The Importance of Search Intent with Content

If you’re involved in marketing and use content to promote your business, you will have likely heard of search intent.

If you haven’t, don’t worry, That’s what we’re here for!

Search Intent is a crucial aspect of marketing, it allows you to connect with the right people at the right time with the content they’re looking for.

Sounds ideal, doesn’t it?

In this post, we’ll be exploring search intent content and why it’s so vital for a successful digital marketing campaign.

What is search intent?

Put simply, search or user intent is what a person ‘intends’ to achieve when making a query on a search engine.

The WHY in the equation.

Whether you have heard of search intent before or not, it’s something you use every day when you go online and search for something.

For example, if a person enters ‘surfing in Cornwall’ into a search engine, the results vary significantly. Using the same query, one person may have been looking to find out if surfing is good in Cornwall, whereas someone else may have been looking for places to surf in Cornwall. So their search intent was different.

For businesses, this can prove to be tricky. You see, even if your content is optimised and uses keywords effectively, you’ll find it more difficult to convert without the right intent. Yes, you may have plenty of eyes on your content, but if they have no intention of following through by converting — what’s the point?

As a marketer or business owner, if you are able to establish a user’s search intent, you can provide the perfect content to suit their needs, whether it’s a service or product page, blog post, or another form of media.

Why search intent content is crucial

There are four types of search intent — Navigational, Informational, Transactional and Commercial Investigation. Each of which has its benefits for specific needs, and we’ll offer some advice for optimising for each type of intent a bit later, so stay tuned!

So, why is search intent important for content marketing?

Gaining insight into user intent is vital for any business, as it allows you to develop a better understanding of your customers and the thought process of a broader range of users.

Not only this, but each type of search intent feeds you the necessary information needed to create the most suitable content to meet their needs, based on the rationale of potential customers.

And in the process, ensures that you do your utmost to turn content into conversions, drive traffic to your site, and rank higher for relevant keywords.

While brand discovery and getting eyes on your website is, of course, crucial for online success, the search intent needs to match what you offer. This is where optimising for search intent will prove to be a huge advantage.

When you optimise content for search intent, you adopt a strategy that helps you to place your content in the right place, at the right time. Put simply; it means that a potential customer will find the right type of content at the point of their buyer’s journey where they need it the most.

Having a more precise understanding of your customer’s needs can benefit you in several ways. Examples include ranking higher on SERPs, marketing to an audience who will actually convert (also helps lower bounce rate), and helping you continue growing your brand.

However, a valuable benefit is that it helps you learn more about your audience and better understand what they need. With this knowledge, many companies have found great success by altering/creating products and services to better suit customer needs — or simply changed their approach to content to achieve the same goal.

Optimising content for search intent

Navigational intent

Navigational search intent is when someone already knows what website or webpage they want to visit. The user intent couldn’t be clearer or simpler — the goal is to get to that particular site ASAP!

Example: “YouTube” is the most searched term on Google! People use Google to navigate to websites.

A searcher with navigational intent will have heard of your brand or already know what you’re about. Therefore to optimise effectively for this intent, it’s essential to have clear, easy-to-follow service/product pages. This makes it easier for your audience to get what they need and convert as soon as possible.

You should include your brand, products and services in the page title, headings, and metadata. This will convey to Google that this page best suits the needs of those searching for that particular company. The most common types of content for navigational intent are landing pages and homepages, so it’s crucial to ensure you have clear, engaging copy optimised for SEO.

Informational intent

Informational searches tend to be question-based, where the searcher is either looking for a simple ‘What is’ answer or a longer ‘How to’ guide-style post. To optimise your content for this intent, it’s crucial to add ‘intent modifiers‘ to keywords.

These are words that imply intent and offer more insight into the search. They change the meaning of the search. For example, if a person searches for ‘wallpaper’ the top results will be various websites that sell wallpaper.

However, by using the term ‘How to’ alongside wallpaper, your results will include guides and informational blogs of an instructional nature. Having a nightmare putting up your wallpaper at home? Just Google it!

Example: Intent modifiers used for informational intent are how, what, who, tutorial and guide.

Again, to enhance your content marketing for informational intent, make sure to use the question in strategic positions such as headings, subheadings, page titles and descriptions.

Transactional intent

Transactional queries are when the searcher usually wants to buy a product, sign up for a newsletter or carry out another similar action. While they may include intent modifiers, they often simply type in a product or service name to find what they need. And if the companies of these products and services have optimised their content effectively, the searcher will find them!

If a searcher specifies the exact product type, companies can tailor their results to ensure the searcher goes straight to that particular product page and allow them to swiftly make a purchase. If a sale is the goal, it’s vital to focus their attention on the product at all times. You can reiterate this point with images and a compelling ‘call to action’ (CTA).

Example: Buy, discount, purchase, deal, order, shop, download are all modifiers that indicate an intent to transact.

It’s essential to make life as easy as possible for potential buyers. Therefore it’s crucial to have the product name in the page title, use white space effectively to focus on the product, high-quality images, and keep the information concise if you can (avoids scrolling). For the content itself, using simple lists and bullet points prevent clutter and help you to echo the benefits of what you’re offering.

Transactional queries focus on landing pages and product/services pages. To optimise efficiently, it’s essential to include brand names, categories, and intent modifiers related to sales — such as buy, sale, free shipping, etc.

Commercial Investigation

With this user search intent, a person knows exactly what product they are looking for but are yet to decide where to buy from. This means they are almost at the transactional stage but want to research to establish what best suits their needs.

Example: Review, best, top, affordable, compare, versus and cheap are good keywords to use for people researching your products or services.

Commercial investigation can be for both products and services, so it’s vital to include detailed descriptions and ensure that your copy reflects your authority within your chosen industry. The key here is to stand out from your competitors and be as relevant as possible to what the searcher is trying to find.

Commercial searches also include reviews, which are often more localised. The user may want to go out for dinner but specifically fancies a seafood restaurant. If they type in “best seafood restaurant near me”, a variety of suitable restaurants will appear. 

Commercial investigation content can come in the form of list-style comparison blog posts, which list the pros and cons of similar products/services to offer customers more insight and help them decide. Including intent modifiers such as best, review, top, and other similar words will help you rank better for this search intent content and add to the overall SEO of your site.

Do you want to learn more about search intent in content marketing and your broader marketing efforts? Check out our comprehensive guide to search intent to learn everything you need to know and more!

Are you looking to benefit from search intent and improve your SEO? Our team of experts are here to help! Get in touch today to discuss your needs and goals.

About the author...

Alan SpurgeonWithout Alan, there’d be no Hedgehog. Our Boston-born director began Hedgehog a decade ago in a tiny office above a florists in Bedford. Since then, Alan has worked tirelessly to grow Hedgehog to what it is today. Using his years of SEO and business expertise, Alan knows how to produce strategies for clients that work towards the ultimate goal; generating new business online. Never one to keep his expertise to himself, Alan has spoken at a number of industry events, including Digitalks in Sao Paulo, and has contributed to a number of industry books and publications.
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