Search Intent and SEO: A Quick Guide

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What is search intent?

It tells us what the user is looking for. Are they looking for a company website perhaps? Or looking to learn something? Maybe they want to buy something?

If a user searches Google for “bake low calorie cookies,” this tells Google’s search algorithm that the user is looking for a recipe that is low in calories.

But it’s not just Google. All search engines are designed to try and understand what the person searching is looking for. Google has clarified its position on mobile website development with the introduction of the MUM Framework in 2021. The algorithms ability to interpret search intent is constantly growing and evolving.

What users are looking for when they enter a search query is known as search intent. If you want your website to show up in search results, the content on your site needs to match what people are searching for.

This means that both what the text is about and how it is presented should be considered when choosing a text. If you don’t take action, your ability to rank and get traffic from the right users will go down. Failing to take into account what users are looking for can cause your website to lose its ranking or never achieve one. So yes, user intent is (very) important for SEO!

Google is very serious about understanding the intent of its users’ searches. One of Google’s main goals when suggesting search results to a user is to be as relevant as possible.

If a user searches for information and does not find what they are looking for, they will probably try again with a different search term. This means that the results page that Google delivered did not match what the person was looking for.

This could mean that a website does not come up on the first page of the search engine results pages for a given search term.

Search engines can only improve a website’s ranking if the website is relevant to the user’s search query. You should always keep search intent in mind when you are doing SEO.

Types of search intent

While there are endless search terms, there are just four primary search intents:

  1. Informational
  2. Preferential/Commercial Investigation
  3. Transactional
  4. Navigational

What does this mean for the content you produce? I have provided an overview of each category with example terms that suggest what the user might be trying to accomplish. However, searches are not limited to two options, many will fall into more than one category.


Searches done with the intent of finding information are typically done by users who are looking for… information! Twitter is a social networking site where people can share short updates about their lives with others. Twitter is social networking site where people can share brief updates about their lives with others. Its commonness as a search intent is due to the fact that users can look for answers to an infinite number of questions. That said, not all informational terms are questions. People who just type in “Bill Gates” into the search bar are probably looking for information about the person.


Preferential/Commercial Investigation

users begin their investigation into making a purchase. People use search engines when they are looking for more information about a product, brand, or service. They have completed the research stage and are now only considering a few options. Many users on this site compare products and brands to find what works best for them.

Localized searches that include terms such as “best body shop near me” or “top sushi restaurant NYC” are often more successful than general searches.



Transactional searchers are looking to make a purchase. This could be a product, service, or subscription. No matter what, they know what they want. Since the user is already interested in buying a product, these terms are usually branded. Users are now more focused on where to purchase a product instead of researching the product itself.



The searchers mentioned are looking for a specific website and find it easier to search for it on Google than to type out the URL. The user could also be unsure of the exact URL or looking for a specific page, e.g. a login page. Usually, people searching use specific brand or website names, and they might include extra details to help them find a specific page.


Why is search intent important for SEO?

Google cares about search intent

The primary goal for Google is to satisfy search intent, which in turn makes it a primary goal for SEOs. When someone searches for something and finds information that is not relevant to what they were looking for, it tells Google that the person’s original purpose for their search was probably not matched by the results.

If a user searches for “How to build a website” and is only shown pages for product pitches for CMS platforms and hosting sites, they will likely try another search rather than clicking on any of those. Google interprets this as meaning that the results are not relevant to what the person is looking for.

Broaden your reach across funnel stages

Content marketing success depends on understanding search intent and using that knowledge to guide your content strategy.

And just why is this so important? If you make your content specific to various search intents, you can reach more users who are at different stages in the process of making a purchase. You can increase your chances of reaching your target audience by focusing your efforts on matching search intent.

You can improve rankings

Since the main factors that Google uses to rank a website are relevance, authority, and user satisfaction, it makes sense that improving your keyword targeting to match search intent would improve your overall ranking.

Relevance: This has to do with your user’s behavior. If someone finds the information they want on your site, they are less likely to go back to Google and look at a different result. You will see an improvement in KPIs such as click-through rate and bounce rate when your content is relevant to search intent.

Site authority is important for ranking well in Google. A strong internal linking strategy will help signal to Google that your site has a lot of content covering all aspects of the topic. If you want to increase your brand’s authority and visibility, create content that is valuable and relevant to your brand. This will help you satisfy the needs of your audience.

Are the pieces of content you generate valuable and interesting to your intended readership? End of story.

How to optimize your content for search intent

In order to have your content or website be user-friendly, you need to figure out what the user’s intent is and what they would expect to see.

Here’s how:

2. Identify search intent

To find out what kind of content is most popular for a given keyword, you can use Google to search for that keyword and look at the pages and content types that appear in the top results. The top ranking results on a search engine can give you an idea of what people are generally searching for.

If you want your article to rank well, you should take a look at the articles that are currently ranking at the top of the search results. If you see videos there, you can use them to improve your ranking. This is an example of the circular logic that Google uses. They will show products that they have developed, and then use this to justify developing more products. People tend to look for the best-ranking content since it is a reliable source of information.

The titles of the results can give you information about what the user is looking for. For example, if the results are mostly for reviews, definitions, abbreviations, store or product pages, this tells you that the user is looking for this type of content.

Although this can be a very time-consuming task, it is necessary in order to understand the user’s intent. You cannot check search results for thousands of keywords regularly. But there is a solution for this as well.

Google is trying to give users the best answer to their questions. It does this to make the results more useful and relevant to the searcher. These are features like map packs, shopping ads, image carousels, videos, etc.

Tools that track SERP features can provide you with a list of the features Google displays for your keywords. The following SERP features can help you understand the intent behind a given keyword: for example, a featured snippet usually contains a short, quick answer, while a video will provide a more detailed answer. A recipe is for someone who wants to cook something and a review helps make a purchasing decision.

After determining which SERP features are relevant for your keywords, export them according to their search volume. When you are optimizing your website for search engines, it is best to avoid searches for specific brands. These types of searches are not relevant to your ranking in the search engine results pages.

You import a list into a table document and add a COUNTA column. You can use the pivot function to sort the data by the number of SERP results per feature.

The average value of each column can help you evaluate the most frequent user intent for your keywords. The implication is that if you want to improve your ranking, you should try to understand what content users are looking for and then provide it.

You should check search intent every now and then to make sure your content is still relevant.

There is no way to measure how well your content correlates with user satisfaction. Google will not inform you of exactly how often your article aligns with the search engine’s desired results, but it is generally agreed upon that a majority of the time, your article will appear close to the top of the list. You need to use common sense and data to figure out the rest.

2. Understand user expectations

Deriving user intent is only the first part. To make your content more effective, you need to understand what your users are looking for, and what they expect from you and your content. And that can be a little trickier.

The content in Google’s search results is ranked based on how useful it is for users. To do this, they’ve created 5 “Needs Met” categories in their Quality Rater Guidelines:

  1. Fully Meets
  2. Highly Meets
  3. Moderately Meets
  4. Slightly Meets
  5. Fails to Meet

Queries that are ambiguous cannot have a “Fully Meets” rating because there can be more than one interpretation.

Results that are commonly interpreted as search queries and are highly authoritative, accurate, and credible fall into the “Highly Meets” category. Writing that is for a medical or scientific audience must be in line with what is generally accepted as true and be very precise.

You need to figure out what users want and then give it to them. Ideally of course, you’ll exceed their expectations.

Unfortunately, there’s no common yardstick for this. Your content marketers should assess user expectations before creating content formats and content. This means that content should be created using the best available data. You should keep an eye on the search queries that Google is trying to match with your content, and make changes to your content over time to accommodate those queries.

To determine whether your online store or marketplace is meeting user expectations, you need to measure satisfaction at the product level. When looking at a website, you should think about whether the content on the product or category pages meets the user’s expectations. If the features are not working properly, it is time to make changes so that they work better.

Key takeaways:

When creating SEO content around search intent, be sure to keep the following in mind:

While it may be simple to create SEO optimized content for specific search intents, it is not necessarily easy to do. If you follow these guidelines, you will be giving users the content they want in a format they can use easily.


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