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Why User Intent is the Cornerstone for Modern SEO

Why User Intent is the Cornerstone for Modern SEO

From site load speeds to content relevance, metrics to measure SEO success can be quite a handful for modern-day marketers. However, there is one aspect about your target audience that marketers often ignore: user intent. Gauging why a user is keying in a search query and being able to answer the query successfully can turn your business around.

Did you know that search strings containing ‘best’ have grown to epic proportions in the last two years? User intent has made its way into academic research and scientific study of the information technology age. So, you can well imagine how important it can be for your SEO strategy. Read on to discover the types and significance of user intent in the current times, along with a few tips on how to make the most of it.

In the users’ shoes: understanding intent

Neil Patel describes user intent as the goal the user has in mind when typing a search query on Google. For some, the intent is to go somewhere while others may be looking for things to purchase. There is also a large section of users who key in search queries looking for information or to connect with a brand or individual.

When developing a product, the first thing you do is think about how it is going to solve a certain problem that your target market is going through. The same goes for developing an SEO strategy. You need to know the user intent of your target audience before you can provide them with content and webpage solutions through your brand.

So, here it goes.

When searching for something online, users have three primary intents: informational, navigational, and transactional.

Informational Intent 

Informational Intent

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  • Informational intent: When users look for additional information on a topic, brand or product.

For example: For the search query “APA reference generator”, you can put up a post that goes like, “How APA reference generators can save loads of time for your paper” that contains the exact keyword and is useful for the target audience.

Navigational Intent

Navigational Intent

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  • Navigational intent: When users look for a specific page, resource, product, site or a place.

For example: When a college student searches for “burger and fries,” they may be looking for nearest burger joints or the best discounts online for a burger and fries order through an app. A home cook, on the other hand, might be searching for recipes for burger and fries to host a weekend party using the very same set of words.


Transactional Intent

Transactional Intent

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  • Transactional intent: When users are looking for products and services they want to purchase.

For example: When someone types “buy Jimmy Choo shoes”, that is a directly transactional intent. However, search queries like, “Ray-Ban sunglasses under $200” are also transactional in nature although they do not mention the intent of purchasing in clear terms.

There is a fourth kind of intent that overlaps transactional and informational intent, namely commercial intent.

Google goes beyond the traditional categorization of user intent to boil it down even further. Ever since mobile search queries took on the lion’s share of web searches all around the world, Google has come up with the concept named micro-moments.

Micro-moments capture the users’ intentions to go, to buy, to do, and to know into four categories. Search engines get to the bottom of what motivates the user to perform the searches. Marketers of the modern day must thus successfully capture the micro moments to fortify their SEO efforts for the current times.

Apart from getting you higher ranks on search engines, catering to user intent successfully means you are making your target audience linger longer on your website. And that, in turn, has the potential to make your cash registers go ka-ching even more!

Google: the all-powerful factor for user intent

Google is one of the five biggest companies in the world. Generating over $100 billion in revenue each year, it is the biggest player when it comes to the web search market. Since 90% of all Internet searches take place on Google, you must learn how to match strides with the latest updates and algorithms to stay afloat.

The search engine’s biggest job is to make sure users get what they want from the search queries. Whenever you search for something, Google strives to show you the best and most relevant results possible. The more relevant the results, the more are your chances of returning to Google for the next web search. That, in turn, keeps Google’s revenue tills ringing throughout the day and night, all through the year.

So, it is natural for Google to keep a keen eye out for content that matches user intent the most. It regularly comes up with algorithms and updates to ensure that users get what they are looking for when logging on to Google. The core part of Google’s RankBrain algorithm, for instance, is programmed to keep user intent as the number one priority while ranking pages in search results.

From the location of the searcher and personalization to the words in the query that may determine the true intent, Google takes it ALL into account before displaying the search results. And if you thought Google only relied on machine learning and updated tech for rankings on user intent, you could not be farther from the truth. Human quality raters regularly provide feedback that Google then merges with algorithm updates while ranking your pages.

Quick tips to strategize SEO according to user intent

Quick tips to strategize SEO according to user intent

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With user behavior evolving and their search intents becoming clearer, there is no reason why you cannot devise an SEO strategy that fits the bill. Here are a few of the most helpful tips that will help you strategize SEO efforts that always take user intent into account.

Check if the existing content meets the user intent criteria

Google Analytics can be your BFF for this one. Check for the top-performing keywords for your business. For example, if the top-performing keyword phrase “buy mango smoothie” – a transactional keyword – leads to a page sharing recipes for best mango smoothies, then you are not giving the users what they want. Align user intent with what you want to offer, and make sure you hold up your end of the bargain.

Bring variety in your keyword mix for content

Google has become smarter over the years. You cannot just stuff in any random blog post with keywords and pass it off as relevant. Since Google is now more than capable of understanding intent, you will not stand a chance if your content does not match the keywords. Knowing the intent of the users can not only skyrocket SEO success but also bring in more revenue. Mix up long-tail and exact match keywords in the content to have a better shot at better rankings.

Try to solve a long-standing problem

Get into the minds of your target audience. Gauge their user intent with popular search terms in your domain. For example, if you offer gardening tools as a part of your business, try to come up with a piece that deals with common gardening problems and their solutions. Research thoroughly and come up with dazzling and informative content that addresses the issue. Promote it proactively across all social media channels. If the content ticks all the right boxes, you will earn your place right at the top of the SERPs in no time!

Parting words

As voice searches grow in popularity, so will the significance of user intent. Before you plan an SEO strategy for the evolving marketing trends, go through this article to know why user intent should be the first thing to consider. Think more like a user, and less like an SEO professional, and you will get the hang of it. Understanding user intent is likely to fill the gaps in keyword targeting. So, make sure you know all about user intent of your target audience before creating SEO strategies this year. Godspeed!

Author bio:

Henry Howkins is a senior SEO strategist at an Adelaide-based digital marketing firm. When not coming up with innovative SEO tactics, he likes to assist students with their marketing and management assignments at

Henry is one of the most popular assignment experts at the leading essay writing service company, and also enjoys blogging about trends and tips on social media, digital marketing, and SEO topics.


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