Semantic SEO: Optimize for Search Intent using NLP | Quattr

Semantic SEO: How To Optimize For Search Intent

Learn All About Search Intents, Why They Are Important for SEO, & How to Optimize For Top User Search Intents

By Colton Miller

Search intent is the idea that the search query you’re looking for is on the page you’re reading. It is the key to understanding why your website isn’t ranking for the keywords you want it to.

The more specific your keywords are the higher your chance of ranking for them. But this is only half the battle. To get the most out of your SEO strategy, you need to figure out what the searchers actually want, not just what they say they want.

To do this, you need to understand search intent. Let’s look at what search intent is, how you classify search queries into search intents, and how you can use it to improve the relevance of your page content.

TL;DR - Understanding & Optimizing For Search Intents

 

Search intents are the purpose behind a user’s search. Search intent gives context to your content by revealing what the user is most likely trying to accomplish.

 

Search intent is essential for SEO because it can help you understand the user’s motivation for conducting a particular search. You should optimize your web pages for search intents because it increases the chance of ranking for multiple keyword clusters and drives more traffic towards your site.

There are 4 types of search intents: Informational, navigational, Commercial, and Transactional. 

Jump straight to section: ‘How to Optimize for Search Intents’.

What are Search Intents?

Search intents are the purpose behind a user’s search. For example, a user may search for a product on a shopping website to buy it. The search intent for this would be to purchase a product.

Users have always had a specific idea of what they want from search results. The key to tapping into this is determining what they’re looking for and then providing it. That is precisely what happens when optimizing a web page or website for search intents.

The search intent refers to the idea that the search query you're looking for is on the current page you're reading. It explains why your website does or does not rank for particular search queries and keywords.

Why is Search Intent Important for SEO?

Search intent is essential for SEO because it can help you understand the user’s motivation for conducting a particular search. This understanding can help you create content and optimize your website accordingly to better serve your target audience's needs.

Search intent plays a crucial role in determining how a search query is interpreted and what results are returned. Search intents are defined as the reason why a user is performing a search and can be categorized into four main categories: informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial. 

The search intent of a given query will determine which results are most likely to be relevant to the user’s needs. This can be accomplished by analyzing the words or phrases used in a search query and observing patterns in the user’s past search behavior. 

Search intents are also crucial for marketers, as they can help identify potential leads and target audiences based on specific needs or interests. In addition, businesses can better tailor their content for conversions by understanding the motivations behind each search.

The 4 Types of Search Intents

Users type millions of queries in a search engine each day. These queries can be broadly classified into four types.

Informational, Navigational, Commercial, and Transactional Search Intent
Types of Search Intents

1. Informational Intent

Queries that are performed to gain knowledge about a topic. For example, a user may search for the height of Mount Everest.

Users doing an informational search usually don’t know what website they are looking for and are just trying to gather information. 

Content ideas for websites with an informational intent include creating an FAQ section, writing blog posts about popular topics, and creating infographics for informational queries.

2. Navigational Intent

Queries that are performed to navigate to a specific website or web page. For example, a user may search for the Google website. Users with navigational intent know the website’s name or the particular topic they are looking for. 

Optimize your website for navigational intents by creating an overview of the website’s content through sitemaps, highlighting popular pages in the website's top menu or footer section, and enabling easy navigation between different parts of the website using breadcrumbs.

3. Commercial Intent

Queries that are performed to obtain a commercial outcome. For example, a user may search for the best restaurant in their area. 

Users with commercial intent are looking to buy a product or service, but they are not sure what type of product or service they want. However, they usually know the general topic they are interested in. 

Content ideas for websites with a commercial intent include creating comparison landing pages about your product and competitor's product, featuring recent industry reports highlighting our product, and creating a buyer’s guide.

4. Transactional Intent

Queries that are performed to complete a transaction. For example, a user may search for the best deal on a product. Users with transactional intent are looking to buy a product or service. They usually know the type of product or service they are looking for.

Content ideas for websites with a transactional intent include creating product pages, writing blog posts about products or services, and creating an image or video content about products or services.

Which search intent you want to optimize your web page depends on what purpose the page serves. For example, if the web page provides general information about a topic your brand or industry at large focuses on, you would want to optimize for informational intent. 

If the webpage is meant to be the website's homepage, or if it is intended to be a specific landing page for a targeted campaign, you would want to optimize for navigational intent. In addition, if the webpage is meant to be a transactional page where someone can buy a product, you would want to optimize for transactional intent. And finally, if the webpage is intended to be a page that promotes or sells a product or service, you would want to optimize for commercial intent.

Optimizing for Keywords v/s Search Intent Optimization: What is the difference?

Keyword optimization is adding keywords to the content and URL of your page to improve the page’s ranking on search engines and is a part of your SEO strategy.

 

However, while optimizing a page for the keywords you want it to rank for is important, you should also consider optimizing it for the user's search intent who is visiting the page. After all, it’s not just the keywords that matter—it’s also the context in which those keywords appear on your page. 

 

Search intent gives context to your content by revealing what the user is most likely trying to accomplish. Optimizing your page for the desired keywords and the user’s search intent gives the page a much higher chance of ranking for those terms.

Why Should you Optimize Web Pages for User Search Intents?

You should optimize your web pages for search intents because it increases the chance of ranking for multiple keyword clusters and drives more traffic towards your site.

 

Furthermore, you also increase the chance of getting those users to complete the conversion you desire, which is purchasing your product.

 

Optimizing web pages for user search intents can help improve your website's user experience. By understanding the purpose behind a user’s search, you can create content that is relevant and helpful to them. This can result in a better user experience and, thus, increased traffic to your website.

 

There are several ways to optimize your pages for search intents, but we’ll discuss the most common techniques here.

How to Optimize for Search Intents?

1. Optimize Web Pages for Multiple User Queries

The easiest way to optimize your web pages for search intents is to ensure that your website's content is applicable for a variety of user queries. This can be done by creating relevant content for multiple keyword clusters.

You should create unique content for each keyword cluster and link them together with internal links. This will help you rank for multiple keywords and improve your website's traffic and conversion rates.

When you optimize your web pages for search intents, you are creating custom landing pages geared towards specific keyword clusters. You are optimizing these pages to give the best possible results when someone searches using these words or phrases.

Read our guide on how to optimize web pages for keyword clusters to get started.

2. Beat the Competition by Filling in the Content Gaps

Another way to optimize your website for search intents is to fill in the gaps created by your competition. By filling in these gaps, you can create more relevant and valuable content than what your competitors are making.

How do you look for these gaps? Simply do a google search and see what content is being served to the users for some top queries. Look at the top 3-5 pages for each of these queries.

 

Find out what content your competitors create, and then create something better or different. Are there any questions or sub-topics they haven't covered? Does your product solve this problem in any way? Include all of this in your content piece.

 

Once you know what kind of content people want, it will be easier for you to create something better than what's already on the web. Create unique content based on user search intents so that each page of your website covers a specific sub-topic. This will help you rank for multiple keywords and improve your website's traffic and conversion rates.

3. Optimize Content for SERP Features

Finally, optimize your content for SERP features and improve your content ranking for top search intent. SERP features are the various elements that Google displays in its search results pages. By understanding which SERP features are most relevant to your topic, you can optimize your content to match those features. This can help you rank higher in Google’s search results and improve the user experience on your website.

Some common organic SERP features that you should consider

1. Featured Snippets

What is a featured snippet?
What a Featured Snippet looks like?

For certain specific user queries, Google likes to present the answer directly on SERP through a featured snippet entry.

A featured snippet is a box of content directly picked up from a web page. Featured snippets display the most relevant, authoritative, and trustworthy information Google can find for that particular user query.

To get a featured snippet, ensure you answer the user query in plain simple language on your web pages. For example, for a query like ‘benefits of exercising’, your web page should include a copy that states ‘the top benefits of exercising are’ followed by a list of the benefits.

2. People Also Ask (PAA)

People Also Ask SERP Feature
People Also Ask (PAA) SERP Feature

Google began showing PAA back in 2017. These results appear when someone searches for a question commonly asked in conjunction with your topic. 

The People Also Ask (PAA) is a section generated by Google with the top questions related to the user’s search queries. The PAA is often the second or third listing on SERPs, and featuring here can boost the visibility of your content.

To obtain a PAA entry, always aim to answer as many questions as possible in your content pieces. Another way is to include a dedicated Q&A section with a FAQ schema markup.

3. Image Pack

Image Pack SERP Feature
What is an Image Pack?

Google displays an image pack (number of images right on top of SERP) for user queries that can be best answered visually.

To feature on the Image pack, ensure you have relevant images on your web pages and are optimized for search engines by including top keywords in the image alt text, for instance.

Identify the most common topics related to your case and then create content around those topics. You can also use these SERP featured snippets as inspiration for new ideas or concepts you want to write about on your blog or website.

Optimize your Website for Key Search Intents with Quattr

As search engine bots get smarter, the focus of SEO efforts has shifted from keyword optimization to search intent optimization. Each search intent comprises hundreds of search queries and keywords. Getting lost in this space can be easy and make optimizing web pages for each search query cumbersome. And when you have millions of web pages to optimize for multiple search intents, the task of scaling your efforts becomes much more important.

Search intents are still a mystery that is hard to crack without the right tools by your side. Quattr, on the other hand, gives you visibility of the top search intents your website should target based on user queries and competitor data.

Quattr allows you to classify your data with an intent-driven approach and maximize your content optimization process with a clear direction. Now you know which pages to prioritize based on what intents to focus on. Then, get improvement recommendations that optimize web pages for the top search intents your business wants to maximize traffic for.

Optimize Your Website for Key Search Intents with Quattr
Optimize Your Website for Key Search Intents with Quattr

Quattr helps you focus on top keywords, optimize millions of pages for top intents, and rank on search engines to beat your competition.

Learn How Your Website can Rank for Key Search Intents with Quattr

About the Author

Colton Miller is the Sr. SEO Success Manager at Quattr. He has 12 years of experience in selling, servicing, supporting, and strategizing SEO. He has dealt with thousands of sites across hundreds of verticals and has also helped create and define scaled solutions for hundreds of thousands of SMBs and enterprise clients alike. Colton writes about SEO, search engine insights, and algorithm updates. He is always available for questions or comments on Twitter @BigCSEO feel free to connect!

About Quattr

Quattr is an innovative and fast-growing venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California USA. We are a Delaware corporation that has raised over $7M in venture capital. Quattr's AI-first platform evaluates like search engines to find opportunities across content, experience, and discoverability. A team of growth concierge analyze your data and recommends the top improvements to make for faster organic traffic growth. Growth-driven brands trust Quattr and are seeing sustained traffic growth.