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3 Easy Steps To Improve Your SEO Ranking By Leveraging Search Intent

Written by: Terry Tateossian, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

It’s hard to imagine businesses being able to survive in the ultra-competitive digital world, without mastering SEO. Search engine optimization is often the difference between failure and success, yet, a lot of brands struggle to position themselves at the top of the results.

While many factors affect rankings, search intent is one that no company owner should ignore. Even if you are the best in your market segment and your product/service offers tremendous value and benefits, if customers can find you, nothing of that matters. If customers are not looking for what you have to offer, you will remain in the dark oblivion of Google’s second-page results.


So here’s how you can tip the scales in your favor and use search intent to rank at the top of SERPs.


But first. What is Search Intent?


Search Intent ‒ A Breakdown

Search intent is simply what users look for in search engines, it’s what they most commonly “googling”. It’s the “easy dinner recipe” you browse for on a weeknight after an exhausting day at work. It can be the address of the nearest restaurant or that smartphone comparison you’ve been meaning to look into.


Search intent comes down to queries about things users want to learn more about, find, purchase, or even places to go to. The inquiries people make are what SEO refers to as keywords or key phrases.


Why Should Your Business Care For Search Intent?


Finding out what people want to know more about when browsing the internet will help you get noticed by your target audience, it’s simple as that. Strategizing search intent will guide your SEO efforts in the right direction. You’ll be able to:

  • Effectively perform keyword research and target search terms that affiliate with your audience’s and brand’s needs

  • Build the content that answers the questions your target audience have

  • Organize your website pages so that they are user-friendly and seamless

  • Structure and create content in a way that search engines categorize it as most valuable and relevant to users

Learning how people use search engines and offering the right answers to their questions gets your page ranked higher in search results, which gets your brand better organic exposure to new potential customers.


There are four basic types of search intent that every SEO specialist and business owner should be aware of.


The 4 Key Types Of Search Intent

To master search intent, you have to know how users look for information on search engines, first. At a closer inspection, you’ll find out that intent can be divided into these four categories.


1. Informational


It all starts with a simple informational search. It’s the type of intent most people going to a search engine have- to gather information on a topic that occupies their mind. They might be looking for the weather forecast, trying to figure out the name of that actor they loved in a particular movie, or even browsing to learn more about a term they’ve been introduced to, like “search intent”.


What’s specific about this category is that users who look for content that falls under it want to learn more about the topic they’re searching for. For example, if a user is looking for carbonara sauce, they are most likely looking for recipes on how to prepare pasta, and search engines understand and offer them that.


Search engine algorithms go as far as to distinguish between words with multiple meanings and which one people are most likely to be looking for. Words like “park”; “pitcher” are likely to give you results that include pictures of green parks and pitchers filled with water.


2. Transactional


In transactional searches, users intend to perform a specific action. It can be purchasing, finding the best deal on a flight, or signup for a service. These searches are likely to also be location specific. Users located in New York looking for movies nearby will get search results for their area.


To further improve the search experience, Google will display a carousel with the movies playing at local theaters, and websites they can buy tickets online from. By clicking on a movie the users can even see more detailed information about it, like, casts, release date, showtimes, and more.


Transactions, are also search queries that compare different products. Say a user is wondering if they should upgrade to the latest iPhone, they’re likely to look for its benefits. Typing “ iPhone features” will show users websites and videos where a list of the smartphone's latest technical specifications.


Detailed information like that personalized for your business can reap a lot of benefits.


3. Navigational


Navigational searches, as the name suggests, target keywords that aim to help users find a specific place. That might be the physical location of a business or its website. People could type “Apple store address” or “YouTube” and the search engine will give them results that direct them to those places.


Most of these searches are branded and can offer information on how people interact with or think about your brand too.


4. Commercial


Commercial searches fall somewhere between informational and transaction intents. The keywords that characterize them focus on words people would use when they’re making purchase decisions. For example, if someone is wondering between two products they can compare them by typing something along the lines of “iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 14”


Results in the commercial intent category can also relate to reviews, recommendations, lists with top products of the year (agnostic recommendations), trials, and demos.


3 Easy Steps to Improving Your SEO Rankings

You don’t have to have the comprehensive technical knowledge to improve the ranking of your content, and most importantly match the search intents of your target audience. There are just a few simple steps to follow.


Here’s how to start.


1. Research & Analyze

Search intent is tremendously useful in improving rankings. To take advantage of it, however, you should do the work.


Start by researching what types of keywords people are looking for in your business niche. The easiest way to do so is by typing the phrases in Google. Answer the Public is another free social listening tool that can help you analyze what people want to learn more about in search engines. SEO tools, like Ahrefs, Semrush, and KWfinder, are also worth the investment.

Looking at your competitors and what they’re ranking for also gives you an idea of where you need to improve.

Once you have a substantial list of keywords and phrases, you’ll need to figure out the type of search intent. The fastest way to do that is to analyze the key phrase itself. If people are searching for “what is the paleo diet” you’d know people want to know more about the topic, not to buy something, and you’d offer that.


Not all types of search intent involve strategizing long-form content, however. Occasionally, people are ready for the next step, and by searching for “free trial” or “book a call” you’ll know the intent is transactional. In that case, you’d provide a landing page where people can get exactly that.


It’s important to make sure you know what people mean by looking for a certain thing and provide an answer or easy-to-follow steps to achieving their goal.


2. Optimize for Each Search Intent Category

Well-structured and helpful content will make all the difference for your brand. Covering each intent category will ensure your audience that your website is the best place they can get what they’re looking for.

  • Optimize for Informational Intent

Offer well-structured and easy to browse through articles that answer users' questions and concerns. You can go a step further and create a hub of related topics that cover any additional questions users might have. An article about “paleo diets” can prompt them to look for “keto diet”, “veganism”, and so on.

  • Optimize for Transactional Intent

Optimizing for transactional words means offering straight-to-the-point landing pages. These should contain all necessary information for users to complete the desired action like “sign up” “start free trial” and so forth.


To do that make sure you have clear page titles and descriptions, and that the content formatting is correct (headers, subheaders, etc.). Your calls to action should be clearly distinguishable, and your page design seamless.

  • Optimize for Navigational Intent

For navigational intent, you need to look at your website and how each web page is structured. Each section should have its appropriate titles, tags, and descriptions. This will make it easier for users to navigate through, but it also helps search engines pull information from websites fast.


Every one of your products or services should have a dedicated section or better yet landing page with all the relevant information. Use your brand and product names, and add related terms and benefits (what problem your product/service solves).


Moreover, optimize your URLs so they are easy to read and indicate what the page is about.

  • Optimize for Commercial Intent

For commercial search intent, you should directly show your audience what is your value proposition. Visual information like tables with features and benefits, videos of the product in use, comparisons with previous models, and lots of images will help sell your product as something the audience can easily understand and take advantage of.


3. Improve Existing Content

Following the above strategy for optimizing your website for search intent shouldn’t be limited to new content only. You can go back and re-optimize what you already have built.


To help with that you can look at Google’s section “People also ask” concerning the content you already have. Take one of your blog article topics and look at the results for it in the search engine. This will give you ideas on how to edit the post to make it more attractive and useful for audiences.


Adjusting your existing content helps ramp up the rankings of pages even further than what they’re already performing at.


To Summarize

A kick-ass brand with an effective website offers its users the right type of information at the time they need it most. Search intent helps people inform themselves on the topics they are most interested in, and opens the door to a ton of possibilities for any brand that wants to position itself as a valuable, interesting, and most of all helpful business.


Place your company in the hearts of your audience by first and foremost being the solution they desire with the content they are looking for. Use search intent to do so!


Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Terry Tateossian, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Terry Tateossian, Founding Partner of Socialfix Media is a fourth-generation entrepreneur who is recognized as an Inc. 5000 America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies, Forbes’ Top Women in Business, Fastest Growing Women Presidents by WPO, and 40 Under 40 Business Leaders by NJBIZ. Terry has been featured for outstanding leadership and career accomplishments in numerous industry publications as an engineer, a thought-leader in technology, and an innovator in the field of marketing. But her favorite and toughest earned title is being “Mom” to her 2 children.

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