User intent or query intent is the identification and categorization of what a user online intended or wanted when they typed their search terms into an online web search engine for the purpose of search engine optimization or conversion rate optimization. When a user goes online, there is always a purpose, an intent. The goal can be fact-checking, comparison shopping, filling downtime, or any other activity online.
Though there are various ways of classifying or naming the categories of the different types of user intent, overall they seem to follow the same clusters. In general and up until the rise and explosion of mobile search, there are and were three very broad categories: informational, transactional, and navigational. However over time and with the rise of mobile search, other categories have appeared or categories have segmented into more specific categorization. The following is a table showing how different organizations have categorize the different types.
|Type 1||Type 2 (a/b)||Type 3||Type 4|
|"who wrote the Matrix"||"online IQ test"||"office supplies"||"google play store"||"restaurants near me"|
|Hubspot||Problem based||Solution based||Brand based||--|
|Web Analytics World||Know||Do||Buy||--||Go|
Please note that many search queries may be ambiguous and thus may be classified into multiple intents. For example, a user who typed a query "matrix" into a search bar may want to purchase the 1999 American-Australian philosophical sci-fi film or may want to learn more about the matrices in mathematics.
With the prevalence of search engines being the first starting point of many online sessions, search engines are tasked with surfacing the best results or best ads that will satisfy the various user intents. Because search engines do not actually read and understand web pages and ad copy completely, digital marketers have to align their target keywords to the correct user intent that they are trying to satisfy if they want to rank high on SERPs and improve their conversion rate.
Take for example, a company selling colored contact lenses who wants their ad to show up for relevant searches may target the keyword "blue eyes". However, this may not be the most effective strategy as users who search "blue eyes" may want to learn biological facts about blue eyes. Instead, the company can target keywords that clearly indicates that the user is looking to buy colored contact lenses (i.e. "blue contact lenses" most likely implies "buy blue contact lenses"). With the correct keyword intent targeting, studies have shown that conversion rates increase significantly.
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