Understanding Search Intent for Content Writers

To write content that ranks well on search, you need to have a crystal clear understanding of what your readers want to see when they type in your target keyword in the search box.

Have you ever been in a situation when you wrote something and then nobody reads it? If people can't find your content, most likely it doesn't rank well. One of the main reasons why content underperforms on Google is that there is a mismatch between your target keywords and the search intent.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about your reader’s search intent, something that will help you understand what people want and how to speak to them.

What is search intent?

Search intent the why behind a search query. For example, a person who searches for email marketing courses has different intent than a person who searches for email marketing agency. These searches revolve around the same topic: email marketing, but the intents are completely different.

The person searching for email marketing courses wants to learn email marketing. While the person searching for email marketing agency wants to buy email marketing services.

If you want to target a certain keyword but the information you provide doesn't match the reader's search intent, people will find your content irrelevant.

Putting relevant content in front of people is Google's main goal. That's why search intent is the most important “ranking factor.” Understanding search intent allows you to give searchers what they want, and rank well on Google.

There are four types of search intents that search engines recognize: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial. 

Informational intent

A reader is searching for information. Examples of search queries:

  • “what is machine learning” 
  • “how to watch star wars” 
  • "ecommerce trends"

Navigational intent 

A reader is searching for a specific website. Examples of search queries:

  • "Courbet wiki"
  • "From Reads To Leads"
  • "Instagram help"

Commercial intent

A reader is ready to make a purchase and they are looking for the best solution. Examples of search queries:

  • “G suite vs office 365” 
  • “Mailchimp reviews” 
  • “best SaaS marketing agencies” 

Transactional intent

A reader wants to buy. Examples of search queries:

  • “buy iphone 12"
  • “Ikea eket”
  • "hire web developer"

How to understand search intent

To make your content align with the reader’s search intent, you need to analyze the search results for each term you want to rank for. By looking at the first page of Google results, you can define:

  1. What type of content you should create. It can be a blog post, a product page, a video.
  2. And what form this content should take. A how to guide, a listicle, a comparison post.

For example, let's say we want to rank for a term email marketing automation. What type of content should we create? Let's check out top-ranking pages for this term in more detail.

Most of the pages that rank for email marketing automation focus on explaining what this term means. Make sure you also check out Google’s “People also ask” box. It tells you what questions searchers also tend to ask. For our search query, people ask the following questions:

  • How do I create an automated email marketing?
  • What is the difference between email marketing and marketing automation?
  • How do you automate email?
  • How does email marketing relate to marketing automation?

You may want to provide answers to these questions in your content.

You can also visit each of the top-ranking pages pages to see what information they include and gather insights you can use in your own content. 

For example, we can notice that top ranking pages for the term email marketing automation include benefits, examples and tips on how to get started with automated email marketing. We can make a conclusion that this information is important for users searching for this term.

When you're picking search terms to target with your content, make sure that the search intent behind these terms is clear. For example, a keyword digital transformation has an unclear search intent. Let's type it into a search box...It looks like Google has no idea what people are looking for. If Google doesn't know what people what to see when they google digital transformation, you most likely aren't either. 

The take away: this isn't a great keyword to target. If you have keywords like that in your content plan, revise your SEO strategy. You want to target keywords with a clear search intent.

So there you have it.

  • To rank well on Google you need to focus on what content people need in a format they want and not on what you want to write. 
  • Before you write a single word, understand the reader's search intent and define what your content should talk about. 
  • Always review the top-ranking pages before creating content.  

Watch it on YouTube:

To improve your understanding of SEO, check out my video on how to optimize your content for search. 

Thanks for reading and subscribing to my YouTube channel.

Read next:

Content cluster strategy to improve your blog's UX and search performance

How to write a blog post

How to map content to each stage of the marketing funnel

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