June 17, 2024

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What Is Search Intent In SEO? A Complete Guide

8 min read

The fundamental purpose of a user while searching a query in a search engine is search intent (also known as user intent). Consumers frequently do searches in order to find a specific type of response or resource.

The search term “how do you create a spreadsheet,” for example, indicates that the user is looking for knowledge, whereas “buy [brand] spreadsheet software” indicates that the user is ready to buy.

Understanding keyword intent, or why someone is searching for something, aids SEO strategists and marketers in developing a keyword-based content strategy that will attract relevant viewers to their website. Improving your SERP ranking requires focusing your SEO strategy on intent.

Why is search intent important for SEO?

Your ability to rank and whether your readers are satisfied with your page’s content are both influenced by how well you understand search intent. In their Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google goes into great length concerning intent.

Google cares about search intent

The fundamental purpose of Google is to meet search intent, which is also a major goal for SEOs.l. When a user searches for a term and obtains irrelevant results, Google receives a signal suggesting that the user’s purpose is most likely mismatched.

If a person searches “How to Make a Website,” they will be bombarded with product pages for CMS platforms and hosting services, they are likely to attempt a different search without clicking on anything. This is an indication to Google that the intent of those results does not match the searcher’s intent.

Broaden your reach across funnel stages

When it comes to running a business and building a successful content marketing strategy, the importance of remembering search intent and making it the driving force behind the content you create and how you create it cannot be stressed.

The more specific your content is to specific search intents, the more users you’ll be able to target at different stages of the funnel. By focusing your efforts on matching search intent, you may increase your chances of reaching everyone, from those who have yet to discover your brand to those who are ready to convert.

Improve your rankings

Because relevance, authority, and user happiness are three of Google’s major ranking factors, it’s easy to see how altering your keyword targeting to meet search intent might help you rank higher.

Relevance: This refers to your user’s actions. If they find what they’re looking for on your site, they’re less likely to return to Google in a matter of seconds to look for something else (pogo-sticking). When your content is relevant to search intent, you will see a difference in key performance indicators (KPIs) such as click-through rate and bounce rate.

While backlinks play a significant role in a site’s authority, it’s also critical to establish a strong internal linking strategy that tells Google “I have a lot of content covering In order to score properly, all views and motives around this subject” must be considered. Furthermore, you may boost your brand’s authority and exposure by offering high-quality content that serves several purposes related to your brand’s expertise.

User fulfillment: Is the content you produce useful to your audience and relevant to them?

The 4 Types of Search Intent

We can break search intent down into four basic categories:

  1. Informational
  2. Commercial
  3. Transactional
  4. Navigational


Users seeking information, as you might expect, do informational searches. This could be a how-to guide, a recipe, or a dictionary definition.. Users can hunt for solutions to an unlimited number of queries, making it one of the most prevalent search intents. However, not every informational phrase is a question. Users who search for “Bill Gates” are most likely looking for information about Bill Gates.


Before they are ready to make a purchase, users begin their commercial exploration.This is when people utilize search to find out more information about a product, brand, or service. They’ve moved past the informative stage of their inquiry and have narrowed their options down to a handful. Users routinely compare products and brands to get the best solution for their needs. If someone wants to sell courses online, he may search “course selling website”, so he can find out more about the online course websites.

Let’s imagine you’ve made the decision to get a new phone. You’re undecided about whether to get a new iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy, so you Google “iPhone 13 versus Samsung s22:”

The SERP tool compares both goods for a search like this, allowing users to make an informed buying decision. If you expand it, you’ll see even additional information:

Commercial searches aren’t limited to product comparisons. Users may also seek out:

  • User feedback or authoritative sources
  • Technical specifications
  • Brand agnostic recommendations (e.g., “best phones 2022”)
  • Free trials or product demonstrations


Transactional hunters are looking for anything to purchase. This could be a product, a service, or a monthly subscription. They know exactly what they’re looking for in either situation. Because the buyer is already in the purchasing phase, these terms are typically branded. Users are no longer seeking for product information; instead, they are looking for a store where they can purchase it.. Example “iphone 13 pro max”


These users want to get to a specific website, and it’s often quicker to do a quick Google search than it is to type down the URL. The user may potentially be unsure of the URL or searching for a specific page, such as a login page.As a result, the majority of these searches are for brand or website names, with additional criteria to assist users in finding a specific page.

Google’s goal is to provide it in the most efficient manner feasible. Google does this by utilising SERP features such as knowledge panels and local packs. Here’s an example of a navigational search for a physical location.

Example “hubspot”

How to determine search intent

Consider keyword modifiers

As we briefly indicated above, keyword modifiers may be important indications of search intent.However, simply knowing the phrases isn’t enough; you may also be asking how to locate these terms while conducting keyword research.

Fortunately, there are a variety of trustworthy keyword research tools accessible. Their filtering features will be useful here, as you will be able to filter words that include particular modifiers or phrases.

You may also filter terms using the SERP tool. You may use the informational intent filter to find phrases that rank for knowledge panels, pertinent questions, and highlighted snippets, for example.

Read the SERPs

Another method for determining what people are looking for is to research the SERPs. Enter your search term into Google’s search bar and see what comes up. Based on the categories of results, you’ll be able to discern what Google deems to be the most relevant search intent for each phrase.

Let’s take a closer look at the search results for each purpose type.

SERP results for informational intent

As previously said, informative keywords are more likely to provide succinct SERP results. Knowledge grabs, featured excerpts, and relevant questions are all examples of this. Wikipedia, dictionaries, and instructional blog posts are among the top results, which are probably definitely organic.

SERP results for commercial research intent

Commercial intent results are similar to featured snippets in that they may include paid results at the top of the SERP. Furthermore, rather than giving useful information, the results are likely to include information about the brands sought.

Instead of defining what site hosts are and how they work, the organic results in the example below compare product attributes of rival site hosts.

SERP results for transactional intent

Transactional SERPs are among the simplest to spot. Paid and/or shopping results, shopping carousels, and reviews are typically shown first. The organic results are largely product pages from online and offline businesses, with maps to their locations based on the search.

SERP results for navigational intent

Because users with a navigational purpose already know which website they’re looking for, the most appropriate page is frequently displayed first: For example, if a user searches “Spotify,” The first result for “Spotify login” will be the login page, whereas the first result for “Spotify login” will be the homepage.

Additional elements such as site connections, information cards, and top articles may be offered depending on the search.

Look at the full picture

Keep in mind that terms can have many search intents, so relying solely on keywords or the SERP to accurately identify it is rare. Taking a holistic approach, on the other hand, will lead you closer to the most prominent intent.

It’s also worth noting that SERPs are always changing, so while a keyword may rank for one purpose this month, it may not rank for same intent next month.

How to optimize for search intent

Match metadata and content type to the intent

You’ve done your research and know which keywords to target for which websites. It’s now time to optimize. Starting with your pages’ information –– editing your title tag, H1, and H2s to reflect your precise keyword targeting is a good place to start. Try leveraging your title tag with some snappy language to enhance the click-through rate

Examine the competition

It’s a good idea to find out who the current winners are before the event, just like it’s a good idea to find out who the current winners are before any other competition. Before you start creating new pages or reformatting existing material, look at the top-ranking pages and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What format are they in?
  • What is the tone of their voice?
  • What are the topics they cover?
  • What exactly are they missing out on?

You may now utilize the data you’ve acquired to create the best, most relevant writing possible on the topic.

Format content for relevant SERP features

SERP elements can be utilized to inform the formatting and content of your pages, just as they were used to determine search intent.If the highlighted snippet has a numbered list, for example, it’s reasonable to believe that Google values and rewards that structure for that term.

In a similar vein, if the SERP returns queries that are connected to your content, make sure to address them in a clear and plain manner in your content.

Key takeaways:

Keep the following in mind when generating SEO content based on search intent:

  • Figure out the search intent before optimizing content
  • Use specific modifiers in your keyword research when looking for fresh terms.
  • Use the SERPs to get the best solutions for formatting and content.
  • Every time, deliver valuable, high-quality content.

It’s straightforward, but not easy, to create SEO-optimized content for certain search intents. If you follow these recommendations, you’ll be well on your way to providing users with the information they require in the manner they choose.

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