What is Search Intent? SEO Tips for Hospital Digital Marketing

what is search intent

You may have heard marketers throw around the term “search intent” when discussing SEO. But what is search intent? And why is this concept so important for the success of your hospital’s digital marketing strategy?

Also known as user intent, search intent is the reason why a user types a query into Google. When you’re looking to optimize campaigns, start by asking what the target audience will be searching for when they submit a query. Are they looking for answers to their healthcare questions? Perhaps researching a new prescription medication? Or maybe they need specific specialty care.

Correctly understanding the user’s intent improves the relevancy of your content, making your answer more likely to appear on the search engine results page (SERP). In this article, we’ll explore search intent and how you can use this tool to improve your hospital’s marketing impact. 

What Is Search Intent?

So why does search intent matter for your hospital’s digital marketing strategy? Understanding the intent behind the searches users make is a key step toward positioning your hospital’s web pages to rank highly for those queries. 

Why? Because the algorithms Google and other search engines use to rank websites examine their relevance to users. Notably, relevance includes search intent, not just matching keywords.1

But before you use search intent to boost your hospital website’s rankings, you must understand the four types of search intent.

What Are the Four Kinds of Search Intent?

Marketing experts put the digital searches people make into four categories based on intent.2 Each type is based on the user’s behavior and impacts Google’s algorithm in a unique way. Understanding all four types is key to optimizing your content to match what leads are looking for. 

1. Informational Intent

In a sense, informational intent is the simplest kind of search intent—when users just want to find some information. These searches might be questions, like “What is search intent?” Or they may be simple one-to-two-word phrases. Informational searches are one of the most common queries made each day and are a great opportunity to answer the healthcare questions your patients have. 

2. Navigational Intent

Users make a navigational search when they have a specific result in mind. Perhaps they’re searching for the name of their favorite business or a particular news site. These searches often include brand names, so mention your hospital’s name whenever possible.

3. Commercial Intent

When users want to buy something, their search has commercial intent. This is true even when they don’t have a specific product in mind or they’re just exploring options. Many of the results for these searches are reviews or pages with product rankings.

4. Transactional Intent

When users know what they want and are ready to act, their search is transactional. This includes tasks like buying a car, taking a quiz, or booking an appointment. Notably, a transactional search takes place when the user is acting on a specific task.

Why Does Search Intent Matter for Hospital Digital Marketing?

Search intent matters because your site’s content needs to match what patients are looking for. Ranking for each type of search requires unique content that addresses those queries. 

For your hospital’s website to rank for informational searches, create a blog that answers questions related to the health issues you specialize in. Ranking for informational searches is worthwhile since they make up such a large share of the overall search volume. Keep in mind, though, users visiting your website because they conducted an informational search aren’t automatically in the market for your hospital’s services.3

Ranking for navigational searches is all about prospective patients finding your hospital when they’re looking for it. So ranking for these searches is also important since they build affinity between your hospital’s brand and your target audience.

Commercial searches are tougher. Ranking for commercial searches is a challenge since the top results for these searches are almost always created by third parties, not businesses or hospitals. Remember, asking for reviews outright is prohibited. But, to take advantage of commercial search, add your review site profiles to your website, Google Business Profile, and social media channels. 

Ranking for transactional searches is possible and can be profitable since this is a search prospective patients often make just prior to conversion. Content geared toward transactional searches should be clear and easy to follow. This includes calls-to-action, contact information, and the hours specific services are offered. 

Understanding search intent is important to support a powerful SEO strategy. But putting that knowledge into practice can be tricky without experts on your side. Dreamscape Marketing’s hospital digital strategists know how to identify the search intent of your ideal audience and create content that connects and converts. To learn more, call us at 888.307.7304 to schedule a discovery call.



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