After getting her Master’s in Art & Visual Culture, Melina worked in the cultural sector, editing and writing all kinds of texts. She enjoys applying her writing skills and eye for detail in the blog team at Yoast.
Search intent is becoming more and more important. Google is getting better and better at guessing exactly what searchers are looking for when they type in their – sometimes cryptic – search terms. That’s why you need to focus on it as well! What is search intent, again? How do search engines approach user intent? And how can you assess if you target the right type of intent with your content? This post is all about that!
Let’s start with a quick refresher on the term ‘search intent’. You’ll recognize from your own online behavior that each search term is entered with a particular intent in mind. Sometimes, you want to find information. Other times, you’re looking to research or buy a certain product. And don’t forget all those times you enter a brand name because you don’t want to type out the site’s entire URL. We generally distinguish four types of searcher intent: informational, commercial, transactional and navigational. If this is new to you, head over to our SEO basics article on search intent, that’ll make understanding this post a bit easier.
Search engines try to predict user intent
Of course, for each of these four categories of user intent, there can still be a lot of variation in what exactly a user is looking for. Search engines use data to interpret what the dominant intent of a query is. They want to present results that match user intent exactly. Before we can use the search results to create our intent based content, we need to understand how search intent works for different queries.
Search terms with dominant intent
Sometimes, a search term has one dominant interpretation. Those terms can be very straightforward, like [buy King Louie Betty dress] or [symptoms of diabetes]. For the first term, results will mainly show pages offering that particular model of dress for sale, or similar dresses by that brand. For the second, results are filled with answer boxes and websites offering medical information.
Google also understands the intent behind terms that aren’t as literal. For example, whenever people all over the world enter [white house] as a search term, they’re not looking for information on painting their house white. They want to know something about the residence of the president of the United States, and search engines show results accordingly.
Search terms referring to several entities
In many cases, the same term can be used to look for very different things. Let’s take the search term [Mercury]. Some people will be looking for the planet, others for the element, even others for the Roman god of commerce, and a few might actually be looking for the lead singer of the band Queen. The reason for that is that this one word can be
This article was written by Melina Reintjens and originally published on Yoast • SEO for everyone.