SEO 101: Understanding user intent
Did you know that Google sends 90.92% of all search engine traffic? There’s no question big players in search like Google drive an incredible amount of online and offline economic activity. So how do you capitalise on this by making sure you’re always at the top of the search results?
With Google’s sophisticated algorithms designed to promote results that meet the user’s needs, your content has to not only be relevant but also satisfy user intent. Read on to find out more about user intent, the types of user intent and how you can use this information to your advantage in the buyer cycle.
The importance of user intent
When a person searches for something, they have a desired outcome. That desired outcome is their “user intent” and understanding and fulfilling this intent is critical. Every search typed into Google comes with an intent – to find, solve, buy, fix, treat or understand.
Search engines then plan web pages in their results in order to satisfy that intent in the best possible way. Once you understand what your target market is looking for, you can effectively reach and keep those users by crafting appealing, useful content that fulfills this intent.
Types of user intent
So as we’ve already mentioned, the search engines’ primary responsibility is to send relevant results to their users. But how do you know what your target market are looking for and make sure your site delivers to them? It starts by finding out the different types of user intent.
Do, Know, Go is a concept where search queries can be segmented into three categories. These categories then, to an extent, determine the types of results that Google delivers to its users.
Also known as Transactional Queries, these types of searches happen when a user wants to do something. Typically, they’re looking to achieve a specific action like purchasing a product or booking a service. They’re high quality, end of the buying cycle queries where the searcher knows exactly what they want to find and have a real buying intent.
Also known as Informational Queries, these types of searches happen when a user wants to know something. They can vary from a simple question to a much broader and complex query that doesn’t always have a simple answer. However, the common thread is that the searches are primarily non-commercial and non-transactional in nature.
But even though there probably won’t be a sale, you still want to make sure you can help them by providing knowledge in micro-moments. Hopefully, this is enough to get their attention and maybe even get them subscribed to your newsletter mailing list or business blog. That way, if you can provide something of value for them, when the time comes for them to make a relevant purchase, there’s more chance they’ll remember you.
Also known as Navigational Queries, these types of searches happen when a user wants to go somewhere. Typically, they’re searching for a particular brand or known entity and want to go to a specific website or location.
User intent and the customer journey
The customer journey references a user’s path from the inception of their task to the completion – and most of these journeys start with a search. But search is no longer just about keywords. It’s evolved into providing the right content to the right user at the right time in their journey to help them accomplish their task.
Creating high-quality writing, using examples and including images and multimedia can all help in crafting content that perfectly matches a searcher’s specific goal. Your reward? Satisfied searchers who demonstrate their positive experience through engagement with your site or with links to it.
And the types of intent you decide to fulfill is completely up to you. However, making them work together is a great way to capture traffic at different stages along the customer journey. For example:
- Capture users early in the buying cycle via informational content
- Rank highly for competitive transactional queries which can directly generate revenue vs. competitors
- Ensure that once the potential customer has decided to buy your product, it’s your website they land on to make that purchase