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Understanding User Search Intent for Your Business

By Christine Hazel 22 Aug 2019
Understanding User Search Intent for Your Business

Studying user search intent helps you generate content beneficial to customers at any given time.

Eight years ago, the phrase “zero moment of truth” became a driving force in the way Google operated as an online technology. Capitalising on consumer behaviour as the key to making a huge a difference in the Internet, the term zoomed in on the research phase that every consumer goes through prior to buying a product.

The zero moment of truth is basically that “stimulus” or eureka moment that attracts you to a product. It is also the first instance when the buyer gets to know a product further before finally buying it.

Fast Forward to the Present

There is little difference then and now. The ideology is the same, the interpretation evolving. This, to be at the forefront of consumer interest, your company, your website and the products you sell must be within easy access of your users. As soon as they find your company a better fit for their needs, they will not hesitate to click the “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” button.

But it is easier said than done. How do you know you are generating the right content to the right audience at the right time? How do you supply information that your customers can you anytime they are ready to make a purchase?

As a company, this is the moment when you take full advantage of user search intent particularly if you’re working with an SEO company or running your own digital marketing campaign.

SEO Search Intent Defined

This term first appeared in 2002 when an Altavista employee, Andrei Broder, used it to run a succcesful campaign.

There are 3 types of user search intent, said Andrei: (1) information, (2) navigational, and (3) transactional.

What are their implications for SEO? In a nutshell, these types of search intent work as follows:

(1) Informational Search

These are generic searches that are usually conducted by individuals who wish to know something. There is no express intention to buy – just to gather information that might be helpful to one’s personal life.

How-to searches fall under this search intent type. For instance, when you want to clean your oven and you type “How to clean microwave oven” on Google’s search bar. As a user, your intent is to understand the nitty-gritty of cleaning an oven.

Although generic and not exactly conversion-generating in every sense of the word, go for these queries. You will want to rank for them. While there is no guarantee of a conversion, users who find your content beneficial will be sure to remember you. At some point in their journey, they may return to your website and find out if your product offerings are what they are looking for.

Experts also agree that how-to article tend to rank well on the SERPs. Clearly an invitation you cannot refuse if you want get your business name out there.

(2) Transactional Search

This type of search carries with the express intent to make a purchase. The user is more than ready to buy a product, provided it meets expectations.

As a website owner, it will be to your advantage if you optimise your site for related products or categories. Queries like “buy a printer cartridge” and “cheap printed cartridges under $50” are likely to bring your products to the forefront of consumer search. Specific and call-to-action queries are search-friendly and helpful to users.

While informational searches are important, when optimising your site, your first priority should be transactional keywords.

(3) Navigational Search

The navigational search intent is single-minded. The user knows all too well what site, brand or product he or she is going for. Moreover, there is a clear intent to purchase (although timeline maybe subject to contention).

Essentially, this type of search is aimed at your customers. Those who already know about your brand or people who were referred to your site or told about your product offering.

What to do in this case? Optimise your site so that it is easily searchable. If you have competitors with a similar brand or company name, be careful. Your website must have distinctive features that set it apart from the others.


These 3 search intent types are collectively called the “Know”, “Do” and “Go.” Information is knowing, transactional is doing and navigating is going to the website itself.

If all is clear now, then you better work on your website and your web content ASAP.

Source: [1]