With each new iteration and update to Google’s algorithm, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) processes continue to evolve and need to match Google’s requirements. User Keyword Search Intent is the new update rolled out to help the search engine factor the user’s intent behind the search query.
So among the multitude of factors determining the top-ranking pages, user keyword search intent will now play a prominent role. In layman’s terms, search intent is the purpose behind a search query. For example, if a user is searching for ‘how to cook pasta’ and is extremely hungry, the user is more likely to click on a video that is 10-min long over a 30-min long video. If maximum users searching for this keyword click on the shorter videos over the ones that are 30+ minutes, Google’s algorithm automatically starts prioritizing search results to show shorter videos instead of the longer ones.
Thus, user keyword search intent is Google’s ultimate goal, ensuring that despite processing 3.5 billion searches per day, the search engine can provide accurate and valuable results to its audience.
Types of User Intent
User keyword search intent can be divided into four main categories:
Much like any commercial-driven search, transactional user intent is when the user wants to complete a particular action that leads to an opportunity. These could be search queries where the user wants to subscribe to your newsletter, wants contact information for your business, or similar. E.g., ‘Best Writing Services Online’, ‘Pepper Content Team Email Address’.
Commercial search intent is probably the most valuable for businesses. These are keywords or search queries where the user is searching for particular products or services but with the intention of buying. Although most users may not buy directly on their first visit, they search for information on the product or service and might perform actions that showcase their interest. For example, ‘Where to buy smartphones in India’.
These are search queries where the user wants to get an answer to their question or learn more about a particular topic. Examples of informative intent can be, ‘How to optimize SEO for my website?’ or ‘What is the time in the USA right now?’.
Navigational search intent is when the user only wants to navigate a particular website and is not looking for answers or asking queries. These are search queries where users search a website name or company name, especially when they do not know the exact URL of the page—for example, LinkedIn Login, Facebook, etc.
Significance of User Intent in SEO
After the BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) update in Dec 2020, 24% of keywords were changed, and 23% of shopping intent keywords turned into informational or commercial intent. Experts say this deviation is a huge change that any company’s SEO managers need to address.
As the algorithm gets more intelligent, it will shift focus from keyword optimization to user experience. The change from keyword optimization to search intent optimization means brands have to focus on:
- Providing concise and direct information
- Keeping customers on the page and creating engagement
- Building trust by providing authoritative and relevant data
- Personalizing each page to match the needs of your target audience
How to Use User Intent For Better SEO
Research shows that 93% of online experiences start with search engines. This means that the search engine is the first point of contact for most users, to either discover, find or engage with a particular brand. Ranking higher on a specific keyword or search query enables your brand to get exponential reach and boost your brand’s online credibility. However, the brand’s ranking depends on several factors, like the user’s location, their previous search history, and now the search intent. To help optimize your SEO for user keyword search intent, we recommend:
- Creating SEO practices focused on enhancing user experience instead of being sales-oriented. E.g., most users now detest websites with too many popups, and Google will rank you lower due to this. So if you do want to use a popup, use it only for “exit intent” rather than compelling the user to act.
- Use online tools like SEMRush, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, Moz, and others to test and understand your website’s SEO score and ways to optimize it.
- Improve user experience by optimizing the back-end to ensure that the website pages load quickly, are optimized for a relevant target keyword, and are mobile-friendly.
- Do not forget to focus on long-tail keywords. Using a combination of focus keywords and long-tail keywords ensures that the users landing on your page are highly relevant and qualified leads.
- Consider the phrases and cultural, local, or linguistic significance of your search terms.
- Check your target audience’s local language demographic and verbiage. For example, an older gentleman or a B2B client might want to get descriptive information and explicit content (Whitepaper / Blog). In contrast, a Gen-Z or Millennial user or a B2C user will want information in formats like Video, Podcast, or other.
- Optimize your website content to be clear, presented in bit-size and digestible pieces, and provide clear steps on a particular topic.
- Include clear CTA (Call To Action) on your pages.
- Provide relevant images, videos, or URLs to ensure the user can get additional information.
User Keyword Search Intent is just an effort by Google to make its search engine a step closer to creating a customer-focused and valuable service. While the algorithm will only get much more personalized, specific, and helpful, SEO processes do not always need a complete refresh. Blogs, articles, case studies, and other types of content that help establish your business as an expert in the field are ideal for standing out and even getting a higher ranking on Google. Specific, actionable, and high-quality content is what Google will be promoting in the future. We can already see steps being taken to ensure that more than any SEO processes or hacks, it is good quality content that the audience is showcased.
So if you are thinking of scaling up your website or business’s SEO, do not forget to up the game when it comes to your content. You can take the help of in-house writers or consider professional writing services to help you craft well-researched and SEO-rich content that your audience (and indirectly search engines) will love.