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Understanding & Optimising Content for Search Intent

Google’s algorithms are constantly being updated to put more emphasis on search intent. Yes – backlinks, site navigation and other Google ranking signals still matter but ultimately, your site needs to satisfy people’s search intent to rank well.

Ranking in Google brings a larger audience to your site, however to increase the chances of this audience converting or making a purchase, you need to take search intent into account when creating content.

So, what is Search Intent?

Simply put, search intent describes the purpose of an online search – after all, everyone who carries out a Google search is hoping to find something in particular.

Whether this is wanting an answer to a question, extra information about a topic or looking to buy something, this initial search is a crucial part of the user’s journey. Making sure your site is found at this stage is essential to increasing traffic and conversions.

We’ve already touched on a number of search intents, so let’s delve into the main ones a bit deeper

Navigational Intent

If a user knows the specific site they want to go to, they might carry out a search for a brand name. For example, people that search for Twitter are most likely looking for the Twitter website. 

One thing to note about this type of search intent is that ranking for a navigational term such as your brand name, will only help boost your organic traffic if people are purposely searching for your site. 

Google search result for Twitter.

Informational Intent

Most internet searches are carried out by people searching for information about something. Most of these searches are characterised as a specific question about a topic, but can also be a search for a general term. 

Because of Google’s advanced algorithms and understanding of search intent, it knows that people searching for ‘chicken soup’ are most likely looking for chicken soup recipes, therefore displaying the results which are most relevant to this.

Google search result for chicken soup, with 3 recipes.

Transactional Intent

Online shopping has become more and more popular in recent years and searches with transactional intent are just that – ready to make purchases. They have a specific item in mind and are likely looking for where to buy it.

Users looking to “buy women’s trainers” have set out on their search with the intention of making a purchase. For e-commerce sites, this is the holy grail – surefire conversions, as long as your content delivers on its promise.

Google search bar with the query 'buy womens trainers'
Google search result for women's trainers

Inferring Search Intent

A user’s search intent is often evident from the wording of the search query. Including the examples we’ve just shown, there are a number of keyword modifiers, which can indicate a specific search intent.

Knowing these keywords can make it easier when it comes to tailoring your content towards each search intent. 

Navigational – Brand names, product name, service name

Informational how, what, who, where, why, tutorial, how-to, tips, ideas

Transactional – buy, order, cheap, price, purchase

How to optimise content for Search Intent

So now we know what search intent is – easy enough right? But how do you make sure your content is found whenever a search is made?

Each search intent signifies whereabouts in the buying journey the user is. Navigational or Informational search intent usually indicates a user early in the process, whereas Transactional search intent means they are quite far through and are ready to make a purchase. 

Sadly, there is no magic formula to success, but there are a number of ways you can tailor your content to each search intent.

Navigational Intent

With navigational intent, you can assume that people are searching for your brand or specific products and services. Making sure you have landing pages for each of these and your homepage is essential.

Your pages should have your brand or product names within the page title, meta descriptions and on-page content. 

Here is how we optimised our homepage. Service and brand keywords are displayed in the page title and meta description, offering a brief but informational overview of who we are and what we do.

Google search result for the Colewood website

Informational Intent

The key to informational intent is making content relevant to the user at this stage of their buying journey. 

If a page claims to tell you ‘How to keep a greenhouse cool” make sure the meta data, URL and on-page content actually reflects this. Using questions, similar to those of search queries at strategic points in the meta title and description will increase chances of being found for this.

Here’s the clincher, make sure you answer the question in the first paragraph – who really enjoys clicking through to a website and having to scroll for ages to find the answer to their question?

This is a good example of a well-optimised page for informational intent.

Google search result for Greenhouseplanter How to keep a greenhouse cool in the desert or hot summer
Screenshot of a website offering advice on Keeping a Greenhouse cool in the desert or hot summer.

Transactional Intent

Users with transactional intent and ready to make a purchase. At this point, the best way to optimise product pages is to keep a focus on the outcome – a conversion.

Outline the specific product name (and price if you want) in the meta title and make it obvious that a user can purchase the product from this page – rather than just gathering information or reading a review.

Product page content should follow a common structure across your site. The first things you should do in order to optimise a page for transactional intent include a high-resolution image of the product and any variations, the price, a summary, feature list and clear call-to-actions.

Google search result for the EE, iPhone 11 product page
Screenshot of a website selling an iPhone 11

It’s likely you will be able to improve your existing content some way or another in order to optimise it for search intent. If you are looking for more advice with your content marketing, then get in touch with the team at Colewood.