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Hannah O'neill SEO Copywriter

Have you ever wondered why some websites seem to top the search results while others get lost in the shuffle? The secret often lies in optimising for search intent.

Understanding and aligning your content with what users are actually searching for can dramatically boost your visibility and drive more targeted traffic to your site. So, if your website gets plenty of visits but minimal conversions, it might be time to reimagine your keyword strategy.

In this article, we’ll break down the importance of search intent, show you how to identify it, and explain why it’s crucial for your SEO strategy. Ready to make your website stand out and meet your audience’s needs more effectively?

Let’s dive into why optimising for search intent matters and how you can leverage it for success!

How have search engines evolved?

Google wasn’t the first search engine, but it’s defined the internet since 1998. The search engine’s constant evolution and manyalgorithm changescan confuse even seasoned SEO specialists—let alone brands.

Perhaps the most important is the shift to user experience. In the early days, search engines would index website pages based on their number of keywords, but today’s algorithms are more sophisticated.

Google and other search engines can now understand the intent and context behind queries.

What is search intent?

Search intent is the why behind the what. It reveals someone’s purpose for performing a search and their goals. Marketers and content creators must understand the reasons behind each query, which enables them to isolate the right keywords.

There are four main types of search intent:

  1. Informational: This form of intent is when a user searches for information. Their sole purpose is to find answers regarding a topic, such as “how to bake cookies.”
  2. Transactional: When someone wants to make a purchase or transaction online, it’s called transactional intent. For example, “buy trainers UK”.
  3. Navigational: If someone knows the name of a brand but not the URL, they might perform a navigational search, such as “”.
  4. Commercial: Many users research before they invest in a product or service. These searches often lead to comparison websites, such as “the best smartphones in 2024.”

Why is search intent essential?

Search engines like Google care about providing users with the best possible experience. The Quality Rater Guidelines clearly outline Google’s commitment to search intent, making it a key ranking factor.

Whilebacklinks,technical SEO and other ranking signals are still important, pages that don’t align with search intent will struggle to secure results.

Failing to consider search intent often means falling into a keyword research trap. Your keywords might show up in searches, and your website might secure traffic, but aligning with search intent is how you’ll secure conversions.

Let’s explore why search intent is essential.


Search engines are meant to provide fast answers for users, and your website could become a go-to resource—if you get search intent right. When someone visits your website and you answer their question, they’re more likely to return.

According toHubSpot, the average bounce rate is between 26% and 70%, but anything below 40% is considered within the optimal range.

If users have a great experience on your website, they’re more likely to engage with it and return.

Boosting your rankings 

When you publish content, it’s indexed and ranked based on how it matches a user’s intent. The previous method of placing relevant keywords into each blog post or website page no longer works, but aligning your content to match intent will increase your rankings.

Around75% of people never go past the first search engine results page, meaning most websites battle over the remaining 25%. Transforming your SEO strategy by placing search intent in the spotlight ensures higher rankings and consistent traffic.

Become an authority 

Some websites constantly secure top-ranking positions and become go-to resources for audiences. They achieve this through effective SEO practices that align content creation with search intent.

For example, the same websites usually appear when users type in a medical query. Take a look at these different searches:

These websites are renowned for the information and support they offer. Optimising for search intent can achieve the same results for your website.

Optimising for user search intent

Getting started can be challenging if you’re new to search intent optimisation. However, the following tips will help you integrate search intent into your content strategy and secure ongoing results.

Keyword research 

When performing keyword research, never stop at relevance. You’ll need to assess each keyword and the intent behind it. For example, your base keyword might be “white trainers”, but users will search based on their intent:

  • Informational:The history of white trainers”.
  • Navigational: Nike white trainers”.
  • Transactional:Buy white trainers online”.
  • Commercial:The best white trainers for women”.

Once you have this information, you can map your keywords and group phrases based on search intent.

Collect SERP data 

Your competitors can provide valuable data on what Google likes and how their content aligns with search intent. When performing a search, it’s best to clear your cache and use incognito mode to get accurate results.

Once you type in your desired phrase, the search engine will return the most relevant results. Now, all you need to do is look at the highest-performing pages and assess the information they include.

It’s also an excellent opportunity to evaluate what you can do better. Sometimes, it might be simple, such as adding a table or numbered list.

Evaluate your current content 

Evaluating your current content lets you measure how it aligns with search intent. Take each page’s keywords and type them into Google to see which results show up. Compare those results against your content and isolate any gaps.

For example, your keywords might bring up commercial results when the content is meant to be informational.

Revamping the content or changing the keywords to suit intent ensures the right audiences discover your website.

Create content that aligns with intent

When creating content, make sure the type aligns with intent. It’s one of the easiest mistakes to make, but doing some prior research will let you identify the right content type and format.

Going back to the “white trainers” example, let’s see what the keyword brings up:

As you can see, these are all product-focused results, with websites that sell white trainers ranking on the SERPs.

However, if we change the keyword to “the history of white trainers”, you’ll see blog posts are the most common content type:

Content format 

Once you know which content type you should create, it’s time to dig deeper and find the correct format. For example, if you’re targeting informational or commercial search intent, you’ll probably write a blog with one of the following formats:

  • Opinion pieces
  • Comparisons
  • How-to guides
  • Tutorials
  • Lists
  • Reviews

The “history of white trainers” overriding content formats are blog posts and opinion pieces.

Change the keyword to “the best white trainers”, and the commercial intent format will be lists, comparisons or reviews:

Top tips for search intent optimisation

So, now you know how to optimise for search intent, it’s time to reveal some top tips to make the process easier.

Think about your users 

When assessing your current content or creating new content, consider your users and what they want to see. Once you know what’s missing, you can create content that aligns with user intent and provides genuine value.

Remember mixed intent 

While some keywords are more niche, broader terms might have different intents. For example, “trainers” might bring up product-based results and informational blog posts which answer people’s questions.

In cases like this, you’ll need to use the best intent for your needs. For example, commercial intent is more beneficial if you run an e-commerce website.

Don’t forget title tags and meta descriptions 

Title tags and meta descriptions give readers an idea of what they’ll get if they click on your website. Aligning the wording to search intent can increase your clicks and conversions.

For informational intent, you can use words like “reveal”, “learn”, and “discover” in the meta description. Transactional queries could be “shop”, “buy”, and “get”.

Ready to transform your SEO strategy?

Search intent will continue to play a significant role in how search engines rank content. If your SEO strategy is stuck in the past, it’s time to embrace optimising for search intent and place your website on an upward trajectory.

Remember, the most impactive SEO campaigns don’t stop at website traffic; they optimise for conversions. If you’d like support with search intent, our professionalSEO services give you a fully bespoke strategy and ongoing support.

Please get in touch for afree proposal today.

Hannah O'neill

Hannah O'neill SEO Copywriter