What is User Intent?

November 9th, 2018

User Intent

User intent refers to what the user was trying to accomplish when performing a search query.

For most (if not all)ย  search queries, the user’s location affects the context and intent of the query.

Types of User Intent

There are 3 main types of user intent, which dictate the driving force behind a userโ€™s search query:


NavigationalUser trying to find a certain website


InstructionalUser is looking for Information


TransationalUser is prepared to buy or perform some other online activity

Types of search queries:

User intent search queries are the search queries a user types or speaks into their mobile, and are classified into 6 specific categories:

  • Know query
  • Know simple query
  • Do query
  • Device action query
  • Website query
  • Visit-In-Person query

Search Queries

User Intent Search Query
Know Query
Find in depth information about a topic
“Best holiday destinations”
Know Simple Query
Queries for a specific defined answer
“What is the capital of Australia?”
Do Query
Queries seeking to accomplish a goal or engage in an activity
“Tickets to Taiwan”
Device Action Query
A special type of โ€œDo Queryโ€ that requires your mobile to do something for you.
“Install the Skyscanner app”
Website Query
Find a specific website or webpage
“Cathay Pacific”
Visit-In-Person Query
Asking for nearby information or nearby results based on location
“Travel agents”

User Intent and SEO

So how does this all tie into SEO?

Julia McCoy Quote

โ€œJust asย you wouldnโ€™t develop a product without knowing who the user for that product is going to be, you shouldnโ€™t develop online content without knowing how it can help people and whose goals it will help fulfill.โ€Julia McCoy, Content Marketing Institute

Keyword research no longer revolves around targeting โ€œthe highest volume search keywordโ€ anymore. The evolution of the sophistication of search engines means that as SEO professionals, we too must evolve in our methodology for performing keyword research.

Identifying the user intent for search queries is the first step to identifying ranking/traffic shifts, as well as for curating the most relevant content for users.

What Is User Intent in SEO?
Article Name
What Is User Intent in SEO?
User intent refers to what the user was trying to accomplish by typing the query. For most queries, the user location changes our understanding of the query and user intent.
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Digital Meal
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