Search Intent: Why You Need To Understand This Crucial Aspect of SEO

Keywords are the building blocks of SEO

Perhaps no single factor determines the success of your content marketing strategy and search intent. We often see clients on the verge of ranking success but not seeing their content get found for their target keywords.

Often, it’s simply because the search intent and the keywords don’t match. In this article, we’ll talk about the various types of search intent and how they can be determined. We’ll also discuss how to optimise for these types of keywords.

What Is Search Intent?

Search intent is the user’s goal when they type a query in a search engine. For instance, they might look for a specific resource or answer as they navigate a page. If they’re searching for a pizza recipe, they might have a different intent than those looking for a takeout pizza. Although all of these related topics have the same overall goal, these users have varying search intent levels.

Why Search Intent Is Important For SEO

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Google Cares about Search Intent

As a search engine, Google’s primary goal is to satisfy its users’ search intent.

When a user enters a search term and comes across irrelevant information, Google will use this information to understand which searches do not satisfy search intent. For instance, if users search for “how to build a website,” they might get a slew of product pages for various CMS platforms. If they go on another similar search without clicking on a link, it signals to Google that the results are irrelevant.

Types of Search Intent

Now that we’ve understood why centring your content around search intent is so important, let’s look at their types to understand which defines your target market the best. Four primary search intents encapsulate all search terms:


An informational search is typically conducted by users looking for answers to various questions. This query type is one of the most common types of search intents, as it allows users to get answers to an endless number of questions. Not all informational terms are related to questions. For instance, people who search for “Bill Gates” are most likely looking for information about the businessman and the philanthropist.

Preferential/Commercial Investigation

Before a person makes a purchase, they usually start their commercial investigation. During this stage, they’re past the initial stages of their research and are focused on a few different options. They’re also likely to search for terms such as “best body shop near me” and “top sushi restaurant in NYC.”


The goal of a transactional search is to find a product or service that they’re looking for. This query type is usually branded and gives users a good idea of what they’re looking for. Since they’re already in the buying phase, they’re more likely to search for a place to purchase the product.


People looking for a specific website prefer to use a quick search in Google instead of typing in the exact URL. They may also be unsure of the exact page they’re looking for, which is why these types of searches often feature brand or website names.

How to determine search intent

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Keyword Modifiers

Although keyword research is a great way to determine search intent, it’s also not enough to know the terms. To effectively use this process, you’ll need to understand how to find these terms. There are a variety of tools that can help you find these terms.

A useful feature most tools have to determine search intent is filter features, which allow you to filter for terms that include certain phrases or modifiers. You can use the feature to filter for informational intent by looking for terms that rank for featured snippets, knowledge panels, and related questions.

Read the SERPs

Typing a specific keyword into the search bar is a simple and effective way to gauge search intent. You’ll be able to see what Google has come up with for that term.

SERP Results for Informational Intent

Informational keywords often rank high in the SERPs because they provide a condensed version of what’s been said. These include blog posts, featured snippets, and knowledge grabs. The organic results that are most likely to appear for these terms include articles from Wikipedia and other information sources.

SERP Results for Commercial Research Intent

Commercial intent is similar to preferential intent, as these results will likely include paid links at the top of the page. They will also show relevant information about the products or services that the users are looking for.

SERP Results for Transactional Intent

A transactional SERP is typically the most straightforward type of search engine. It will typically lead with shopping results, paid links, and reviews. On the other hand, organic results will typically show products from brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers.

SERP Results for Navigational Intent

With navigational intent, results typically include the most relevant page for the user, as they already know which website they’re looking for. For instance, if the user searches for “Spotify,” the service’s homepage will be the first result. Searching “Spotify login” would put the login page at the top. Other features, such as site links and knowledge cards, can also be present depending on the query.

How to Optimise For Search Intent

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Match metadata and content type to the intent

After conducting your keyword research, it’s time to optimise search intent. Updating your title tag, H1, and H2s will help improve click-through rates and ensure that your page is optimised for the specific terms you’re targeting.

Examine the competition

Before you start creating new content or revising an existing copy, you must perform a thorough competitor analysis. This will allow you to identify the areas where you can improve your page and create the most relevant content. Take a look at the top pages of the competition and appraise how they’re formatted, what tone they cover, and what they’re missing.

Format content for relevant SERP features

While search intent is the main objective of the SERP, it’s also important that the features are used to inform your page’s content and formatting. For instance, if the featured snippets contain a numbered list, Google will reward you for concision. Similarly, if the results return related questions, ensure that your page answers them clearly and succinctly.

SEO Marketing in Canberra with TocToc

Understanding the search intent of your target market is vital in ranking higher and dominating Google searches for relevant keywords. This can also allow you to identify the areas where you can improve your page and create the most relevant content.

It’s important to remember that search intent and content marketing aren’t two separate entities; rather, they work in tandem to provide more eyes to your platform and scale your business.

Looking to implement the best SEO marketing services for your business and drive your online growth? TocToc has helped numerous businesses unleash the potential of the internet and helped them drive their sales through content marketing, website design, and email marketing services.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you reach out to a wider audience.

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