The Importance of Search Intent in Digital Marketing
With just the click of a computer mouse or the tap of a mobile device screen, consumers have a wealth of information and purchase options available to them online. Knowing this, one challenge that businesses and organizations often face is how to make their websites the place where users go – and stay a while. The way people search, and how they choose what to click on – or their search intent – is key to optimizing this metric.
What Is Search Intent?
Search intent, also referred to as audience, user, or keyword intent, is the reason a user searches for something online. A search engine interprets the words or phrases they enter, and displays results based on it. Search intent is more refined than a simple keyword search. For example, a user may type the word “flowers” into a search box. They could be looking to purchase a bouquet for their grandmother’s birthday, or they could be interested to know the best time of year for planting. That difference is their search intent.
4 Types of Search Intent
There are four primary types of search intent, and understanding the differences will help inform your search intent marketing strategy.
- Navigational – Where the user is looking for a specific page or site but doesn’t type in the exact address. An example would be searching for “Facebook” instead of typing www.facebook.com into your web browser.
- Informational – When a user is looking to answer a specific question. Informational is one of the most common types of user intent, often including phrases like, “what is,” “how to,” “why do,” and “where is.”
- Transactional – When a user wants to take an action. Transactional search intent may involve making a purchase, but it can also involve a form submission, signing up for an email list, or linking to other actions like making a phone call.
- Commercial – Search intent is like transactional search intent in that users likely want to make a purchase. But with commercial search intent, users utilize a search engine to research products, brands, or services further to help them make their selection.
Why Is Search Intent Important?
The better you are at matching consumer intent with your content, the more consumers you can reach. Many businesses and organizations utilize search engine optimization (SEO) keywords to help their sites perform well in online search functions, the basis for which is aligning landing page content with keyword intent. It can also help your site appear higher in the list of links that appear in a search result.
How to Improve Search Intent
- Simply put, to optimize your use of user intent, create content and pages that answer questions and give people what they are looking for. There are even some specific steps you can take to help you do so:
- Add modifiers. As noted above, informational is the most common type of search intent, so you can optimize your success by adding phrases like “what is,” “how to,” and others to your copy, especially in highly visible landing page real estate like headlines and subheads. If you are selling a product or service, add words and phrases like “buy,” “top rated,” and “best” to your buyer intent keywords.
- Review Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). An easy way to inform your strategy is to simply type in the keyword you’re targeting into the search bar of a search engine and see what comes up. You will probably be able to tell by the types of results what the most relevant user intent is for each keyword. This will also allow you to have a clear picture of your competition in the optimization game: What do they look like? What is their tone? How about their main points? Are they missing anything?
- Simplify your landing pages. Add clarity to your web pages by first and foremost making sure the page clearly lays out what the user is looking for. Keep your language concise, clear, and easy to read. Keep your call to action simple to do and find, and keep your conversion process as short as possible.
- Track and measure your performance. It is important to remember that SERPs fluctuate over time, so it is good to keep checking on them and update your content as needed. It is also imperative to check how well your intent optimizations are performing by monitoring metrics like the time a user spends on your site and if they are interacting with your page and clicking through the links you provide.
Understanding search intent is a critical step in optimizing your online content and providing superior offerings that are valuable to your audiences. At Paradigm, we create and execute cohesive plans and campaigns that drive customer awareness to your brand. If our team can help your digital marketing strategy stand above the rest, please contact us today.