User intent has been a major buzzword in the world of SEO, especially since BERT was released in 2019. BERT was implemented to improve Google’s algorithm so that it could better interpret users’ intent behind searches and therefore provide them with more accurate search results. With Google trying hard to match SERPs to user intent, it’s important for SEO experts to match content to user intent as well in order to continue to rank well.
Focusing on user intent will result in a better overall user experience for visitors to your website. On top of that, you’ll have a lower bounce rate as only users who are actually interested in your content will be directed to your site.
What Is User Intent?
User intent is a user’s purpose for performing a search. If a user is searching for “coffee in Orlando” they’re most likely performing that search because they want to know the locations of coffee shops in Orlando so they can go to one of those locations and purchase a cup of coffee. Results that showed them the history of coffee in Orlando wouldn’t be as useful to that user, even if the keywords matched between the content and the search.
How Is User Intent Identified?
In your keyword research, you can identify user intent from the wording they use in search queries. Sometimes it’s easy because a search query is a full sentence. This often occurs with voice searches, which are becoming increasingly common and are typically carried out in a more conversational fashion.
However, occasionally a user will search using only a few words. In cases like these, you can look at the following to determine intent:
- Suffixes and prefixes
- Intent modifier (ex. ‘Best’ or ‘buy’)
Someone searching for ‘buy coffee in Orlando’ is more clearly searching with the intent to purchase coffee. Searching for ‘best coffee in Orlando’ will provide slightly different search results. However, both search queries will produce commercial results, assuming that the user wants to buy coffee. If someone has typed ‘but coffee in Orlando’, it’s probably safe to assume that they meant ‘buy’ instead.
How Do I Match My Content to User Intent?
After identifying keywords that you’d like to rank for, the next step is to search with those keywords. What content appears in the top spots on the SERP? The highest-ranked results provide content that best matches what Google interprets the user’s search intent to be. If a search query has multiple possible interpretations and the SERP shows a variety of different results, the ones at the top are the results Google deems most relevant to the search.
It’s important to make sure that your content is actually relevant to the user’s intent behind their search for the keywords you’ve chosen. For example, if your business sells coffee mugs, trying to rank for ‘best coffee in Orlando’ isn’t a good SEO strategy. Most users searching for the best coffee in Orlando are searching for a cafe where they can purchase the beverage, not a mug in which to drink it at home.
If the content on your website isn’t about the same thing as the top-ranking results on the SERP, then your content may match better with different keywords.