Gone are the days when simply ranking for popular keywords was enough to drive traffic to your website. Today, it’s not just about what users are searching for but why they’re searching for it. Understanding user intent will help you better deliver what people are looking for, keep Google happy, and, in turn, get more eyes on your content.
When someone enters a question or phrase into a Google search, what’s happening behind the scenes? What’s the true purpose and motivation driving that search? The answer lies in deciphering keyword intent—a process that digs below the surface of search queries into users’ minds, needs, and desires.
This article explains how to identify different types of intent and tailor your content and marketing strategies to align with the intention of your target audience.
Moreover, understanding keyword search intent is the bridge that connects your content with the users who need it most by unlocking the power of user search behaviour.
Keyword Intent: What It Is and Why Does It Matter?
Google uses keyword intent to determine what should appear for which searches. It helps you write targeted content that ranks and connects with potential customers.
Why is it Important to Understand Keyword Intent in SEO?
Understanding keyword search intent is crucial to SEO because it helps you identify what people are looking for when searching Google. The better you know the why of user intent, the easier it is to channel the right audience to the correct pages on your website.
Google prioritises relevance in search results. So, if you want to rank in Google, your SEO content must be the most relevant search result for the query, and that means creating content that aligns with search intent. When someone searches for a specific term and receives irrelevant information, Google detects mismatched intent.
If someone searches “How to build a WordPress website” and returns multiple results for website hosting, they won’t click on any pages and will try another search term. That signals to Google that the results did not reflect the searcher’s intent.
Optimising for search intent can bring great results. By aligning your content with user needs, you can better ensure that searchers can get to the pages that best address their queries.
If you’re stuck thinking about keyword search intent, try using the Answer the Public website for ideas, or look at the “questions also asked” in the search results for your chosen keyword.
Google aims to return valuable, relevant and specific content for the SERPs (search engine results pages). If your content does that, you have a better chance of ranking.
The Four Keyword Search Intent Types
Navigational keywords are when the searcher wants a specific page or website.
For example, if someone types “Youtube” or “Semrush blog” into a search engine, that’s a navigational search.
Another example of navigational keyword intent is when someone searches for the location of a specific business, such as “Where is Luciana’s Coffee shop located?”
Navigational keyword search intent is great if you have a physical location and want to attract local business, though it also works for other business types. Before writing helpful content, contemplate what search terms users might type to find your business.
Informational keywords are search queries used by people who want to learn something. They frequently (but don’t always) use question keywords. Here are some examples of informational keyword intent:
- Coffee Calories: Users search for this keyword when they want to know how many calories are in a cup of coffee.
- National Coffee Day: People may use this keyword to know the date of National Coffee Day.
- What’s the difference between a dog trainer and a dog behaviourist?: Someone may have a dog with a behavioural or training issue and want to know which service is best for their dog.
- Bruce Willis Movies: If people want to know which movies Bruce Willis acted in.
- How to change a filter in a lawnmower: Users may also add the specific lawnmower model to the keyword term.
Commercial keywords are when someone is looking for a product or service but is not yet ready to buy. It indicates someone’s intention to purchase something or engage in a transaction. These keywords often signal that the user is in the later stages of the buying process and is actively looking for a product or service to buy.
For example: Keyword: “Buy iPhone 13 Pro Max”
In this example, the keyword “Buy iPhone 13 Pro Max” indicates the user is interested in purchasing the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
They are likely looking for options to purchase, such as from online stores, local retailers, or e-commerce websites and make price comparisons. This type of keyword intent is valuable for businesses selling a specific product because it signifies a high likelihood of conversion, making it an attractive target for advertising and SEO efforts.
Transactional keywords are for when someone is ready to make a purchase. It is similar to commercial intent but is more specific and often indicates the person is ready to take immediate action to complete a transaction. These keywords often include action-oriented terms.
For example: Keyword: “Book a flight to New York”
In this example, the keyword “Book a flight to New York” demonstrates transactional intent, and the person is actively looking to perform an action: booking a flight to a specific destination.
This keyword suggests the person is in the final stages of the purchase process and is ready to make a reservation with an airline or travel booking platform. Businesses in the travel industry, hotel industry, or related services would want to target such transactional keywords to capture potential customers when they are ready to buy.
When planning an SEO content strategy, consider the keyword search intent for each article. Depending on your business genre, combine a mix of navigational, informational, commercial and transactional content. The closer you can identify what people want, the better your SEO content will perform in the SERPs.
How Does Google Use Keyword Intent?
Google uses keyword intent to determine what should appear for which searches.
What Are The Four Types Of Keyword Search Intent?
The four types of keyword intent are: –
How Can Understanding Keyword Intent Help Me Rank Higher In Search Results?
Understanding keyword intent helps you create better content that matches the user’s search query. Subsequently, it increases your chances of ranking higher in the SERPs.
What Is Keyword Intent?
Keyword intent, also known as search intent, is what people want to achieve after they conduct a specific search. It is better to understand keyword search intent before creating targeting content for a specific keyword.
Why Is Keyword Intent Important In SEO?
Google’s goal is to answer searcher’s queries as efficiently as possible. If your content answers a keyword’s search intent, you’re more likely to rank for that keyword.
How Can I Align My Keywords With User Needs?
Aligning your keywords with user needs can increase your chances of ranking for the keywords you want to target. Before creating content, consider whether people will likely be doing navigational, informational, commercial, or transactional searches.
For instance, if you have a hypnotherapy business in Gloucestershire and targeting the keyword “hypnotherapist near me“, it might be better to switch the keyword to “hypnotherapist in Gloucestershire” and write about the services you offer in Gloucestershire. The intent is potentially transactional.
If someone searches for informational keywords like “How does hypnotherapy work?” you can write content about the hypnotherapy process. You could also target, “How does hypnotherapy work for quitting smoking?” (or weight loss, etc.).
These users are not yet ready to book a hypnotherapy session but are curious if it might work for them. Answer questions such as “Will hypnotherapy work for me?” and “What happens if I can’t be hypnotised? You can find excellent search terms on the Answer the Public website.
I am a Coach and Copywriter helping heart-led small businesses become visible for business growth