Zooming In On Search Intent & SEO
Alongside the developments in search engine optimization come the changes in customer behavior when they search for information on the Internet.
These shifts in how people interact on the Web to find what they need, and possibly make a purchase, have molded web development and SEO – and digital marketers who haven’t been keeping up will find out that things may not be playing out as planned despite the website upgrades and despite the many tweaks that they may have added to their websites as of late.
What is search intent?
Search intent is exactly how it sounds like: the intention of people when they perform a search, for example New York SEO. There are three broad categories of search intent on the Internet, and so far, no one has been able to add to these broad categories yet, so they’ve reached canonical status: informational, transactional, and navigational. Let’s talk about how these three types of search intent differ from one another.
The Pure Search for Information
Informational searches are by far the most generic or general of searches. When a person is performing an informational search, the majority of the time, he is simply looking for information.
We don’t know yet if the person is interested in making a purchase. But despite the fact that the person is engaged in informational search, it’s still a good idea to place your branding in front of this person because businesses have to be there through all phases of search until the person in question is ready to buy.
If you have ever heard of brand positioning, this is probably the most literal yet most effective way of doing it online. Literally being there even when the customer is not yet ready to make a purchase, precisely because you want him to remember your brand when he becomes ready to make the actual purchase.
Let’s say that you own a dental practice, and you are interested in getting customers to pay attention to your branding. Informational searches that are related to your market but do not necessarily mean that a customer is coming in for a procedure may include queries like “how to clean braces” or “signs of fractured tooth.”
As you can imagine, people who are using such keywords to perform their queries are likely doing so because they need information that they can apply to a current problem.
Would it pay to provide them with this information? Of course. For one, you show potential customers that you care about the general dental health of people, whether or not they are actual customers and second, providing in-depth and useful information to potential customers will build customer trust and better branding. Better branding in this respect can go a long, long way.
On the side of Google, you will slowly be positioning yourself at the top where your competitors may not be paying any attention at all. Remember the rule on long tail keywords? Long tail keywords may not have 100,000 searches per month, but combined, they provide a sizeable potential for organic traffic.
From Informational to Transactions
This is when things start to really ‘heat up’ between customers and brands. Transaction searches occur when a person is thinking of making a purchase.
From the viewpoint of the business owner or digital marketer, these queries need to correspond to the different categories on your website. You have to be aware of the categories that are often used by people who want to buy something and tie them up with the products/services you are offering.
The usual query is “buy + (name of item).” People can also search for specific brands, product names, item codes, etc. If you are in the market of selling physical products like appliances, making your product descriptions as specific as possible is important, for obvious reasons.
During optimization transaction searches should of course be prioritized over informational searches, though the latter should not be neglected either. However, it makes perfect business sense to boost the parts of your website where transactions are more likely to take place.
Navigational queries are in a class of its own because the person searching doesn’t reveal outright his intention for searching. All he wants is to find your website – and that’s it. Whether he wants just pure information or he is ready to buy, that would be up to him.
So what’s the takeaway when you are dealing with navigational queries? Simple: your home page, which is where all navigational queries will eventually land, should be optimized to provide the right balance of information and possible opportunities for sale. This is the new formula now: you have to provide value and at the same time, show customers that you are a business, and you have great solutions to offer.
Optimizing For Search Intent
To conclude, here are some key tips that might help you create better campaigns and content for your business:
- Start thinking of your users more – optimize for people, instead of focusing on just SERPs. Higher rankings will come when users find your website useful.
- Content should also be user-centered. Instead of just optimize pages for keywords, ask yourself: how useful is the content I am offering to people. Does it align with what they are looking for on my website? Is my content truly engaging or is it just keyword-optimized?
- Avoid targeting really broad searches, as this might damage your chances of actually making contact with users who might be interested in engaging in transaction searches with your website. Traditional keyword targeting, which is focused on volume as this shows ‘viability’ is no longer actually viable.
- Local SEO strategy is appearing to be more and more lucrative than what Google’s Keyword Planner Tool usually suggests. By narrowing down your target and trying to focus on the people who might be actually interested in what you have to offer is more important. Being on the number one spot for a particularly popular keyword may not bring in the ROI that you are expecting – that era has long gone.