A Beginner’s Guide To Understanding Search Intent

A Beginners Guide To Understanding Search Intent


Times have changed. Rather than going to the library to find answers about something, people nowadays go online and search. Whether it is seeking answers to questions, looking for products to buy, or researching a specific topic, almost everyone relies on search engines like Google to deliver relevant results.


One crucial aspect that plays a pivotal role in optimizing content for search engines is understanding search intent, especially for businesses who want to improve their organic search rankings.


Today, we shed light on what it is, why it matters, and how you can tailor your content to meet your target audience’s expectations.


What Is Search Intent?


Search intent refers to the reason behind a user’s online search. Understanding why someone is searching for a particular query allows content creators and marketers to deliver more relevant and useful information.


Imagine you walk into a library and tell the librarian you are looking for information about “growing tomatoes.” The librarian, being helpful, will guide you to books specifically about gardening and cultivating tomatoes, not novels with passing mentions of tomatoes in some random chapter.


Similarly, search engines aim to understand the purpose behind your search query to provide the most relevant results. It also helps improve any website’s search engine optimization (SEO). There are four primary types of search intent:


4 Types Of Search Intent


4 Types Of Search Intent


1. Informational Search Intent


The informational search intent is driven by the user’s desire to gather information or learn about a particular topic. These queries often begin with question words like “what,” “how,” “why,” or “when.”


Users with informational intent are looking for answers, explanations, or insights. Crafting content that provides valuable and in-depth information is essential for targeting this type of search intent. Blog posts, articles, and informative guides can effectively cater to users seeking knowledge.


As you can see in the screenshot below, the user is searching for “how to cook adobo”, which is an information search intent, because the query begins with the word “how”. In return, Google provides adobo recipes that the user can follow and make the dish at home.


Example Of Informational Search Intent


2. Navigational Search Intent


Navigational search intent is characterized by users looking for a specific website, brand, or page. Rather than seeking information, users with navigational intent want to navigate directly to a particular online destination.


This type of intent is typical when users are already familiar with a brand or website and use search engines as a quick navigation tool. For example, the screenshot below shows the exact web page where the user should go so they can download a Spotify application and have a copy on their computer.


Example Of Navigational Search Intent


Optimizing your website’s structure, ensuring easy navigation, and utilizing brand-related keywords are essential for addressing navigational search intent.


3. Transactional Search Intent


Transactional search intent signifies that the user is ready to make a purchase or take a specific action. These queries often include terms like “buy,” “order,” or “subscribe.” Users with transactional intent are at the bottom of the sales funnel. They are looking for product details, pricing, and a seamless path to completing a transaction.


E-commerce websites, service providers, and businesses can optimize their content to cater to users with transactional intent by incorporating clear calls-to-action and providing a straightforward purchasing process. Apple did an excellent job using the suitable transaction search intent with their newest product—iPhone 15 Pro. This approach helps draw potential customers to take action.


Example Of Transactional Search Intent


4. Commercial Search Intent


Commercial investigation search intent reflects users who are in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey. These users are not ready to make an immediate purchase but are actively comparing options, seeking reviews, and evaluating different products or services.


Here is an example from a user wanting to buy a Dior Perfume but still wondering whether or not it is worth their budget. Reading customer reviews allows them to access what they can expect if they purchase and use the item.


Example Of Commercial Search Intent


Content that highlights product comparisons, reviews, and features can effectively target users with commercial investigation intent. This type of content helps build trust and guides users towards making informed decisions.


Why Does Search Intent Matter?


Understanding search intent ensures that the content you create aligns with what your target audience is looking for.


  • Relevance

    Matching your content to the user’s intent ensures that your pages are relevant and provide value. It increases the likelihood of users engaging with your content and finding what they are looking for.


  • User Experience

    Tailoring your content to match search intent enhances the overall user experience. Visitors are more likely to stay on your site if they find relevant information quickly, reducing bounce rates.


  • SEO Performance

    Search engines aim to deliver the most relevant results to users. Understanding and optimizing for search intent is a key factor in improving your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) performance. When search engines see that your content matches user intent, they are more likely to rank your pages higher in search results.


How to Identify Search Intent?


Identifying search intent involves a bit of detective work, such as:


  • Analyze the Query

    Look at the keywords users are using in their search queries. Certain keywords may indicate specific intent. For example, words like “how to,” “what is,” or “guide” often suggest informational intent, while keywords like “buy,” “price,” or “discount” may indicate transactional intent.


  • Understand Your Audience

    Consider the demographics and preferences of your target audience. What are their needs and pain points? Analyze the language and tone your audience uses in their searches. This can provide insights into their search intent.


  • Review Content Type and Format

    Examine the type of content that ranks highly for a particular keyword or topic. If blog posts are prominent, the intent might be informational. If product pages are dominant, it could be transactional. Consider the format of the content, such as lists, guides, reviews, videos, or product pages.


  • Adapt Over Time

    strategy based on changing user behavior and industry trends.


The Bottom Line


Understanding search intent is like having a compass in the digital wilderness. It guides your target audience toward the information or products they seek online. The next time you create a blog article for your website or social media post, remember that the more you understand search intent, the more you can rest assured more will come across your content, allowing your message to get through.


Contact OOm Philippines, a leading SEO agency in Singapore, at (02) 8283 3168 or leave a message on our website if you need help improving your organic search rankings.