What is search intent?
To know the search intent of a phrase, is to know what a person is really looking for.
Someone types in a keyword, what are they looking for. Do they want to buy something? Learn something? Are they looking for someone’s contact details? Directions to a place?
What is it that they’re looking for?
Consider this, someone searches for –
Are they looking to buy a sofa?
Are they looking for design inspiration?
Do they want to learn about sofas for general knowledge?
Are they looking for a business called ‘sofas’?
A person searching for even one word, can have so many possible intentions. The ‘intent’ is the ‘why’ behind the search term.
Why search intent is so important
Google’s mission is to ‘organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible’.
They have been committed to giving their users the most relevant results when they search for particular queries, since inception.
Delivering relevant search results is the driver behind Google’s entire success.
Therefore it makes sense to pay attention to things that are likely to make your result more relevant.
Applying this framework can single-handedly multiply the number of qualified visitors to your content or website.
Serving the searcher’s intent will lead to higher traffic, higher conversions and better browsing experiences.
Here’s a scenario…
Consider a search for ‘health insurance comparison’. We can safely assume that a person conducting this search, is looking for a platform that provides a comparison of health insurance providers.
An independent health insurance company, regardless of their size or authority, would struggle to rank their sales landing page for this term because that would contradict the intent of the person searching.
If they were only promoting their own service, when people are looking for a comparison of providers, then they probably won’t get ranked.
The Four Types of Search Intent
1. Navigational searches
The searcher already knows the website they want and is either looking for the URL or finds it easier to type the name into Google.
Examples of navigational searches:
- Google maps
- Invicta agency
2. Informational searches
These are queries where the searcher is looking for information on a particular topic or question. They’re not necessarily looking to make a purchase and may be browsing for general information or to pursue some interest.
Examples of informational searches:
- Capital of Australia
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Sydney weather
- What is HTML?
3. Commercial Research searches
The searcher is in the market for a product or service but hasn’t made their final decision. They could be looking for comparisons or reviews. Given the right information, they may be ready to make a decision
Examples of Commercial research searches:
- Best sedan cars
- Office 365 vs G suite
- Invicta reviews
- Best italian restaurant sydney
- Best SEO agency in australia
The searcher is at the point of decision. It’s likely that they’ve already spent some time researching and comparing, and are in buying mode now. Their searches are now about finding the best provider or the best deal, whichever is more important to them.
Examples of transactional searches:
- Buy iphone xs
- Book table japanese restaurant
- Car insurance quote
- Sydney to LAX flights
What do I do with this information?
If you have an established website, then audit all of the content on site for search intent, and upgrade it as we’ve outlined below.
If you’re in the process of choosing an SEO provider and are finding yourself asking how do you choose an SEO company – quiz the potential companies on how they plan on optimising your site for intent.
If you’re considering a new web design project, craft the information architecture based on an understanding of the search intent. Ensure that the sitemap, content, navigation are all positioning your information in a way that serves the target searcher’s intent.
Consider all the phrases you will want to rank for, and make your website design process consider the intent behind these search terms at EVERY stage.