The 4 Types of Search Intent (And Why It’s Important to Understand Each)

Should you rank for the keyword you want?

Well, that depends.

And fortunately, we’ll help you understand what that depends on.

Take a minute to learn about the four different kinds of search intent and why you’d target each:

  1. Informational Intent

Yep. This is the most common reason someone uses the web.

Searchers simply have a question. They want an answer.

These keywords have the largest search volume.

On your website, you target these types of searches with blog posts. You don’t want to sell yet.

For now, you just want to earn attention by being the best resource on the search (in comparison to all others).

  1. Navigational Intent

People search this way when they already have familiarity with your company.

They search this way to find a page that they can’t find by navigating manually.

They might search for your home page, a product or service page, or a contact page.

While you want to optimize for these searches just in case, you first should focus on making your own site so easy to navigate (and even to search from your site itself) such that people don’t need to do this kind of search.

  1. Commercial Intent

Despite the name, these searches don’t have 100% purchase intent. Instead, customers need a little bit more information before they finally feel ready to purchase.

Informational pages, like reports or blog posts, in addition to sales pages discussing your services, may be just the key needed to turn a visitor into a paying customer.

  1. Transactional Intent

At this point, searchers have 100% purchase intent. These searches focus on finding products or services that ask for the sale directly and immediately.

A transactional intent search for a product could be something like “Warby Parker men’s eyeglasses.”

However, an informational intent search for the same product could be “eyeglasses for men.” With that search, a consumer would likely be comparing and evaluating options.

For a service, a transactional intent search might be “North Texas Foot & Ankle podiatrist.” A search like that reveals the customer knows the company and wants to buy.

Commercial intent might look like this: “Dallas podiatrist.” Here, the customer will likely look at Google reviews, blog posts, and Facebook pages (and the reviews on those) to compare options and make a decision.

Where Should Your Page Rank?

Now that you understand the different types of pages, you can make decisions on how to construct the page so it meets the customer where they’re at psychologically.

Ask someone to buy when they search using an informational intent keyword phrase, and they get turned off and leave.

Give them the information they want – the very best you can offer – and they gain interest.

So, you have to look at each phrase you optimize your website for, and consider: what does the searcher really want when they enter that phrase?

It’s a never-ending process.

But it’s one worth mastering because you sell more when you optimize your site for machines and searchers.

 

The Future of Negative SEO Attacks

You’ve heard us talk about negative SEO before. Basically, it’s an active attempt on your competitor’s part to completely ruin your search rankings.

Yes, they can do that. And they can get away with it. But that doesn’t mean you have to live your life in fear that your whole business could disappear in an instant.

It simply means you have to be alert, have an SEO on your side who knows how to monitor this, and take prudent action should the problem ever arise. You can stop your competitors if you find yourself a target of negative SEO.

Here’s what dishonest competitors may do:

  1. Link from Known Bad Websites

Popular link analysis tools make bad websites a part of their available data. They don’t do it for the bad guys. They do it for the good guys so they know where not to link and when to act should a bad link appear.

However, as with anything, some use it for good purposes, while others use it for dishonest purposes.

Fortunately, you can tell Google to ignore those links when calculating rankings. That’s not a simple process. But you can do it.

  1. Fake or Anonymous Press Releases

This one hasn’t actually gained a lot of steam yet. Google has devalued links coming from press releases because SEOs have abused them to generate positive links in the past.

However, it wouldn’t be hard for a competitor to make up a phony news story to damage your reputation, and also to drive poor-quality links to your site.

  1. Duplicating Content

This one’s an oldie but a goodie (for the bad guys). Competitors can set a proxy website (one that conceals their location/identity) to index, crawl, and then duplicate your website.

For now, Google remains fairly adept at understanding which website was the original and ranking that. However, this tactic’s power could improve as Google chooses to focus on brands and reputations versus URLs.

  1. Mass Manipulation of Third-Party Review Sites

These niche sites drive a significant amount of qualified traffic to your website. However, a competitor could pay a cheap service in a third-world country to register user accounts en masse which would then begin to inundate that site (and perhaps social media profiles too) with fraudulent negative reviews.

The success of this strategy relies on the third-party sites’ desire to monitor such reviews. They likely would have such an interest in doing so because sites that get overrun with these reviews would lose credibility with legitimate users. And that in turn would ruin their profitability.

I don’t write this post to scare you. But you do have to be aware of dangers like these (and others). And that’s why it’s important to have a SEO company watching your six.

 

 

How to Use Google Trends to Fuel Higher Search Rankings

Believe it or not, we haven’t covered this topic before.

But, it’s a great way to find keyword searches that your competitors may not be optimizing for.

It’s through a free tool called Google Trends.

It simply shows you how hot a certain keyword search is. For example, I typed in “SEO,” and here’s what showed up:

So, you can clearly see:

  1. For whatever reason, SEO’s relative strength as a search has dropped from 100 to 50 in the past year
  2. SEO is really hot in Kansas, New York, and California

Now, I have absolutely no clue why. But at least you understand America as a whole is losing interest in “SEO” as a topic.

You also get related searches that are gaining steam:

“Insignia SEO” comes up as a popular search. And that’s the name of an SEO company.

Since “SEO” is a relatively large category, however, you get some fairly unrelated topics to what you intended.

“SEO” seems to have a lot to do with South Korean actors.

So, let’s try and clarify that to get more relevant topics. This time, I entered “search engine optimization,” and here’s what showed up:

Again, for whatever reason, the topic as a whole seems to be losing steam here over the past year. And again, it appears to be gaining popularity in Kansas and New York.

So let’s see what came up in terms of related searches:

Ahh! Here’s some useful search terms:

  • Search engine optimization definition
  • Search engine optimization for dummies
  • Search engine optimization techniques

And apparently, search engine optimization’s gaining a lot of popularity in Seattle too.

But now, you at least have a few terms that you know would be worth writing about. And to get a clearer idea on them each, you could enter them into Google trends.

“Search engine optimization techniques” for example, has had its popularity chopping up and down for the past year. Currently, it’s shooting up for whatever reason.

You can also check the trend for the keyword in Image search, News search, Google shopping, and YouTube search.

So, this is quite a helpful tool – especially when you start really drilling down into various niches. You can check the specific popularity of fairly obscure topics most people know little about. It’s a way of gaining precision marketing data that simply wasn’t available prior to the internet.

And if you learn how to use this, it acts as a “secret weapon” in your marketing arsenal.

Google Shocks the SEO World with New “Medic” Core Algorithm Update

 

…Oh those stinkers at Google. They did it again!

At least they’re laying off cute animal names (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird) this time.

So what ace did they pull out of their sleeves now?

Learn more about the “Medic” update:

Health, Medical, and YMYL Sites Pay Attention

Google doesn’t target niches too often. Especially with core algorithm updates. So it’s noteworthy when they do.

Because something must really be bothering them if they decided to take action.

First, what is a YMYL site? Well, it does one or more of the following:

  1. Asks for personal identification numbers like your banking info
  2. Allows you to perform a monetary transaction with a credit card number or any other payment mechanism
  3. Offers medical or health information that could affect your mental or physical well-being
  4. Gives advice on a major life decision like buying a home or car, or parenting
  5. Offers advice on a major financial issue

The core result of Google’s actions has been to reward the top-quality content in this niche with the highest rankings. Apparently, they felt some sites in this niche were under-rewarded. 

And for those sites who fell, it’s not that their content was “bad.” It’s been “less good” than top-performing content in those niches.

These sites saw around a 33-50% drop in their overall rankings:

…While these sites saw a 33-50% gain in their search rankings:

So, it’s a matter of studying what their content does well. And what it stinks at.

Then, you simply imitate the winners.

Surprise, Surprise! Quality Content Wins the Day!

If you’ve paid any attention to SEO for the last 5 years, you shouldn’t be the slightest bit shocked.

Now, you certainly had no way to know Google would target health, medical, and financial websites.

But, you’ve certainly hear Google (and us) talk endlessly about driving your content quality through the roof.

Remember, “quality content” refers to what your market finds the most valuable. And they tell you that through these metrics:

  1. Bounce rate (the number of people who visit a certain page on your website once, and then leave permanently)
  2. Time spent on-page
  3. Social shares
  4. Page visits
  5. Email unsubscribe rate
  6. Email click rate
  7. Email list size

These metrics tell you other things too. They don’t necessarily only reflect content quality. But, they do offer some indication of the quality of your content.

That’s the great thing about the web. You can learn exactly what your audience wants over time – without them ever speaking a word to you.

So anyway, there’s your lesson for the day. Google’s cleaning up the web. And it’s becoming a more useful place every day.

Now it’s up to you to do the best job you can of serving your audience.

Google Ups Its Standard for “Quality Content”

Google recently updated its Quality Rater Guidelines.

Did you know they have people read websites, rate their quality, and factor how they perceive content into their algorithm?

We have mentioned it here and there on our blog over the years. And it is, and will remain, part of Google’s algorithm for the foreseeable future (at least until machines can fully understand and analyze like people anyway).

This search will take you directly to the official document raters use. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the link didn’t work!

Anyway, Google has a document that tells raters how to analyze content. It’s just as exciting as reading tax code, or watching paint dry (whichever you prefer).

So, instead of reading a long, obnoxious document, learn the highlights of what’s changed here:

The Standard for “Low Quality Pages” Has Risen

A “low quality” page misses the mark on what it hopes to achieve. Raters are now instructed to give pages low ratings, even if they’re clearly intended to serve a beneficial purpose (which wasn’t the case in the past).

If a page meets one or more of the following criteria in the perception of a rater, then it should be rated “low:”

  • The writer clearly doesn’t have expertise, authority, or trustworthiness in the subject
  • The main content quality seems low
  • The main content isn’t long enough to achieve the page’s purpose
  • The main content has an exaggerated or shocking title (this was added to diminish the rankings of shocking click-bait style articles that contain no depth)
  • Ads and supplemental content distract from the main content
  • There is an unsatisfying amount of information regarding the creator of the page, or the general reputation of the website
  • The main content creator has a generally negative reputation, based on research

What This Means to You

Basically, if you set out to create written content, you must do the best job of it you know how. Or, you need to hire someone who takes it seriously as a profession.That means you need to budget time or money. And if you feel you can’t afford quality content, don’t try to skimp. You’re better off not doing anything at all.

Why?

 

Because Google’s only tightening the standards for the internet. It wants to get at the top of its search rankings exactly what the market (people) wants. People want informative, useful, accurate, and interesting content. They want their time to feel like its been spent wisely.

So aim to give them the best you possibly know how every time. Your business will benefit financially. And you’ll keep your rankings…or watch them rise.

2 Simple SEO Opportunities You’re Overlooking Right Now

 

Truthfully, SEO requires endless ongoing work. You can spend your entire working year on SEO only.

So, that means you always have abundant opportunity for growth. And somehow, you have to focus on the opportunities that can make the most difference for you now.

Here’s another couple ideas to focus your (or your SEO team’s) energy on:

1. Get as Many Reviews as Possible

This could mean Google reviews for your company’s listing when you appear in search. It could also be for specific products as they get listed in search. And you’ll also want reviews all over your website.

Third-party data like this not only boosts your search rankings and your visibility in search, but it also convinces people who don’t know you well yet.

What’s more credible than honest, objective opinions from people who have experienced your product or service?

Worried about negative reviews?

Don’t be.

You can transform them into amazing customer service stories. Simply resolve the issue publicly so other potential customers can see you’ll fix things when they go wrong.

That builds an incredible amount of confidence.

Don’t manipulate your reviews. Follow up purchases and service experiences by email with a link that allows customers to leave honest reviews.

2. Use Customer-Generated Photos

Don’t these frequently look odd and “unprofessional?”

Yes!

…But that doesn’t matter.

Customers don’t want a professional experience on your website that’s completely controlled by your company.

That reeks of bias and lack of objectivity.

Of course, they want your site to look organized and like you care.

But they also want to understand what it’s like to actually experience your product or service.

And posting customer photos makes that far more real and authentic than any expensive professional photo or costly stock image.

Yotpo increased sales by 24% by adding customer-generated photos to their site.

From the SEO side, include phrases that accurately describe what’s happening in the photo using natural language (in the image’s alt text).

This gets you search engine exposure. And then when customers click over to your site and see that photo (instead of an odd, professional, and clearly staged photo like nearly every other business has), you have a far greater chance of winning their business.

Yes. SEO gets creative like this today. And every little edge you can get – the better off you are.