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Search intent analysis: how to determine the user’s intent

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Having established what search intent is and the four types of search intent, let’s look at how to determine a users’ intent through analysis. Understanding how to analyze search results for intent will enable you to create better content to meet the needs of your target audience.

You can determine the user’s intent by checking the search engine results page for the keyword or phrase they are searching for. When you look at the terms or modifiers used within a search and the features and content presented within the results, you can make an educated guess about the user’s intent.

Why is search intent analysis important for growth marketing?

Optimizing your content to address your users’ needs by analyzing the intent behind a target keyword will boost engagement. On the other hand, if you fail to optimize for search intent, your content will struggle to rank well and generate engagement from users. Therefore, a successful content marketing strategy must include search intent analysis. 

Benefits of search intent analysis

  • Better understanding of your audience’s needs
  • Increased ability to optimize content based on intent 
  • Improved search performance
  • Longer user engagement with your content
  • Results in more leads and conversions

How do you determine search intent?

Here are five steps you can take to get a complete understanding of the intent behind a search: 

Step 1: Consider the words used

Understanding a user’s search intent starts with looking at the words they use within their search. 

Here are common modifiers used for each type of search intent:

Navigational

  • brand names
  • product names
  • service names

Informational

  • what, who, where, when, how, why
  • tips, guide, tutorial
  • names

Commercial

  • best, top
  • review, comparison
  • near me

Transactional

  • buy, price, order
  • discount, coupon
  • register, sign-up

Step 2: Review the SERP features

Once you arrive at the search engine results page, the features Google serves up will help you uncover the user’s intent.

Here are the SERP features you’re likely to encounter with each type of intent:

Navigational

  • Site-links
  • Knowledge-panel-business
  • The #1 domain recurring multiple times

Informational

  • Blog posts
  • News
  • Videos
  • Recipes
  • Knowledge-panel
  • Featured snippet
  • People also ask

Commercial

  • Local pack
  • Google Ads
  • Jobs
  • Review stars

Transactional

  • Shopping box
  • Landing pages
  • Local listings

Step 3: Look at what people are also asking

Currently, in many search results, Google serves up a box of questions labeled “People also asked” which are questions people commonly search on Google related to your search terms and maybe a helpful next step to the user. 

Here is an example of a “people also ask” box for the search “mediterranean diet” which appears to be informational intent.

In addition to helping you discover the intent behind the search, these supporting questions may also suggest what other questions your content should address.

Step 4: See what searches are related

Another great feature that can help you understand the intent is the related searches at the bottom of the search results page. As a user, you can see related searches that others have conducted. 

Here are the current related searches for “best outdoor projector” which is commercial intent.

Much like the “people also ask” SERP feature, the related searches can help you determine what else you should cover during content planning.

Step 5: Audit the top-performing content

As a final step in analyzing search intent, you should look at the recommended web pages Google suggests users visit. The content on these pages and the information found on them provide you with a glimpse into what Google thinks serves the search best at the moment.

Conclusion

After completing this analysis, you have the information you need to understand the users’ intent and best address it through content creation. You can not only create content that competes with the current top results, but you can go beyond and create something even better. Therefore, you will have a much greater chance of SEO success. 

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