Minimalist SEO

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What is Search Intent

I want to cover a question that gets asked a lot in the SEO world and that my friends is: what is search intent.

Now this question comes a bit of a side question. We don’t just what is search intent, but we also ask “why the heck is it important.”

If you’ve been doing any learning, reading research, loving of SEO in the past couple of years, you’ve heard the buzzword search intent. Actually, I don’t want it to call it a buzzword. And here’s why: normally buzzwords are kind of trends. They come and they go, but search intent is more of like a fixture.

Search intent is an important aspect of SEO that is here to stay. If we look at the past updates to Google’s algorithm, it’s really been the focus of the algorithm all the time.Before I go on about search intent, I’m going to explain how it works (in a Minimalist SEO kind of way). I’m going to use the first tenant from the Minimalist SEO Manifesto:

Google’s Customer

So let’s, let’s dive into what that means to kind of explain why search intent is really, really important. So right now I’m hanging out with and I’m just a guy scrolling around, but here’s the thing: the second I put my cursor right there in that little search box, I become Google’s customer.

At this point, it’s Google’s job to take care of me, whatever I type in there, Google needs to make sure that whatever shows up in the search results is going to move me towards solving my problem.

Every good business needs to take care of their customer and Google being a business needs to take care of their customer.

So whatever I type in the search box, Google needs to figure out what the heck I’m looking for, what problem I’m trying to solve, what information I’m looking for.

This is where Search Intent comes in

As soon as I click the search button, Google is trying to find the intent of my query. Now here’s the thing, Google will attack this in a number of different ways, depending on the information that I give it.

So in this case, I’m gonna use my cheeseburger example. If I go into Google and I type in cheeseburger, what happens is Google says:

“Okay, my customer just typed the word cheeseburger, what are they looking for?”

The problem is that my query is super vague, right?

Its easier to understand using a real life example. Let’s say I walked up to you on the streets and I just said, “cheeseburger.”

How would you respond? You would probably be confused.  You likely would have a challenging time coming up with a response as I didn’t really make myself clear.

Google is in the same position, except it is trying it’s best to answer my question.

When I search for cheeseburger, I see a lot of different things in the search results. We’ve got:

  • hamburger restaurants
  • information about cheeseburger history.
  • nutrition facts
  • questions about cheeseburgers
  • some Wikipedia stuff.
  • recipes
  • videos.

Google is really trying to figure out what the heck I’m looking for. My search intent, isn’t clear so Google is now throwing a bunch of information at me.

Now, if I maybe gave Google more information about my intent, like maybe I wrote cheeseburger recipe, Google might have a better understanding of what I’m looking for.

And as you can see from the results it’s specifically about about recipes, there’s questions that are related to making a cheeseburger.

Now I can get even more specific and type easy cheeseburger recipe. Now all of a sudden Google understands, that I’m looking for an easy and simple way to make a cheeseburger .

This is why the search intent is so important, it helps Google help its its customer.

If Google understands the search intent, it knows where to send its customer. Now by you understanding search intent, you know what type of content to create.

So if you’re targeting a broad keyword like cheeseburger, it’s going to be really hard for you to piece of content that’s trying to figure out what the this person is looking for.

Now, if it’s cheeseburger recipe, you’ve got a better understanding of what the search intent is.

If we go with easy cheeseburger recipe as our keyword target,  you now have even more information available to craft a piece of content that meets the users needs.

Search intent is especially important when you’re doing keyword research. If you can get into the mindset of the person who’s actually doing the search you can really make an impact in your content.

If you’ve got a target keyword that you’re not quite sure what the search intent is, the best way to figure out what the user is actually looking for is to just go to Google and type your keyword.

So for example, let’s say I was targeting the keyword tennis racket. I type in the word tennis racket, look at the results.

The results are able to give you an idea of what content will fulfill the users needs. Google has a lot of data at its disposal. People are searching constantly and Google uses that information to better serve their customers.

Google’s data says, when someone types in tennis racket, it looks like they’re trying to buy a tennis racket.

So if I am creating a piece of content around tennis rackets, and if I’m just targeting the word tennis racket, it better be a product because that’s, what’s showing up in the number one position.

We do see a few other types of results related to local businesses, because Google is still trying to kind of figure out the search intent.

If we modify our search query and use tennis racket size guide, right away the search intent is quite clear and Google is sending us some relevant search results.

What I am recommending is that when you have a target keyword, don’t consider:

  • Is this a keyword that I can write about?
  • Is this a low competition keyword?
  • Does it have a good search volume?

Instead, go to Google, search your target keyword and review what types of results are showing up, because sometimes it might be:

  • product results
  • news results.
  • local results
  • videos

You need to make sure that the content you’re creating is matching the intent of the searcher.

And the easiest way to do that is to literally just go to Google and type in your keyword and see what Google has already determined what the search intent is.

If you do that, your piece of content is going to have a better chance at ranking. It’s going to have a better chance of actually solving the problems of the person that’s searching.

And you’re going to have a better chance of getting more and more traffic as Google begins to trust you, because guess what?

You’re taking care of Google’s customer.

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