Search Intent: Definition and Resources

Search intent is the reason behind a searcher’s query on search engines. It represents the objective the searcher is trying to accomplish. For example, someone might want to learn about something, find something, or buy something. Creating content that satisfies search intent is important to the success of your SEO, PPC, and content marketing efforts. By aligning content to search intent you:

When performing keyword research, consider search intent in addition to keyword popularity and keyword difficulty.

3 examples of search intent

While there are many different types of search intent, most searches can usually fall under these three buckets.

  1. To learn about something. The user is looking for something educational and/or informing to guide them. These searches can be, but are not limited to, queries that contain “how to,” “what is,” and “review” terms.
  2. To take action. The user wants to make a move. This could mean purchasing something, signing up for a free service, finding a phone number, getting directions, downloading a template, etc.
  3. To find something. The user knows what he or she is looking for and is using Google to find it instead of typing the URL in directly. Many times these are branded terms, like “Alexa seo tools.”

How to optimize for search intent

This may sound obvious, but make sure the page associated with the keywords you are trying to rank for match the intent of the search.

If you create a page to target people searching for “how to play chess,” there best be instructions on the page—you can imagine the user’s discontent if the search engine results page (SERP) only contained links to buy chess boards online.

Identify a few keywords you want to target and perform searches for those terms. You can learn alot from what Google is already displaying on the SERP. What search intent bucket do the pages currently being shown on page one fall under?

If they fall under the first bucket, make sure your page first and foremost gives the user the information they are looking for. Include content about any related questions that a user might wonder after gathering the information. Since educational pages tend to be longer form content, make sure your page is easy to read with headlines, subheads, lists, and tables where appropriate.

Just because the user is looking for something informational does not mean they won’t take action on your site, but asking the user to take action has to be secondary to matching the search intent.

If they fall under the second bucket, make it VERY clear in your title that you offer what the user is looking for. If the search intent is to find a free service and what you offer is a free, make sure that is very clear in your title and meta descriptions. Once the user lands on your site, make sure the page is navigable and you have front-and-center calls to action that allow the user to take an action.

Note that search intent may change at any time, so you’ll want to revisit your key organic pages often to make sure they are still aligned with user intent.

Buyer keywords are phrases people search for when they are ready to buy a product or service. Targeting them in content helps you reach qualified audiences.

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