What you need to know about user intent

There are a lot of great guides to keyword research out there but most are missing out on a key point. It doesn’t matter how good your processes are or how many keywords you generate; if you don’t understand user intent, you’re doing keyword research wrong.

Understanding the reasons why a user is searching for something is the only way to truly maximize the ROI of your SEO campaigns. It doesn’t matter how highly you rank in Google if you don’t create pages that align with their intent. They won’t buy anything, they’ll just leave. Here’s the low-down on user intent.


What is User Intent?

User intent refers to the reason behind someone’s search query. Everyone has an end goal in mind when they search on Google or another search engine and user intent identifies that goal.


There are many intentions users could have when they search. It could be information-based in that they are looking for an answer to a certain question. It could be transactional in that they are looking to buy a certain product or want reviews about it. It could even be locational in that they are looking for a type of business in a certain area.


Search engines, especially Google, have gotten better at understanding the reason behind searches. They are starting to customize results as a result. Now Google will show a different set of results depending on user intent in order to improve the user experience.


What Are the Types of User Intent?

There are four major types of user intent.


1. Informational Intent

Informational intent is all about trying to find out information on a topic. Maybe a user has an exact question that they want an answer to or maybe they are looking for general advice on a certain topic. A lot of the time, informational intent is linked to action intent. If you are searching for information about gardening you are probably going to do some gardening in the near future.


When it comes to informational searches, Google typically responds in a varied fashion. More than ever, it is including knowledge boxes at the top of searches so that the user gets an answer immediately. It can also serve up images, videos and of course links to blogs.


2. Navigational Intent

With navigational intent the user is not looking for physical directions, they are looking to be taken to a particular website. So when a user searches for “Target” Google knows that they want to go to the Target website and don’t want to be shown a list of archery targets.


3. Local Intent

When a user has local intent they are trying to find a business either nearby or in a specific area. As a result, Google will display a map back with local businesses highlighted and relevant local search results.


4. Transactional Intent

When a user has transactional intent they are looking to make a purchase right now or in the near future. As a result, Google tends to display product ads and include links to eCommerce stores.