Search Intent: The Most Important Ranking Factor In 2020

What is search intent? How to optimize your content for top rankings?

Published Under: SEO | Search Intent
Last Updated: January 30, 2020
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In this article, we will focus on the four different kinds of search intent; explaining a little bit about each and covering how and why they’re important and how you can differentiate your content accordingly. We’ll also provide some tips on how to optimize your content to increase click-through, maximize engagement and improve your website rankings.

Richard LeCount

Search Intent: What is It?

The term ‘search intent’ is essentially the catalyst behind why someone searches for something, these ‘whys’ will vary from person-to-person.

For example, if you were to type ‘Lego’ into a search engine, your intention may be to find the latest sets; whereas another searcher might be looking to find the location of the nearest Lego store.

Search intent can be broken down into four sub-categories:

  1. Navigational
  2. Informational
  3. Transactional
  4. Commercial

You may now be wondering why you need to optimise your website even further, given that you’ve probably done your keyword research and written the best content you can.

But the truth is, this alone isn’t enough, in this day and age with the way the search engine’s work, you need to find ways to offer further context for a searcher.

If you’re able to really dig deep into the psychology of existing and potential customers, and tap into why they’re searching for something specific, you’ll be in a position to attract them to your website by presenting the right kind of information.

As an online business owner in 2020, it’s up to you to interpret these different intentions of your searchers if you hope to grow your online presence.

Why is search intent so important?

By understanding search intent and learning the differences between the four sub-categories, you’ll have a much better grasp of the kind of content you need to create for your audience to satisfy specific searches.

This makes life a whole lot easier because it makes your content planning schedule a lot clearer, and you’ll be learning even more about your audience and what content they want to see.

When you start to create content in this way, your website has a much better chance of ranking higher in the search engines as you’ve strategically placed the right content in front of the right searcher at the right time.

Not only this but because you’re now beginning to fathom the distinctions between each users search, your content will start to rank for more targeted phrases and keywords. This, of course, will attract more engaged traffic and more opportunity for conversion.

As you take your searcher intent research even further, you’ll begin to develop a clearer idea of what your customer is looking for and how your products or services can satisfy this need.

This is where an in-depth customer persona can really make all the difference since you’ll be able to identify with a specific demographic through the eyes of your character.

Even while you do your keyword research, you need to focus on Search Intent

Always start with learning about the user's "Search Intent". Because this is what Google is primarily focused on. #SearchIntent #Google #2020
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Actionable Tips

How to Optimise Your Content for Search Intent

Did you know that an average search phrase consists of only 3 words.

Google works extremely hard to interpret what a searcher wants with every search attempt.

Keywords game is up!

Since Google's BERT Algorithm update, it is all about:

"Understanding the intent behind search queries."

Our task as content creators is to make sure our content is relevant to these search queries.

Developing an understanding of search intent is a crucial step towards achieving top ranking in search results SERPs.

Navigational searches take place when a brand is already known to the searcher – so you could describe this as a ‘branded search’.

In a navigational search instead of someone typing ‘toy blocks for kids’, they’ll instead type ‘Lego’.

This alone is a rather broad search term, so in this case, Google will prioritise the website home page as its first organic listing, as below:

Embedded content:

If a searcher is performing a search like this, they’re already acquainted with your business.

In order to satisfy these searches, you need to optimise your home page content with clear information about what products and services you offer and whom you offer them to.

It’s also a good idea to include your brand and products or services in the page title, subheadings and metadata where it makes sense to do so, as this will send clear signals to search engines when they’re trying to determine whether your website is relevant to this search.

Informational Search Intent

Informational search queries are those who look to find the answer to a question or a solution to a problem.

This is likely to manifest in the form of a question, such as ‘How’, ‘What’ or ‘Why’, in which the user is actively looking for a definitive answer to something.

When looking to optimise for informational search, you’ll need to include ‘intent modifiers’ to your keywords and phrases.

Intent modifiers are words that define the nature of each query. For instance, a searcher might initially look for ‘Lego sets’:

Embedded content:

But if the searcher were then to specifically type, ‘what’s the best Lego set for young children?’, Google would then know that the searcher was looking for a more specific answer:

Embedded content:

In order to optimise for informational queries, take a question your audience may ask and place it into places like blog titles, URLs and metadata.

It’s imperative to thoroughly answer the query within the content, this way you have a good chance of featuring your blog post in Google’s featured snippets, in the same way, that Care’s blog, ‘The 15 Best Lego Sets for Kids’ has done in the image above.

Intent modifiers could include anything that appears in the image below:

Embedded content:

Content that closely associated with informational intent are how-tos, blogs, list posts and step-by-step tutorials.

Transactional Search Intent

Transactional searches can also be described as ‘doing queries’, and this is because the searcher is searching with the intention of completing an action, such as buying a product.

In this case, searchers may sometimes use intent modifiers, but they’re more likely to just type in the name of a product they’re hoping to purchase:

Embedded content:

The image above shows a search that is actively engaged in the process of buying a specific product, so Google is aware that the searcher wants to see product pages so that they can complete a transaction.

To optimise for this, you’ll need to build a page design and curate content that keeps the visitor focused on completing the transaction. Sometimes the searcher is going to want to see specifications for the product, and this needs to be displayed in front of them in a simple format.

To encourage conversion, utilise lists and bullet-points and a clear call-to-action near the content.

It’s hard to emphasise just how important it is to make this process as easy as possible – otherwise you could be pushing a ready to buy customer to a competitor.

In terms of product page optimisation, you’ll want to select ‘transactional’ words, such as the name of the product and brand, where applicable, with intent modifiers, such as ‘discount’, ‘price’, ‘buy’ and ‘sale’.

Transactional searchers will be expecting to see service landing pages or product pages since they’re so close to converting.

Commercial Search Intent

A commercial search intent indicates that the user knows roughly what kind of product they’d like to purchase, but they haven’t yet decided on a brand.

This means they aren’t quite ready to make a purchase, but they’d like to compare between different companies to see which can best serve their needs.

In the example below, the searcher knows they want a creative toy, but they haven’t yet decided on a Lego product, like our previous searchers:

Embedded content:

Oher good examples of commercial searches could include searching for reviews, which in our case could be someone comparing a few different products to see if they might be a fit for the child they’re buying for.

To appear in search for these kinds of queries, ensure you create detailed product or service descriptions.

You could even create a blog post, or even an explainer video, comparing your product to something similar available on the market and explain why yours is the better option.

By creating content like this, you’re also deploying a tactic that is likely to develop a returning customer.

This is because, even if a customer ultimately decides to postpone their purchase, they’re more likely to come back to you because of the actionable and useful information that you’ve been able to provide them with.


Optimising your content for the four different kinds of search intent is a great way to improve your website’s visibility because you’ve tailored your content to more specific search queries.

Search intent optimised content is more likely to increase click-through-rates, since the metadata they see in the search engine results has been optimised to, at least partly, answer their question.

Having this kind of content on your site means customer engagement improves on each page, which decreases bounce rates and improves customer experience.

Earn links that produce results. Create content that wins traffic

Meet The Author

Richard LeCount

Richard LeCount is a branding and marketing expert and the managing director of

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