What Is Search Intent? A Guide to Keyword Intent & SEO

Full name
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

What is Search Intent?

Search intent is the purpose behind a user’s search. Search intent is also referred to as keyword intent, user intent, and audience intent. A deep understanding of user intent helps SEOs better optimize their content and tailor it to their audience’s unique needs. Keyword intent optimization is the root of all search engine optimization.

In this article we'll explain:

  • Why Is Search Intent Important?
  • Navigational Intent
  • Informational Intent
  • Transactional Intent
  • Commercial Intent

Why Is Search Intent Important?

In search engine optimization, our goal is the same as that of Google and other search engines: to help our target audience find our content so they can achieve the goals of their search journey. Over the years, Google has become increasingly focused on search intent as it pertains to keyword rankings. At the end of the day, their goal has always been to provide users with the most seamless search experience possible.

Optimizing for keyword intent improves the relevance of your content. If a user is searching for “how does a Roth IRA work?”, it would be pretty annoying if every result on the first page was a bank trying to get them to start a Roth IRA with their company. This search term is looking for information on that subject, not necessarily because the user wants to open an account. For all we know based on that search, it could be a finance student researching for a project.

The number one goal of Google and most other search engines is to satisfy search intent. With this in mind, it’s obvious why this is important. If you want to increase conversions, you need to reach your audience. If you want to reach your audience, you need to rank well for high volume search queries. And finally, if you want to rank well for these search queries, you need to optimize your content based on search intent.

The Four Types of Search Intent

Although some searches will have crossovers between several of the types of search intent, it’s important to be able to differentiate between the four main types. They are:

  • Navigational Intent
  • User wants to find a website or specific page: (Toyota website, Toyota customer service)
  • Informational Intent
  • User wants an answer to a specific question or more knowledge about a topic: (How do hybrid cars work?, what is the difference between hybrid and electric cars?)
  • Transactional Intent
  • User wants to complete an action or purchase: (buy Toyota Prius)
  • Commercial Intent
  • ​​User wants to compare brands, products, services (similar to transactional but not as far in the buying process): (best hybrids, best Toyota hybrids)

Navigational Search Intent

In this type of search, the user is trying to find a specific page or address online. The searcher already knows what they are looking for in this type of search. They are not necessarily looking for more information about a topic; they want to go directly to this page. It could be a customer service page or any product or service a company offers. The key to optimizing for these types of searches is to be direct and clear in the language you use. These queries will typically involve a brand name and there isn’t a ton of optimizing you need to do since you will (ideally) be ranking well for your own branded queries. One other important optimization factor is to be sure your site has a clean structure, a dedicated page for each product or service, and is easily navigable for search engines and users.

Informational Intent

This type of search is much more detail-oriented and will require a fair amount of optimizing. These searches are (obviously) attempting to find information about a specific topic. Though there really isn’t a limit to what types of information your target audience may be searching for, these queries will frequently be framed as questions (containing who, what, when, where, why, how), although not always. These searches could be how-tos, recipes, or any number of other formats. One of the most important factors for these queries is to be as detailed as possible while also keeping the information clear and well-organized. Often, these queries will have SERP features such as rich snippets or People Also Ask wherein Google will have information from one or more websites available on the results page so the searcher might not even have to enter your website. Google favors long-form content and structured content. So include as much information as possible and utilize on-page optimization tactics like bolding certain words and heading, numbered or bulleted lists, and having clear, keyword-friendly headings.

Transactional Intent

In this type of search, the user wants to complete a specific action or purchase. These “actions” could include signing up for an email newsletter, subscribing to your content, downloading a file or anything of this nature- it doesn't always mean they are going to purchase something. Among the most important factors for optimizing for transactional intent is making the “transaction” or conversion process as simple and clear as possible. This means including several strong CTAs throughout the content, making forms visible and easy to fill out, using keywords with different wording to ensure you cover multiple high-volume search terms related to your content.

Commercial Intent

Though some will not include this as a primary type of search intent because it is similar to transactional and informational, it is still important to understand and should be included in your SEO process. Whereas transactional intent serves to complete a specific action, commercial intent is a level or two higher in the conversion process. At this stage of the marketing funnel, the consumer is still comparing options before completing their final transaction. It differs from informational intent in that it is more specific to a purchase or forthcoming transaction. Optimizing for commercial intent involves showing your consumers what differentiates you from competitors or other products and services available. Searchers are investigating and comparing all possible options in this type of search, so it's important to include as many details and benefits to your content as possible.

Reach Out to Nxt Era Marketing

Optimizing for search intent is one of the most important goals in SEO. Having a deep understanding and execution of keyword intent and optimizing for the different types will help you outrank your competition and increase conversions. Partnering with a talented search engine optimization agency like Nxt Era Marketing is the best way to ensure your SEO success. We have the digital marketing tools and SEO knowledge to improve your organic reach and grow your business. Contact us today to schedule your free digital marketing consultation.

Full name
Job title, Company name
Join our newsletter to stay up to date on features and releases.
By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy and provide consent to receive updates from our company.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
© 2024 All right reserved.