Do you know what search intent is and how it affects your Google ranking?

Google uses hundreds of factors when deciding who gets the top spot. Yet often small businesses ignore what their visitors actually want or intend.

This article focuses on search intent and how Google uses intent to rank your site.

You’ll discover what search intent is and how it works. How search intent optimisation should play a key role in your search engine marketing strategy and what happens when you choose the wrong keywords.

Read on to see what Google really finds important. Then use that to your advantage.

What is search intent?

When your visitors search on Google they want results that best match their query.

Typing ‘buy wedding dress’ shouldn’t show images of celebrity weddings. The intent is clearly to buy, and that’s what makes keyword search intent important.

Google lives and dies by relevancy and it’s why they’re the top search engine.

Phrases like why, what, buy, review, and price all have a purpose in mind. And Google takes that into account in its ranking methods.

Related: 5 Ways to find long tail keywords for free

Types of search intent

Why should you care about search intent for your business website?

Google analyses every search query to determine what its users want.

Is the goal to discover something new? Link to a known website? Research a product or service? Or to purchase an item?

Search engine optimisation or SEO categorises intent into four areas.

Information Intent

Simply put, a search that requests information. For example, ‘how do you unblock a drain?’

Google recognises the keyword “how” and tries to answer that query. It often returns blog posts that cover the topic in detail and provides extra resources to follow.

If you’re a plumber, then adding a comprehensive and informative article or video entitled ‘How To Unblock a Drain’ might very well boost your ranking.

But make sure not to cross-promote your services too much. Google may penalise you for appearing to mislead visitors with conflicting information.

Navigation Intent

Navigation intent includes keywords or search phrases that relate to a website address.

Instead of typing www.mybusiness.co.uk, people might search for ‘My Business’. Google recognises this and places the company website at the top of the results.

It’s important for all site owners to rank high for their own business name.

Ensure every page on your website includes your company name. And also be sure to include your contact details for regional searches.

Commercial Intent

This intent is a halfway house between deciding to buy and merely thinking about it.

Customers want to research a product before committing to buy. They use search terms like ‘review of ABC Pizza’ to see what others say. It’s a discovery phase that could lead to a purchase.

Local searches are part of a commercial intent like ‘restaurants near me’.

Make sure you add your business address to your site. Otherwise, Google might exclude you from a geographic search.

Transaction Intent

This is the buying mode for the searcher.

‘Cheap deals on second-hand cars’ or ‘buy home insurance’ are good examples. These keywords have a high chance of converting into a sale.

Example transaction intent words include:

  • Purchase
  • Cheap
  • Price
  • Order

On your product or service pages use these keywords within the main headings.

‘Purchase Home Heating Oil’ as the main heading is better than just ‘Home Heating Oil’. The intent is clear to both the visitor and Google.

Keyword search intent optimisation

When writing website content it’s vital to write for humans first but to keep search engines in mind.

Keyword search intent optimisation sounds like a mouthful but simply means including intent words in your text. Use phrases like ‘How to Buy a Waterproof Jacket’ for your blog articles. Then include links that will lead visitors to submit a contact form or make a phone call.