In an earlier article, we went over the steps involved in the SEO translation process, which include a semantic analysis of the competition and the identification of keywords. Within this stage, there is a key element that is extremely important both for SEO copywriting and for SEO translation, and that is search intent. This is something a translation agency specialising in web content understands perfectly, as its job is to deliver translations that are optimised for search engines.

In this article, we will delve deeper into this topic and answer the following questions:

  1. What is search intent?
  2. What are the different types of search intent?
  3. How can you identify them on the SERP?
  4. How can they be used to deliver a SEO translation in line with the client’s marketing aims?

1- What is search intent?

As the name suggests, search intent is the motivation behind the expression or keywords a user chooses to look for information online. Google has a clear goal – to offer users the content that best fits what they are searching for – and is doing more and more to make sure this is achieved.

The internet giant regularly updates its algorithm to improve the way it understands what the user is looking for, even when the words they use are not entirely clear.

Digital copywriters and translation companies specialising in digital content, meanwhile, aim to generate high-quality content that fulfils a certain search intent in the most effective way possible. This way, the Google algorithm will find it so relevant that it will be displayed among the first results on the SERP.

2- What are the different types of search intent?

As internet users, we have become dependent on search engines to find what we are looking for as quickly as possible. We like things to be easy and to find what we need on the first go.  Behind our searches, five types of search intent have been identified. For some expressions and keywords, Google may provide content for more than one type of search intent. It is up to the individual copywriter or translator to decide which type of search intent the expression or keyword fits better.

2.1 Informational intent

This is when the user is looking for information on a specific topic. Here is an example: ‘skincare for dry skin’. But searches are not always as simple as this. When this is the case, Google will display additional elements on the SERP, beyond the usual links to specific content. Point three in this article offers examples of the different results provided for each search intent.

2.2 Commercial intent

In this case, the user is doing research to compare different purchase options. If we stick to the example of ‘skincare for dry skin’, once they have found information on recommendations for this skin type, they will start to look for brands that fulfil their needs. The search expression they choose could therefore be ‘moisturiser brands for dry skin’.

2.3 Transactional intent

Once the user has done their research and analysed the various alternatives on the market, they are ready to make a buying decision and take action (whether that be making a purchase, filling in a form, downloading a document, or any other similar action). In the case of the skincare example, the action is obviously to order a moisturiser for dry skin. So, the user may search for the following expression: ‘buy organic moisturiser for dry skin’.

This search suggests that, at the information and comparison stage, they discovered that organic moisturisers are best for dry skin.

2.4 Navigational intent

In this case, the user already knows or has heard of a particular moisturiser brand for their skin type, but they do not know the address of the website that sells it or the name of the product they are looking for. Their search will contain the name of the brand and the purpose of the product they need, e.g. ‘Nuxe moisturiser for dry skin’.

2.5 Local search intent

With this type of search, the user is looking for a specific place near their location. This might be anything from a shop, restaurant or bank to a car dealership. In this case, the search might be: ‘skincare store Oxford Street’.

How can search intent be identified on the SERP?

Here are the types of results Google offers according to the type of search intent:

Informational search intent:

  • Interviews
  • Reviews
  • Infographics
  • Tutorials
  • Blog articles

This is what Google displays for the search ‘skincare for dry skin’: 

  1. An extract from what the first page of organic results offers.
  2. A ‘people also ask’ section: this is highly useful when establishing the editorial plan for a website and when translating a website, because it identifies the questions that are usually asked in the target audience’s market. It can also prove useful when writing ‘title’ tags.
  3. Other links to articles that fit the search intent.

Commercial or comparative intent:

  • Buying guides
  • Case studies
  • Reviews of a product’s uses and results

This is what Google displays for the search ‘moisturiser brands for dry skin’: 

  1. Articles and guides on the best moisturisers for dry skin
  2. A ‘people also ask’ section

Transactional search intent:

  • A product page, a contact form, a document to download, etc.

This is what Google displays for the search ‘buy organic moisturiser for dry skin’:

  1. Google Business profiles for shops near the user’s location. This indicates that Google is not sure whether the user wishes to buy online or in a store, so it displays both types of results.
  2. Links to online shops that sell this type of product.

Navigational search intent:

  • Sponsored Google Shopping catalogue with online stores
  • Links to a category page or a home page if the search is not very specific but does include a brand name

This is what Google displays for the search ‘Nuxe moisturiser for dry skin’:

Local search intent:

  • Google Business profiles
  • Links to the websites of nearby shops or shopping centres

This is what Google displays for the search ‘skincare store Oxford Street’:

  1. Google Business profiles
  2. Links to a nearby shopping centre
  1. Google Shopping catalogue
  2. Link to face and ranges category
  3. ‘People also ask’ section

 4- How can search intent be used to deliver a SEO translation in line with the client’s marketing aims?

Once the translation team has the client’s brief, they must identify what is expected from the content to be translated. Is it a product page? A blog article? A category page? Answering these questions will help them to select the kinds of keywords they should use in the translation so that it fits the expected search intent. To help them in this process, they can utilise tools like Semrush, which offers hints about search intent and keywords. It is highly useful for making sure that the most relevant expressions are being used for the target audience, in terms of both the way they communicate and the type of search.  For example, for a Spanish-speaking audience, Semrush indicates the search intent behind the expressions ‘body’ and ‘pantiblusa’, which both mean ‘bodysuit’. For the first expression, the search intent is navigational, while for the other three, it is informational.

The translator must also enter the expression or keyword they are planning on using into a search engine to check the first results on the SERP. If the content to be translated is a product page, and when they search for this term or expression Google only proposes blog articles, a change needs to be made. The keyword or expression needs to correspond to a more transactional intent, as that is what a product page is for; the user should arrive at it once they have decided to take action (make a purchase, in this case).

Finally, a professional translator must know how to make the most of the semantic field of the main keyword for the text they are translating. This way, they can vary the vocabulary they use but make sure it corresponds to the right search intent.

This kind of analysis can only be carried out by a human, which is why it is so important to use the services of a translation agency or professional translator specialising in website translation.

Luisa ChaparroSEO Consultant & SEO translator french - spanish