Informational or transactional?

For a long time, search intent was only distinguished between information and purchase intent and the corresponding SEO content was created.

The problem: The division into black or white hardly says anything. This is because the user’s search intent is divided into more than two categories. This is where the Micro Intents come into play.
We explain what micro intents are all about and how to use them to create the
create the right SEO content
.

The classic search intention

In classic marketing strategy, three categories can be found on the topic of search intent:

  • Informational
  • transactional
  • navigational

According to the categories and the associated keywords, content was created that serves the purposes of the respective category and accompanies the user through the customer journey. Three primary content types emerge: informational content, which provides information to the user; transactional content, which is intended to generate leads; and navigational content, which directs to a specific location or website.

But it’s no longer that easy to categorize what companies offer. After all, today (almost) every company has a website and markets its products or services online. As the number of offers has grown, so has the amount of content. For users to find what they are looking for, their search intent needs to become much more detailed.

In addition, content today is no longer focused on search engines like Google, but is written for users. The boundaries between SEO Content and Content Marketing are becoming increasingly blurred. Accordingly, Google evaluates the content. To find the right match for the user, Google uses the E-E-A-T principle and increasingly tries to interpret the user’s search intention more and more concretely.

So it is no longer enough to squeeze your content into one of three categories – informational, transactional or navigational – to climb to the top of the ranking lists. A detailed SERP analysis is required to determine the micro intents of a user.

The Customer Journey: Not a One-Way Street

A user’s search process does not always follow the same pattern and can also be iterative. This means the user can go from gathering information to the evaluation phase and jump back to the previous phase. This process can be repeated in a long loop. Google refers to this process as “
Messy Middle
“.

Google Messy Middle

The user is proactively triggered by content and starts his search process. In the exploration, or search phase, he gathers information and learns about his options. This is followed by the evaluation, i.e. the assessment of the information. If the customer journey were a one-way street, it would continue directly to the purchase. But most users get caught in the Messy Middle: the loop where they keep going from Exploration to Evaluation and back again.

The Messy Middle initially sounds like a big obstacle in the way of selling a product. But you can counteract this with the right SEO content – micro intents are particularly helpful here. The more precisely you know what information your users need at each stage of the customer journey, the more concretely you can provide it. In this way, you close information gaps that would take the user from evaluation back to exploration and simplify the path to purchase decision.

What are Micro Intents?

Basically, micro intents are nothing more than subcategories of classic search intents. With the help of the micro intents, the search intention of the users should be categorized in more detail. This allows SEO content to be created that answers the right questions and provides solutions. In addition, micro intents can be used to create content that ideally accompanies users through their customer journey.

Informational Micro Intents

The Informational Micro Intents serve the first search intention of a user. This is therefore primarily a matter of gathering initial information. This is not exclusively information about a specific product, but the topics of the user. In the customer journey, the user is in the pre-awareness and awareness phase.

Entertainment

As a pastime and entertainment. Snackable content such as memes or videos on social media is particularly suitable here, which is why it overlaps with social content.

Definition

Here, people search for basic answers and initial information. Wikipedia articles and featured snippets are prime examples of this micro intent. The Google OneBox also provides answers to this search intention.

Research

Research is the step after the Micro Intent Definition: the detailed research that provides insight into many perspectives. The user either already knows more about the topic or wants to become one. This is where holistic landing pages come in particularly handy.

Overview

With this search intention, the user tries to obtain a neutral but versatile overview with short contents. Lists or tables are particularly suitable for this.

Instruction

This search intention aims at the acquisition of a certain skill with the help of a guide. Guides and step-by-step instructions are the right content for this.

Transactional Micro Intents

In the next phases of the customer journey , Consideration, Preference, and Purchase, the user has collected all the information that is important to him and now begins the purchasing process. Here, the transactional micro intents provide the further information

Comparison

The user’s purchase intention now becomes concrete and he compares offers. Rankings, tests or comparisons are suitable for this purpose.

Category

Here, the user tries to select the appropriate variant of a product. Performance overviews and category pages are particularly suitable for this.

Service

Besides the product itself, the service details are also important for the user. In product details or service pages he should learn more about price, delivery, delivery costs and warranty.

Fire

The user may want to learn more about the brand. This search intent is so important because it builds trust with the user. Here you can use customer testimonials, statistics or ratings to your advantage.

Navigational Micro Intents

The purchase is completed. But the user should also be provided with after-sale information in the customer journey phase. They are rather general and lead to specific places or areas on the website.

Support

This search intent is similar to the Service Micro Intent. However, support is about basic questions and issues. The user should find answers to these questions in FAQs, instructions for use or contact data of the company.

Location

If available, the user should find a location information here.

Website

With this search intention the user wants to get to a certain area of the website

Now we have introduced you to Micro Intents based on the Customer Journey. In doing so, you should have noticed that some of them are similar or even overlapping. In addition, you should keep in mind that the Customer Journey is not a one-way street from A to B.

Micro Intents

The Micro Intents within the Customer Journey

How to use micro intents for your SEO content

When using micro intents in practice, you should always keep them in mind: Content is there to satisfy the micro intents of your users. This means that you first examine the micro intents of your users and then create the appropriate content. Don’t try to produce content and then squeeze it into a micro intent. There is a high risk that the content will not sufficiently serve the micro intent and you will lose your potential buyer.

Finding the right micro intents

To analyze the micro intents of your target group, you can use a well-known method and integrate it into the development of your content strategy: The W-Questions.


Who
is my target group?

The first and most important step is to find out who your target audience is. If this has not been concretized, you will not be able to serve suitable micro intents.


What
information do my users want? And
why
?

Find out what your target audience is looking for and why. SERP analysis, keyword research and customer surveys help with this. Do as your users do: collect information (about your users). This allows you to determine which micro intents your users are following during a search.


How
do my users want to receive the information?

Not every content format works for every audience. Using the results from your SERP analysis and customer surveys, you can create the appropriate content formats to serve micro intents.


Where
do my users want to find information?

Besides your website, there are other sources through which users pursue their micro intents. Find out where your users get their information and serve these platforms with suitable content.

Conclusion

The classic division of search intent into informational, transactional and navigational no longer serves the real search intent of users. The range of information and content provided online is too large and the needs of users too detailed for this. To close information gaps in the customer journey, you should analyze the micro intents of your users.

According to the micro intents, you can create content that answers all the questions and provides solutions to the users. The more specific your SEO content is to the micro intents of your users, the easier it will be for them to make a purchase decision.

Take-Aways to the Micro Intents

  • Classification according to the classic search intentions of transactional and informative is often not sufficient to derive clear recommendations for the content to be created. Therefore, the Micro Intents classification makes more sense.

  • Search Console data, SERP analysis, keyword research, or conversations with the target audience can help identify the appropriate content formats based on consumer preferences.

  • In the first two phases, pre-awareness and awareness, around-the-user content is useful. This is content that is not about the offer or the product, but about the user’s issues beyond that.

  • From the consideration phase onwards, user interest in solutions and products increases. In the consideration phase, he is often still undecided about which solution is best for him. Here he must obtain an objective overview of possible solutions.

  • In the preference phase, he is already one step further. Focused on one or more solutions and gathered a relevant set of potential vendors for the solution(s).

  • In the after-sales phase, he makes the first positive and negative experiences with the offer and may need support in commissioning, optimal use or return.

  • In the loyalty phase, the game starts all over again and he may want more information on topics and offers.

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