The ultimate goal of search engines is to satisfy search intent. If you’re a business owner, providing relevant information that matches your customers’ search queries helps build your online credibility.
ou must ensure your company is at the forefront of search results when your target audience search for information relevant to your product or service. However, simply having a website is not enough to influence your customers’ purchasing decisions.
To build a robust online presence and attract relevant leads to your site, you need to understand the consumers’ search intent. In this way, you can implement the right search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Analyzing user intent also allows you to expand your market and grow your customer base.
What Is Search Intent?
Search intent is also known as keyword or user intent. It pertains to the reason people conduct a particular online query.
Searching is an applied social science,” said Matt Garrett, Thrive’s SEO strategist. “It’s how we study what people do, what people think, how they interact with data and what we can do with that.”
As marketers, understanding the psychology behind search queries is integral in establishing your brand’s online presence. Studies show that most decisions are made to either gain pleasure or remove pain.
Pain and pleasure are fundamental driving forces behind every individual’s search intent. For instance, a person that needs immediate pain relief to a sore muscle might turn to Google to find the best remedy. An example of a pleasure-driven search query, on the other hand, is a user seeking out reviews of the best tourist attractions in Texas. This user is likely to search on Google the best places to visit in Texas to reward himself with a getaway or some downtime after a week’s hard work.
The core objective of Google Search is to provide immediate answers to these, and any other search queries.
Google’s operation revolves around providing an excellent search experience,” Garrett said. “To do that, we need to take tons and tons of user data, process it, make sure that every search provides the desired result. We need to find different connections between content, the thought of the person, the site experience. Take all of it, process it, produce desired results.”
Why Does Search Intent Matter For SEO?
Search engines have gotten smarter. Search engines have shifted the focus from keyword optimization to the users’ experience.
Today, it’s no longer enough to integrate keywords into your content. You need to present users with valuable information that matches and expands on their Google search query. “From backlinks to load speeds to page domain and trustworthiness,” Garrett said, “Google will use all these signals to decide whether a web page answers a user query.”
Search intent optimization allows you to:
• Fulfill the needs of your target audience
• Attract sustainable, qualified leads to your site
• Keep customers on your page
• Position your company as an authority in your respective industry
• Boost your brand awareness
Individuals use search engines to look for information, find a product or service or for entertainment. As a business owner, you need to zero in on these moments to appeal to the right customers. Understanding why or how online users search for certain types of information unlocks vast opportunities to enhance your optimization strategies.
What Are The Different Types Of Search?
Now that we’ve established the significance of user intent, let’s get started with the search query optimization. The first step is understanding the various types of search intent.
There are three types of search queries:
1. Informational Intent or “Know” Queries
These are generic searches that aim to learn more about a particular topic. For instance, a client might search for “what is online reputation management” on Google, before hiring a company for the service.
Sample keywords used in informational queries are:
• what is/are
• best ways to
• how to
2. Navigational Intent or “Go” Queries
These are searches conducted by users who already have a particular company or product in mind, but need help getting to a specific page.
For example, a customer may search for “Thrive pay-per-click marketing.” The client wants to know more about Thrive’s PPC services, so she goes to Google to find the web page.
Sample keywords used in navigational queries are:
• business/product name
• locations near me
• direction to
3. Transactional Intent or “Do” Queries
These are queries aimed at completing a desired action, such as buying a product or subscribing to a newsletter. Examples of transactional search queries are “best coffee maker under $200” and “free online marketing guide 2020.”
Sample keywords used in transactional queries are:
• get discounts on
To gain a competitive advantage, you need to accommodate all types of searches on your website. However, this can be challenging if you don’t have an in-depth knowledge of how search algorithms work and what people want out of a search.
So how can we use this information in analyzing an online search? The next step is to learn how search engines process user queries.
Understanding How Search Algorithms Work
Search engines have ranking systems designed to sort out billions of information in a split second. This system allows search engines to find and present the most relevant information to search queries.
Google sorts out web pages that contain the keywords on your search. It then ranks each page based on several factors, such as keyword density, location and relevance and usability of pages to the search query.
Higher ranked pages appear on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). This means that the best links relating to your Google search query are theoretically at the top of SERPs. But this may not always be the case. Users get different search results depending on the location, user intent and algorithm variations.
Why Do Search Results Vary?
Search engines have developed multiple tools to help display a wide variety of information in digestible pieces. Now, the goal of search engines is to deliver the most accurate and relevant results for each user. That is why search results are entirely personalized and intentional.
Several factors influence search results. These include:
• Location — Every device connected to the Internet is assigned a unique string of numbers called an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Search engines use your IP address to provide customized search results. This is the reason your website may rank on a particular location, while it may be invisible to others.
• Search History — No matter if you’re signed in to your account or not, search engines deliver personalized search results based on your previous online activities. These include your past searches and previously clicked links. Even the device or Google account you used can affect the search results.
If you log in to your account, the personalization goes even further. For instance, if you regularly visit a specific site or type in the same set of keywords, search engines will learn your habits and prioritize these sites in delivering results on your next search.
• Algorithm Changes — Google regularly updates its algorithm. Some users may be searching on a Google version where algorithm changes have taken effect. Those using a different version may see varying search results. In many cases, this can affect your site ranking and traffic.
A single search can mean hundreds of different things. That is why search engines are constantly developing smarter systems to deliver more accurate and highly-relevant search results.
One Query, Multiple Intents
Search engines may not always know what you’re looking for. “[Google] has to make a bunch of inferences based on what other people have done with that data, what data is currently available, what’s trending,” Garrett said.
For instance, try searching for “digital marketing agency.” Now, search engines will present a variety of information about digital marketing. Most likely, the top best online marketing companies will show up on the SERPs.