User Intent – if you think about it, the phrase is pretty simple… when someone wants to do something online, they have the intention to search for it, find it, engage with it and move on. 

Simple enough right? Well, perhaps, but it does mean that your SEO needs to be on point to satisfy the searcher’s intent to find something that you may offer. And that’s less simple.

What Search used to be

In basic terms, it used to be just fine to ensure your keyword strategy was solid enough to hit exact or near-enough search requests.

What Search is now

Unsurprisingly, things have moved on… or actually, Google has evolved to be just that much more clever…

As a result of progressive algorithmic improvements (Penguin, Panda, Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), Hummingbird and Rankbrain) Google has evolved its ability to produce a result that is incredibly sophisticated based on key concepts:

  • Understanding context and synonyms (Latent Semantic Indexing) to produce a faster, more intuitive result no matter what the broad search term
  • A level of machine learning to compile enough relatable content to produce intelligent guesses and results based on similar queries and meanings from previous searches. (RankBrain)
  • Improving ‘conversational’ or real-language search results faster and more accurately using powerful improvements to the Google engine (Hummingbird)

So what does this all mean? 

Well, to go back to the title of the article, it means that the concept of User Intent – broader search queries using natural language terms, sometimes as a Voice search rather than a typed search – is now far better catered for by Google’s algorithmic capability.

Where does that leave you, the business trying to be found? Firstly, in simple terms it means the content on your site needs to be tweaked to accommodate the above levels of search, and the ability for Google’s algorithms to find you based on the above criteria.

That means understanding what it is that your customer is looking for, how they are searching for it, and why they are searching for it.

Consider applying the following to your understanding of your customer – they likely want to:

  • Find something
  • Buy something
  • Learn something
  • Do something
  • Go somewhere

Then ask yourself, “how would my typical customer go about asking Google to supply that information?”

And then answer the question in as natural a way as possible within your website content, using the qualitative benchmark ‘Does my answer add the most value to the user and their needs?’

Value is the most key aspect of the user’s expectation, and thus the most important thing for Google to get right – if you’re offering the best value, it’s likely you’ll top the list of results.

Key aspects to consider

  • Transactional terms – does your website offer obvious options for your user to progress from page to funnel to completion?
  • Informational search terms – what value does your content offer to someone searching for your goods or services? The better the informational value, the more likely they are to purchase later on in the funnel.
  • User flow – how easy are you making it for a visitor to become a customer? What design cues are you using to guide users from step to step?
  • Basic SEO data – are you covering all your bases? If someone makes a transactional search (“I want to buy this thing”) does your title and meta-data support a clear purchase-orientated result? If it’s an informational query, does your basic SEO support a search result that answers that question?

All the above can seem like a daunting amount of work but in reality you’re probably already 90% there – tweaking your SEO to align it more tightly with the above requirements may only take a little extra effort, but the results to your bottom line could be spectacular!

For more information on User Intent, read this great article by Search Engine Watch. There is also more information on LSI, RankBrain and Hummingbird and how they play their combined part in taking search to the next level.


Realnet offers a range of SEO audit, improvement and support services. To find out more about how we could improve your ROI, contact us today.