Understanding User Search Intent

February 14, 2019

illustration of a woman searching online

Search engines are all about user intent: predicting what a person wants and fulfilling it in better ways. Understanding search intent helps your business improve brand visibility and increase conversions by knowing what type of content to deliver and when to deliver it.

What Is a Search Query?

The words a person enters into a search engine is called a search query, and it’s typically one or more words that act as keywords. The search engine takes the keywords and uses an algorithm to match results to the query. The results are displayed on the search engine results page (SERP) in order of relevance.

What Is Search Intent?

Search intent (keyword intent) is the purpose or aim of the individual who is using a search engine by entering a search query. What information or item are they looking for, or what question are they trying to find an answer to?

Types of Search Intent

When a person enters words into a search engine, they have intentions to accomplish a goal. Those actions fall into four categories or purposes:

  • Informational intent: (to know something) Know queries are high level and involve looking for knowledge or an understanding of a real problem.
  • Transactional intent: (to do something) Do queries perform actions and usually include searching for a specific service or product.
  • Navigational intent: (to go somewhere) Go queries are navigational queries to go to a particular page or site.
  • To get something for free: Freebie queries

When you know what intent your target audience has when they’re searching, it helps you deliver the right type of content to them at the right time.

Optimizing Content for Search Intent

Intent optimization is simply creating content and web pages that answer a user’s queries and run the transaction requested.

Guidelines to Help You Optimize Your Content

  • When creating new content, it’s important for you to analyze a user’s search intent. Ask yourself: What type of query will users input? Are they looking for information about something (Know query), or are they searching for a particular product or service (Do query)?
  • Your content should reflect what your audience’s intent will be. That includes clear CTAs (calls to action). The length of your content should be adjusted accordingly.
  • Be sure the landing page fits your audience’s search intent. If your audience searches for information, you don’t want to show them a product page.

SEO Benefits of Intent Targeting

The more effective your intent optimization is, the more qualified and relevant traffic you'll drive to your website. Optimized intent benefits include:

  • Improves the rates of the percentage of visitors who take an action you desire, and it also boosts traffic to your informational pages.
  • Reduced bounce rates: People get what they’re looking for, so they stay on your pages.
  • Boosts page views: When you meet people’s intentions, it’s more likely they’ll engage with the rest of your website.
  • Reaches wider audiences: Search engines regard multiple queries as having the same topic and intent. This makes your intent-optimized pages show for many more queries.

How to Optimize for Informational Intent

Informational intent optimization keeps in mind the words people use when looking for information, such as “what is” and “how to”. Adjust your content accordingly with this in mind.

How to Optimize for Navigational Intent

Navigational intent queries include looking for a specific business name or website. Be more highly visible by building your online presence across various online channels:

How to Optimize for Transactional Intent

When you’re optimizing for transactional search intent, it’s important to follow these principles when creating your transactional landing page:

  • Clear CTA: Your call-to-action attracts attention, and it’s clear what clicking the button does.
  • Clear design: Website visitors judge a web page instantly, and 95% of those opinions are based on visual design. Use as few words as possible and more visuals to explain the benefits and values of what you offer.

It’s essential to be sure to develop content that fits both the keywords people use to search and the search intent of your audience. Make certain your page or post is informational if your audience is searching for information, but lead people to your “contact us” pages, so they are more prone to make appointments with your practice.


Contact our specialists at docero today to receive a free evaluation of your practice's digital presence. Our team of experts can help you optimized your website for better search intent.