Search intent content strategies

A Guide to Search Intent Content Optimization

Brittany Charbonneau Writer at Pedestal Search

Brittany Charbonneau Writer

April 20, 2023 | 5 Min Read

Keyword research is a great first step to take in search intent content optimization. It informs businesses about their chances of visibility, potential topics, user trends, and possible gaps. Keyword research does help inform the direction content should take, and how to increase traffic by providing relevant information to users. However, this is only one part of ultimate keyword use. It’s also essential to understand keyword intent so the search terms are used properly according to what users are expecting.

Keyword research versus keyword intent

These are two similar topics in SEO with differences important enough to warrant two terms. Keyword research is literally researching possible keywords and phrases that could be applied to the brand. Special attention is paid to keyword difficulty, keyword volume, and relevancy to the brand. Businesses do well working with short-tail and long-tail keywords significant to their audience.

Keyword or search intent

Keyword intent is the reason why someone searches. These search intents are most often categorized as either gaining pleasure or removing pain. For example, a search intent to gain pleasure could be “best arcade near me.” Removing pain could be “orthopedic shoes for women.” What Google does is look at the possible intent behind the search query and provide results that will help solve a problem, provide a solution, or answer a question. What businesses must do is determine the type of keyword intent and create content that makes sense. Search intent is further broken down into four categories that also hint at which stage of the buyer’s journey the customer is in. 
  1. Informational intent has to do with users looking for information on products or services. They might use search terms like “nail salons” or “SEO services” which are broad terms and normally suggest the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey.
  2. Navigational intent directs searchers to a website or web page once aware of a product or service. These searches are normally done to expand on information.
  3. Commercial intent concerns leads in the consideration stage who are now aiming to find the best brand to purchase from. They’ll use keywords like “best nail salons” or “compare SEO services.”
  4. Transactional intent is reserved for those in the decision stage. They’ve chosen a brand to buy from and will use search terms like “book nail appointment” or “SEO services quote.”
Knowing the search intent behind a keyword shows businesses which landing page to link to the phrase depending on where the customer is in the buyer’s journey. It’s essential information to build content around the best keywords and increase search engine visibility.

7 steps to SEO content optimization

1. Match the web page to search intent

Consider that the search intent is likely based on the keywords your business targets. For informational keywords, lead users to a page that matches the intent; for example, a blog. Commercial keywords should lead to product reviews, testimonials, or comparison pages. Transactional keywords should lead to the product itself or the relevant call to action. Consider which format will be most relevant to the user, not which format is easiest to make according to the business.

2. Inform SEO content strategy using search intent

Before getting too far along into keyword research and creation, first map out what the business’s topic ideas are, and categorize them according to their search intent. This will outline how well content is balanced across intent, where there are gaps, and how the topic should be fleshed out. It’s better to build content around keywords than to try plugging keywords into the content.

3. Include SEO content for passive intent

In blogs or pages that address active intent, such as “content management system tools,” there will also be additional resources for the reader to peruse. These parts address passive intent. It shines a light on other tools that might be helpful to the reader, or other strategies they can implement first. While a search might be for a CMS system, consider the user likely also wants to improve other parts of their processes and could benefit from other tools.

4. Conform to the way people search

Use tools like Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, and others to study impressions, click-through rates, ranking, and more. Use results like these to provide the right content when and where it’s most accessed by users. Get insight into which keywords are outperforming others, where opportunities exist, and which pages can be used as examples.

5. Consider other forms of search intent

Not every user will perform searches the same way with the same intent. And intent isn’t always straightforward. Map out the hidden search intent by considering these factors:
  • The different ways people ask questions
  • Different types of words and query length
  • Culture, language, and religion
  • The local language demographic of the target market
  • How the search is conducted (desktop, mobile, voice search)

6. Update metadata and format to match search intent

Make sure the results on the search engine aren’t being overlooked by optimizing the metadata to include keywords and phrases that highlight the search intent. This not only helps Google display the result, but it also helps users see if the result is relevant to their search query.

Consider what kind of formatting will appear in featured snippets. These snippets get a lot more attention from users since they’re so easy to consume. When helpful, it also leads the user to click through and get more information. If a search term says something like “how to write a business email,” format the landing page in a way that can be displayed in a featured snippet. 

For example, create a list summarizing the main sections in a business email. Google wants to display quick and easy answers to user questions, so content providing that information will have a higher chance of appearing as featured snippets.

7. Keep tabs on the competition

Before creating new content, or making a guess at how the next page should be formatted, take a look at what the competition is doing and how they’re performing.
  • How are other pages formatted?
  • What’s the tone? How do customers respond to the tone?
  • Which points/topics does the competition cover?
  • What are some gaps in the competition’s SEO content strategies?
Pedestal Search can help with everything from keyword research to implementing SEO content strategies that match your target market’s search intent. Start optimizing your content strategies with our support. Get in touch now.


Content Marketing, Keyword research, SEO

Brittany Charbonneau Writer at Pedestal Search

Brittany Charbonneau