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How to Effectively Use Search Intent for Your Business

How to Effectively Use Search Intent for Your Business

Understanding “search intent,” a term used to describe the goal that lies behind a search query, is what separates good SEO from bad. Grasping search intent means uncovering blind spots and unearthing empirical data (actionable information) that a keyword-based approach cannot.

Google has gone through quite an evolution in the past couple of decades. In the past, Google relied most heavily on a keyword-based approach. However, it soon realized its true value as a search engine came in providing relevant and valuable content to its users. Content that contained more than just keywords on a page.

The concept that arose from this realization now goes by the term “user search intent”: in other words, identifying the real question behind a search query. Google has since implemented advanced algorithms that allow its users to find what they’re looking for with greater ease and in less time. These days, when a user types a keyword into Google’s search box, Google doesn’t simply look for websites that contain that keyword. Instead, it determines what the user’s real question is behind the keyword.

What Is User Search Intent?

  • Search queries: the words people type into search boxes on search engines when looking for information.
  • An individual’s search intent comes down to an intention and a need associated with a particular query.

User search intent is basically the reason “why” someone is searching. People may look for something because they want to know more about a concept or a brand. Or because they’re doing the research before buying something. Or because they’re ready to make a purchase. These needs differ one from another. By having a better grasp of which one of these possible motives the searcher has, Google can steer results accordingly.

Search intent optimization, then, becomes a major factor to consider when you get started with SEO. It should shape your online marketing strategy and every aspect of your content creation and site development.

Different Types of Search Intent and How to Optimize for Them

  • Informational Search Intent

We think of Informational intent as the classic type of query performed by users who are searching for specific knowledge or information without a plan to buy something. These types of users do not have any preconceived notions or strong preferences as to which website to visit.

When performing an informational search, the user relies heavily on the results provided by the search engine. The user selects one result that the user expects will satisfy his or her needs. Question-related words such as who, what, when, where, why, and how, when used in search queries, generally imply an informational query. Examples of queries with informational intent:

  • Who won Super Bowl XLIX?
  • How old is Beyonce?
  • What is an H-1B visa?
Google Search Engine Results Page for a Query with Informational Intent
Google Search Engine Results Page for a Query with Informational Intent - Source:

Users may not be looking directly for the queried information, per se. Alternatively, they might be looking for additional angles or explanations related to their topic of interest. In these cases, users often ask further questions through the query that didn’t appear in the original query.

How to optimize:

When people look for how to make a fruit salad, they’re reading blog posts, watching how-to videos, or using checklist tools. People widely trust Google for this kind of research.

A question often comes up: How does one optimize for informational queries? You can discover some of the ways people look up information online when you investigate these features:

  • People also ask (PAA) is an additional box in the SERP with questions related to the main searched query. It can help you create content that answers people’s information-seeking questions. When used well, it helps your pages rank higher in the SERPs.
Google Search Engine Results with a People Also Ask Box
Google Search Engine Results with a People Also Ask Box - Source:
  • Google’s Related Searches help users find more relevant results. The suggestions, based on information related to the query, include a variant of the search term, other terms, and popular searches users have performed.
  • The Keyword Research Tool SE Ranking can help you find a list of similar and related keywords connected to the one you’re interested in. Just enter your keyword to get new suggestions and analyze the keyword’s core parameters. These parameters can include such factors as “difficulty score” and the number of monthly organic searches (Search Volume), as determined by Google’s search volume dynamics. The tool also shows who ranks in the SERP for your query, which will help you identify the user intent (blog articles there usually directly signal something about this type of intent).
  • Navigational Search Intent

The term “navigational intent” denotes one of the most direct and immediate types of keyword searches. Here, users already decided what they want. These searchers usually have a specific business in mind and look to contact or visit that site. The keywords they use, generally quite specific, relate to the company’s brand. And when the searchers land on the page, they know exactly what they want. Examples of searches with navigational intent:

  • Facebook sign up
  • Google’s mobile-friendly test
  • Veggie Grill menu
Google Search Engine Results Page for a Query with Navigational Intent
Google Search Engine Results Page for a Query with Navigational Intent - Source:

How to optimize:

  • This type of user looks for a specific link, and your task becomes one of helping him find it. That being so, try to keep your brand’s name in all first positions on the SERPs and in all relevant variations, plus snag some supplemental keywords. In short, if you optimize your content for navigational intent, you should create content around the subject of navigation. This includes keywords that specify brand name, location, and contacts.
  • You should also monitor and improve your company content on other platforms. For example, on web directories or news resources.
  • Commercial Search Intent

If you see the word “best …” in the query, one can safely assume that the user’s search intent is commercial in nature. Commercial intent enters in when people know what they want but still need some help with making the final decision. So they look for articles on the product or for brand comparisons with words and phrases usually including “vs” or “which [product] should I buy?” Examples of searches with commercial intent:

  • Best English Courses of 2023
  • Amazon vs eBay
  • What tablets are the best?
Google Search Engine Results Page for a Query with Commercial Intent
Google Search Engine Results Page for a Query with Commercial Intent - Source:

How to optimize:

To identify keywords for these types of queries, you can use the tools we listed in the Informational Search Intent section. You can also collect these keywords by interviewing your customer support, sales team, or customers directly.

Such searchers have a higher-than-average desire to purchase, so post-click nurturing by retargeting makes an effective strategy. While optimizing for commercial intent, use the opportunity to highlight your expertise in their target category. Emphasize the value of your solutions compared to your competitors’. When creating content for commercial search intent, make sure your website clearly answers any potential questions customers may have about the product or service you offer. And make sure it provides the information needed to make a purchasing decision.

  • Transactional Search Intent

Users motivated to execute a purchase generate the searches termed “transactional searches.” These differ from informational searches, which could be driven by curiosity. Searches with transactional intent have an end goal of purchasing a product or service. They often include phrases that indicate the user’s intent to spend, such as “buy,” “subscribe,” or “order.” The willingness to buy, even if not immediately, furnishes the main difference between transactional and commercial interests. Examples of searches with transactional content:

  • Buy case for iPhone 13
  • Women’s coats sale
  • Order tickets online
Google Search Engine Results Page for a Query with Transactional Intent
Google Search Engine Results Page for a Query with Transactional Intent - Source:

How to optimize:

Transactional search intent, then, becomes the most important type of query when it comes to filling up your funnel. That’s because these lead directly to sales. First, make a list of your sales-related keywords and optimize your pages for them. You can easily do this with SE Ranking’s tool by typing in your seed keywords and then strategically adding them to your pages’ elements.

Before presenting a product or service which you will monetize through transactions, ensure your transactional landing, product, and pricing pages work as desired. The transactional page’s content, the product/service description, as well as the price and buy button, need to signal to consumers that they have arrived at the right place for their specific needs.

The Importance of Search Intent for Your Business

  • If you want to provide users with helpful and relevant content on your website, understand their needs and issues. The concept of intent can help you determine the way users come to your site. It can separate the ones who are looking for a clear solution from those who have additional questions. And it can demonstrate your expertise in a certain field, as well as stimulate engagement with your content.
  • Educational content allows you to engage your audience and help them fully absorb the information about what you have to offer. This creates digital brand awareness and authority, which leads to increased sales.
  • Targeting navigational search intent stands as of the most effective channels to drive targeted traffic from search engines to your website. With it, you spread your brand name among new audiences and make them aware of your brand.
  • You increase your revenue and overall sales by optimizing your content for transactional queries that your potential customers may be using to find a product or service. This happens when you provide them with the relevant information they seek.
  • Commercial keywords help people find the required information for making the final decision. The key to getting results with commercial keywords? Use a combination of strategic words and phrases that relate directly to your product or service.


Simply put, “search intent” denotes the mental focus or activity or drive behind an individual or group that searches for information. As a crucial factor when it comes to understanding how people look for information on the web, search intent steers savvy marketers as they craft successful content strategies. Understanding search intent allows you to create marketing tactics that respond to and meet your audience’s needs. The better you understand intent, the more you can optimize your pages to target your desired audience. If you want to increase user engagement (and conversion rate), write content that offers solutions to actual problems that searchers face in their day-to-day lives.

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