What is Search Intent?

How well do you know your audience? Every business must understand its audience to a certain extent in order to create products, services, and offerings that are relevant, useful, and attractive to its ideal clients. 

Understanding your audience takes time and some elements to consider are age, location, gender, income level, and values. These elements help you craft a customer avatar which is a detailed overview of a hypothetical customer. But, creating an avatar is just the beginning. 

Next, you must stand in the shoes of each customer avatar and uncover their search intent.

What is search intent?

Search intent is the reason why a person is searching. And search intent can vary greatly from person to person. Two people may search for marketing services and one person may be a college student looking for career knowledge and the other person may be part of an accounting firm that is looking for a local SEO specialist. 

Understanding search intent is key for attracting high-quality traffic to your site. The four main reasons a person may be searching are to find more information (The Researcher), to navigate to another site (The Traveler), to purchase something (The Buyer), or to research something they want to purchase in the near future (The Buyer-To-Be).

Let’s stand in the shoes of 4 different types of searchers to better understand their search intent.

The Researcher

When a person is trying to find out more information, they’re in research mode. These are people on a mission to learn something or gather knowledge and they do this by referencing different reputable sources. 

This type of searcher can be at any stage of the buyer’s journey – awareness, consideration, and decision. 

Awareness Stage Consideration Stage Decision Stage
This person has a problem or opportunity and is looking for more information. This person has a clearly defined problem and they want to solve it or an opportunity and they want to seize it. This person knows what they want and they’re ready to buy it.

Researchers in the awareness stage have a problem or opportunity and are looking for more information to better understand their situation. They may perform searches like this:

  • Why is my website traffic so low?
  • Should I have a high or low bounce rate?
  • How does SEO work?

Researchers in the consideration stage have a clearly defined problem or opportunity and are seeking information on how to solve that problem or best seize the opportunity. They may perform searches like this:

  • What is keyword research?
  • How to create an internal linking strategy
  • SEO for beginners

Researchers in the decision stage know what they want. They have decided on what strategies or solutions they need and are now seeking offerings or services that can help them achieve their goals. They may have searches like this:

  • Free SEO online certification
  • Local SEO specialists
  • Top 10 white-label SEO agencies

You can capture the attention of a researcher by creating informative blogs, having a detailed about page, using multiple platforms to share knowledge, and through guest posting. Let’s explore each of these options a bit more.

  • Blogging is a great way to build expertise, authority, and trustworthiness – or E.A.T. When search engines crawl your website, they’re scanning for evidence that your site has high E.A.T and one way to increase your E.A.T is through blogging. The more blog posts that are on your website, the bigger your site’s knowledge base will be, thus the higher your E.A.T and the higher your ranking will be on SERPs (search engine results pages).

It’s best practice to target specific keyword phrases in your blog posts and to build an internal linking strategy. For more information on internal linking, check out our simple guide to internal linking.

  • Your company’s about page should give new page visitors a clear picture of who you are, your vision for the future, and the problem your business solves. Once a new page visitor lands on your website, they should understand your business and how your products or services can help them.

The company below goes a step further to share how their company has a positive impact on the world. This aspect of the business model makes customers feel like they’re part of the positive impact when they purchase. 

  • Create thought leadership by utilising multiple platforms to share knowledge. Your business doesn’t need to have a presence on every digital platform. Pick a few outlets that align well with your business and your audience, and start publishing quality content. 

There’s a lot of digital platform options to choose from, so focus on the platforms that align best with your brand and audience. Don’t spread yourself or your team thin by trying to create content on several different platforms at once. Choose wisely and build with intention and clarity. 

  • Guest posting is another way to build thought leadership by leveraging the audience of another website. A guest post is a blog or article created by your business that lives on another website. The post usually has links within it that drive traffic to your site. These are called backlinks.

Blogging, thought leadership, having a presence on multiple platforms and guest posting are just some ways you can tap into the researchers who are on search engines. By offering clear and valuable information, you will likely hook the searcher and maybe even convert them from visitor to customer.

The Traveler

Those using search engines to navigate to another site are travellers. They do not stay on search engines for long. A traveller may search for anything like ‘Facebook’ or ‘google analytics’ or ‘how-to optimise digital marketing videos.’

The searcher who searches for ‘Facebook’ will likely select the Facebook website link and then spend the rest of their time on the social media platform. They have no reason to go back to the search engine. 

The searcher who performs a search for ‘google analytics’ could be looking for the official Google site, a google analytics plug-in or an unbiased overview of google analytics and how it compares to other analytics tools. 

The searcher who aims to find how-to videos for digital marketing could select a video on a big platform like YouTube or a video on a small business website. 

The google analytics search and the how-to video search are queries that can be made with many different intentions. While the person that searches Facebook is most likely just trying to access Facebook and that’s all.

Travellers are searchers that are navigating to another site quickly and are harder to capture than researchers because they know what they want and just want the search engine to take them there. 

Instead of trying to capture this kind of searcher, be aware of how these types of searchers will impact keyword phrase rankings. If your business has a Facebook ads certification course and you see that your business ranks high for the search term ‘Facebook ads,’ but you don’t get much traffic from those searches, they could be travellers. 

You may find that those searching for the phrase ‘Facebook ads’ just want to get to their Facebook Ads Manager page. In this instance, it’s beneficial to review your targeted keyword phrases to ensure you’re choosing keyword phrases that will drive quality traffic to your website. 

The Buyer

Online shopping is incredibly popular and ‘The Buyer’ is a searcher who is ready to purchase something online. This type of searcher usually already knows what they’re looking for and are ready to buy, but they’re still searching for a reliable supplier, a good deal or something else that they need to see before putting in their credit card information. 

Going back to the buyer’s journey we discussed earlier, a person searching with transactional intent is in the decision phase. You can attract a person in the decision phase that’s ready to purchase by creating attractive offers, ranking high for quality keywords, having a clear call to action on sales pages, and creating a sense of security and trust. 

And not all calls to action have to be purchase oriented. On our Wholesale SEO Services page, we offer the option to book a strategy call for those who are not sure which package would be a good fit for their project.

search intent

Creating an attractive offer that buyers can’t resist will help you stand out among many competitors on SERPs. You can create an eye-catching offer with discounts, a one time use coupon code or low prices. Just get a good read on your audience and the competition first. 

If it seems like your audience prefers higher prices that signify quality and high status, coupons and discounts won’t get their attention. They’ll look for words like rare, handcrafted, impeccable detail, small-batch, limited supply, – you get it. 

Ranking high for quality keywords is SEO 101. Before you can rank high for a keyword or keyword phrase, you must do some research and reflection. If you haven’t chosen target keywords, you can start by reviewing your existing product or service and list keywords and phrases that are related to your offering. Then see how other businesses are ranking for those keywords and analyse their strategies to see what works and what aligns with your business. 

You may find that the keywords you’re currently using aren’t appropriate for your business. If that’s the case you can start brainstorming by looking at the big picture first.  

  • Start with your niche.
  • List sub-categories within your niche.
  • What problems can you solve within a category?
  • Then begin to list potential keywords and phrases. 

Having a clear call-to-action (CTA) makes it easier for buyers who are motivated and ready to purchase. If a sales page has too much content and it’s hard to find a way to purchase, the buyer will move on. Some best practices for CTAs are:

  • Be clear and concise on the sales page.
  • Create urgency using language like ‘limited time offer,’ or ‘only a few spots left.’
  • Create a button that is bold and easy to see.
  • Place the button on the page multiple times.
  • Add supporting content like studies, statistics, research or anything that reassures the buyer’s decision to purchase.

Not all searchers who intend to shop are ready to purchase, though. Don’t forget to consider those thinking about purchasing.

The Buyer-To-Be

Just like researchers, the buyer-to-be is on the hunt for information. These searchers are in the awareness or consideration phase of the buyer’s journey. This means that they’re aware they have a problem or an opportunity but aren’t sure about the best solution or best way forward. 

Let’s expand on the search examples I listed earlier, in The Researcher section, for researchers in the awareness and consideration stage. We’ll go over how you can appeal to potential searches from people that are Buyers-To-Be in the awareness or consideration stage.

Buyers-to-be in the awareness stage may perform searches like this:

  • Why is my website traffic so low?
    • Appeal to their desire for knowledge with informational blog posts and videos. Teach them how to review and improve their website traffic.
    • Appeal to their desire for action by creating a CTA to a webinar, course, or product demo.
  • Should I have a high or low bounce rate?
    • Appeal to their desire for knowledge with information on the common misconceptions about bounce rate. 
    • Appeal to their desire for action by adding a CTA for a PDF, consulting call, or video series.
  • How does SEO work?
    • Appeal to their desire for knowledge with content that gives a basic overview of SEO. This is a great time to implement the pillar and cluster model to really hook the page visitor. I’ll give you a brief overview here.
    • Basically, the pillar is a broad topic and the clusters are groupings of subtopics. So, if a page visitor lands on your site because of an article titled ‘Everything You Need To Know About SEO’ and that article has internal links to articles related to themes like internal linking, guest posting, technical SEO audits or if you should hire an SEO agency, this is an example of pillar and cluster at work. 

Buyers-To-Be in the consideration stage may perform searches like this:

  • What is keyword research?
    • Appeal to their desire for knowledge and action with tips on how to use keyword research to boost SEO.
  • How to create an internal linking strategy
    • Appeal to their desire for knowledge and action with information on what an internal linking strategy is and how to easily create an internal linking strategy.
  • SEO for beginners
    • Appeal to their desire for knowledge and action with a detailed overview of SEO and include a CTA with a link to a course or PDF with more information.

Search intent is the whole reason a person opens a search engine. It’s the why behind what they’re searching for. Part of understanding your ideal client is getting to know who they are and why they need your product, service, or offer. 

So, the next time you review your customer avatars or create new ones, stand in their shoes and ask, is this customer avatar The Researcher, The Traveller, The Buyer, or The Buyer-To-Be?