In June 2020, Britney Muller from MOZ made a material about the search intent: what is this, how many types of a search intent you can find and use, and gave the readers a checklist for SERP analysis. We have translated the material for our readers, and below, we would like you to get acquainted with the main points.
First of all, what we will call search intent is an intent that stands behind every search. There are ways to find out the search intent for every request, and we will dig into it.
Understanding the search intent
You typed a request into a Google search bar and clicked “Enter”. Let's see what info Google shows us: maybe there's a knowledge graph, feature snippet, or comparison table. Maybe you get the map with directions, maybe you see a lot of product pages. Of course, any query can have more than one search intent, but we could dissect the main four:
Google tries to predict the user intent, and it's really serious: a bunch of data scientists is working on the best database model to weigh the questions Google gets from users.
So far, some parameters for such a model are:
- Is the question conversational?
- Maybe it has a commonly accepted answer.
- Is it well-written?
- Perhaps it's a multi-intent question.
- Or... not really a question.
- Users might expect a short answer for it.
- Or it's a fact/opinion-seeking question.
Also, the question might be used to get directions, instruction, spelling (this one is popular), definition, or consequence.
Answers to search questions
Of course, answers are also subject to the database model. They can also be divided into categories (instructions, procedures, reason explanations), and the answer could be:
- satisfying the question
These categorizations help us better understand what a user wants or might want. Let's see what we can do with this information.
Working with SERP
To work with the information we get more efficiently, Britney Muller made a checklist, which will help you look for all the necessary details in SERP and then building the content depending on your findings.
Once you have your checklist, you can start the work. Britney used the “phonetic alphabet” query as an example, so let's look at this example.
1. Find out the search intent
Britney had a primary search intent – informational. Secondary one might belong to the other people – it's investigational.
2. Describe the SERP you see
Note all you see on the search results page. Are there Google maps? Are there links to online shops, and if there are many pictures, or maybe a product listing?
3. Look closely at the ranking URLs
Make as many mental notes as you need. Google thinks these sites are the best ones for answering the search query, so answer following questions:
- what are these sites? Are they blogs, online shops, or something else?
- how many media do they have on corresponding pages, and of their type?
- do you agree with the page's relevance with Google? Does it feel relevant to you?
4. Find out the Domain Authority of your competitors
Britney uses MozBar directly within Google search results to evaluate whether her customer’s website could be competitive with the other sites in SERP. We recommend you to use any instrument you are familiar with so that you will know whether you really can enter this competition.
Fulfilling the search intent
Let’s continue with our phonetic alphabet example and flesh out the ideal page which will fulfill the user’s intent.
- The page should have scannable content. Maybe Google can use it for snippets;
- Brainstorm for a good title: the best one goes to the page title, others can be used on social media. Idea by Andy Crestodina;
- All the essential info on the top: our attention span is getting smaller;
- Different types of multimedia - audio and video work great for a wide audience;
- Think one step further - maybe after learning the alphabet user might want to go through a quiz or something alike;
- Make sure that you have a CTA on your page.
With all being said and done, we hope you will get a page with excellent content liked by both Google and your customers.
Olha Dankovska, senior SEO specialist at Sprava:
To satisfy the user's intent and to rank the site well, we need the response completeness on the promoted pages and not only there. To do this, you need to check the results for the search query, highlight the list of competitors and analyze what content they have on the page. We must not just repeat their actions but make our pages better than theirs. In addition, it is necessary to analyze the content on the site as a whole and understand what our site lacks.