Today’s search engine algorithms are so advanced that they go beyond matching search results with the user’s search terms. Yes, keywords are still important, but in addition, Google, Bing and others can understand the user’s intention when doing a search and this enables them to serve up results that better match user intent. How does this affect how you create website content? It means that if you want to rank better, you will need to create different content for different user intentions. Here we provide a guide to search intent SEO.
Search intent defined
Search intent is relatively easy to understand. Quite simply, it’s the reason someone is carrying out a search. Of course, people have lots of different reasons for searching: they may want to find information, navigate the internet, learn about a product or make a purchase. In an attempt to make their search result better for their users, search engines now try to provide results that meet those intentions. This means that for different types of intent, different types of content are required if you wish to rank well. Here we discuss the main kinds of search intent in more detail.
- Finding information
The internet has become the go-to repository of global knowledge and most people looking to find out about something will search for it online. This kind of search has an informational intent and covers things like getting advice about a health issue, finding out the weather forecast, discovering the cast of the film you’re watching or researching a topic for an essay.
Although people may use similar search terms for different intentions, search engine algorithms are able to understand informational intent and provide more accurate results. If you type in chocolate cake, for example, it will understand that the probability is that you want to bake one. For this reason, it will provide you with recipes and how-to videos
- Finding a website
Thanks to how good search engines are, there is rarely any need today to type a URL in a browser address bar. If you want to find any kind of website, the easy way to go about it is to use a search engine. If you are doing this, then you have navigational intent.
If you run a website, it’s important that if someone searches for it, it appears in those search results. This might seem like a given, however, there are many organisations with similar names and if you manufacture products, some of your stockists might rank higher for your brand name than you do. For this reason, it is important that your homepage is optimised to appear in searches with navigational intent.
- Researching products and services
Before buying something, most people will research products and services on the internet. They may look at the types of products and services available, find out how things work, compare different makes and models and read ratings and reviews.
Search engines understand that at this stage of the buying process, consumers may not yet be looking for actual product pages. As a result, they are more likely to rank content that provides the research information that people need to make a purchasing decision, such as review and comparison sites. If someone was considering buying a lawn mower, for example, the search results might contain the most recent blog or news posts with titles like ’10 Best Lawn Mowers’ or ‘What to Look for in a Good Lawn Mower’.
Businesses that want to be found across the different stages of the buying process need to create content that will rank at each of those stages – and to do so means creating content that matches user intent. After all, if someone else’s content has already convinced the consumer which product or service is the best for them, your product page may not hold much sway when it comes to the purchase part of the process, even if it does rank highly.
Content provided at this stage of the process can also help build trust in the company that publishes it, increasing the chance that the consumer will go on to buy from them instead of another retailer or service provider.
- Making a purchase
If the purpose of someone’s search is to buy something, then they have transactional intent. You can tell when Google thinks you have transactional intent because you will have lots of Google product ads at the top of the results.
If a search is general, for example, ‘men’s shirts’, the results will provide links to retailers of men’s shirts. These usually point to landing pages from where users can narrow their search, rather than links to specific product pages. To rank well for this kind of user intent, it is important that category pages are optimised.
If a user types in a very specific product, e.g., iPhone 13 Pro Max 256GB, then the results are more likely to take users directly to the specific product pages. When providing content for these pages, it is important to include the various specific terms that a user may be looking for, with the phone above, for example, this could be features like sim-free, 5G or Sierra Blue.
With search engines now able to distinguish between and provide results that match user intent, websites that want to rank for different intentions will need to provide suitable content for each. For businesses that already have product and service pages for generating sales, the best place to create content that will rank for information intent or product and service research is a blog. If you are looking for fast and secure hosting that can boost your SEO, visit our homepage.