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Why Defining User Intent is Important for SEO

user intent, search engine optimization, Google Algorithm, common and minor interpretations, dominant common and minor

User intent is not a topic that gets a lot of coverage within the search engine optimization field. It is because Google used to put a heavy focus on text data and backlinks to determine rankings. 

Changes in the Google Algorithm

But the Google algorithm has become a lot more advanced and sophisticated since those days. Now the goal is to promote content that is aligned with the user’s searches, as compared to a rigid structure.

Most SEO experts will focus a lot on topics such as search volume, on-site conversions, and rankings. These are the metrics that we use to judge the performance of a site. Everyone wants higher and better metrics because it means the site is performing better.

The issue is that when we put such a heavy focus on target keywords, backlinks and other factors, we start to ignore intent. And it is the intent of the user that content must satisfy if the site owner wants it to perform consistently. Getting guidance from a professional SEO company like Myrtle Beach SEO is a great start to understanding how all this works. Search engine optimization Johnson city is another option.

Understanding User Intent

A 2006 study from Hong Kong stated that we can split up search intent into two groups. Is the person seeking specific details on the keyword or are they seeking general information about a topic? 

Intent in Specific Searches

With some searches, it is easier to understand intent. For instance, if someone is searching for a Walmart in Arlington, Virginia, they want to find a specific store. If they are just searching “Walmart” they may want to visit the company’s site or get general information about the company.

It is important to ensure that your site is focusing on user intent, along with other key SEO metrics. Adam White from is a search engine optimization expert who teaches a strategy that uses power pages and other techniques to provide SEO value to every page on your website.

Dominant, Common and Minor Interpretations

Many search engine queries can have more than one meaning. Google has three ways of interpreting these queries – dominant, common and minor interpretations.

The dominant interpretation is what most users want when they search a particular keyword or phrase. The common interpretations can occur when a word has more than one meaning. For instance, mercury could refer to the planet or the element. Google will deliver results that could reference either.

And the minor interpretation is one that is less common. It may be a niche or local interpretation.

Search Intent and the User Journey

The search intent of a user can often be tied to their journey. For instance, what stage of the buying journey are they currently going through? Are they just searching for basic information on a product? Do they want to find a place to buy it? Sometimes a user could be unsure of their own position in that journey, which can lead to a vague query.

It is up to site owners to ensure their websites are optimized not only for keywords to drive traffic, but also to take user intent into account when producing content.

Author: Walter Richards

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