Learn what search intent is, why it‘s important for SEO, and how to determine the intent of a keyword with as-educate.
What Is Search Intent?
The reason a user types a specific query into a search engine is known as search intent (also known as searcher intent or keyword intent).
Say someone searches for “best dog food” on Google.
They're not trying to get to a specific page. They also don't want to purchase a specific item. Not yet, at least.
Before buying anything, they want to do their homework.
This indicates that the keyword has a business intent. And with this information, we may modify our content to target this keyword.
Why Is Search Intent Important in SEO?
Search engines (like Google's) main objective is to provide relevant results. Your comprehension of search intent may therefore have an impact on your ability to rank in search results.
Google has worked very hard to decipher users' intentions when they enter search terms.
(Just glance at Google's Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines; there's a whole section on user intent and how to recognize various intent types.)
If you want to rank in Google, make sure your pages fulfill the search intent implied by the keywords they target.
A detailed understanding of search intent may help you in the following ways:
- Have a more effective content strategy: focusing on keywords that are relevant to your target audience's needs.
- Create relevant content: by understanding your consumers' needs and creating content that fulfills them.
- Rank higher in search results: by showing search engines that your content is valuable and relevant to their users.
Let us return to our first example to demonstrate this. The keyword “best dog food” receives 74,000 searches every month.
Assume you have an ecommerce website that sells pet food.
Wouldn't it be amazing to rank for this keyword on the product page of your best-selling dog food brand?
Absolutely. but you will not.
If you look at the Google results, you'll see that “best dog food” is not considered a transactional keyword.
The search results are replete with reviews of the best dog food products. It does not rank any ecommerce websites.
As a result, even if it seems relevant at first sight, you won't be able to rank with a product page here.
The Four Types of Search Intent
We often distinguish four types of search intent:
- Navigational intent: Users wishing to find a specific page (for example, “Reddit login”).
- Informational intent: Users desire to learn more about something (for example, “what is SEO”).
- Commercial intent: Before making a purchase choice, users want to do research (for example, “best coffee maker”).
- Transactional intent: Users desire to do a specific activity, often a purchase (for example, “buy a Subaru Forester”).
Let's take a closer look at each of them.
1. Navigational Search Intent
The user's navigational intent indicates that he or she wants to find a specific page. In contrast to other intent types, searchers already know what they're looking for.
Here are a few keywords with navigational intent:
- Gmail login
- Semrush keyword magic tool
- IKEA refund policy
As can be seen, navigational keywords are often branded. They are all about ensuring that your target audience can easily find your pages when they need to.
2. Informational Search Intent
Informational search intent indicates that the user wants to learn something. These searches are often phrased as questions and include words such as who, what, where, why, and how.
Here are a few keywords with informational intent:
- What is SEO
- Bruce Willis movies
- California time now
- how to clean a dishwasher
Google will often directly answer more specific questions in the SERP.
However, the most popular content type for most informational inquiries is still a blog post. That is why blogging should most likely be a component of your SEO strategy.
The following are the top advantages of targeting informational keywords:
- Visibility: Informational queries account for a significant number of Google searches. You can't ignore them if you want to be seen.
- Building trust: Educating and providing useful knowledge to your audience is a terrific way to create trust in your expertise.
- Targeting new leads: Content that targets informational keywords may bring in fresh leads that you can convert later.
Although ranking for informational queries is unlikely to result in a large number of direct conversions, it might be a valuable chance to expand your brand.
3. Commercial Search Intent
Commercial search intent contains keywords that your target audience uses while conducting research before making a purchase.
Commercial intent is intermediate between informational and transactional intent. The user is looking for information, yet the information is inextricably linked to the action.
Here are some examples of commercially relevant keywords:
- HBO max vs Netflix
- MailChimp alternatives
- apple watch ultra review
- Best indoor plants for low light
Third-party pages with impartial product evaluations are often included in the search results for commercial queries. As a result, ranking for certain commercial keywords relevant to your brand might be difficult, if not impossible.
Fortunately, there are marketing strategies (as well as solutions like Semrush's Surround Sound) that may help you stay visible in your prospective consumers' decision-making process.
4. Transactional Search Intent
Users with transactional search intent want to do something specific, usually something you want them to do as a business owner.
Contrary to what the name indicates, this is not restricted to purchases. A user doing a transactional search, for example, may wish to sign up for a newsletter or download software.
Here are a few keywords with transactional intent:
- Semrush trial
- Watch friends
- Personality test online
- iPhone 13 pro max price
Transactional keywords are your cash cows. These are the keywords that your future customers will employ when they are ready to convert.
How to Determine Search Intent
Search intent often corresponds to where users are in the marketing funnel.
- Awareness: The user searches for informational keywords like “how to perform keyword research.”
- Consideration: The user searches for commercial keywords like “top keyword research tools.”
- Conversion: The user searches for transactional or navigational keywords like “Semrush plans.”
As a result, identifying search intent is an essential step in any content strategy.
In many circumstances, the keyword itself may be used to determine the intent of a keyword (e.g., question words like what, why, or how usually signify informational intent).
However, the intent is not always evident at first glance.
The truth is, you don't have to figure it out yourself—several tools in Semrush automatically determine search intent for each keyword.
In the Keyword Overview, look for the “Intent” metric:
The computation is based on the words in the keyword phrase as well as the SERP characteristics found in the search results for the studied keyword.
There is a separate data column in the Keyword Magic Tool that shows the keyword's intent type. That implies you may work with search intent while doing keyword research without leaving the tool or guessing the intent.
You may also apply a filter to show just keywords with a specific intent type.
Say you're doing keyword research for a corporate blog. Because a blog often targets an audience in the “Awareness” stage of the marketing funnel, you should definitely prioritize keywords with informational intent.
Simply select the desired intent type by clicking the “Intent” filter.
Always look at the real SERP results to see which pages rank for the keyword.
You may perform this in Keyword Overview by scrolling down to the “SERP Analysis” section.
You can also get a snapshot of the real search results by clicking the search symbol to get a better overview of what the SERP for your keyword looks like.
Proper SERP analysis guarantees that you learn about the intent behind a query and that you may draw inspiration from the top results.
It is important to understand that to nail search intent in Google's eyes, you must do much more than just construct the right type of page.
Study the SERP and find out:
- What makes the top results the best?
- How can you create even better content?
- How deeply do the top results cover the topic?
- What angle do they use?
Say a user wants to purchase a new air purifier. They search for the “best air purifier.”
The intent is unmistakably commercial.
To rank for the keyword, you'll need more than simply a standard top-10 review.
One of the top results, Modern Castle's review of the 10 Best Air Purifiers, is an excellent example of commercial content that prioritizes the needs of its viewers.
It begins with a snapshot of Derek, the post's author, with all of the models he has tested for the review.
For those who prefer to watch reviews rather than read them, there is a video summary of the article right below.
The article categorizes products based on coverage area, which is likely the most important factor to consider when selecting an air purifier.
The article then goes on to discuss each of the products, offering technical specs and other information. In addition, the author's experiments yielded genuine performance statistics.
The post finishes with a table comparing all of the products and their ratings. And each of them has a link to a comprehensive review.
The information is simple to understand, well-structured, and well-organized.
When adding content to your website, use this technique.
Consider the following:
What is my target audience looking for on this page?
Then, with that requirement in mind, create a well-structured page.
Search Intent FAQ
Understanding search intent is a critical component of SEO keyword research.
Better intent optimization means that Google is more likely to show your page in response to the query. This means more relevant and quality traffic for your website.
Keyword intent, often known as “keyword search intent,” is synonymous with “search intent.” It refers to the search intent behind a specific keyword. Some keywords may have a clear intent, while others may not. This is referred to as “mixed intent.”
A search phrase that is the name of a specific product, such as “iPhone 13 pro max,” is a frequent example of mixed intent.
Because it is unclear if a user's intent is transactional, commercial, or informational, Google search results will contain a variety of results and SERP elements to ensure that they fulfill the needs of diverse searchers.
The most typical intent categorization contains four types of search intent: navigational, informational, commercial, and transactional.
Google uses a slightly different categorization system. They distinguish between the following in their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines:
1. “Know” queries: Users desire to learn more about something (which corresponds to the informational intent).
2. “Do” queries: Users desire to take action (which corresponds to the transactional intent).
3. “Website” queries: Users wish to go to a certain website (which corresponds to the navigational intent).
4. “Visit-in-person” queries: Users want to visit a specific physical location.
Semrush may be used to determine a keyword's search intent. All of our keyword-related tools automatically recognize search intent. Create a free account and give it a shot right now!
It's also a good idea to glance at the search results for a keyword to see what Google selects as the most relevant results and SERP elements.