Understanding User Intent And It’s Importance

Understanding User Intent

Read Time: 3 minutes

How we search for answers on Google has evolved over the years. In the past, we would ask very specific questions, and Google would focus on the keywords we used to provide us with an answer. This would often result in us needing to click-through many pages or scroll past a lot of irrelevant information to get to the answer we wanted.

Today Google does not focus on keywords in the query but tries to evaluate the motive behind the question. In other words, what the user’s intent was when they asked the question?

Google wants to provide the user with the correct answer as quickly as possible, keeping them on their page while doing so. If your website helps them to achieve that goal, you will get a higher ranking. Understanding user intent is crucial to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to get the higher ranking you need and get traffic through your website.

What Is User Intent?

In 2006, a study at the University of Hong Kong classified people searching the internet into two main groups:

  • People looking for information relating to a keyword.
  • People looking for general information about a topic.

Search engine algorithms have since then adjusted in an attempt to provide the user with the most relevant results as quickly as possible.

“Micro-Moments”

Since 2012, Google has upgraded and rebranded its search into “micro-moments.”

  • I-Want-To-Know Moments

    This user wants to explore, but will not necessarily make a purchase.

  • I-Want-To-Go Moments

    This user is seeking local businesses and is considering a transaction.

  • I-Want-To-Do Moments

    This user is asking for help or instructions to complete a task.

  • I-Want-To-Buy Moments

    This user is ready to purchase but wants clarity on what and how to do so.

These micro-moments lead us to the conclusion that there are three main reasons users search the internet:

Informational Intent

The user wants to know more about a specific topic or they want instructions on how to perform a task. These are low-efficiency searches, using generic keywords, and account for 80% of the search volume.

Navigational Intent

The user wants directions to a business or venue. This may or may not lead to a transaction. Google will try and answer the user’s question specifically (e.g. if you type “Walmart” it will first direct you to your local branch before it directs you to Walmart Head office.) These are medium-efficiency searches, using semi-generic keywords, and account for 10% of the search volume.

Transactional Intent

The user is wanting to make a purchase and wants specific instructions on how to go about doing so. These are high-efficiency searches, using specific keywords, and account for 10% of the search volume. ​​​​​​

Why Should You Care About User Intent?

Google’s Mission Statement is: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally acceptable and useful”.

After 20 years of refining and improving user search experience, Google’s primary aim is to focus on the user and provide the most accurate and relevant information as quickly as possible.

Google’s rankings are not static, they fluctuate and change over time. “Why did the user make this search?” User intent is possibly the most overlooked ranking factor. If you want your website to rank, it must provide the most relevant result to a query.

Ideally, when users ask a question, you will want your website to be on Google’s first page, preferably as a snippet or a special content block.

How To Include User Intent

When creating any content, you need to walk in your readers’ shoes and answer the following questions. Is the content you are creating helpful? Is it engaging? Does it fulfill the user’s goal? If you don’t provide these answers, you can be sure that your competitor will.

At Connectica, we specialize in optimizing websites for any query. We don’t write content for algorithms or robots; we write for real people. Our goal is to enhance your web presence and drive more users to your site(s) consistently.

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