Say you want to make a DIY bath bomb. You go to Google and enter “diy bath bomb.” You click on the first result, but you soon realize that the tutorial is too complex and difficult to read. You ditch the site and go back to search results. Next, you click on the second link and – bingo! You find an awesome guide, written in simple language and packed with helpful images and video tutorials. You read it from beginning to end, share a link on social, and bookmark a site so you can come back for more quality content.
If enough searchers that google “diy bath bomb” find this tutorial relevant, Google will rank it higher. It prioritizes search intent that tells them what kind of content users want to see when they google a certain keyword.
Why is Search Intent Important to Google?
The reason why search intent is that important for Google is simple – it wants to provide its searchers with relevant search results. Google sees 15% of daily searches for the first time. That’s why it relies on RankBrain, an AI algorithm that tests the relevancy of websites and displays valuable results only. Therefore, just optimizing your site for high-volume keywords is not enough. Google will observe your keywords and user experience signals together to find whether they align.
Now let’s see how to use search intent in SEO.
Prioritize User Experience
When assessing the relevance of your site, Google observes how searchers interact with your pages. Google doesn’t want people to land on numerous irrelevant pages and then kick them immediately. They want a user to land on your page, get the answer to their question, and spend time there. Precisely because of that, any solid white label SEO strategy should combine keyword optimization with user experience.
- Reduce popups: Google says it doesn’t like popups, so limit them.
- Optimize font types and sizes: Choose fonts and font sizes that are legible across multiple devices and screen sizes. The preferred font size for your main body text is 16px.
- Use video and images to make your content easier to understand and digest.
- Measure performance via Google Analytics: Observe your bounce rate, time on page, and average session duration to understand how people engage with your content.
- Use subheadings to help users scan through your content and find their answers faster.
Determine Search Intent behind every Keyword
The majority of keywords fall under 4 different types of search intent:
- Informational – searchers type a keyword to inform themselves about something, e.g. “diy bath bomb tutorial”.
- Navigational – searchers already know what website they want to visit, so they type a brand/domain name into Google’s search box, e.g. “Ahrefs”
- Transactional – searchers use them to find the right products and make purchases, e.g. “London to Paris flights”
- Commercial – searchers use keywords to research and compare products before buying them, e.g. “best gaming headset for PS4”
Even though keyword intent often seems obvious, you should never rely on guesswork. Pay attention to the pages that already rank high for that keyword, as they meet search intent.
Say you want to optimize your pages for the “broken link checker” tool. If you google this phrase, you will notice that all results appearing on the first page are tools. In other words, when people search for “broken link checker,” they don’t want to learn how to use these tools. They want to invest in one.
Now, let’s google “best broken link checker.” You will see that, this time, the SERPs are packed with informative lists and articles, outlining the most powerful broken link checking tools. Therefore, instead of optimizing your product page for this keyword, save it for your blog.
Give your Existing Content a Boost
Say you’ve written an ultimate content marketing guide, aimed at content marketing professionals. You rank for “content marketing” and “content marketing guide,” but your rankings are poor. That’s because these keywords don’t match search intent. Google “content marketing” and you will see that the majority of pages on the first page are meant for non-experts wanting to learn more about content marketing. So, your content is targeting the wrong audiences.
That’s where you should rewrite your guide to make it more relevant to people new to content marketing. As you already have a solid basis and keywords, you won’t need to write your guide from scratch. Finally, update the title to make it catchier to new audiences and inspire them to click (e.g. “A Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing”).
Helpful tools to use to understand the search intent
There are many tools that may help you satisfy searchers’ intent. For example, People Also Ask and Answer the Public are treasure troves of user intent data. Namely, both these tools provide you with the actual search phrases people use around a certain topic. Use them as the foundation for your research, see what questions people usually ask, and answer these questions in your content.
Some other tools that let you understand search intent are:
- Buzzsumo and Google Trends for trending topics
- Q&A sites as keyword resources
- Google’s Related Searches and Google Suggest for long-tail keywords and keyword intent
- Social networks for tracking users’ keywords, hashtags, and discussions to learn more about them.
Pay Attention to Ambiguous Keywords
It’s often easy to differentiate commercial keywords from informational ones. But, what about keywords like “gaming headphones?” This keyword has obvious transactional intent. However, is the person googling it ready to make a purchase right now or they’re still weighing different buying options? When searching for this keyword, you will see that your customers have just entered the buying stage. They expect to see transactional content and yet, get multiple product recommendations. Pointing them to a page that lists different gaming headphones would be the best option for you.
On the other hand, if someone googles “how to make an apple pie,” they will want to get actionable tips. According to Google’s results for this keyword, your content should be simple, have clear steps, and be packed with helpful images and videos.
Understanding search intent behind your keywords lets you provide relevant content that will rank high. Above all, you will maximize your average session duration, minimize the bounce rate, boost retention rates, and earn loads of valuable backlinks and social shares. These are key factors that will impact your rankings.