Search Intent

Google wants one thing above all else: to satisfy its users’ needs. Hence, only sites capable of understanding people’s search Intent will win favor with them and with the search engine.

Millions of queries are made on the Internet every day. Users try to find answers to any question or need they have, and the challenge for search engines lies in their ability to offer the best result in the shortest possible time.

For this reason, today, we will examine the search intention in SEO and analyze the different types that exist. In addition, we will delve into how you can optimize your website’s content so that your site is chosen.

What is search intent in SEO?

We can define the search intent as the type of content or response that a user really wants to find when making a specific query in an Internet search engine.

Looking for general information on any topic is not the same as looking for, for example, a list of the best hotels in New York. Internet search engines must know how to interpret this in order to better satisfy these intentions.

For some time now, Google has been adapting its algorithms to machine learning, with the aim of understanding human language and. the real needs of users, in the case of semantics with Hummingbird and artificial intelligence from RankBrain.

But it is not only the task of the search engines to know how to interpret the search intention of the users; you must also know it and decipher it to be able to offer content that satisfies their curiosity and, consequently, improve the SEO positioning of your website. For example, expert digital marketing agencies employ a number of sophisticated strategies such as keyword research, competitor analysis, and understanding the target audience to plan search intent content. They will then create content that is aligned with a user’s intent, making the user experience more personalized.

What types of Search Intent Exist in SEO?

The study “Determining the informational, navigational, and transactional intent of Web queries”, which they did at Penn State University in 2004, at that time classified the search intentions of users into 3 general categories:

  • Informative: the user wants to know something concrete.
  • Transactional: It is the query in which users intend to do something or buy something.
  • Navigational: when users directly type the name of a brand or page.

For its part, in the case of Google, it is currently said that its algorithms can better distinguish the different types of content according to the specific theme of each of the searches carried out by users.

And it is precisely the main Internet search engine that we could say today divides the search intention into 4 (3+1) different categories.

types of intentions

Let’s see, then, in detail, this classification of search intent that Google theoretically does.

1. Know (Know / informative)

» Know Simple Query

“Know Simple” searches are all the queries made by users who want very specific information, and Google can more easily determine what is being requested.

The answers offered by the search engine are ultra-specific, as well as short and concise.

» Know Complex Query

The “Know Complex” are more complex searches that require a more developed answer, depend on the person who performs them, and can sometimes be ambiguous for the search engine or have more than one appropriate answer.

In this type of search, an important factor for SEO content, such as Google’s EAT, usually comes into play.

2. Do (to do)

The search intention « Do» is all the activity carried out by the user with a specific purpose and action. And this can include anything from making a phone call, downloading or running an application, to making a purchase or reservation, among others.

» Buy / Obtain / Download / Interact

They are those that Google can easily understand since the user reveals the action he wants to perform within the query itself. The offered result reveals what the user’s actual search intent was.

To position here, it is essential that the web that offers the result allows you to carry out the specific action that is being requested in the query: buy, reserve, download, etc.

» Device Action

Actions must be carried out from the same device since they are generated.

Within this type of search, intent are all actions in which the user asks their phone or device to do something, such as opening an application to listen to music or making a phone call.

3. Find (find)

» Locations

Google thinks more local every day. For this reason, the queries made by users and related to the physical location of the result are collected here. For example, “Where is restaurant X?” or “Where can I get money?”.

In this type of consultation, in order to give the exact answer to users, the location of the device where it originates is taken into account. In addition, for this, the search engine relies on its integration with Google Maps.

When classifying this type of intention, Google advises using common sense to detect if a search is of the Visit in person type.

» Website

This includes the searches that users do when they want to find a specific website. The search range is so wide that it can go from putting the name of the brand or the web to writing a keyword plus the name of the brand that owns the web.

Let’s see an example. Imagine the user putting “thrillers on Amazon” in the Google search engine. This transactional intention is also included within those of the Website type, because the user wants the information he needs to come from a single specific source, in this case Amazon.

4. Mixed (Mixed)

Although we cannot define it as a specific User search intention, the mixed one cannot be missing from this list.

Let me explain better… Sometimes, user queries can be easily classified into one of the above categories. But, at other times, the search may have different intentions at the same time.

This is usually the case when we talk about very generic search queries. In the case of the mixed, Google can get to combine intentions. For example, you can mix information with sales content.

IMPORTANT: keywords alone are no longer enough. Today it is also necessary to take into account the search intention that users have in order to offer them the answer that best suits what they really need to find.

How to optimize web content to respond to the user’s search intention?

When creating content for your website, you must think about answering the user’s question. This does not consist of choosing a keyword and writing, without further ado, on a specific topic; you must also interpret the intention of the person who will make the query that will be answered with said content.

Keywords play an essential role in optimizing your content. If the keyword is informative, the user may be looking for an article, news or wiki. In the case of transactional keywords, it is very likely that the user wants to see results from an eCommerce or sales page.

Next, I will give you some tips on optimizing your content strategy to satisfy the user’s query.

1. Dig deep into the first few search results

The first thing you should do is a detailed analysis of the web pages already positioned in Google. Thus, you will understand what it shows to the users who make that query and create your content accordingly.

Analyze, observe and read the related search suggestions displayed by Google. Use SEO tools that show you all the questions and queries that users write in relation to the keyword and its results.

2. General analysis of the SERPs

The results pages offered by Internet search engines do not always show the same content, since they change periodically.

Basing your content on a single analysis of results during a specific moment can hurt you. To avoid this problem, look for the results history of the keyword you are analyzing, this will help you to have a more general vision.

When analyzing the history, you will find that some keywords’ list of results does not change much over time, and others do so relatively easily.

3. Study of the type, format and presentation of the content

Once you have your keywords located and you have already analyzed the SERPs, observe and study the content that is positioned for those keywords, taking into account these aspects:

” Type of content

What kind of content tops the search results for the keyword? It can be a blog post, a sales or subscription landing, etc. See which one dominates and create the right type of content to satisfy the query.

»  Content Format

You can find content formats such as a tutorial, a comparison, a video, etc.

For example, the keyword “potato omelette” returns many results that show how to make it step by step. However, in the keyword “Milky Way” there are informative results, such as articles or curiosities.

» Differentiating elements of the content

Looking at the first search results, you will see how they are created and why they are in those positions.

Returning to the potato omelet example, where the first search results are recipes, it is not the same for the user to read “Potato omelet recipe” as to read “Simple and delicious potato omelet recipe” or “How to make a potato omelet in 3 easy steps.”

In addition, you must also analyze whether these contents include videos, images or some other format that is of greater informative and pedagogical value to it.

4. Semantic SEO

Semantic SEO plays a very important role if you want to make it easier for Google to understand what you are talking about better. In addition to the keywords and their synonyms, it is important that you work on the thematic context of all the content.

It is no longer necessary to repeat keywords. Work the semantic field of your texts. Google will know how to interpret it, and if it understands you, you will have a better chance of appearing in its results for the correct query. In this way, you improve not only your positioning but also the experience of your users by offering them relevant content.


Knowing how to respond to the user is one of the keys to success in conquering your customers and Google. Knowing the search intent gives you the key to know what your audience needs, what you should write and how you should present it to them.

Do good keyword research, content curation, and, above all, actively observe the changes in the SERP. After all, users decide what content they consume, and listening to their needs gives you the key to improving and maintaining your positioning in Google.

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