A Definitive Guide to Understanding User Intent
The entire product and service industry has one motto in common, and that is “Customer is King.” All the efforts behind launching a business, making the products or services top-class, or spending on marketing will be a waste if the end-user does not relate to the product, service, brand, or vision. So how do you know if your target user is looking for something you are offering? It is done by understanding user intent.
User intent means nothing but the intention of a user when they are searching for something. More specifically, it is the goal they have in mind for which they are looking up answers. On the internet, this transcends into search engine queries. Users often take to the search engine for answers or solutions to their queries.
Right from something as simple as synonyms for words to complex processes like assembling a gaming laptop, for instance, search engines are their go-to friends. So it is imperative to understand what your target user is thinking. To get this right is like predicting the next viral trend. It sounds difficult, right? However, by understanding certain specifics, you can try and break it down to get desired results.
Understanding User Intent
User intent is the reason behind a user’s search. Understanding what the intent is means you can create better content for your users. As per studies, Google’s search engine processes close to 63,000 search queries every passing second. That is a staggering 5.6 billion searches each day. It is found that an average person performs somewhere between three and four searches throughout the day. This is just one search engine. Now, trying to understand the intention of such a big pool of users can be a daunting task.
But thinking from a business point of view, the marketer may not want to target the entire pool. They want to target a specific audience for whom their product or service is a perfect fit. So how will they know what the user intent of their audience is? It is simple. They have a solution to the problem their end-user might be facing. So all they need to get their hands on is the search terms related to the issue. This is why businesses turn to practices, such as SEO.
What Is the Role of User Intent in SEO?
Users type words in the search query, which are termed keywords. These can be short-tail (one word), medium-tail (two to three words), or long-tail (more than three words) keywords. By means of SEO, businesses study these keywords, usually the medium- and long-tail keywords. Then, they focus on their relevance and optimize their content in accordance with these keywords. This is why you see only relevant articles, answers, etc., on the search engine’s first page. With sound web content writing practices, your business can rank on the first search engine results page (SERP). This increases your chance of getting your user to notice and buy from you.
Can you see how important understanding your end-user’s search intent is? Unless you know your user’s search intent, you won’t know which keywords to target, study, and include in your content pieces. The role of user intent is huge in SEO and SEM too. You don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on the wrong keywords. So, to completely define your specific audience’s user intent, you have to understand which bucket it falls under. Let’s look at the different types of user intent.
What Are the Types of User Intent?
Understanding user intent has become quite a priority for businesses worldwide. It helps them better their SEO, start ranking for relevant keywords, and rake in the revenue. But another important factor is that it also helps businesses clearly understand at which point users are in the marketing funnel. User intent can be broadly classified into two types, namely low user intent and high user intent. These are then further classified to have a more specific understanding of user intent. Let us take a deep dive into these further.
1. Low user intent
Low user intent is usually demonstrated when the user may be searching for general information or looking for light reading options on the internet. In this case, they might not necessarily be looking to buy something or be actively driven towards a purchase decision. A good example of this can be when someone is looking for the meanings of certain words or typing in short-tail keywords. Low user intent is further classified into navigational and informational intent.
Navigational intent is when a user is searching for a specific website or domain, or a page on a website. A user also has navigational intent if they are looking for ways to navigate your site. They might be looking for a particular page, or they might be trying to find out how to make their way back to the homepage.
How to optimize content for navigational intent
In this case, content should be focused on getting users where they need to go as quickly as possible, and with as little fuss as possible. Ensure your website layout is not too complex, and information is easily available with smooth navigation options. There must be clear and concise information about your products or services, with appropriate landing pages for them.
Why is navigational intent important?
Users with navigational intent are specifically looking for your website or some page on your site. They remember your brand and are most likely to recommend it to their peers. This type of intent also helps you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your website. With the help of heatmaps, you can see which pages on your site are doing well, which ones need more attention, which products are striking a chord with the users, which ones are not relevant, etc. You can also gauge whether your customers are finding it easy to complete the desired action or simply dropping off.
Informational intent is when a user wants to find information about something. Typically, you would want to be on the first page of search results when your target user is looking for your niche-specific information. This is how you can establish yourself as an authority and expert in your niche. Being able to provide your future prospects with the information they require may not only help build trust for your brand, but also help in converting them at a later stage.
How to optimize content for informational intent
In order to optimize informational content, you must make sure your content is well-researched and has no errors. You must also maintain your content and keep updating it with time. Ensure your titles are clear and straightforward, and they include relevant keywords with high search volumes. Don’t miss out on interlinking to other relevant articles on the website.
Why is informational intent significant?
A majority of the searches on the internet are informational in nature, making it the most common type of intent. This fact is crucial, and you need to understand this user intent well before putting out content. Good informational and educational content will help build brand visibility and pave the path for future growth opportunities. Once your users are familiar with your content and start finding it useful, they will stick around and convert to loyal paying customers in the long run.
Some examples of informational intent keywords:
- How to do SEO
- Tutorial on video editing
- Resources for content writers
- Tips for stock trading
- What day is Holi on?
2. High user intent
High user intent signifies a determined intent for the searcher to convert and become a paying customer. It could be buying a product, service, subscription, or anything that involves completing an action in exchange for some value. These types of users are looking for extremely specific information that may drive them towards a purchase decision. High user intent is further classified into transactional intent and commercial intent.
This type of user is most likely to convert. They have an intention to complete a purchase or transaction. Their searches are very direct. They often search for product or subscription prices or use specific transactional keywords, such as “buy Nissan car” or “subscribe to Vogue,” etc.
How to optimize content for transactional intent
You need to ensure you have a stellar landing page design in place. More than content optimization, you will need to focus on having a smooth check-out process for people with this type of user intent. If there is complexity in the check-out, people may drop off or head to a competitor site. Make sure your calls to action (CTA) on all the pages are well-placed and lead the users to the desired location to complete the action or transaction.
Why is transactional intent important?
Users with transactional intent are the ones bringing in revenue for your business. These people are action-takers, and you need them to help you keep growing. These users have more or less made up their minds about making a purchase decision, so it’s already half the battle won. All they require is a simple push, and that needs to be achieved with a hassle-free and intuitive check-out process.
Some examples of transactional intent keywords:
- Buy running shoes
- iPhone 13 Pro price
- Chinese restaurant near me
- Where to buy limited-edition Chanel fragrance for her
This intent is shown when a user has a transactional intent but wants to find more information before making the purchase decision. It is a blend of informational and transactional user intent. It isn’t uncommon that people want to be sure before making big buying decisions. So they often take to the internet to see reviews of products they intend to buy or to compare a few shortlisted products before finalizing one. That is the crux of commercial intent.
How to optimize content for commercial intent
You need to ensure that you provide adequate data points on your website to entice the users and push them to make a buying decision. Further, you can have an extensive blog that features content on how your products or services can be helpful to the users. Having customer testimonials also helps a great deal. Lastly, make sure you have genuine customer reviews and ratings included along with your product listings for people to make an informed decision.
Why is commercial intent important?
Commercial intent keywords are, again, revenue builders. They can mean a lot to your business goals and customer retention rates.
Some examples of commercial intent keywords:
- iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max
- Pepperfry queen chair reviews
- Affordable kitchen appliances for a new home
Understanding user intent is the first step in building a business with your target customer in mind. After all, no matter how good your technology is, if you don’t achieve your product-market fit, you won’t be making strides. So, your business priority must always be to target user intent and keep developing optimized content for each stage of the user’s journey.
- Enhancing your business’ SEO strategy is possible only if you have a thorough understanding of the user intent at every stage of the funnel.
- Navigational intent may be a low user intent type that doesn’t convert immediately, but it must not be underestimated. If you’re looking to build a big brand, you need to recognize all your major navigational keywords and rank for them from the beginning.
- Informational user intent leads a business to create a knowledge bank for its target user. Given the enormous search volumes, it is absolutely necessary that businesses build a pool of articles, blogs, tutorials, and much more to serve their user’s growing needs.
- Defining what a transaction means for your business is of utmost importance. It could be having users subscribe to your mailing list or getting them to purchase a product or service.
- Focusing on commercial user intent can work wonders for your business as you’re filling an important gap in your user’s purchase journey.
To find user intent for a specific product, service, or topic, conduct generic research on a search engine and see the top results. The articles will give you a fair idea of the user intent for that niche.
It is necessary to understand the intent of your users, because it helps you create more engaging content. It also helps optimize content as per the user’s buying intent.
You can use Google Analytics and see what keywords people are using when they visit your site. This will help you understand the intent of your users and provide them with content that will be most relevant for them. You can also use a heatmap tool like Hotjar, which will help you identify where visitors click more on your website, so that you know what kind of information they want from you.
Intent optimization is nothing but providing your target users with the best answers to their immediate queries. These can be Q&As and snippets, among many other things.