Understanding Search Intent and How It Impacts Your SEO Strategy

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By Omnizant Team
Law Firm Marketing Agency

Are you struggling to optimize your SEO strategy? Search intent is often overlooked by marketers. Understanding search intent can make a big difference in driving traffic and boosting conversions on your site.

In this post, we explain four types of search intent and how understanding search intent can positively influence your SEO, including examples from the legal industry.

Basic guide to search intent

Start with an analysis of your users’ search phrase or query. To find this information, go into your website’s Google Search Console and check out your Search Analytics. If you need help, ask your in-house SEO specialist or outside agency.

A user’s keywords can give you clues about where they are in their user journeys, what kind of action they want to take, and what kind of information they need.

Examples of search intent in the legal field

In general, there are four basic types of search intent:

  • Information: The user wants to learn about something.
  • Navigation: The user is looking for a specific web page.
  • Transaction: The user wants to complete a transaction, usually a purchase.
  • Commercial investigation: The user wants to research before making a purchase decision.

Here are a few examples of how to understand search intent with regard to attorney websites: 

  • Information: The user searches for “what are the steps for filing a divorce in California.” They are seeking information about the divorce process in California and are not yet ready to hire an attorney.
  • Navigation: The user searches for “Law Office of Priya Walker” to find the website of a specific attorney or law firm. They are already familiar with the attorney or firm and want to access their website directly.
  • Transaction: The user searches for “hire a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles.” They are ready to hire an attorney to represent them in a personal injury case and are looking for a law firm to work with.
  • Commercial investigation: The user searches for “reviews of Law Firm XYZ.” They are in the process of researching and comparing different law firms and are looking for information about the reputation and quality of service of Law Firm XYZ. 

Look very closely at the keywords to figure out the search intent. For instance, consider how the intention is different between a “how”, a “best” and a “what is” query:

“How to hire a custody lawyer in Florida”: This user wants to understand what happens in the hiring process specific to custody lawyers. They may want to know how much it costs, how long it takes, and what kind of paperwork or information is necessary to get started. They may want to know their rights. They may have privacy concerns, or questions about how custody laws work in Florida. This user is either ready to hire or researching in preparation to hire an attorney.

“Best custody lawyer in Florida”: This user may be facing a difficult situation, or they know someone who is. Because they are looking for the “best,” this user will look for social proof or statistics that can prove a firm is the “best”. This user is researching in preparation to hire.   

“What is a custody agreement”: This user could either be considering a future custody situation, in the middle of one, or dealing with the aftermath of it. They may need help understanding the terms of an agreement they’ve been served. They may want to see examples of custody arrangements to start thinking of a plan for their own family. This user’s search intent is mixed.

Bear in mind that not all search intent is binary. If there is mixed intent, the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) will serve up a variety of options to try to meet the user’s needs. 

How understanding search intent can affect your SEO

When you understand a user’s intent, you can tailor your content to answer their search intent!

If you make it super easy for a user to find exactly what they’re looking for, you’re giving Google exactly what it wants—and you’ll rank higher in the SERP. Here’s a quick refresher on the anatomy of a SERP

Ultimately, you can rank higher in the SERP if you can determine and directly answer search intent.

Search intent is the heart of content strategy 

A keen understanding of search intent should guide your content strategy. Search intent can help you determine not only what kind of information a user is seeking but also what formats might work best for your users. 

The insights you gain from search intent research provide a blueprint for your content strategy.

Let’s say you realize that people are primarily finding your website using keywords with commercial investigation intent. These users might enjoy seeing a blog with a side-by-side table that compares your firm to your competitors. They might click on a short video to see testimonials from satisfied clients.

If you do not consider search intent, your content may not be optimized for the needs and interests of your target audience. This makes your content less likely to be found and appreciated by users.

But with a laser-sharp focus on search intent, you can create content that resonates with your audience, improves engagement, and ultimately drives conversions. 

Implementation: how to optimize around search intent 

Optimize your content around search intent by following these steps:

1. Understand the language and tone of search queries

2. Use the right keywords and topics

3. Provide comprehensive and relevant information

Remember to allow search intent to dictate the type of content you create as well. Think carefully about content type, content format, and content angle.

Is it a blog post or a landing page? A list or a how-to guide? Are they looking for a perfect solution or an easy solution? 

In sum, let people tell you what they need, and believe them. Invest in creating content that meets their needs and matches the intent that brought them to your website. 

Review and next steps

Go to Google Search Console to see the keywords that people are using to find your website. Then, use these keywords to better understand search intent in order to create appropriate content and grow organic traffic to your website.

To truly understand what Google wants, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest SEO trends and strategies.

If you are a legal professional and you need help with SEO in a crowded market, reach out to Omnizant.

About the Author
Since 2006, Omnizant's team of digital marketing experts, designers, developers and writers has helped over 2,000 law firms develop powerful websites that drive business growth.