How to Understand Search Intent – Complete Guide

How to Understand Search Intent - Complete Guide

Today, SEO is no longer just stringing keywords together. Today’s route to successful content is: You have to understand the user’s search intent. Because only then can you deliver content that convinces interested parties and search engines. But what is that anyway and how do you always hit the core of the search query? We’ll explain it to you…

What does search intent mean?

The search intent, search intention, or searcher’s intent designates the intention that searchers have when using a search engine. After all, no one simply visits Google, Bing, and others for no reason. There is always a specific goal. These goals can differ in many ways.

Basically, one differentiates between three different factors: Action, knowledge, and navigation. Search queries follow one of these approaches: I want to know something, I want to do something, or I want to go somewhere.

This rough categorization is specified by Google itself in the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. There, in the chapter “Understanding User Intent” from page 71, search intentions are defined: Know, do, Website, and visit in person. You will find out the exact meaning of these categories later on.

Why is search intent so important for SEO?

It’s quite simple: Every search engine is a means to an end to get to the goal as quickly as possible. For this to work, Google always wants to deliver the best possible results for searchers. Only then will the users be happy and continue to use Google.

Search queries and search results are matched as appropriately as possible. Google relies on experience and analysis. Knowing the exact search intent of a specific input gives Google the ability to display the perfect search results.

If you want your website to rank as well as possible for a certain input, you have to deliver content that picks up on the search intent and implements it perfectly. Only then will Google display your site in a good position.

A quick example: If I “buy a winter jacket” then I expect offers to buy jackets. However, if I only get advice that explains to me what is important in a good winter jacket or instructions on how to sew my own jacket, then I am quickly dissatisfied. It’s the same if I enter “What does search intent mean” and then only see sales offers from service providers.

In general: You will never make everyone happy. However, your content should always be aligned in such a way that it meets expectations as best as possible. This may also mean that sales intentions are behind the information. The customer journey also plays a major role in the correct assignment.

Because people who google for information are still in the orientation phase. However, if you are looking for a specific action, you are already deeper in the marketing funnel. Knowledge of the search intention is therefore essential for a good ranking.

The 4 search intentions according to Google – understand your users

Know-Search: I want to know something

This form of search term is characterized by the fact that people want to know something. The exact form in which they want to receive the information differs again. Sometimes it is about a specific fact or even a certain way of presenting it. In other cases, a general overview of a topic is required.

In times of mobile internet use, the following generally applies: the information should always be well-portioned, short, and as easily accessible as to be possible. After all, no one wants to have to scroll through a lengthy story about a grandmother’s life just to learn about sourdough…

Do-Search: I want to do something

Such keywords and search queries are used when the search intent includes a clear goal. Searchers are then already deeper in the customer journey and want to carry out a specific action. This can vary: buy, download, call, interact, etc. Actions via voice assistant also count. After all, it can also be used to reserve restaurants and buy cinema tickets.

If there is a do-search, you must provide content that makes this action as easy as possible. Lengthy content with 4000 words and exact explanations about winter jackets is simply out of place if the person just wants to buy a jacket.

Website searches: I want to go to a website (digital)

This category of search intent is defined by the fact that searchers want to get to a specific website. So you want to digitally navigate to a certain place. Often this is even a special subpage of a page, e.g. ” Studying French to become a teacher in Paris”, or “Sneakers for children”.

You guessed it: Different needs can be behind the website search. The first example is aimed more at information that may later lead to action. In the second example, the website alone shows a stronger interest in buying.

Visit -in-person-searches: I want to go (physically)

Due to the increased mobile use of the Internet, location-based searches are also becoming more important. Many searches aim to find a nearby restaurant or place to shop. Behind it is the concrete intention to visit this place. This search intention is summarized under the term visit-in-person.

It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between a general search and a specific local search query. Because if someone googles “Bank Los Angeles”, it is not necessarily clear whether this person has money in their area and would like to withdraw or simply find out more. A detailed analysis is therefore required here.

Mixed form: Multiple User Intent

Often the search intent cannot be categorized exactly. Many searches track multiple pieces of information at once. After all, users can first find out about a certain place in the area and at the same time want to go there in order to then carry out a specific action. Google summarizes these mixed forms in an additional category as Multiple User Intent.

Of course, this makes it difficult to allocate individual search queries across the board. Accordingly, it is important that you deal with the search intention in detail. This is the only way you can achieve your goal: to deliver the right content and thus achieve traffic and conversions.

How do you find out the search intent?

1. Extensive keyword research as a basis

Before you can be successful with your content, you must do research. An extensive keyword analysis forms the basis of the content. So you use different tools to research the right keywords for your company. Ideally, you should start considering the search intent at this point. Because the different keyword types already provide information about the specific search intention.


Ideally, you mark certain keywords according to the respective category in the keyword research. This will make it easier for you to understand the search intention later.

2. Use Google and other search engines

It often helps to take a look at the top results for specific keywords. Finally, they provide information about what Google considers suitable content for a specific search and what has also proven itself in this respect. So scroll through the first page of search results and see exactly what content your competition is providing.

This way, you can already deduce what kind of content for the respective keyword is ranked well – and is therefore well received.

This allows you to determine whether a short review, a detailed guide, general information, or a specific action is required.

3. Use the right tools

There are a variety of tools that help better understand users. To name them all would go beyond the scope here. In the end, what matters is that you get the right result with the tool, so there is no perfect solution here. Helpful tools are for example:

HyperSuggest: Here you can enter keywords and read suitable search extensions. These help you get a holistic picture of a specific search query.

AnswerThePublic: This page asks frequently searched questions about a specific public Keyword graphically there. So you can see which possible questions can be attached to a single term.

Google Suggest: Google search suggestions that deepen your search query are already displayed before you confirm your search query. Here you can see which queries are often related to a specific keyword.

4. Common sense

Sometimes it helps to just think a little bit. Put yourself in the seeker’s shoes and think about what you would expect at this point. You can take your time for this process. Because with a view to the search intention, your own intuition is often the strongest tool.

Now rank better thanks to search intention

You can only deliver the best possible result and rank well if you know what the searchers want. The search intent forms the basis of all your SEO texts. It is the key to successful content and opens the door to your target group. So it is essential that you learn to understand the needs of your target group. Because everyone benefits from it!

By Ephatech

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