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What Is Search Intent

Photo of woman searching on a mobile device

Posted on 10/02/2018 at 09:45 AM

Most of us know that Google uses tools such as keywords, location, and metadata to help connect users with what they are trying to find, but what people might not know is that Google is also considering factors like the intention of the user conducting a search in order to make things easier for users to find what they’re after.  

What Is Search Intent?

Generally speaking, search intent can be summarized by asking the question: Why is a user conducting this specific search? By attempting to understand what the goal of a specific search might be, search engines are able to provide more relevant results, more quickly than by simply focusing on the content of the user’s search.   

How Does This Apply to Individual Users?

In order to take advantage of search intent, it’s important to understand how search engines arrange the data for each search into categories. These are:

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Transactional
  • Commercial

Informational Intent is exactly what you might be thinking. This category is for users who are seeking the answer to a specific question or they are looking to learn more about a broader topic. 

Navigational Intent is when a user knows what site they are trying to find, but are conducting a search instead of typing in the site’s domain. If a user wants to find a movie on Amazon Prime, but aren’t sure the exact location, they might search for Amazon Prime Video in order to find the site more quickly. 

Transactional Intent is best used to describe a user who is actively looking to make a purchase right away, but perhaps they are still looking for which product has better reviews and is a better value for a certain price-point.

Commercial Intent is similar to the Transactional Intent, but is a broad category for users who are still searching for what they want to buy. For example, if the user is looking at buying a car, they might still be in the process of figuring out their financing options, comparing Chevrolet and Ford, checking out what models get the best gas mileage. A user here is still researching information for a purchase they are going to make, but likely not immediately.   

How Does This Help My Website?

If a user visits your page, you want to make sure that the location the user came from and the content you are showing that user match up, otherwise the user will likely leave the page and (worst-case scenario) hop on to your competitor’s site. 

By thinking about the end-goal of the user, Google is able to achieve a better understanding of the thought process that might bring a user to a specific conclusion or could influence the user to make a specific decision. In order to optimize the understanding of a user’s search experience, Google breaks down the priorities of the user into the four categories mentioned above. 

So when you are creating and scheduling a Google AdWords ad, you’ll want to have the appropriate landing page depending on the path that will lead a customer to your site.    

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