What is search intent?
Search intent (also known as user intent) is the primary goal a user has when searching a query in a search engine. Many times, users are searching for a specific type of answer or resource as they search.
Understanding search intent can be the secret ingredient that brings your content strategy from okay to outstanding.
It’s the reason why someone conducts a specific search. After all, everyone who does an online search is hoping to find something. Is someone searching because they have a question and want an answer to that question? Are they looking to visit a specific website? Or, are they searching because they want to buy something? Many of these different types of searches form parts of the user journey.
Over the years, Google has worked hard to improve its algorithm to be able to determine people’s search intent. And, Google wants to rank pages that best fit the search term, as well as the search intent behind a specific search query. That’s why it’s essential to make sure your post or page fits the search intent of your audience.
Take pizza for example. Searching for a pizza recipe has a different intent than searching for a takeout pizza, which is also different from searching for the history of pizza. Though they all revolve around the same overall topic (pizza), these users all have different intents.
How to optimize your content for search intent
You want to make sure that a landing page fits the search intent of your audience. If people search for information, you don’t want to show them a product page. At least, not immediately. You’d probably scare them away. If people want to buy your product, do not bore them with long articles. Lead them to your shop.
Optimizing your product pages for more commercial driven keywords is a good idea. If you sell dog vitamins, you could, for instance, optimize a product (category) page for [buy dog vitamins]. Perhaps you also have an article about administering vitamins. You could, for example, optimize that article for the search term [how to give vitamins to my dog].
It can be quite hard to determine the search intent of a query. And, perhaps different users will have a (slightly) different user intent, but still land on the same page. Luckily, there is a direct source to look at if you want to know which intent fits your keywords: the search results pages.