Search Intent: Inside The Mind of the Users

2018/07/09 08:00

SEO increases the traffic on websites. If you are advertising on Google or Facebook, you are probably trying to generate leads, increase conversions or improve the brand’s visibility. The search engines have become extremely sophisticated compared to earlier when they only relied on the text. The algorithms used text, backlinks, and data to determine the search results. Now, the users can search for images, texts, questions, complex equations and geographic locations. The best part is that search engines are able to analyze the query and display the best results.

The search engines have been improving continuously. it is a game changer for brands relying on the online platform to improve their visibility. SEO professionals focus on key metrics namely rankings, search volumes, traffic levels, and on-site conversions. With a high rank, the traffic can increase leading to improved sales and conversions. To maximize your benefits, you should take search intent into consideration. In this article, search intent, types of search intent and how websites can be optimized is going to be discussed.

What is Search Intent?

Search intent is the goal of the person executing an online search. The intent of the user can be analyzed to optimize web content. It is also known as keyword intent.

Marketers and content creators are embracing this shift and generating content to meet the demands of the searchers. The intent of the searches is broken down into four categories:

  1. Informational – It provides information to the user clarifying an uncertainty to the user or answers a question. Lots of questions on the Internet are for seeking information on questions like the weather, sports, movies etc. The most commonly used keywords include what, where, how and ‘why.’ The complexity of the question can differ. Some questions might be easy like the winner of the soccer World Cup in 2014 to complex questions that don’t have a direct answer.
  2. Navigational – In this the users are looking for a specific website. These are the “Go queries” whereby the user might type something like Puma or Adidas. The search results display the websites of the specific brands’ user searched for. In this case, even if the users are searching for a competitor your website should be displayed in the search results.
  3. Transactional – the user is looking to “do” some action. For example, the user might be looking to buy a television and therefore the user browses the internet to find the best option. This is important to the e-commerce websites. It could also mean signing to a subscription list, form submission or something that could be hard to measure. The most commonly used keywords in this category include shopping, online or buy. Users mainly search for information on their smartphones. This means that users are able to make queries more frequently. Some of the queries are totally new. Moreover, the queries done on the mobile are focused on finding the right information and laptops/desktops are used to complete the purchase.
  4. Commercial Investigation – This is another category of search intent in which the searchers are looking to buy products. The intention of the searcher is to buy a product in the near future.

How to determine keyword search intent?

With data, you can find out the number of searches for a particular keyword. There are many tools to identify search intent so that you can analyze and use those insights to know what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Analyze the SERP

The elements in SERPS like ads, organic listings, and knowledge graph results give an idea about the intent of the user. For example, you might be optimizing the web page of a product like a washing machine. The users searching for a washing machine might be looking to purchase it, compare different washing machine brands or find the best brands/models. Considering the SERP of a washing machine, it would be clear that users will have commercial intent with respect to this product.

  1. Use AdWords

It is beneficial to know the competitiveness of a particular keyword by finding how much others are willing to pay for it. The higher the bid, higher is the commercial intent. Using the Google Keyword Planner, you can compare the commercial intent of a particular keyword by checking the suggested bids. It basically gives advertisers the ideas about which keywords are successful, and which are not.

Both steps are perfect if you are looking to create new content or optimize your content. However, the third step is purely used for determining if your content is optimized for the commercial intent or not. By optimizing your content, you can save a lot of time and money that would have gone otherwise in creating new content.

3. Analyze bounce rates

One of the key metrics is the bounce rate. Lower the bounce rate, better is the matching between your keywords and the search intent. If your page has high bounce rates that means your content doesn’t match with the searcher intent. There can be other reasons as well for high bounce rates like a badly designed web page but if it is only on a single page it could be because of your keywords.

Useful tips to optimize for search intent

Information Intent

  • Target the keywords associated with informational intent
  • The queries with informational intent take up the majority of the searches. In this, you need to utilize the page titles, HTML header tags and descriptions to answer the full questions of the searcher.
  • The content should be structured so that the HTML header tag includes the query and the answer. It is a good opportunity to generate lead conversions and establish your brand.

Transactional Intent

  • Here the design of the website is important. A well-designed website can appeal to the customer. It takes users three seconds to close a web page so make your website appealing and express the benefits of your services or products.
  • Have a catchy and clear CTA.
  • The product descriptions should be catchy and appeal to the emotions of the reader. The description should simplify the decision-making for the reader.
  • You should also create landing pages to allow your readers to make the transaction directly on the landing page.
  • Target the keywords associated with transactional intent.

Steps for identifying the intent and creating content

  • Search your main keyword and analyze what results are being shown.
  • Figure out which category you want to write your content for, do the keyword research and optimization for.
  • Use a free keyword tool to know which questions are being asked around your main topic. For instance, if you are writing content on SEO, then you might get questions like “who needs SEO, or ”what are the benefits of SEO?”
  • Analyze your keywords by using Keywords Everywhere. In this tool, you can see the search volume of each keyword and competition.
  • The next step is to make a keyword list that matches your search intent category. This list can be used to write the content as it covers every aspect of the topic. You can approximate the word count of your topic by checking the keyword list. The remaining keywords that are not included in the keyword list can be used to create an outline of the topic.
  • Lastly, optimize your content before publishing it.


Have you hesitated over publishing your content as you’re worried it’s not optimized enough or because you have not used the right keyword density? Don’t worry, you are not alone! The core idea is quite simple: optimize for intent; you need to understand the buyer’s journey and provide the right content for the road. The cost of not doing so is a high bounce rate as visitors look elsewhere for answers that better map to their intent.