)
The last option is the worst for everyone. For Google – because it failed to satisfy specific search intent; for you, because you’ve just lost some time; and for the website you were looking for because they’ve just lost a potential client. In such a situation, it’s best to implement search intent optimization so that users can easily find whatever they may be looking for.
Crafting a search intent optimization strategy
Of course, such a strategy is simply a part of your overall SEO strategy. To optimize your website for search results, you need to understand how customers search for your product or company. What keywords do they use? What kind of information do they need?
Secondly, you need to think about your USP, which stands for unique selling proposition. In other words – why should customers be interested in contacting you? What makes your product or service better (or different) than the others? Put all that information on your website and in the subpages that you want your customers to see.
And above all, remember about delivering quick and transparent answers to their problems. If you name a blog post “How to choose skis for beginners” and 90% of your article is about promoting skiing as a fun way to spend time in winter, you’re missing the point. Give people what they are looking for, and they will love you for that!
Everything you do that’s related to SEO needs to be user-centric. Not sales-centric or, even worse, keyword-centric.
A three-step strategy
To make this endeavor of optimizing for search intent more legible, we’d like to propose a short three-step strategy that will enable you to make the most of all crucial elements.
Step 1: Analyze searches
The first step is to analyze all the available data thoroughly. You can use multiple SEO tools to help you with that. Start with Google Analytics, but you can also think about other online tools that analyze and process information on clicks, user activity, keyword popularity, etc.
At this point, it would be extremely helpful to map different searches along with the intent behind them. If you operate internationally, include searches from different markets and countries. For instance, if you provide SEO services, people in the United States will be looking for “SEO services” while people in Poland will be looking for “usługi SEO”. Although both these queries mean the same thing, in the eyes of Google, these are two different searches. It’s the same story with industries: “e-commerce SEO services” and “hotel SEO services” are two separate searches. Make sure you include and address all these types of queries in your SEO strategy. Only this way, it will be fully comprehensive.
Step 2: Address both the explicit and implicit intent
What do we mean here? Let’s use a quick example. We have a hypothetical user looking for SEO services for their company. They type in “SEO agency Chicago”. The explicit intent is obvious – they want to find a company that’s located in Chicago and will be able to help them with the positioning of their website.
But what about implicit intent? For instance, such a user can be interested in reviews, information about pricing, and cooperation conditions. In other cases, they could be looking for a map (for local searches), pictures, and product pages. Your SEO strategy ought to comprise both of these intents.
Step 3: Optimize content
All of what we were talking about in this article leads to optimizing your website’s content so that it’s more relevant for both current and future customers. Keeping user intent in mind will help you create a complex content marketing strategy that will cover all your customers’ potential needs and expectations.
In order to implement such a strategy, you can use a whole range of tools, including:
- Blog articles
- Social media posts
- Product listings and tabs on your website
- Case studies
Summary: Optimize your website for different user intents
In this article, we told you what user intent is and why it’s so important from the SEO perspective. All you have to do now is turn this knowledge into real actions around your website and communication channels. It won’t happen overnight, but the sooner you start, the quicker you’ll see the first results. Don’t forget about measuring everything you can. Google Analytics is a tremendous tool for that.
And, of course, if you need help, The Rank Higher Agency is at your disposal! Take a look at our website and drop us a line if you need our help. Our experts will take it from there!