Understanding User Intent and Search

Understating the intent behind a search query is the Holy Grail for Google right now.   It is important to consider user intent in your own website as well. Knowing why a person is searching for information can help you be the one to provide it in the most relevant way. This helps your users and customers and will win big points with the search engines as well.

If you think about it, every search query starts with a need for some type of information. The one who provides the needed content wins the clicks from the search results page.

The why or need behind a search, or intent, can be limitless. However, there are some commonalities to user intent. Whether a user clicks on your website or a competitors from the search results is largely dependent on the searcher’s intent.

Here are some examples of user intent from Advance Web Ranking’s 2014 Google Organic CRT Study.


The intent of a navigational query is to find a particular website. According to the study about 10% of web queries are navigational in nature. These queries tend to be more convenient than typing the URL and they work well if a user doesn’t know the website URL they are looking for. Search results for these type of queries tend to have one answer that appears at the top of the results page.


The intent of informational queries is to find information that may appear on multiple websites. This is the most common type of query representing 80% of all web searches. Search results typically include articles, forums, blogs and topic specific directories.


The intent of transactional queries is to complete a transaction online. These are action oriented queries. Someone wants to do something. Usually this entails shopping, forums, registrations, downloads and represents about 10% of web queries.

Matching your content with user intent is an effective way to boost your search rankings and even more importantly the click through rate to your website. Both are the goals of an effective SEO strategy.