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5 Effective Ways to Use Search Intent to Improve Rankings

Google Search Intent


Is your bounce rate higher than the industry average? Or is your content not ranking on page 1 of Google organic search for relevant keywords?

One of the reasons for the same is your content does not fulfill the user’s search intent.

Now, what the heck is Search Intent?

Imagine asking a question to someone and not receiving a proper or satisfying answer. When asking a question, you probably have an idea of what kind of answer you are expecting. Similarly, when users search online, they expect to see a result that best describes what they are looking for.

In simple words, search intent is the purpose behind making an online search to find information, brand page/location, find the best products/services, or transact on a website.

Since there are billions of people making over a trillion searches in a year on Google, keeping track of the search intent becomes hard. However, the search engine giant is already working on detecting the intent behind every search made through its platform & rank pages accordingly.

And if your website fulfills the search intent, it can dominate the search results. Based on the search query, search intent can be divided into 4 types. Let’s have a glance and see how you can differentiate them:

Types of Search Intent & How to Identify them

Identifying the intent behind every search your audience makes will help you come up with the types of content that rank well on search engine result pages (SERP). Doing so starts with analyzing the keywords and organizing them into four different categories:

  1. Informational Intent: Searches that begin with phrases like “How to”, “Why”, “What is”, “Where Do I”, etc. have an informational intent behind them. People making such searches online are looking for educational content.
  2. Navigational Intent: Searches with navigational intent have the goal of finding a particular brand, a product from that brand, or geolocation. The search queries often begin with [brand name] + [product] or vice versa.
  3. Commercial Intent: Searches with intent to find products/services or information on the same that follows purchase intent later are categorized as commercial intent. Phrases that start with “best [product] to buy” come under commercial intent.
  4. Transactional intent: Searches with a clear indication of purchase have transactional intent. These types of searches start with “buy + product name”, “product name+ price”, or “discount + product name”.

Importance of Search Intent In Ranking

In one of the guides on Backlinko, Brian Dean mentions that one of his top-notch and highest-order quality posts was ranked on page 2. And we all know posts ranking on page 2 of the SERP are as good as dead.

The question is why did this happen? One of the reasons Brian mentioned was the post did not exactly match the search intent users had. Among quality and authority, Google also favors search intent fulfillment when determining the SERP ranking.

After the content was modified to match users’ intent for primary keywords, the post started ranking in the top 3 organic results on page 1. This example perfectly summarizes the importance of fulfilling the search intent to rank higher on the Google SERP. Similarly, if you tailor your content to match search intent, it boosts SEO and ranking for your website.

Now that we learned the importance, let’s catch up with the effective ways to use search intent:

5 Effective Ways to Match Users’ Search Intent For Higher Rankings

1. Start with Keyword Research Keeping Search Intent in Mind

Search intent detection starts with understanding keywords and users’ intent behind them to make an online search. Effective interpretation of keywords enables you to mold your content around them and not just place them haphazardly throughout the page.

Based on where users are in your marketing funnel, their search intent varies and the same is reflected in the keywords they use. Research keywords well from multiple sources and analyze them to determine what stage of the funnel i.e. awareness, consideration, or conversion are customers in.

2. Align Your Content Format with Search Intent

After you’ve done your keyword research and analyzed the intent behind them, the next step is to research SERP content. Doing so will help you align your content format to reflect the user’s intent. Think about the format readers will find most useful when they make a search using the keywords.

Are they looking for a listicle, step-by-step guide, video content, a review, or anything else?

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The best way to know is by Googling the keyword and scouring the first page for the most useful content types. Also, go a step further to find different angles to cover the same content when writing your own piece.

3. Form Clusters of Content Ideas That Match Search Intent

Now that you know the most useful content formats for fulfilling the search intent, the next thing to do is form clusters of content notions around the subject. Map your content ideas and categorize them based on the search intent they fulfill.

Also, you want to address audiences’ concerns based on the stage of the funnel they are in. You’d have to tailor the content to match the intent of customers’ search based on their funnel stage. Doing so will enable you to come up with different content types that not only match search intent but are relevant to your audience.

4. Use “People Also Ask” & other SERP Clues to Your Advantage

People Also Ask & other SERP features like shopping ads, product reviews, site links, featured snippets, etc. that we all have encountered more often on Google SERP are a goldmine to determine the search intent. These SERP clues are useful in scouring the intent & what type of content users are looking for.

Find what are the common questions they have around the topic and what is the best relevant result for the same that answers their query. Incorporating such information into your content types will be an effective way to meet your users’ search intent.

5. Re-Optimize Your Existing Content & User Experience

You may already have a wealth of incredible content published on your website or blog. But most of those content is not ranking well due to the search intent problem. Now that you know the importance of search intent, revisit your existing content and optimize it with keywords that reflect the intent you want to rank for.

Another thing to keep in mind is to optimize the user experience. Even if your content matches exactly with the users’ intent, they’d bounce off due to a bad experience. To keep that from happening, offer a seamless user experience by limiting the number of popups, making content easily scannable, using more visuals, and linking to authority sources.

Final Thoughts

By understanding the search intent thoroughly, you can determine what keywords to use, tailor your content, and optimize it better to rank higher on Google SERP. The foremost step to start updating your content for search intent is keyword research.

Based on your research, determine what type of content users want to engage with the most. You can do so just by simply Googling the keyword and interpreting the results for content format. Now the only thing you need to do is leverage these SERP clues to your advantage and effectively boost the ranking of your website.

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