SEO Essentials: Understanding User Intent

A fundamental element of search engine optimisation, as well as search marketing in general, is understanding the intent that drives users to a website.Determining this intent may very well begin at the search engines themselves, because the traffic generated by search engines often represents a huge chunk of the overall number of visitors that a website gets.Despite the fact that the technology behind search engines (algorithms etc.), and the technology people use to conduct their searches (smartphones, tablets etc.), has advanced incredibly, the reasons that people use search engines have largely remained the same.  

These can be broken down into three categories:-

Navigational Queries

These are the queries that a user may conduct in order to go directly to a website they have previously visited, but they may be unsure of the exact URL address.In cases like this, the search engines are almost acting as digital ‘yellow pages’ by helping the searcher navigate quickly to the service they are looking for.

The opportunities for internet marketing gains related to navigational search are relatively small.It may be possible to pull the searcher away from their destination and possible drive in investigatory traffic to your website, but this may not necessarily contribute to an increased conversion rate.

Informational Queries

Information queries account for a huge number of searches that are conducted on the search engines.These can range from directions to a local restaurant to the medical reason that giraffes can’t cough. Information queries do not generally lead to a transaction because more often than not, the information itself is enough to satisfy the intent behind the search.However, in some cases, if a searcher conducts a query to find information about a service or product, these could potentially lead to a transaction, or other form of conversion.

The opportunities that information queries have in terms of SEO range from the possibility to attract inbound links, brand searchers looking for specific company information, or searchers who might have a general interest in the service you offer could potentially sign up to your newsletter.The value that can be gained may not be relatively average, however, informational searches related to a specific brand or company to potentially yield some real value.

Transactional Queries

Transactional queries can often be related directly to conversion rates.Similarly to conversions, transactions aren’t always monetary.They can range from signing up to a newsletter, filling in a form, making a booking at a restaurant or indeed, purchasing a product.

In terms of potential SEO benefit, transactional queries naturally hold the most opportunity.The user is normally further down the decision making process when they make a transactional query, so if your site is well optimised and hooks the user in, there is a lot of opportunity to boost conversion rate.

Understanding the taxonomy of web search is obviously a crucial part of internet marketing, and understanding user intent has a genuine SEO and conversion rate optimisation gain.