Understanding Search Intent in Keyword Research: A Guide to Meeting User Needs and Improving Content Engagement

Match keywords with search intent.

If you want your content to remain relevant, you should meet the user’s needs. One of the ways of doing that is by matching keywords with the search intent. You need to understand why the internet user is searching for the keyword and optimize for the same. In this guide, we delve into keyword intent matching for improved user satisfaction.

Benefits of Understanding Search Intent in Keyword Research

When doing keyword research for content marketing, you should understand the search intent for the following reasons:

  • Provide a better user experience. When you provide users with what they need, this helps to improve user experience and reduce bounce rate. 
  • Respond to search query. When you understand the search intent, you can create content that responds to the search query. This can, in turn, improve the time users spend on your site.
  • Improve content engagement. When you satisfy the user intent, you will see an improved engagement on your content.
  • Increase conversion. Search intent often reflects the different stages of the sales journey. By understanding users with a commercial search intent, you can respond t their query, leading to conversion.

How To Determine The User Search Intent

Here are ways to tell the search intent and create content for it.

Types of Search Intent

To optimize your site for the search intent, you need to understand the different kinds of search intents. These are:

Informational Keywords

As the name suggests, these are keywords used when searching for certain information. You can quickly notice these keywords as they are often in questions or can be phrased in the form of questions. For instance, the keyword “best pizza recipe” can be phrased as “How can I make a pizza?” Other examples of information keywords are:

  • When is Labor Day?
  • How to make a pizza
  • When was Biden born?
  • Tips for working out in the office

These are also known as branded keywords, as the user will already know the site they want to visit. Examples of such keywords are:

  • Amazon
  • Uberusggest
  • City of London’s website
  • Paypal Login

Transactional Intent

These keywords are usually used by people who are ready to purchase or are in the purchasing phase. Examples of these keywords are:

  • Sale
  • Compare
  • Cheap
  • Coupon

A person using these keywords has moved down the search funnel and is ready to purchase.

Think Like a Search Engine User

You now already have a rough idea of where to categorize the different keywords according to the search intent. Put yourself in the shoes of the searcher. What kind of results would you like to see on the search engines?

 Do you think your current page provides that? If not, what is lacking in search engine optimization? When you feel like the search engine user you are trying to attract, you can easily plan your content.

Check SERPs

At times, it can be hard to track the search intent for a particular keyword. Fortunately, you can do SERP analysis to refine your keyword research and understand the search intent. Simply type the keyword in the search engine and check what is ranking for that keyword. Consider what kind of content they are creating. Also, check the way they are adding the keyword to their content. How does your content compare with what is ranking on the SERPs?

You might realize that some of the content ranking highly on the SERPs tackle the search query from a different angle. If there are similarities in the type of content the type pages are ranking for, that could be the response to the search intent. The idea isn’t to copy the competition but to get a good idea of the intent they are targeting.

Check Your Results

Consider the search queries you are ranking for and the click-through rate for each search query. If you are already ranking well for a particular keyword, this could indicate that you are responding to the search intent.

 Also, pay close attention to your engagement metrics, such as time on page and bounce rate. If there is a low engagement rate, it could be a sign that you aren’t meeting the search intent. To deal with the issue, you will need to check other pages that have a better engagement rate.

Think About Mixed Intent

You will, at times, have a broad keyword that could have mixed search intent. For instance, when someone types the keyword “ plus size dress,” it could be that she is looking for the dress or just general information on how to choose a plus size dress.

Search query with informational and transitional results.

By looking at the SERPs on the image above, we can tell that the search engines are showing products to satisfy the search query and giving information keywords on plus size summer dresses ideas. When handling this keyword, you should choose which of these search intents benefits you more.

Check Ambiguous Search Intent

There are instances when the search intent will be ambiguous. The searcher may use different words in the search query without providing enough information. For instance, when you search a keyword like Sliding doors, you will see results for:

  • People who want to buy doors
  • Information about 1998 films
  • “People Also Ask” on the above two results

This can be confusing as we have two different audiences searching with the same terms. In this case, you should satisfy the search intent that matches your need.

Google AutoSuggest

The suggested keywords offered by the Google Autosuggest tool are another important tool that can provide you with a good understanding of the search intent. When someone enters a keyword on Google, the site engine will provide you with a wide range of keywords. These are keywords that real people are searching for. These make them ideal candidates for content creation.

Once you find the keywords, you should check the type of content that is ranking for the keyword. This will give you a hint of the search intent. Google will rank on top of the SERPs the content it thinks meets the search intent. Therefore, you can use it to include or eliminate certain keywords that don’t match the search intent.

The People Also Ask section can also show search intent.

Finals Thoughts

Search intent doesn’t only help customers find answers to their queries faster. It also helps you to understand their pain points and motivations better. By following our guide, you will be better positioned to understand the search intent and provide search engine users with what they need at each stage of the buying process.

Benjamin is a writer with over ten years of experience in the content writing field. He holds a Bachelor's degree in  Journalism from Strathmore University. He writes on various niches such as product reviews, self-improvement, and making mone online. You can find him curled on his couch with a self-improvement book when he is not blogging.