How To Optimise Content For Search Intent Targeting

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So you want to have a lower bounce rate and more engagement from users on your site? One of the secrets to doing this is through search intent targeting. Also called keyword intent, search intent targeting is when you optimise your website for intent based search. But what actually is it and how can you use it to improve user engagement on your website?

What is search intent?

As I mentioned in my How To Do Keyword Research For SEO post, all the pages of your website, whether you run a blog or business, should aim to target specific keywords. Keywords are the phrases or words that you, me and your potential customers or readers type into Google.

When we go onto Google, we type in specific keywords to search for something in particular – whether this is an answer to a question, directions to a nearby restaurant or a product we want to buy.

Search intent is the overall aim behind our choice of keywords. It’s the ultimate goal behind what we put into search engines. The majority of searches can be grouped into three categories of search intent – transactional, navigational and informational. For optimising your website content for search intent, you need to only focus on transactional and informational search intent.

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Transactional search intent

Transactional search intent is the queries and keywords used by searchers who are looking to complete a transactional action. This could be a purchase, but it could also be signing up to an event, or a blog email newsletter, or becoming a subscriber to a podcast series. It can also be keywords such as ‘Italian restaurant near me’. Any type of keyword where a user is looking to ultimately make a transaction, sign up or subscribe.

Informational search intent

Informational searches do what they say on the tin – they are keywords used by searchers looking for information. How old is the earth? Where is the nearest supermarket? What is the difference between jam and jelly? These are all examples of informational keywords with informational search intent fueling them.

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Why you should tailor content for search intent

Different keywords bring up different types of results on search engines because the search intent behind them differs. Since the Hummingbird and RankBrain algorithm updates, Google has been able to interpret a user’s search intent much more accurately and display results that specifically meet their goal.

It’s not simply enough to choose which keywords you want each page to target and change the metadata to fit. By optimising the content on each page for the search intent behind its target keywords, you can ensure that you are delivering the exact type of content on that page that the user is looking for. This will result in more organic traffic, more engagement from users on your site and a lower bounce rate. Let me explain this a bit more.

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Meetings user needs

If you want to know the answer to the question ‘which is better out of merino wool and alpaca wool?’, you might type into Google ‘merino wool vs alpaca wool’ or ‘which is better merino or alpaca wool?’.

This will bring up informational results, most likely comparison articles telling you the pros and cons of merino and alpaca wool. If you clicked on one of the search results and it took you to a product page selling merino and alpaca wool jumpers, chances are you would immediately click back.

Although the page’s content concerned merino and alpaca wool, it didn’t answer your search intent – you wanted to know the answer to your question, not land on transactional product pages.

This is why delivering the right kind of content for the user’s search intent is so important. If you provide them with the type of content they want – whether that’s informational blog posts, FAQ pages or your transactional service pages – they are more likely to stay on your site and convert into real customers or readers of your blog.

Search engines like Google will see that the users’ search intent is being satisfied, and as a result you’ll rank higher on search results pages, generating even more organic traffic.

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How to optimise content for search intent

By tailoring the content of each landing page and blog post of your website, you can ensure that each page is meeting the user’s needs and search intent.

Targeting informational search intent

Informational search terms tend to be queries and questions used by searchers wanting to learn more about a subject. Keywords starting with ‘what is/how to’ are good examples of this.

Creating blog posts or other content formats (podcasts, YouTube videos etc) that answer these queries is the best way to target informational search intent. Make sure that the query is being used in the main on-page SEO elements – the blog post title (h1), metadata, URL slug and, if possible, the opening paragraph of the blog.

From a conversion point of view, informational search queries are the harder to monetise. This is because users at this stage are not looking to purchase or sign up to something. So whatever you do, don’t have invasive marketing pop-ups and un-subtle mentions about your product or service. This is more likely to annoy the user instead of getting them to buy your product.

Instead, the focus should be on creating high-quality, SEO-optimised content that genuinely provides the user with useful, informative answers. Think of this as subtle brand promotion – by answering their query users will be more like to view you positively. Making them more likely to come back to you instead of your competitors when they are ready to buy.

If you want to mention your products or service, do it in an ‘oh, by the way, we do this if you’re interested’ tone so users aren’t put off by you shoving your products or services in their face.

Targeting transactional search intent

Transactional searches are used by searchers who are on the verge of making a purchase or transactional action. These searches are where you are most likely to convert users into customers or subscribers, so you need to ensure that it’s you, and not your competitors, that they choose.

You can do this by creating engaging content for your transactional website pages, such as detailed, enticing product descriptions and in-depth service pages to explain what you offer. These pages can be supported by other content in different areas of your site, such as blog posts introducing your new collection or range of products, and case studies or testimonials from happy clients.

This type of content is all about simplifying the purchase decision process for the user. Make it obvious how amazing you are through creating informative, interesting content about what you do and why you are brilliant. That way, they won’t want to choose anyone else.

I’d love to hear how you get on with optimising your own website content so let me know in the comments below! If you have any other SEO or blogging related topics you want to learn more about or have any questions pop them in the comments too!

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