User Intent: how do search engines understand it?

Optimise for User Intent to get qualified traffic to your website

Optimise for User Intent to get qualified traffic to your website

User Intent is revolutionising the way we do SEO both in B2C and B2B, but what is it exactly?  It is what the user is looking for when performing a search; the intention behind the keywords, the goal behind the search.

It is generally accepted that there are three types of searches:

1 – Informational (“What is lead generation?”): the user is still looking for basic information about the topic and is still far from making a purchase.
2 – Transactional (“Best lead generation companies”): the user is evaluating different Lead Generation providers and is close to making a purchase.
3 – Navigational (“Broadley Speaking”): the user is clearly looking for a specific website.

Search engines nowadays can understand a lot from a search: earlier I performed the following search: “best restaurants to take my wife for dinner”. It returned the results below.


The search engine understands I am trying to be romantic, when the word “romantic” itself does not even appear in my search.

This happens because search algorithms are very sophisticated and because some clever restaurants have created contents tailored to searchers with a romantic intent; those which have not created any such content do not appear in the first two result pages and they will never have any good traffic for that search (Page 1 results get 91% of traffic; page 2, 4.8%; p3, 1.1%; p 4, 0.4%). If you do not learn how to optimise for User Intent, your results will be relegated to pages where they will never get any useful share of traffic.

So how do you optimise for User Intent?
First, you need to build buyer personas:

What is the user looking for?
Based on that intent, what would the user be most likely to convert on?
What type of action might the user intend to take?
What type of next steps would the user be interested in?
Once you have answers for these questions, create targeted content to address buyers at various stages of the buying cycle and build relevant landing pages.

For informational queries, you will need material like; Blog posts or videos full of useful tips which address your prospects’ pain points and their barriers to buying. A detailed, step-by-step guide. An infographic which illustrates how something works. Use pop-ups to offer more knowledge (download in-depth study, offer subscription to newsletter, course…)

For transactional queries, you should use a mix of organic and paid strategies. Organic strategies like optimized product pages, vertical searches (shopping, images) and local SEO strategies perform very well, though a lot of the SERP positions for this kind of queries are taken by sponsored ads. Landing pages aimed at attracting users at the buying stage should be more content-heavy with detailed explanation and clear CTA’s.

For navigational queries, you don’t have to worry about attracting traffic because the user is actually looking for your website; the best you can do in this case is to make sure your website functions well from a technical standpoint

Check landing page performance on Google Analytics.
In you Google Analytics account, open BEHAVIOUR>SITE CONTENT>LANDING PAGES and get a view of how many visits your landing pages, what channel (organic,paid, direct, referral) and what the referral paths are.

Finally, don’t ever leave interested visitors without options for their next step, especially those near the buying decision: get them to download that useful whitepaper or podcast, give them a reason to give you their e-mail address, get them to click on your product to add it to the trolley or to give you a phone call to discuss their needs.

If you would like help with your SEO campaign, please e-mail