How do you build an SEO and content strategy that targets intent?
Why is it important to consider search intent?
How do you show the right content to the right audience at the right time in the buyer’s journey?
First of all, you need to know what the research intent is.
(Already know the basics? Skip ahead to How to Improve Your Keyword Plan with Search Intent in Mind.)
What is the research intent?
Search intent is the goal behind finding a user.
Your audience uses search for countless reasons.
Some Google users ask simple questions. Other users are looking for the right website to buy products.
It’s up to you to be on the search engine results pages (SERP) at the right time for each type of search.
The four main types of research intent
Knowing what people are looking for helps you create the right kind of content, which makes you more likely to achieve your goals.
Since people search millions of queries with dozens of goals in mind, it’s easier to categorize those searches by search intent.
To make sense of what people are looking for, you can organize their keywords into four main types:
- Informational: searches that are for an answer to a specific question or information to learn more about a topic.
- Navigation: searches that search for a specific site, page on the web, or geographic location.
- Commercial: research that studies or compares brands, products or services.
- Transactional: searches that indicate an intention to complete a purchase or take an action on a website.
By understanding these tags, along with other keyword metrics like search volume, CPC, and difficulty, you and your team will be able to create and deliver better content at the right time.
But what does the search intent actually look like?
How can you identify these qualities in your keywords and use that information to do targeted SEO and content planning?
Spoiler: this can be much easier with an intention tool like Semrush!
How to identify the intent of a keyword
To understand the intent of a keyword, you can research clues.
Clues can be found:
- On the SERP.
- In the key phrase itself.
- With a keyword intent tool.
How to identify intent with SERP indices
Google is really good at recognizing intent. It serves SERPs to fit what it sees as the intent behind each keyword.
So you just have to look at what Google provides on the SERP to help you decode the intention.
If you see:
- Shopping ads, the intention is Transactional.
- Comments, the intention is Commercial.
Business searches also often feature Google Shopping ads.
- Instant response, people also ask and knowledge panel, the intention is Informational.
For information searches, Google likes to provide information maps and related questions to explore the topic.
- Site links on the best brand result, the intention is Navigation.
If the search is a brand name and the first organic result on the SERP has that brand listed with many site links, this is an indicator of browsing intent.
How to identify intent with keyword clues
The next place you can look to manually identify the intent is in the keyword phrase itself.
If certain words are included in a query, you can start to guess what the intent might be.
Here are examples of keyword clues for each type of search intent:
- Transactional: buy, cheap, sell online.
- Commercial: best, review, comparison.
- Navigation: any brand name.
- Informational: how, why, what, tutorial.
How to Identify Intent with Semrush’s Keyword Intent Solution
The last and fastest way to identify keyword intent is to use a tool designed to analyze SERPs and the language behind keywords.
Semrush does this automatically.
Whenever you search for a keyword in the Semrush suite, you will see an intent tag.
In early November, we saw SEO pros take to Twitter to share their excitement when this feature was released.
So, once you know how to identify the intent of a keyword, what’s the next step?
Once you have identified the intent of a keyword, you can then decide what type of content to create for your site in order to best target the keyword.
How to Create Content Using Keyword Intent
How do I rank well for informative keywords?
Provide informative content that answers questions, provides facts, and offers help.
How to create content for commercial keywords?
Avoid targeting only product pages. Instead, try writing a comparison article.
If your keyword is [best laptops for high school students], target that organic traffic with a comparison article that offers information on options people should consider for laptops for high school students.
How to create content for transactional keywords?
With transactional searches, you need to make your product page as neat and straightforward as possible.
Offer information about your product / service that makes it easy for people to decide to buy or take action from the page.
Ready to make it all work together?
How to Build Your Keyword Plan with Search Intent in Mind
Just knowing how to create your content with search intent in mind will lift you to a new level of success. You can start ranking higher on the SERPs and find your content on the first page.
Go further. Outperform your competition by researching and uncovering their intent.
Maybe your competition is ranking for a lot of informational keywords while your site is only targeting navigation and business queries.
If you want to outperform them, you’ll also need to pivot your content strategy to target requests for information.
Tip # 1: add search intent to your competitor research
If you have an SEO tool that collects organic keyword data:
- Look at your competitor’s keyword list.
- Cross-reference each individual keyword, using the keyword intent cues listed above.
- Manually write down the intent type for each keyword.
- Map each keyword to each of your competitor’s top ranking pages.
- Analyze the data. Is their home page ranked for browsing queries? Do their best blog posts rank for informational or business research? What are your pages doing in comparison?
A simpler way:
by Semrush new intention metric the tool makes it very easy to dive into these data.
All you need to do is:
- Enter any domain in the primary search to get a Domain Overview report.
(This will include organic search traffic in a preview, and in that preview, will show the full intent ratio this site ranks for.)
Let’s take a look at three competing home improvement blogs and compare their organic keyword intent ratios.
Remodelaholic.com has a high ratio of informative keywords, followed by a low percentage of navigation keywords, and the last quarter is a combination of business and transactional keywords:
Shanty-2-chic.com has a similar order of ratio, but a higher amount of transactional keywords compared to commercial keywords:
Ana-white.com has a profile very similar to shanty-2-chic in terms of intent ratios, but with a higher total number of keywords:
What can you do with this information?