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March 22, 2021

Why Search Intent Is So Important For SEO

Undertaking keyword research to choose the right keywords for SEO is the foundation for great SEO, but it is also really important to consider the search intent of the keyword and if Google are likely to rank your website for that word.

Search intent is the motivation behind a search query.   In other words, why did the person make this search?  Do they want to learn something?  Are they looking for a specific website?  Are they definitely looking to make a purchase or are they simply casting around for information and weighing up options before buying? 

For example, search terms like ‘Flight times to Melbourne’, ‘Australian dollar exchange rate’ and ‘Joe Biden’ indicate the person is only looking for information or answers.

Terms like ‘Bupa login’, ‘SEO School’, ‘Golflink’ and ‘Facebook’ indicate the user is looking for a particular website and doesn’t know (or can’t be bothered to find) the exact URL.

Buy iPhone 12’, ‘smartrider pass’ and ‘cheapest flights to London’ indicate a transactional search intent, i.e.the person is looking to buy.

When terms like ‘Italian restaurant near me’, ‘cheap car tyres’ and ‘yoga vs pilates’ are used, these indicate search intent that is investigative in nature.  The user is hunting for information that may or may not lead to a purchase.

Importance of Search Intent For SEO

Understanding the ‘why’ behind a user’s particular search is crucial for Google rankings.  That’s why, if you understand search intent, your keyword research will yield more effective results and you’ll be able to create content that’s more closely aligned to search intent.   Give Google what they want.

It’s also really important to understand that many local searches have a commercial investigative intent.  For example, a person searching for ‘naturopath’ may just be looking for more information on what a naturopath does, but if this keyword has a local search term added to it, the search intent becomes evident.   They have a need for a naturopath in their area.

Primarily, you need to look behind the search query to uncover what people are actually looking for.  Once you understand the reasons for the search , you can ensure that your keyword research is relevant for successful SEO and can start building a successful SEO strategy. 

Ultimately, a solid understanding of search intent will boost your SEO because you’ll be optimising for the right keywords.

Building Your SEO Strategy

Doing keyword research without digging deep into search intent is like building something on poorly laid foundations.   It might look good initially, but cracks would soon appear and there would be no possibility of extending or adding more levels without compromising the whole structure. Building your SEO strategy is no different.  Without a solid base of well-researched keywords with search intent at the heart of that research, you are going to struggle to rank for the keywords that really matter.

When you’re doing your keyword research for your SEO strategy, ask yourself:

  • What has motivated the search query? 
  • What does the person doing the search actually want? 
  • Is the searcher after information or are they looking for something specific to buy?  
  • Do they have a particular website in mind and are they using Google to find it? 
  • Is the user investigating options with regards to a particular product or service and looking for reviews or comparisons before making a final purchasing decision?       
  • When I type that keyword into Google, what sort of results come up? Are they my competitors and businesses like mine or are they all informational type websites. 


Remember – if you are a product or service-based business, you want to focus your SEO efforts primarily on keywords where people are searching for your product or service. 

You wouldn’t want the focus of your SEO to be informational keywords – instead you want people to be looking for a business like yours.   For example, if you are a florist that specialises in wedding flowers, you would like to optimise for ‘Wedding Flowers (+ your nearest suburb or town)’.   You don’t want to rank for ‘Best place to buy wedding flowers’ where most of the results would be directory listings or money-saving websites. 

Search Intent in Relation to Keyword Research

Search intent in relation to keyword research is one of the most important aspects of SEO because it is the basis of your entire strategy.   The more you know and understand about what the searcher actually wants, the more relevant you can make your offering and the greater your chances of long-term rankings success.  

Do you want to get started with some keyword research? 

Here’s what you should be doing to get started when it comes to keyword research (whilst considering keyword intent). 

  • Start with the brainstorm of keywords that you think are relevant to your business. Remember to use local search terms if they’re relevant to your business.
  • Use keyword tools to see if those keywords you initially thought were relevant, actually do have any search volume (ie. how many people search for them).
  • Type those keywords into Google and see if other businesses similar to your businesses come up.  If you see a lot of non-business websites (like informational websites), then the keyword intent is probably not right. 

Check out my new online, self-managed course, The SEO School, which takes you through all the key tools and techniques of a successful SEO strategy.  The course is great for business owners, website managers and anyone who wants hands-on learning about all the essentials of SEO from an industry expert.  Find out more about The SEO School here.

If you found this post useful then you might also like  “Make Keyword Intent A Big Part of Your Google Ads Campaign” and  “Using Google Search For Keyword Research

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