Best Practice

Search Intent Matters - a lot!

It’s not enough to simply find the right keywords and create great content around them - If you want to rank on Google, you need to optimize your content for the right search intent.

Search intent analysis should be a core part of every small business SEO strategy. 

It’s not enough to simply find the right keywords and create great content around them - 

If you want to rank on Google, you need to optimize your content for the right search intent. 

In this post, we’ll talk about:

  • Different types of search intent 
  • How to analyze SERPs to understand the search intent behind a key phrase
  • How to optimize your content for the right intent to maximize your traffic and conversions
  • And more

Let’s dive in.

Importance of Search Intent in Small Business SEO

Simply put, search intent is the reason why someone puts a term into Google’s search bar. What are they thinking about when they search for a particular query? In other words, what’s the “Intent” behind a specific search query? To understand search intent, you need to get into the mind of the searcher. 

So, why’s search intent so important?

The reason is simple: content that matches the search intent produces great results! On the flip side, if your content isn’t what the searcher is looking for, you won’t be able to convert them, and they’ll bounce away from your website.

SERP Features and Search Intent

Google wants to serve the best information to its users, and to accomplish that goal, they developed at least 38 SERP features. You can use these SERP features to understand the intent behind search queries. For instance, if Google shows a video or the Knowledge Graph for a query, know that the intent behind the query is informational. 

In contrast, commercial intent queries return shopping ads, top service providers, a list of products, and similar organic results. 

Search intent can be categorized into one of four categories:

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Commercial 
  • Transactional 

Your goal is to understand the intent behind a query and attract the right kind of people to your website. 

Wrong Search Intent Leads to a High Bounce Rate 

A major drawback of targeting the wrong search intent is an increased bounce rate, which is bad for small business SEO. Bounce rate is a website visitor metric that tells you the percentage of visitors that "bounce" or leave your website.  In Google Analytics 4, bounce rate is the percentage of sessions the user did not "engage".   An engaged user means they viewed a single page, or spent less than 10 seconds on the website page, or they did not convert.

GA4 measures engagement as any sessions where the user does not create an ‘Engaged Sessions’. Any users that do not create an engaged session will be considered a bounce.

Why’s High Bounce Rate Bad for Small Business SEO? Well, the more obvious drawback of a high bounce rate is a decreased conversion rate. Since the wrong people are landing on your website, they’re not taking the action you want them to take. 

In addition to that, bounce rate is one of the most important search engine ranking factors. 

A high bounce rate tells Google’s algorithm that your content does not match what the user is looking for i.e their search intent.  Your keywords for a particular web page may need to be adjusted to match users' search intent.  If you are seeking to attract an immediate buyer and your certain keywords are attracting users looking for broader information, you may delete those keywords and replace them with keywords with commercial intent.  

Keyword Analysis

Keyword analysis is an important part of your small business SEO strategy. This is why hiring a keyword specialist can definitely pay off. Professional service providers know how to develop a semantic core (list of profitable keywords) for any business. Before you start producing content on a keyword, put it into Google search, and analyze the SERPs. The SERP (search engine results page) can tell you a lot about how Google determines the intent behind a search query. 

We’ll dive into SERP analysis in a bit. 

Let’s first take a quick look at the types of search intent you must know about. 

Four Types of Search Intent In Small Business SEO


The searcher here is simply looking for a piece of information. The query can have a simple one-word answer. For instance, the answer to “Who’s the president of the US” would have a one-word answer. 

Another example could be “What is Skiing”.

But, it can also be a more in-depth question, like “How does blockchain work”. Nevertheless, the intention is the same: Getting information. 


The searcher here is looking for something to buy. They know what they want to buy and are just looking for a place to buy it. For instance, the key phrase “buy MacBook Pro” tells us that the searcher is ready to purchase the laptop. 

Moreover, a keyword with a product’s name plus “Coupon” indicates that the searcher is looking for a discount. 


The user here wants to “Navigate” to another website. But, why search Google when you can put a website’s address into the browser? Because it’s easier! Plus, people don’t always remember the whole URL of a website. 

“Facebook login” would be a perfect example where a searcher just wants to log into their Facebook account. 

Local keywords can also have navigational intent. A good example would be “Ski shop Portland”.

The keyword tells you that the searcher is specifically looking for a ski shop in Portland. 


Users search with commercial intent keywords when they want to purchase something but are not sure which product or service is the right option.

Examples of commercial keywords are:

  • Review posts
  • Top-X type posts
  • Comparison articles

For instance, someone searching for the “Best protein powder” is ready to buy, but wants to select the best one. 

Another example would be “Best skis”.

The keyword tells you that while the searcher is ready to buy, they’re weighing their options. 

You can also find commercial intent in local keywords. 

Examples include:

  • Plumbers near me 
  • Best restaurants in New York
  • Cheapest hotels in Chicago

How to Infer Search Intent from the SERPs?

You’ve probably seen an information snippet like this one on Google:

Google names it “Featured snippet”.  It’s one of those 38 SERP features Google shows depending on the intent behind a search query. 

Others include:

  • Shopping results
  • Related questions
  • Video results
  • Knowledge card

Why’s it important to know about these SERP features? Because they can tell you about the intent behind a search query. For instance, if a search query returns a featured snippet, know that it has an informational intent. Similarly, shopping results are typically shown for transactional intent keywords such as “Best Samsung Galaxy”.

So, the next time you’re not sure about a keyword’s intent, analyze its SERP results. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Google’s algorithms aren’t foolproof. For instance, some informational keywords may not have a featured snippet. And, there will be plenty of transactional keywords with no shopping results. 

Non-Binary Search Intent 

It’s important to realize that some keywords can have more than one intent. For a non-binary search intent keyword, you’ll see mixed results on the first SERP. 

For instance, take a look at the keyword “Apple”. It’s not only a fruit, but also a brand. The intent behind “Apple” isn’t clear, so Google or other search engines may show both types of results. Fortunately, or unfortunately, you can’t do much about non-binary search intent keywords. Analyzing users behavior on your targeted pages such as dwell time, pages viewed, and conversions compared to those metrics on your overall site can be very insightful about whether your content matches users search intent.  

Broad and Exact Search Intent

There’s another way to examine the search intent behind a keyword: by placing it inside the spectrum of broad to exact

Google classifies this spectrum into three parts:

  • Broad match
  • Phrase match 
  • Exact match

Source: Google

For example, an ad targeting “lawn mowing service” can get triggered for the following three search queries:

  • Lawn aeration prices (Broad match)
  • Lawn mowing service near me (Phrase match)
  • Lawn mowing service (Exact match)

While keyword match types are for paid ads, you can apply the concept to understand SEO keywords too. For instance, let’s say you want to rank for the exact same keyword “lawn mowing service” organically. What you can do is optimize your content for all the variations of the keyword. So instead of targeting the exact match keyword, you go for the broad match and phrase match as well. In SEO terms, we may call these keywords semantic keywords or secondary keywords. Again, it’s important to remember that ranking a keyword for the wrong intent may generate some traffic for a while, but, it’s not going to be long-term and you’ll eventually lose that traffic because of a high bounce rate. 

Website Structure and Search Intent

There’s a reason why search engines like Google give website structure and navigation so much importance. You don’t need to be an SEO expert to understand why website navigation affects your small business SEO rankings. Optimizing the structure of a web page becomes even more important when you have multiple keywords to target. So, how do you address multiple types of search intent on a single web page?

The answer is “Product Categories”. 

Lets take a look at an example:

Let's say a visitor lands on your web page and they see two subsections, optimized for two different keywords, on the same page.

If they're searching for offer 2 and see offer 1, they'll Likely bounce - and vice versa. So what should you do? Split the two offers into separate webpages!

By using this strategy, you can significantly improve visitor retention, and in turn, conversions. 

How to Optimize for Search Intent

Once you have a good idea about the search intent, it’s time to create the type of content that ranks. Ranking a web page on Google doesn’t always mean adding your primary keyword throughout the content. It also means providing the right type and format of content. 

Optimizing for the Right Type of Content

Analyze Google’s first-page content and you’ll most often see one of the following four types:

  • Blog posts
  • Product pages
  • Landing pages
  • Category pages

Before you create content around a keyword, do a quick Google search and see what type of content is ranking. For instance, if a majority of the web pages are blog posts, you want to create a blog post as well. However, it gets tricky when there are two different types of results on the first page. For instance, there are plenty of keywords that return both informational and transactional results. For these keywords, you can optimize your content around any of the two types of search intent, depending on your marketing goals. Or, if the two search queries are closely related, optimizing your web page for both could also be a good option.  

Optimize for the Right Format

Your content’s format also dictates your SEO rankings. 

The most common web page formats are:

  • Step-by-step tutorials
  • List posts
  • Comparisons
  • Reviews
  • How-to guides
  • Opinion pieces

For instance, most pages that rank for the search term “How to make pancakes” are how-to guides. 

Whereas a key phrase like “Best places to travel around the world” mostly returns list posts. 

To wrap up, it’s a good idea to analyze SERP results for content type, and format before creating content around a keyword. 

Search Intent Summary

Keyword analysis is the backbone of every small business SEO strategy. If you want to attract the right kind of people to your business website, you can’t ignore the importance of keyword analysis. However, there’s a lot that goes into keyword research or semantic core development. As a business owner, you simply can’t afford to work on it yourself - this is true even if keyword research is your forte. 

That being said, outsourcing your whole SEO isn’t a good strategy either. Instead, you want to outsource the part that needs outsourcing. 

For instance, if you don’t know the ins and outs of effective keyword research, hire an expert!

Cruxdata offers in-depth insights into SEO concepts, tools, and analytics to help you hire and utilize the right experts. 

Preston Derrick