Modern commercial search engines rely on the science of information retrieval (IR). IR scientists realized that two critical components comprised the majority of search functionality: relevance and importance.
To measure these factors, search engines perform document analysis (including semantic analysis of concepts across documents) and link (or citation) analysis.
Document Analysis and Semantic Connectivity
- In document analysis, search engines look at whether they find the search terms in important areas of the document: the title, the metadata, the heading tags, and the body of the text. They also attempt to automatically measure the quality of the document based on document analysis, as well as many other factors.
- Reliance on document analysis alone is not enough for today’s search engines, so they also look at semantic connectivity.
- Semantic connectivity refers to words or phrases that are commonly associated with one another. Search engines actively build their own thesauruses and dictionaries to help them determine how certain terms and topics are related. By simply scanning their massive databases of content on the Web, they can use Fuzzy Set Theory and certain equations to connect terms and start to understand web pages/sites more like a human does.
- The professional SEO practitioner does not necessarily need to use semantic connectivity measurement tools to optimize websites, but for those advanced practitioners who seek every advantage, semantic connectivity measurements can help in each of the following sectors:
• Measuring which keyword phrases to target
• Measuring which keyword phrases to include on a page about a certain topic
• Measuring the relationships of text on other high-ranking sites/pages
• Finding pages that provide “relevant” themed links
Why Is Search Intent Important in SEO?
The top goal of search engines (like Google) is to provide relevant results for users. So understanding search intent can impact your ability to rank in search results.
Google has put a lot of effort into interpreting the intent behind search queries used in the search.
(Just take a look at Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines—there’s a whole section on user intent and how to identify different intent types.)
So if you want to rank in Google, you must make sure your pages satisfy the search intent behind the keywords they’re targeting.
A thorough understanding of search intent can help you:
- Have a more effective content strategy: targeting keywords that align with the needs of your target audience
- Create relevant content: by understanding your users’ needs and creating content that fulfills them
- Rank higher in search results: by showing search engines that your content is valuable and relevant to their user.
What is Search Intent?
Search intent (also known as searcher intent or keyword intent) is the reason why a user types a particular query into a search engine.
Let’s say someone searches for “best dog food” on Google.
They’re not trying to navigate to a specific page. And they don’t want to buy a specific product either. (At least not yet.)
They want to do their research before making a purchase.
That means the keyword has commercial intent. And we can use this knowledge to adjust our content to target this keyword better.
There are mainly four types of search intent:-
- Navigational intent
- Informational intent
- Commercial intent
- Transactional intent
Navigational intent means that the user wants to find a specific page. Unlike other intent types, searchers already know what they’re trying to find.
Here are some examples of keywords with navigational intent:
- Gmail login
- semrush keyword magic tool
- ikea refund policy
Informational search intent means that the user wants to learn something. These searches are often phrased as questions and use words like who, what, where, why, and how.
Here are some examples of keywords with informational intent:
- bruce willis movies
- what is SEO
- California time now
- how to clean a dishwasher
Commercial search intent includes keywords your audience uses when they’re doing their research before a purchase.
The commercial intent lies somewhere between informational and transactional intent. The user is looking for information, but the information is closely connected to the action.
Here are some examples of keywords with commercial intent:
- best indoor plants for low light
- apple watch ultra review
- MailChimp alternatives
- HBO Max vs Netflix
Transactional search intent means users want to do something specific, often an action you might want them to do as a business owner.
Despite what the name implies, this isn’t restricted just to purchases. For example, a user doing a transactional search might want to complete a newsletter signup or download software.
Here are some examples of keywords with transactional intent:
- iPhone 13 pro max price
- personality test online
- sem rush trail
- watch friends
Procedure to make sure that your content aligns with the searcher’s intent
When you’re struggling to grasp the concept of search intent, take a step back from your company and imagine you are a user.
Think about what you might search for in order to land on your blog article or the product page.
Type that phrase into Google (preferably via Incognito or private browsing, so it’s not personalized towards your search history), and see what shows up.
A SERP (search engine result page) analysis is the best way to confirm what Google thinks the user may want to see.
Are there content aggregators? Are there transactional sites?
Is there a mixed search engine result page with both content and transactional content?
There are many times when even Google doesn’t know what the user is looking for, so it shows a mixed SERP with different types of content.
By finding this information live on the SERPs, we can see what Google is rewarding in the top positions, and what it believes is the intent of the user’s query.
SERP analysis is one of the best ways to use competitive data when creating content because we want to know what phrases they are using and see if we can even compete for that same phrase based on intent.
Putting our customers first and identifying the search intent of their query is the best way to ensure our content matches our customer’s needs.
We’ve also only talked about half the story: the research side.
The exciting part comes when you’re able to utilize an enterprise SEO platform to monitor keyword rankings and report back to executives on the changes you made – and how they resulted in a significant increase in traffic or conversions.