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How To Do SEO

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Lesson 4, Topic 2
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Understanding Search Intent And Keyword Relevance

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vector graphic showing an illustration of search intent on a screen

If you don’t understand why a member of your audience is searching for something, you’re likely wasting time and money when trying to generate a piece of content to fulfill that need.

It’s important to find the right keywords to target, but doing so is practically meaningless without understanding why those keywords are being searched.

I’m going to give you a crash course on search intent and then show you some easy ways to understand and match it.

What is Search Intent?

Search intent refers to the underlying goal or purpose that a searcher has when typing a keyword into a search engine. In SEO, understanding search intent is crucial for creating content that meets the needs of users and ranks well on search engine results pages.

There are typically four main types of search intent:

1. Informational

The user seeks knowledge on a topic, answer to a question, or solution to a problem. This can range from simple facts, like the weather, to more complex information, like how-to guides or tutorials.

Examples of Informational Search Intent

  • “What is the tallest mountain in the world?”: The user is looking for specific information about the world’s tallest mountain.
  • “How to make a coffee”: This search indicates the user is looking for a step-by-step guide on brewing coffee.
  • “Symptoms of the flu”: The searcher wants to know what the symptoms of the flu are, possibly to diagnose themselves or someone else.
  • “SEO best practices 2024”: The user is seeking the latest guidelines and strategies for effective Search Engine Optimization in 2024.

Content aimed at informational intent should be educational and provide comprehensive insights into the query.

2. Navigational

The user wants to visit a specific website or page. For example, typing “Facebook” into Google because the user intends to visit Facebook.

Examples of Navigational Search Intent

  • “Facebook login”: The user wants to find the login page for Facebook.
  • “YouTube trending videos”: This indicates the user wants to visit the section of YouTube that shows trending videos.
  • “OpenAI blog”: The searcher intends to find the blog section of the OpenAI website.
  • “Amazon Prime deals”: The user is looking to navigate directly to the deals section on Amazon Prime.

This type of intent requires content that highlights your brand or specific product/service pages to guide the user directly to their destination.

3. Transactional

The user aims to make a purchase or complete another type of transaction. This could include searching for a specific product or a type of service with the intent to buy.

Examples of Transactional Search Intent

  • “Buy iPhone 13 online”: The user is looking to purchase an iPhone 13 from an online retailer.
  • “Netflix subscription plans”: This search suggests the user is considering subscribing to Netflix and wants to see available plans.
  • “Best deal on running shoes”: The searcher intends to find and possibly purchase running shoes at the best price.
  • “Download Adobe Photoshop”: The user wants to find a place to download Adobe Photoshop, indicating a desire to either purchase or subscribe.

Content targeting this intent should focus on product benefits, offers, and persuasive call-to-actions (CTAs) that encourage taking the next step.

4. Commercial Investigation

Users are in the decision-making phase, looking to compare products, services, or brands before making a purchase.

Examples of Commercial Investigation Search Intent

  • “iPhone 13 vs. Samsung Galaxy S21 review”: The user is comparing these two smartphones to decide which one to buy.
  • “Best DSLR cameras 2024”: This indicates the user is in the market for a DSLR camera and wants to compare the top models of 2024.
  • “Top web hosting services”: The searcher is likely considering starting a website and wants to compare web hosting options.
  • “Spotify Premium benefits”: The user is evaluating whether the premium features of Spotify are worth the subscription cost compared to the free version.

Content should be designed to inform and persuade, presenting clear comparisons and compelling reasons to choose your offering.

Why Search Intent is So Important for SEO

Overall, understanding an optimizing for search intent can lead to better alignment with the needs of users, which leads to higher engagement rates. Both of these factors typically lead to increased SEO performance.

But as Google updates their Helpful Content System to understand what type of content is truly helpful, search intent becomes an even more critical concept to grasp.

In short, the Helpful Content System was built to eliminate content that was produced by website owners as an easy way to rank and capture traffic.

As AI tools became more popular, tons of people started rapidly producing low-quality content and then publishing it on their websites. In no time, the search results were flooded with junk.

As a way to combat this, Google built this new system to evaluate what is truly helpful from what is not. That’s where search intent comes in.

Anybody can produce a post that touches on the bare minimum of whatever a keyword is related to. But, what sets the good sites apart from the great ones is understanding how to really help the user.

How to Determine Search Intent

When I go through the process of determining search intent for my content, I follow this simple process:

1. Analyze the SERPs

Observing the current top-ranking pages for your targeted keyword can reveal a lot about the underlying search intent. The format (blog post, product page, FAQ, etc.), tone, and content type (textual, visual, etc.) prevalent in these pages can guide you on how to structure your own content.

2. Keyword Modifiers

Certain words and phrases act as intent indicators. For example, “buy” signals transactional intent, “how to” indicates informational intent, and “vs” suggests commercial investigation intent. Identifying and incorporating these modifiers can sharpen your content’s focus.

3. User Needs

When in doubt, put yourself in the searcher’s shoes. What would they hope to find with their query? Understanding the user’s ultimate goal can help you craft content that satisfies their specific needs.

And be honest with yourself. Truly ask yourself whether or not you’d find whatever you’re trying to produce helpful. Don’t use backward logic and try to speed through this. Truly think through this.

Ensuring Keyword Relevance

Match Content to Intent

Your content must directly address the questions, needs, or tasks that the user intends to solve with their search query. This alignment not only improves user satisfaction but also signals to search engines that your content is highly relevant, boosting your SEO performance.

Use Keywords Naturally

Keyword integration should never disrupt the flow of your content. Use variations, synonyms, and related phrases to maintain readability and engagement. This approach helps avoid keyword stuffing, which can penalize your SEO efforts.

Update Content Regularly

The internet is dynamic, and user interests shift over time. Regularly revisiting and updating your content ensures it remains relevant, accurate, and aligned with current search intent. This practice can also revive older content, giving it a new lease on life in search rankings.

Key Takeaways

By mastering the art of aligning your content with search intent and maintaining keyword relevance, you’ll not only attract more targeted traffic but also enhance the overall user experience on your site.

This strategy leads to higher engagement, improved conversion rates, and a stronger SEO profile, positioning your content for long-term success.