User Intent and SEO – Boosting Your SEO Efforts by Understanding Your Target Audience

Back in the day, Google would depend heavily on backlinks and text data to determine the search engine ranking of a website. But thanks to better technologies, Google uses sophisticated algorithms to determine website ranking. And these algorithms are updated regularly. 

Since these updates are always unannounced, Google keeps website owners on their toes. As long as your website is meeting the needs of its users, there’s nothing to worry about the updates.

This shows just how important user intent is to a website. Google prioritizes websites that provides value to its users. If a website does not satisfy the user intent, the website will be “de-valued,” which basically means the website will end up at the bottom of the searches, never to be found again.

What is User SEO Intent?

As the name implies, user intent refers to a person’s intention behind every online query. It is the goal that a user wants to achieve by searching online using a certain keyword/s.

Generally, the user’s goal is to find relevant information related to the keywords used or to find general information about a certain topic.

If the user’s intent is very specific, searching is often exhaustive and well, specific. The user won’t deviate from a wider scope of topics related to the keyword he used. But if the user is fine with generalized content then the searches are less exhaustive and not as specific.

To give your SEO efforts a major boost, your content should not be only relevant, it should satisfy the user intent. It should offer value, it should be something that the user can use.

Although traditional Google ranking factors such as backlinking, keyword optimization, and/or usability still matter in SEO, the search engine giant still puts emphasis on user intent. In fact, satisfying user intent is a part of Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines.

User Intent and SEO: Boosting Your SEO Efforts by Understanding Your Target Audience

How to Define User Intent for SEO

Google’s newest algorithm updates allowed the search engine to “recognize” user intent. That’s why only the most relevant pages are displayed on top of the searches. Satisfying your viewers by providing quality content is one thing but to dominate the searches, you have to improve the relevance of your website pages. The first step would be to define your viewers’ intentions when they visit your website.

Although this may not seem like an SEO technique, practice does help to improve your search result.

Update Old content regularly

Here, you have to go through your old content and update them to make the most out of your blog content.

Rather than writing a new article from scratch, we recommend that you add more information to your existing article. Another way to do this is by updating the headline to ensure that it has the latest information.

This is an easy SEO technique to come up with more content in less time.

Get Quality Backlinks

When a high domain authority website links back to your website, yours website's credibility increases, having quality backlinks can quickly help you rank up the SERPs and outwit the competition.

One of the most effective ways of getting high-quality backlinks is by guest blogging and collaborating with social media influencers. Other times you can even get a link back to your website from authority domain sites without your permission. Either way, it works just fine.

However, it would be best if you analyzed incoming links and wed out spammy links.

How to Define User Intent for SEO

How to Define User Intent for SEO

Google’s newest algorithm updates allowed the search engine to “recognize” user intent. That’s why only the most relevant pages are displayed on top of the searches. Satisfying your viewers by providing quality content is one thing but to dominate the searches, you have to improve the relevance of your website pages. The first step would be to define your viewers’ intentions when they visit your website.

Understanding the Different Types of User Intent

To define user content, you need to know the different types of user intent. The three major types of user intent are:

Transactional: The user wants to buy a product
Navigational: the user is looking for a specific resource or page
Informational: The user is looking for information on a specific topic to answer a question

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, why would they click your website link on the searches? What information are they looking for? Go to Google and type in the search terms that your website visitors are likely to use to search for your website. See what will turn up. Are the searches filled with transactional, navigational, or informational content?

If the searches ended up with How-To blogs, tools, and tutorials, the user intent is often informational. If the searches ended up with Top 10 lists or comparisons between products, the user intent is navigational. Finally, if the queries ended up with links to online stores or product pages, the user intent is likely transactional.

These are the kind of content that your users want at every stage of user intent. Use the information you got from the searches to customize your own content. This way, you are giving your viewers exactly what they need, which will improve your rankings.

Optimize Your Content for Better User Experience

Google is so smart, it can tell if you are satisfying user intent or not. You can’t fool the system either because the search engine could detect the amount of time that viewers take to stay on a certain web page.

If the amount of time it takes for your viewers to explore your website is getting shorter and shorter, it’s perceived that your target audience is losing interest in your website content. This could be interpreted as 1) your website content is not providing the answer to your user’s question or 2) the keywords you are using are not relevant to the information you are providing. In any case, your website will be downranked.

To retain user interest and boost user intent, you have to customize your content to the needs of your target audience. Start by reviewing your top-performing keywords on Google Analytics and see if the content tied to these keywords are answering the queries that you are receiving from users.

For example, if your top-performing keyword is “buy fresh coffee grounds,” yet the articles that are tied to the term are blog posts about grinding coffee beans at home or learning how to grind coffee beans with a coffee grinder, you’re not giving users what they need.

The search term suggests products that users could buy, which are fresh coffee grounds. By linking the keywords to a product page, you are more likely to attract people and gain more conversions.

So the general rule of thumb is, if you are offering products, use transactional keywords. If your website is filled with information, use informational keywords. This way, your target audience will get exactly what they are looking for and won’t grow frustrated if they are led to an irrelevant page.

Define Your Ideal Customer (Buyer Personas)

To uncover your target audience’s intent, you need to define your ideal customers (buyer personas) and learn how to cater to them. The meaning of one keyword is not necessarily the same for different people.

For example, to a college student searching the web using the keyword “ key lime pie,” the intent could be finding the nearest bakery that sells this specific type of pie. To a cook or a chef, however, the intention could be to look for better key lime pie recipes.

Aligning your marketing personas and user intent with relevant content is the best way to attract the right people to your website. By defining your buyer personas, your marketing campaign is geared towards a specific group of people, people who are genuinely interested in whatever you have to offer.

Bet on User Experience

No matter how beautiful a website looks, if it’s a pain to use then it will put off people. This goes especially for e-commerce websites where customers want every transaction to be quick, seamless, and hassle-free.

The thing with online users is that they are an impatient lot. Most users won’t wait more than 3 seconds for a webpage to load before they lose interest and move on to faster-loading websites. Better user experience attracts more users. If you can fulfill the user intent fast enough, you can make people stay on your website longer, even compel the users to take the desired action.

So take a long, hard look at your website and check for areas that need more work.

Is your loading speed up to par? Most users expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or less. Is your website easy to navigate? If your website is a pain to use, you will lose traffic.

How responsive is your website? If your website design is outdated, it's time to implement responsive design throughout your website to boost user experience.

Is your website design mobile-friendly? More than half (51.92%) of global website traffic comes from mobile devices and this percentage has been increasing every year since 2017. By 2025, about 72.6% of internet users will access the web exclusively through smartphones. That's about 3.7 billion people - almost three-quarters of the population. If your website is not showing up properly on a small screen, you could end up losing thousands of viewers every day.

User Intent + User Engagement

In the early days of SEO, targeting keywords is key to attracting more people to a website. But because technology has been “humanized,” the algorithms are able to detect human intent and interest, as opposed to the keyword metrics i.e. the number of keywords a webpage or an article has.

User intent and user engagement go hand in hand. If you are satisfying the user intent, your target audience is more engaged. And when your website visitors are engaged, they are likely to take the desired action, such as completing a purchase, reading more of your content, subscribing and sharing your content to their social media profiles, and/or participating in reader discussions on your social media accounts.


Giving what your target audience wants is key to a successful SEO and online marketing campaign. It’s no longer enough to optimize your content with the main keywords, you have to build your content around user intent. Your keywords should always match your content or it will not rank.

Customizing your marketing campaign according to your ideal customer’s needs yields better results because you are attracting people who do not need much cajoling to take the desired action. Marketing to just about everyone and hoping that something sticks, on the other hand, will only waste more time and resources.

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