Understand Search Intent

Understand Search Intent to Help You Choose the Right Keywords.

One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when they start thinking about search engine marketing is choosing the wrong keywords. If you want the best chance of success, read this article about search intent before you start choosing your target keywords.

If you’ve followed standard advice, your website may be built based on National/Organic SEO. Those rules don’t always work for local businesses.

Too many businesses waste their time and money adding blogs to their website that nobody will ever read because they haven’t been written with SEO in mind.

Every page on your website should have a purpose. That purpose is to attract searchers who use a specific keyword.

What is Search Intent?

The term ‘search intent’ simply refers to what the person typing the search term in Google wants to achieve. In other words, ‘why are they searching’?

Do they just want information?

Are they ready to buy?

Smaller businesses ideally want to attract customers when they are ready to buy. Google tries to understand search intent, and when it believes the searcher is ready to buy, it will serve up the map pack.


Informational Searches. 

In the informational stage of a search, the browser is only looking for information. They are unlikely to be related to purchasing anything at all.

  • Latest Covid News.
  • Most popular colour for cars.
  • Is Father Christmas real?
  • What time is it in Singapore?
  • Convert inches to centimetres
Informational Searches

Should you Target Informational Search Terms?

Informational search terms are not generally relevant for small businesses. Most of the sites that serve up answers to general popular search terms are heavily used for advertising. They gain the most visibility, so have the largest audiences for broad product categories.

If you use Google Ads, this is often where your ads will appear. They will also show up for viewers who have previously visited your website. This is called retargeting. It is not worth designing your own website for this type of traffic as it is too broad and the area is too wide.

Navigational Search.

When the searcher is looking for a specific website, they will often use Google search rather than put the website address in the browser. They may have forgotten the exact URL or not be able to spell it. Usually, if the brand is well known, the name is enough to bring the correct website up.

This isn’t always the case, especially when the name is a word that is in general use, such as ‘Endurance’.

Other than this, your website, at the very least, should be optimised for your own business name. If they don’t find you, they may click on someone else’s website if it looks like it may provide what they are looking for.

Navigational Searches

Should you Target Navigational Search Terms?

There may be many navigational search terms that are relevant to you. The names of your competitors, your supplier brands and the products that you sell. The problem with navigational searches is that they don’t usually bring up the map pack, so you will be competing with websites that have higher domain authority and probably have resources to spend on content.

For instance, if you sell Solidor, Residor or Origin, there is no point in targeting those names as keywords. They won’t show the map pack. However, if there are enough searches to justify the effort, you can target the keyword plus your area, i.e., Solidor Southampton.

Transactional Searches. 

In a transactional search, the searcher is looking to make a purchase. Google makes this judgement based on the words used. It doesn’t always get it right, but some terms are clear.

  • Buy
  • where to buy
  • near me
  • voucher for
  • cheapest deal for

These types of words indicate that the searcher is looking to buy. Adding a location also indicates that the buyer is narrowing down the search. In most cases, the map pack will appear.

The map pack will also appear for most product names. The first ranking factor for Google Business Profile is location, so it will offer the nearest option first. Often this isn’t someone who has optimised any better than you. It is just nearer to the searcher.

Should You Target Transactional Searches?

Yes, absolutely, this is the area to target. Your first level of keywords is the product types that you sell. Double glazing, doors, kitchens, bedroom, patio doors, etc. From that, the keywords should be developed. Not everyone types in ‘double glazing’. They may type any of the following: Best double glazing, double glazing for windows, double glazing uPVC, double glazing wooden, where to buy double glazing, plus many others. Google then looks for evidence of websites that can best answer the question.

Transactional Searches.

Ideally, you want as many of those keywords as reasonably possible to appear on your website, your social signals and your Google My Business listing.  The more relevant you are, the more likely you are to appear in the map pack.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about ‘being at the top of Google’. Yes, google your business while you are sitting in your office, and you are likely to appear at the top. You can legitimately say you are at the top of Google. That alone won’t bring you much business. You want to be at the top as often as possible when potential customers search for something that you sell. That way, you can appear on the same screen as your national competitors.

Commercial Investigation. 

The searcher is in the market for a particular product but may not be ready to buy until some research has been undertaken. They may search terms like the following:

  • Triple glazing vs double glazing.
  • Most secure front doors.
  • Strongest lock.
  • Cheapest kitchen.
  • Who is cheaper – Hammonds or Sharps?
Commercial Investigation.

At this stage, they may not be ready to buy, and Google tries to give them the answer to the question. Questions like these do not bring up the map pack.

Although you may have been convinced that you must start blogging to attract this type of query, it’s unlikely that this will bring you any more business. Without the Domain Authority and backlinks, you are unlikely to be able to compete and appear on the front page. Nor would you want to, as these are national and even international queries, and you don’t want to waste your time with enquiries out of your area.

The only way that blogging will work for you is if you target a transactional keyword. Blog posts are also useful for keeping viewers on a site for longer, but generally, for small local businesses, prospective customers want to see what you do and take action in the form of calling you, emailing, or visiting.

Should You Target Commercial Investigation?

Once a prospective buyer enters a website, if the company has answered the question, they have automatically started the ‘know’ like and trust’ process and you have access to them through cookies placed on their computer.

Companies that target this type of traffic often have a pop-up or attractive box that promises a free, no-obligation quote. They will also have clicked ‘accept’ on the cookie bar, which means they will be retargeted with Google ads.

They are in the system and are now susceptible to marketing gimmicks. Many of them will make an appointment for that ‘no-obligation’ quote. They may only ask for a brochure but will receive a phone call to persuade them to make an appointment. The sales tactics used play on ‘fear of missing out’ , and they will often sign an order at the first appointment without ever seeking another quote.


Note from the Author

As someone who has worked for several national companies as a self-employed designer, I was often sent to appointments where the customer had no intention of buying. These people are often targeted during the ‘commercial investigation’ stage. They were researching, thinking of buying in the future or had asked for a brochure. They had been told I was in the area and it would be no problem for me to ‘pop in’ and give them a quote that would last for six months. They fully intended to get three quotes, but with a conversion rate of over 80%, I always knew I had a great chance of coming out with an order. In my experience, small companies often won’t give customers the time of day unless they are ready to buy. Be a bit more open to giving enquirers the full experience, and you may be surprised that they can be persuaded to buy sooner if your product and price is right.

Audit before making changes.

If you are going to attempt to improve your SEO by yourself, start by using our free website analysis report to help you decide what to target. It will also show you what your meta titles and descriptions are. Let us know that you are working on it yourself, and we’ll keep you in the system and run a new report a month after you’ve made the changes. No charge. We’ll even tell you what you need to do. Our customers are those who don’t have time to optimise their websites themselves, but we’re passionate about helping local businesses, so are happy to help.

Too many businesses waste their time and money adding blogs to the website that nobody will ever read because they haven’t been written with SEO in mind.

If you have a small business, it’s possible that you’ve been determined to get to grips with your marketing every year and maybe even a few times throughout the year too. Small businesses often run on feast and famine because when you’re busy, you have no time for marketing, and when you’re not busy, you don’t have the money. Before you get started, understand at which stage in the buying cycle you want to meet your potential customer. Read our article about Local Marketing.


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