The 2021 Guide to Search Intent

Altin Tola

by Altin Tola · Updated Jun 17, 2021

Over 93% of internet sessions begin on search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
With this many users online, it's more important than ever to land one of those top search results spots.

As a business, your mission is to provide that perfect answer to land a sale, prompt an inquiry, or begin building that valuable customer relationship. So how do you know what the answer is? You need the help of our little friend, search intent.

Want to use this tool to boost your SEO and skyrocket organic traffic? Follow along to learn what search intent is, how to find it, and why your business needs it.

What is Search Intent?

Search intent, also commonly called user intent is the term we use to describe what users are actually looking for when they perform a search query.

In fact, search intent will actually impact what keywords your content will need to reach the right audience. For the best results, you'll want to take user intent into consideration before you launch your keyword research.

For example: If a consumer were to type "how to make ice cream" in the search bar, they likely aren't looking for a place to buy an ice cream cone. Your keyword research will need to consider this and target keywords with a more relevant search intent to your products.

Why Search Intent is Important

When it comes to drawing an audience, search intent allows you to reach a very specific audience with each piece of content. By identifying intent, we then have an informed idea of where customers are in the sales funnel and create content that is optimized to draw them in.

In addition, Google places a high value on factors like relevance, authority, and user satisfaction. Because of this, user intent is a valuable goal for Google, A.K.A. valuable for your SEO.

The Common Types of Search Intent

To identify and target user intent, we must first understand what each of these different types of intent is after. There are four common types to consider:

Navigational intent is when the user is using Google to get to a specific website or landing page. This is often done when typing in the exact URL for a site is inconvenient or complicated.Examples of this include typing 'Facebook' in the search bar or finding narrowed pages like 'WordPress login'.

Informational Intent

Informational search intent users are looking to discover more information about their desired subject. This keyword search intent usually features words like 'how to', 'what is', or 'why do'.

If you are targeting informational searches, capitalize on the five W's: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. This is where our earlier example of 'how to make ice cream' fits in.

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Preferencial/ Commercial Intent

Commercial intent is used when customers have already done their informational searches and are looking to narrow their hunt. This user is often in search of a specific product or service and is using their search query to find the best possible solution.

These searches often feature phrases like 'best ice cream near me'. Offering freebies of your product is a great way to appeal to commercial intent queries.

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Transactional Intent

Once a user reaches transactional intent, they are ready to buy. These users have already done their research, know what product is best for them, and are ready to purchase, visit the store, sign up for an email list, or make a phone call.

Keyword intent for these searches could be 'buy ice cream near me' or 'ice cream deals'.

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As you can see, each of these user intent types impacts the type of content that search engines produce for the user. So, to reach the right audience, you'll need to write to the intent types that fit your brand goals.

How Intent Influences Rank

As we mentioned above, search intent contributes greatly to your SEO. In fact, Google and other search engines actually take note of how your keywords and content are measuring up by monitoring user behavior.

If a search query is performed and no results are clicked, search engines take this as a signal that search intent is off and adjusts the rank for those keywords accordingly.

As you can see here, the results on early pages have a much closer association with the search intent ‘best ice cream’ whereas pages 2 or 3 see fewer directly related keywords and therefore are less likely to be found.

Results on 1st page

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Results on 2nd/3rd page

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Doing It Yourself: Step-by-Step

Now that you know what search intent is, it's time to put your knowledge to work by optimizing your content for user intent on your own. To write better content for the different types of intent, follow this step-by-step process.

1 - Identify Your Goals

Ask yourself what your goal is for this content. Who are you trying to reach and what stage of the sales funnel are they at? This will often become clear when you consider what action you'd like to be taken from your blog when the reader has finished.

Keep in mind that your goal will often lead to an adjustment in your keywords. Launch your keyword research once you've determined your goal to narrow in on effective phrases.

2 - Verify Keyword Intent

Once you've done your keyword research, ensure your keyword intent is clear by launching a report on Dashword. From here, compare the results of your keyword on the report SERP view. Notice how each of the results relates to the keyword.

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If the results are mixed, your keyword intent likely isn't clear enough. Struggling with your keyword intent target? Have a look back at each of the different types of intent and utilize typical phrases. For example, use those 'how to' questions for informational intent searches or feature 'best' in your commercial investigation search term.

3 - Write with Dashword

If your results are all consistent with the search intent you're targeting, it's time to go ahead and start writing! Simply compose your article from your report and use Dashword to outperform the other results for your keywords.