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user search intent explained

Understanding Search Intent and Its Importance for SEO

What is Search Intent?

Search intent refers to the underlying purpose or goal that a user has when conducting a search query on a search engine. It is the reason behind someone’s specific search, whether it is seeking information, visiting a particular website, or making a purchase. These various types of intent often represent different stages in a user’s online journey. Google has continuously worked on enhancing its algorithm to understand and cater to a specific search query. As a result, it is crucial to ensure that your SEO strategy aligns with the search intent of your target audience to rank higher in search results.


Importance of Search Intent in SEO

Making sure that Google finds what people are looking for and can match a request to relevant content is really important. When a user conducts a specific search and encounters irrelevant information, it indicates to Google that there may be a mismatch. For example, if a user searches for “How to make a banana bread” and is presented with numerous product pages for baking utensils, they are likely to perform another search without clicking on any results. This behaviour serves as a signal to Google that the displayed results fail to align with the user intent.

By aligning your keyword targeting with search intent, you can optimise your rankings on Google by optimising for relevance, authority, and user satisfaction, which are crucial factors in their ranking algorithm. This, in turn, translates into more relevant and organic traffic because you will be able to reach users at different stages of the sales funnel, catering to various types of intent. Higher conversion rates, higher engagement rates, more organic traffic – you probably wonder “Why have I not looked into this earlier?”


Search Intent Types

types of search intent

Informational Search Intent

First off, we have informational intent. Many online searches are performed by people seeking information. This could range from finding a banana bread recipe, or to learning coding – you get the idea. People with informational queries usually have a clear question or a desire to understand a particular subject better. When someone has informational search intent, it means they’re aiming to pick up new knowledge.These searches typically contain informational keywords and frequently take the form of questions, utilising words such as who, what, where, why, and how. Having said that, google takes the algorithm of matching results to such queries to another level and understands that when someone looks for “a banana bread” they most likely mean the recipe, hence it will provide videos, recipes, ingredients, and pictures.

informational search intent

Navigational Search Intent

The second type of search intent, known as navigational intent, plays a crucial role in the online search landscape. This intent is driven by individuals who have a clear objective: to reach a specific website or business. Unlike informational or transactional intent, navigational intent is not about seeking general information or making a purchase decision. Instead, it’s about efficiently navigating to arrive at a predetermined destination.

Navigational keywords and navigational queries are crucial components of this type of intent. These keywords are often associated with brand names, website names, or specific terms related to the online entity that the user is trying to access. When users initiate searches using navigational keywords, they are essentially employing search engines as navigational tools to assist them in locating the website they have in mind. Even though they may not have the exact URL at hand, these users trust search engines to guide them to their desired destination.

navigational user intent

Transactional Search Intent

Transactional intent occurs when a user is actively seeking to make a purchase and take action. These queries are characterised by high-intent keywords and are highly popular with online shoppers, as they are in the process of buying decisions, and actively seeking the best purchasing option. When people are ready to spend their money, they naturally want to find the best deal. Transactional queries and search terms related to them may differ from those who are just exploring the market and often include specific brand names or desired features, so the keyword combinations used might look like the following:

[product name]

[product name] + price

Buy + [product name]

Discount + [product name]


Examples of such keywords might be:

  • Watch game of thrones
  • Netflix trial
  • Iphone 14 price


Commercial Investigation Intent

Before consumers make a purchase decision, they usually engage in commercial research. Although they possess transactional intent, they require additional information, so they need to know more about specific products, brands, or services. At this stage, they have moved beyond gathering basic information and have narrowed down their choices. Consumers in this stage are typically conducting comparisons between various products and brands as part of their purchase decision process, to find the most suitable solution for their needs.

So, in the realm of online commerce, understanding and leveraging commercial search intents is important for businesses aiming to capture the attention of potential buyers. Much like consumers in the purchase decision process, understanding the significance of commercial search intent keywords becomes essential. These keywords act as guiding lights for businesses, helping them identify the precise terms that potential customers use when expressing their desire to make a purchase.

By strategically incorporating these commercial search intent keywords into their content and advertising efforts, companies can ensure their offerings are prominently displayed when consumers actively seek information related to products, brands, or services. Just as consumers engage in thorough commercial research, businesses must deep dive into commercial search intents to position themselves effectively on the market.

Examples of commercial intent keywords would be:

  • Ebay or Amazon
  • WordPress or wix
  • Apple iphone 14 reviews


How to Determine / Identify Search Intent

An easy way to identify search intent is to reflect upon the “thought process” applied during the search:

  • I want
    • to know = Informational intent
    • to do = transactional intent
    • to go = navigational intent
    • to compare/choose = commercial intent

Quite simple, right? The next big thing is – How to optimise for search intent!


Search Intent Optimisation

Examine the search engine ranking page results but apply a holistic approach

To determine search intent, it is good to analyze the SERPs (search engine results pages). Perform a search using the keyword you are targeting in the search bar and analyse the SERP results. This will allow you to determine the most relevant search intent.

When examining search intent, it is crucial to consider that terms often have multiple meanings. Simply looking at keywords or the SERP is not enough for a comprehensive understanding. By adopting a holistic approach, however, you can better identify the main intent. Additionally, it is worth noting that search engine result pages can fluctuate, meaning a keyword may rank for one intent this month but potentially change next month.

Pro Tip: Have you ever noticed that the “People also search for” section in SERP? Bingo! Google does want you to solve users’ problems, to answer questions, and it does provide the tools to do it. Make sure to give enough importance to this section of the SERP results and answer these queries in your content.

Evaluate your current ranking

Analyse your current ranking and click-through rate for your selected query. If your content is not performing well, it may indicate a potential issue with search intent alignment. Assess your engagement metrics, like engagement rate and time on the page. If users are not engaging with your content, likely, you have not adequately met their search needs.

It is important to effectively communicate to search engines the specific search intent of each page, while also ensuring that visitors with diverse intents can easily navigate and access the information they are looking for, allowing them to easily explore different sections of the website.

Analyse competition

Continuously gathering data on both direct competitors and the industry as a whole is a fundamental practice within marketing research. However, it is crucial to also identify organic competitors, as this can greatly enhance your search engine ranking. In essence, what you want to do is to determine which websites are competing for traffic from your target keywords, even if they are not traditional competitors or from the same industry. This is because their search intent may differ from your initial assumptions.

In addition to keyword targeting, take the analysis a step further and reverse engineer the competitor’s pages. Examine the structure, the formatting of the page, content covered and reflect the findings in your existing content before jumping into the creation of new pages. Once the result analysis has been carried out, it is time to put the findings into practice. Start with the “low-hanging fruits” and optimise your titles, headings, and descriptions so it reflects the specific keyword targeting.

Keyword intent and importance of (long-tail) keywords

When organising your keyword list based on search intent, it is important to consider the strategic use of long-tail keywords. By modifying the core keyword and incorporating different tails, you can effectively target various intents. For instance, a keyword focused on informational intent, such as our good old banana bread example “how to bake a banana bread “, can be adjusted to address commercial intent with a variation like “best tools to bake a banana bread”. Additionally, leveraging synonyms and related long-tail keywords that align with the same intent allows for the creation of more substantial content, ultimately enhancing your website’s authority and resulting in improved rankings.


Adapting SEO and content strategies to the needs and wants of your target audience is crucial for achieving high rankings on Google. Search intent, one of the most important ranking factors, provides valuable insight into what users are looking for. Failing to meet searchers’ expectations significantly lowers your chances of ranking. If you aim for long-term ranking success, prioritise delivering what searchers are seeking, as Google is likely to reward you for doing so.

SEO at e-CBD

At E-CBD Gold Coast Digital Agency, we are committed to providing comprehensive digital solutions to meet a wide range of needs. Our extensive expertise in digital marketing, including advanced web design, creating effective SEO strategies, or paid ads management, ensures that we can address all of your online requirements. Please feel free to contact us today, or call us on 07 5531 3810 to discuss how we can assist you.

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We respectfully acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region, the traditional owners of the land on which we stand, and pay our respect to their elders past and present, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who now live in the local area.

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