As you may already know, SEO is a way to drive more traffic to your website—the higher you rank in Google, the more people are attracted to your site. Eventually, your goal should extend beyond just attracting readers: you want them to buy things, subscribe to your newsletter, or come back to your site on a regular basis. While optimizing your content with words people use is good, you also need to consider why people conduct a specific search. Are they looking for an answer to a specific question? Are they searching for a specific website? Or, are they searching because they want to buy something?
Over the years, our Google overlords have become increasingly able to determine the search intent of people and take that into account, in addition to search terms, when ranking pages. This is why you need to consider search intent when creating content.
Four Types of Search Intent
To keep things simple, there are four types of web searches:
- Informational: These are broad queries from users who are looking for information (i.e., “what is seo,” “why do zebras have stripes,” etc.) These searches will return thousands of possible answers to the user’s question.
- Navigational: This type of search is used when the user wants to visit a specific site (i.e., rather than entering the URL for Facebook into the search bar, the user will search Google for “Facebook”). Keep in mind that ranking high on a navigational term is only beneficial for your organic traffic if your site is the one people are looking for.
- Transactional: These searches are very intentional and the user plans to buy, so they may use search terms, such as “buy Nike sneakers” or “reserve a plane ticket to Maui.”
- Investigational: These users plan to buy soon but use the web to research before making their purchase. They need more time and convincing and may use search terms, such as, “best headphones 2020” or “what is the best washing machine.”
So Now What?
When creating a landing page, you want to make sure that it fits the search intent of your audience. For example, if they’re searching for information, you don’t want to show them a product page right away. However, if readers are coming to your page because they want to buy your product, it’s better to serve them by driving them to your online shop rather than boring them with long articles.
Optimizing your product pages for specific keywords is a good idea. For example, if you sell ice skates, you could optimize a product page for [buy ice skates]. You could even have an article about the correct way to lace ice skates. And if you want to take things a step further, you could optimize the article for the search term [lace ice skates to prevent injury].
Determining search intent can be difficult, especially since different users can have (slightly) different user intent, but still land on the same page. If you’re struggling and want to know more about the search intent of your audience, ask them. You could create a quick pop-up survey that asks visitors what they were searching for.
Something Else to Think About
Search intent typically aligns with the buyer’s journey, so make sure that each piece of content you create for different search intent includes calls to action and other language that will transition your audience to the next stage of their journey with ease.