Is your marketing focus on product advertising? Google searches are only for information gathering? If that’s the case, this article will show you that there are much broader Google search intents that you should definitely use.
Google processes 63,000 searches per second and around 2 trillion searches per year. But how is this almost infinite amount of search queries categorized and how can B2B marketers make use of these categories? An essential part of any marketing strategy is having a well-targeted digital marketing strategy. As well as filling the digital channels with content that does justice to the information-intensive B2B business. Of course, Google is essential for online activity. In concrete terms, it is essential for search engine optimization to know the Google search intentions and to fulfill them with marketing geared to them. This article shows you how this can be done.
What is a Google search intent?
First of all, it must be stated that Google’s primary goal is to provide its users with exactly the result they need. This statement may sound simple, but it is the most causal marketing strategy there is. The fulfillment of a customer request. In the case of Google searches, it is obvious that users want information. After all, you use a search engine to look for information.
However, this is not always the case, because the user’s intention comes before the search query. Each search is executed with a defined intention. Even if users mostly do it instinctively. In many cases, this intention is actually to gain information. However, Google uses other search intent types to classify search queries. The following types of queries can be found in Google Guidelines:
1. The search intention “Know”
The intention of the user is to find information. Google differentiates between “Know” and “Know Simple” search queries. The difference is that know-simple searches have a short answer. For example “How tall is Barack Obama” or “Barack Obama height”. Where, on the other hand, “Barack Obama’s career” cannot be answered with a simple number or just a sentence.
In relevant publications, these “know” search intentions are also referred to as “informational queries”.
2. The search intention “Do”
With “Do” intentions, the user wants to perform an action with the search result. This goes beyond pure knowledge gain. Google characterizes this search intention as a desire to download, buy, entertain or interact with the website or an app. Examples of such searches are “What is my Body Mass Index”, “Buy iPhone13” or “Download TikTok App”.
There are also additional terms for this search intention in the SEO community. A distinction is made between “Transactional Queries” and “Commercial Queries”. In both cases, the user intends to do something. However, the transactional search query has no direct purchase intent. This distinction makes sense in that the pre-purchase phase and the purchase phase can be mapped. We will examine this aspect in more detail below.
3. The search intent “website”
These search queries target a specific website. The user intention is to visit this website. This assumes that the user knows at least the brand name of the company, but not necessarily the correct URL / domain of the website. For example “Youtube” or “CXOHERALD”. These requests are often attributed to user convenience. In many cases, it’s easier to google and click the first result than to type in a 90-character URL.
The two intentions can therefore also be divided into “navigational queries” and “brand queries”. In both cases, the company or brand is known. In the case of “Navigational”, however, a subpage can be the target. For example “LinkedIn Login” or “CXOHERALD Events”.
4. The search intent “Visit-in-Person”
The “visit-in-person” intentions are mainly relevant for mobile searches. Google uses it to identify those searches that suggest a geographically local result. For example, searching on a smartphone for “Italian dinner”, “Bank [place where you are]” or “where can I park here”. Depending on the location, these search intentions lead to significantly different results. In big cities like New York or Berlin, the focus of search engine optimization for “local queries” can even be just a few blocks.
In summary, it can be assumed that the user has different intentions. Google aims to fulfill these intentions with the best possible matching search results. Depending on the source, a distinction is made between know, go, website, and visit-in-person as well as informational, transactional, commercial, navigational, and brand search queries.
Search intentions and customer journey phases
As already indicated, the search intentions can be assigned to the individual phases of the customer journey. Of course, not every intention is clearly identifiable, and the journey phases cannot always be clearly delimited. However, this approach provides a framework for a company’s content and channel strategy.
A typical customer journey or buyer’s journey is divided into 4 phases:
In B2B companies, the awareness phase is of particular importance. The intention of the target group is to collect as much information as possible on a problem. Since B2B products and services are usually more complex than consumer goods, there is a great need for well-founded information.
This aspect, therefore, makes informational searches so important for industrial companies. And yet marketers put product information in the foreground. However, these are more likely to fulfill commercial or brand (in the case of product brands) searches. This circumstance is a cause of low organic website traffic and poorly performing B2B marketing campaigns. The original customer intention was not fulfilled.
In the image below, the search intentions are assigned to the phases of the user journey. However, it should be noted that navigational and brand searches – i.e. the “website” searches – occur in all phases of strong corporate brands.
B2B companies must now incorporate this knowledge into their marketing strategy. This happens mainly in the course of the content strategy and the digital marketing strategy.
How can I take advantage of search intents?
The first approach is to know and take into account the different search intentions. This sounds banal. It is. Nevertheless, practice shows that product advertising and generic brand communication are very important in B2B. However, neither the phases of the buyer’s journey nor the important “informational” searches are discussed.
In the second approach, the content means of communication (assets), and communication channels (channels) are assigned to the search intentions. In other words, content is created in the form and communicated in the channel that is conducive to the search intention. Specifically, this can mean:
1. Informational searches in the awareness phase
- Intention: Gaining information to solve a problem
- Marketing goal: show attention, solve problems, and explain backgrounds
- Possible content: facts, educational content, basics, operating principles, instructions
- Possible assets: blog articles, wiki articles, eBooks, and whitepapers
- Possible channels: blog, specialist publications online and print, knowledge hubs on websites
2. Transactional searches in the consideration phase
- Intention: Understanding the solution and different ways to solve it
- Marketing goal: Present your own solution and position it in comparison to the competition, top-of-mind
- Possible content: Facts with branding character
- Possible assets: Brochures, guidelines, product pages, solution description, practical examples
- Possible channels: website, newsletter, podcast, how-to guides as PDF
3. Commercial searches in the decision phase
- Intention: Final decision support and purchase intention
- Marketing goal: Trigger purchase and influence decision
- Possible content: product description, comparison lists, social proof,
- Possible assets: success stories, references, price and function comparisons, brochures, fact sheets
- Possible channels: website, webshop
4. Brand and navigational searches in the retention phase
- Intention: Service, help with the product, cross and upselling, subsequent confirmation of the decision
- Marketing goal: to retain customers and turn them into loyal customers and fans
- Possible content: tips and tricks, branding and emotional content, “since part of the community”, customized content, special offers
- Possible assets: dynamic product pages, customized login area, user videos, service videos, cross, and upselling advertising
- Possible channels: website, service pages, community forums, login areas of a website
This overview is intended to provide a basic framework for the strategy. The individual content, assets, and communication channels are of course heavily dependent on the company, the products, and the markets.
Conclusion: Which search intention goes with what?
In summary, the marketing strategy must consider the customer and their intention when conducting an online search. This basic orientation leads to the adaptation of channels and content to the search intentions. It must be taken into account that some media and content simply fit an intention better than others. The usual approach in B2B marketing to advertise products is therefore no longer up-to-date. A focus on the information-intensive awareness phase brings a significant competitive advantage through search engine optimization and the associated organic website traffic.