Grow your local business with local SEO

Help customers find you in local searches on Google. Drive more traffic and sales.

Google has, many times, stressed the importance of Search Intent in rankings. They have been telling website owners to focus on search intent.

You must understand search intent to rank well in Google searches.

I’ll share my knowledge of optimizing your content to match search intent if you own or operate a local business. To give you some specific examples, let’s pretend that you run a local computer repair business and looking to rank for keywords related to computer repairs.

What is Search Intent

Search intent is the purpose of an online search that a person is doing. It’s the reason that a person types in the search box on Google, Bing, or another search engine to find the information that he or she is looking for. Is the person looking to purchase a new pair of shoes? Or is he looking for information about a problem that he has? Or is he looking for a specific website or tool?

Google put a lot of effort into improving its algorithm to determine what the search intent is behind a search query.

There are 4 types of search intents:

Informational intent

The searcher has a problem or a need and is doing research. He’s not yet ready to buy.

For example, your customers might search for: “what is no bootable device error”, or “why my computer is slow”.

To rank well in searches, your content must not focus on selling to the searcher here. A long-form blog post educating the searcher about the problem will likely rank well in this case. And, you should subtly introduce your brand to the readers (to create brand awareness).

Notice that I highlighted 3 words here.

Navigational intent

The searcher is looking for specific information about a brand, a website, a tool etc. For example: the person searches for “Google”, or “Safemode Computer Service”.

Transactional intent

The searcher is looking to buy. He’s finished his research in (1) above and he’s ready to take out his wallet to purchase. This is every business’s golden nugget.

For example: “HP Spectre x360 laptop”, “IKEA desk”.

For searches for local businesses in particular, like how your customers found out about your business, some examples of search queries are: “computer repairs near me”, “computer repairs in Sydney”. Or “plumbers near me” if he’s looking for a plumber.

When a person searches for a particular product or service with a “near me” or a location, or “discount code” in the search query, he’s looking to purchase a local product or service.

To rank well for this, your content must focus on “selling selling selling”. For example, your content must include your product or service information, location, price, reviews, warranty, quantity, delivery or installation time, discounts, how to buy, why buy from us, etc.

Do not focus too much on educating the searcher about the problem, or non-selling content such as Do-It-Yourself guides. These will not do so well here. The searcher likely has already done his research in (1) and has decided that he would pay for your professional service.

Commercial investigation

The searcher has the intent to purchase in the future and is looking to investigate and compare. For example: “best computers for business 2023”, “MacBook Air or MacBook Pro”, or “best computer repairs in Sydney”.

To rank well for this, your content must answer the search intent while selling to the searcher in a subtle way.

For example, using keyword research tools such as Ahrefs or Ubersuggest, you may find that people are searching for “best computer repairs in Sydney”, then you should write content on this topic and include your business as one of the recommended ones.

Why search intent is critical for your business to rank on Google

Well, Google wants to rank websites that answer their searcher’s intent. If you want to rank on Google, you need to follow their rules and match your website content with the searcher’s intent.

If a person is looking for ways to fix their own gadgets themselves, and your page is all about “Don’t DIY, use our services instead”, your selling intent does not match with the searcher’s intent. Your page will never rank on Google for this particular informational search intent.

But, if that same person has tried all DIY guides that he could find online and still could not fix his device, he’s now frustrated and desperately need a professional to help fix it. Your “selling intent” perfectly fits with his “purchase intent”. You now have a chance to show your business in front of him in searches.

Then I only need to optimize my website for transactional intent, right?

Yes you can, but you might not rank high in searches if you only do that.

As a local service business, you provide services to customers to make a living. Searches with transactional intent are all you want. Writing content for customers who are only looking for information and not buying is a waste of time, right?

No, not exactly.

Google wants to place searcher in a one-stop-shop where the searcher can find all information he needs in one place.

Thus, if your competitor provides comprehensive content that covers all the topics that can satisfy the searcher’s different intents. They will rank high.

With billions of content on the Internet, it’s a lot more competitive for local businesses to compete for online rankings. As a local business, you will need content that match all search intents to show your business in front of potential customers.

How to identify which search intent a keyword has

Look for signals of intent in the keywords

The keyword itself often tells you a lot about its intent.

For example, informational searches often contain keywords such as “how to”, “why”, “information”.

Transactional intent searches often contain keywords such as “near me”, “close to me”, or a location such as “in Sydney”. This is especially true for local service businesses. Customers often need services from local service businesses.

For product purchases, transactional searches often contain specific product names, or “deal”, “discount code”, “where to buy”.

The meaning of the keywords

Sometimes the keyword itself does not contain any “near me” or “discount”, but it still has a transactional intent or informational intent.

For example, the “no bootable device error” search as mentioned above, has informational intent, not transactional.

If the searcher is typing in an error message as it shows in Google’s search box, or typing in the problem he’s experiencing such as “broken laptop screen”. Then more often than not, it’s an informational search.

However, there are times when it gets tricky. For example, if one is searching for “computer repair”, is he looking for how to repair his computer? Or is he looking for a technician to help fix his computer? The term “computer repair” or “repair computer” may have either informational intent or transactional intent.

To identify what intent you should optimize for this search, you should follow Google’s playbook by analyzing Google search results.

Analyzing Google search results to determine search intent

The main reason we optimize for search intent is to rank on Google, right?

Thus, analyzing the existing results on Google will tell you what content can rank in Google’s eyes.

Let’s have a look at a search for “computer repair”:

search results of computer repair

The entire first-page result shows computer repair businesses or a list of computer repairers (eg YellowPages one).

This means that millions of searchers have signalled Google that when they search for “computer repair”, they are looking for technicians to help fix their computers, which means that the “computer repair” search has transactional intent. You should create a landing page that focus on selling your computer services in order to rank on Google.

Let’s take a look at “repair my computer” search instead. This search has a very similar meaning but has different results.

The results show videos and FAQ on how to fix computer problems:

search results of repair my computer showing videos

Followed by web pages guiding readers on how to fix DIY fix their own computers. Then followed by computer repair businesses.

search results of repair my computer showing repair guides

This means that the best way to rank for the “repair my computer” search would to create a video guide on how to fix your computer.

If creating videos is not what your business does, as most local service businesses do not focus on building a YouTube channel, then creating a blog post on how to repair your computer would do well in rankings.

If none of these fit your business, then you still can rank on Google if you create a landing page to sell services to the reader, however, you’ll have to tough time competing for the remaining spots on the first page.

Let’s analyze another search for “plumber”. This search could mean one is searching for plumbing services or is looking for information about plumbers.

The entire first page is about plumbing businesses:

search results of plumber

Clearly, your business needs to have content optimized to sell plumbing services to rank for this search. A blog post about how to find the best plumbers will never rank in this search.

Let’s analyze another Google search for “restaurants near me”. This search has the “near me” in it, so it clearly has transactional intent. Restaurant owners would love to rank on the first page. Here is Google’s search results:

search results of restaurants near me

The entire first and second page is about the best restaurants in Sydney, with one exception being Doordash’s food delivery but they also list their restaurants and reviews.

This means that there is no way one single restaurant will be able to rank on the first page of the “restaurants near me” search. If a restaurant owner wants to be shown in this search, he better asks these websites to consider reviewing his restaurant so he has a chance to be included in their top 10 list.

A customer of mine asked me to help her rank on Google for “rice paper rolls” (her restaurants have one of the best rice paper rolls in Sydney).

However, by analyzing SERP (Search engine results page), I could see that the entire first page is about recipes for rice paper rolls. There is no way her restaurant would rank in this search. SEO for this keyword will be a waste of money for her.

If your business is a local business, such as a computer repair business or other trades, take a look at the first-page result of Google for keywords that you’re looking to rank for. See if the majority of results are your competitors selling their services. If so, you should optimize your content to sell your services as well in order to have a chance of ranking.

Conclusion

There are 4 types of search intents:

  • Informational intent: the searcher is looking for information or doing research. He’s not yet ready to buy.
  • Navigational intent: the searcher is looking for a specific brand, a website, or a tool.
  • Transaction intent: the searcher is looking to purchase.
  • Commercial investigation: the searcher has the intent to purchase in the future and is looking at different options.

You need to have different content optimized to match each of the search intent.

Before spending time and money trying to rank for a keyword, it’s best to analyze the keyword, and its meaning to see what content you need to create to rank for the keyword.

And, instead of guessing, you should take a good look at the actual first-page result on Google to see what type of content would rank for the keyword.

If you are a local business providing services to customers, check Google search results to see if your competitors are ranking at the top. If they do, then you should optimize your website to focus on “selling”. This will also give you a chance to rank for those search terms as well.

Published On: June 30th, 2023 / Categories: Local business SEO, Local SEO, Small business SEO /

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