A brief guide to understanding search intent for SEO
In 2011, Google came up with the phrase ‘Zero Moment of Truth’ – the point a user interacts with a brand just before making a purchasing decision.
Ever since then, Google has tweaked its algorithm to ensure that the right results are delivered to users at the right time e.g. when they are researching certain products or services.
But how do you get your brand to appear in front of your target market? This is where search intent comes in.
What is search intent for SEO?
According to Google scientist Andrei Broder, search intent can be broken down into three distinct types:
- Informational Searches – Typically generic searches that are performed by people who want to learn about a particular subject. Even though the chances of conversion are minimal, these searches are important to rank for, as it puts your brand or site in front of users at the start of their online journeys.
- Transactional Searches – When the user is ready to make a purchase and typically related to categories or products on your website. Transactional searches often take precedence over informational searches when you start optimising your site.
- Navigational Searches – The easiest search to understand that requires little in the way of optimisation. These searches are for when the user has a destination in mind, which only requires one result to be delivered.
How does search intent relate to Google?
Take a look at Google’s quality rater guidelines and you’ll see how it defines the three types of searches:
- “Know” – Informational Searches.
- “Do” – Transactional Searches.
- “Go” – Navigational Searches.
By using these terms as part of your research, you can group keywords together by intent. In years gone by, you would need to do this by hand. Thankfully, several keyword tools are now available that do the hard work for you.
One example is Keyword Keg, which features five different tools and 11 APIs for comprehensive intent-based research. When you search for keywords with buyer intent (buy, discount, deal etc.), Keyword Keg will automatically add various buyer specific phrases to keywords to generate long tail keyword options.
However, for the most meaningful, relevant and actionable results, you should download data for different seed keywords and export it to Excel. This will make it easier to group keywords by intent thanks to the following options:
- Total Ads
- Total Local Listings
- Total News Listings
- Total Fresh Listings
- Total Video Listings
- Total Image Listings
- Knowledge Graph
If you filter by the Knowledge Graph column, you’ll see the kind of queries that are likely to be a ‘Go’ search. For fairly well-known brands, these will include queries you should be ranking for.
As for ‘Know’ queries, you can filter the Snippets column – the holy grail of Informational Searches. You’ll be able to see what has search volume, whether your site could rank for it and whether video or image content is appearing in search results.
Finally, you can pull data for “Do” queries by filtering the “Search Result” column. Build up a library of “Do” intent phrases, similar to the ones Keyword Keg already suggests, to filter the keywords down even further.