Understanding User Intent

There are a lot of discussions around the web about Google’s search quality raters.

While I don’t think the quality rater guide reveals anything that Google hasn’t basically said in the past, it does organize some important SEO topics. Especially as it relates to various search user intents.

As +Barry Schwartz notes:

  • Despite Yelp saying Google hates them, the manual talks about Yelp in a very good way.
  • Google telling how raters should rate is a bias on what is good on the web, and bias isn’t good.
  • User intent goes under three types, (1) know (informational), (2) go (navigational) and (3) do (transactional) and sometimes a single search query can fall under two or more of these.
  • Google is training raters to find “homogenous results that scream intent to the customer” and not to rate “unique/inspiring results.”

Action intent

Action intent users are engaging in activity. Some common action intent activities might include downloading something, playing a game, buying something, etc.

Google calls these “do” queries: users want to do something.

Information intent

Information intent users are looking for information. These are people that are doing research, looking for answers to questions, etc.

Google calls these “know” queries: users want to know something.

Navigation intent

Finally, navigation intent users are trying to navigate to a website or webpage. These users might search on a specific domain, or even type a domain directly into an address window of their browser. They might also be looking for a specific page of information that they had seen before. They might use the title of an article, page or post.

Google calls these “go” queries: users want to go to a specific page.

Google also suggests “Do-Know-Go” to remember these classifications.

Obviously, users often fall into more than one classifier. Nonetheless, thinking about users by their intent classification can help you shape your content to deliver on their demand.

I think there’s a tendency by many web publishers to get too focused on a single segment of their users.

For example, lawyers tend to only want to focus on potential clients whose primary intent is to hire a lawyer.

They tend to ignore the researchers, who tend to make up the overwhelming majority of their targeted traffic.

(Photo By: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elias_daniel/5989409271/)

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