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Google has become the hub of most of the information we look up online, especially for commerce. After all, 46% of all product searches begin on Google. However, randomly entering keywords and hoping for conversions isn’t a good strategy for your store. That’s where search intent optimization comes in.

Every business tries to make its keywords count. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to an effective keyword inventory. What many digital marketing operations lack is proper keyword intent mapping. Understanding user intent is crucial in using fewer keywords to get better results. Moreover, planning your keywords can allow for more affordable search engine ranking optimization.

Intent can also help you understand why particular keywords are not netting you a satisfying search engine placement. It can also be an effective means of repurposing old content from informational to transactional. With these simple tips, you can learn how to garner guaranteed search engine rankings.

Search Intent 101

We’ve previously done an article about this same topic, going into categories of intent for search engine positioning. Here’s a brief overview of the 3 main categories of user intent that Google identifies:

  • Informational: Search queries that tie into information. e.g. “how many letters in the alphabet”, “best news podcasts”, “best SEO practices” etc.
  • Navigational: Links to a specific webpage or domain. e.g. “Facebook login”, “Twitter”, etc.
  • Commercial/Transactional: Search queries that take you to businesses or sales points. These are often used by people who are ready to buy something or looking for a shop, e.g. “Rolling Stones Concert Tickets”, “Waterstones Book Store”, “Car Insurance Quotes”.

Many software, such as SEMrush’s keyword magic tool, make a distinction between commercial and transactional intents. The difference between commercial and transactional intent is one of timescale and level of purchase intent. Commercial intent can be more general like searching for a shop, whereas transactional can be more specific and with higher intent.

For example, commercial intent could be “book stores near me”, whereas transactional could be the “order, Great Gatsby”. In the latter, there is a definite purchase intention, while the former could also mean the searcher is browsing more generally and hasn’t decided what to purchase.

Using Buyer Intent Keywords

Both commercial and transactional keywords play a role in your strategy. Commercial keywords can be great for things like local SEO. A great example is when users are looking for a shop in their area and the Google maps 3-pack shows up. Commercial keywords can move you up the pack and make it easier to get detected. We have an entire article detected to optimizing maps entries here.

search intent example
The 3-pack can be very important for restaurants

Transactional keywords are useful for webshops in particular. They can help you be the first entry on the search engine products page. Google can look for pages with the right products and display them as they match certain keywords, even hosting the pictures linked in their schema. Transactional keywords can be far handier here.

Search intent ads
Transactional keywords for paid advertising

If you’ve ever wondered “how do Google Ads generate responsive search ads”, this is the answer.

Examples of Search Intent Categories

Aside from knowing the types of search intent you want consumers to arrive at your page with, you can further narrow things down with specific categories. These can help you get even more distinct types of customer interactions.

When conducting research online, the keyword you need depends on context. Contexts can vary from:

  • Georgraphy: “Music stores near me” or “stores in X city”. Great for local SEO and attracting nearby customers. Particularly well-suited to commercial intent at early stages of purchase i.e., information-seeking.
  • Synonyms: Your products may have different synonyms people use to identify them online. Try to cover as many as you can in your copywriting and page design. For example, “apartment for rent” could also be termed as “room for rent” depending on how broad the interest of the consumer is.
  • Transaction type: Different consumers look for the quality of sales alongside the product. Deals, discounts, offers etc. You can also incorporate seasonal sales like “Black Friday deals”.
  • Search queries: An indirect way of attracting customers. “How to tune a guitar” might lead you to a guitar tuning software, for example.

Keyword research for small businesses

There are a bunch of tools you can use to monitor search engine rankings. Ahrefs and SEMrush work particularly well. The SEMrush search console and keyword tool have recently incorporated a feature to determine the search intent of keywords you enter. Keyword research services can seem like a big expense, but they pay off in dividends.

You can use keyword research sites like Ahrefs and SEMrush to inform you of prices, intent, related keywords, queries, and a lot more. These are also places where you monitor your analytics, bounce rates, and exit rates to see what reaction your keywords are eliciting online. For a breakdown of what exactly you can measure and why you should care, we have a full SEMrush statistics breakdown right here.

Keyword match tools can help you modify the keywords you use for PPC campaigns. They give you a series of variations based on how precise or broad you want your keyphrase to be. This can help you with advertising on Google Ads or other platforms.

You can use SEO plug-ins like Yoast to implement your keywords with more precision when creating pages or content. This software can give you an exact breakdown of how many keywords you need and which places to put them in your content. They can also be integrated into WordPress and other CMS types.

Evaluating Keywords for Search Engine Optimisation

While commercial keywords can be really good for SEO (as indicated above), informational terms play a role in your Google rankings as well. Informational pages can be great for marketing content. A potential customer might be looking for information about SEO services and stumble on a blog that informs them but also advertises the service in question. You can move people further along the sales funnel this way.

Navigational, on the other hand, is only useful in the situation where people are looking to navigate to your specific site. For example, if your site is ranking very well for Google Analytics because of articles you wrote but isn’t converting, the reason might be that people just want to navigate the GA and avoid your site.

If you want people to move from your informational or commercial content to sales conversions, you need to first monitor your exit and bounce rates. Find out which pages are having the highest drop-offs and try to optimize their UX, like relocating the link to the sales portal. Make sure you’re providing the right information customers need to make their decision.

Applying Search Intent to Existing Content or Pages

Always enter the keyword you want to use to see how well it aligns with the intent of your page. If your intent isn’t matching up, you’ll know why conversions aren’t following. In such a situation, only very high authority sites can rank and maintain a good CTR. The solution is to tinker with your keyword slightly to differentiate it from the links making it more competitive.

As mentioned earlier, synonyms are necessary for many different things. They can aid you in finding related keywords but they can also help you refurbish old pages and content. Sometimes a page is not ranking for the reason you want it to rank for, so you can use synonyms or different categories of intent to adjust this.

Aside from generating conversions, you can also use keyword synonyms for search intent retargeting. Find products that are similar to the ones you are obtaining high SERP results for and optimize those as well. This will allow customers to navigate to complementary goods and you might generate revenue in the form of cross-over consumers. For example, if a person is looking for a guitar, they may also want a guitar case.

Hopefully, this article has shed some light on new ways to use search intent. Of course, you don’t need to understand it all if you can hire a marketing agency. If you need help with your SEO or search engine advertising, we have services that can take care of that while you sit back and relax.