User intent

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User intent, otherwise known as query intent or search intent, is the identification and categorization of what a user online intended or wanted to find when they typed their search terms into an online web search engine for the purpose of search engine optimisation or conversion rate optimisation.[1] Examples of user intent are fact-checking, comparison shopping or navigating to other websites.

Optimizing For User Intent[edit]

To increase ranking on search engines, marketers need to create content which best satisfies queries entered by users in their smartphones or desktops. Thus, creating content keeping the intent of the user in mind helps in increasing the value of the information being showcased.[2]

Google can show SERP features such as featured snippets, knowledge cards or knowledge panels for queries where the search intent is clear. SEO practitioners take this into account because Google can often satisfy the user intent without having the user leave Google SERP. The better Google gets in figuring out user intent, the less users are going to click on search results. As of 2019, less than half of Google searches result in clicks.


Though there are various ways of classifying the categories of user intent, overall, they tend to follow the same clusters. Until recently, there were three broad categories: informational, transactional, and navigational.[3] However, after the rise[4] of mobile search, other categories have appeared or have segmented into more specific categorisation.[5][6] For example, as mobile users may want to find directions to or information about a specific physical location, some marketers have proposed categories such as "local intent", as in searches like "XY near me". And there is commercial search intent as well, which is when someone searches for a product or service to know more about it or compare other alternatives before finalizing their purchase.

See the Major types with examples below:

Informational Intent: Donald Trump, Who is Maradona?, How to lose weight?

Navigational Intent: Facebook login, Wikipedia contribution page

Transactional Intent: Latest iPhone, amazon coupons, cheap dell laptop, fence installers

Commercial Intent: top headphones, best marketing agency, x protein powder review,

Local Search Intent: restaurants near me, nearest gas station,

Many search queries also have mixed search intent. For example when someone searches: "best iPhone repair shop near me." This can easily happen with homonyms and such SERPs tend to be volatile because user signals differ.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jansen, Jim (July 2011). Understanding Sponsored Search: Core Elements of Keyword Advertising. New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press. p. 44. ISBN 9781107011977.
  2. ^ "How to Create a User-Intent SEO Strategy".
  3. ^ Broder, Andrei (Fall 2002). "A Taxonomy of Web Search" (PDF). SIGIR Forum. 36 (2): 5–6. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  4. ^ "The Rise of Mobile Search: From 2012 to 2015". Texo Design. Texo Design. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  5. ^ KhudaBukhsh, Ashiqur; Bennett, Paul; White, Ryen (2015). "Building Effective Query Classifiers: A Case Study in Self-harm Intent Detection" (PDF). CIKM '15 Proceedings of the 24th ACM International on Conference on Information and Knowledge Management: 1735–1738. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  6. ^ Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (PDF). Google. 28 March 2016. pp. 61–74. Retrieved 26 December 2016.