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The Psychology of Search: Understanding User Intent for Better SEO The Psychology of Search: Understanding User Intent for Better SEO

The Psychology of Search: Understanding User Intent for Better SEO

More than ever, search engine optimisation (SEO) is essential for businesses looking to establish themselves as an authority online and attract more customers. However, many businesses overlook user intent, a vital aspect of SEO.

Understanding the psychology behind search is crucial for creating content that meets users’ needs and ultimately improves your search rankings. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the psychology of search and provide tips for better SEO optimisation to help businesses achieve their goals.

Understanding User Intent

When a user searches for something on Google, they have a specific intent in mind. This intent can be separated into three main categories:

Informational Intent

Informational intent is when the user is looking for information on a particular topic, without necessarily wanting to make a purchase. The user may want to learn more about a product or service, research a specific topic, or find answers to a question.

For example, if someone searches for “how to cook carbonara,” the intent behind the search is informational. The user is looking for information on how to make carbonara. They’re not looking for nearby restaurants that sell this dish.

By understanding this type of intent, businesses can create content that meets the user’s information needs. They can demonstrate their expertise in their field and encourage users to learn more about what they do.

Navigational Intent

Navigational intent is when the user is searching for a specific website to navigate directly to that page. This type of intent is common when users are familiar with a particular website or brand and want to find a specific webpage.

For example, if someone searches for “Kindle book deals,” the intent is navigation since they’re looking for a page within the Amazon website.

Understanding navigational intent is important, especially when doing keyword research. Tools like SEMRush can tell you if the intent behind a keyword is navigational. You may not want to target these keywords since your website won’t have what the user is looking for.

It can also help businesses ensure that their website is easily navigable with clear menus. By making it easy for users to find what they’re looking for, users will have a better experience on the website and stay longer.

Transactional Intent

Transactional intent is when the user is actively seeking to make a purchase or complete a specific action, like signing up for a newsletter or filling out a contact form.

For example, if someone searches for “buy New Balance shoes,” they have transactional intent as they are looking to purchase a specific product. Similarly, someone searching for “free trial CRM software” has transactional intent as they are looking to take a specific action related to a product or service.

Understanding transactional intent can help businesses optimise their website for conversion. By understanding the user’s goal and providing clear calls-to-action, businesses can increase the likelihood that the user will convert and complete the desired action. This can help improve the effectiveness of their SEO strategy and increase revenue.

The Google Algorithm and User Intent

Google’s algorithm has become even more sophisticated in recent years, focusing on understanding user intent and delivering the most relevant results. As a result, businesses can no longer rely on simply stuffing their content with keywords or using other black-hat tactics to improve search rankings. Instead, they must focus on creating content that truly meets users’ needs.

In addition to the three user intent categories we discussed earlier, there are also variations within each category. For example, someone with informational intent may be seeking a definition or a how-to guide. By understanding user intent better, businesses can create more targeted content that resonates with their audience.

Another important aspect of user intent is the role it plays in the buyer’s journey. Depending on where a user is in the journey, their intent may be different. A user who is starting to research a product or service may have informational intent. On the other hand, someone who has already decided to make a purchase may have transactional intent.

By understanding the different stages of the buyer’s journey, businesses can create content that addresses the needs of their target audience at each stage.

Finally, keep in mind that user intent is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different users may have different intentions even when searching for the same keyword or topic. This means that businesses must continually analyse their content to meet the ever-changing needs of their audience.

Creating Content for User Intent

Once you understand the different types of user intent, you can create content that aligns with their needs. For instance, at Cornerstone Digital, we create content about SEO, web development, and other digital marketing topics to educate users with informational intent. Additionally, businesses can optimise their content for user intent by:

  • Using descriptive titles and meta descriptions that accurately describe the content of their page.
  • Incorporating long-tail keywords that match user intent.
  • Organising content using headers and subheaders.
  • Including images and videos to break up text and provide visual interest.
  • Providing clear calls-to-action for users with transactional intent.

The Benefits of User-Intent Optimisation

Creating content that aligns with user intent benefits businesses in several ways. By doing this you can:

  • Improve user engagement by providing valuable information.
  • Signal to search engines that the content is relevant, leading to better search engine rankings.
  • Increase conversion rates by providing clear calls-to-action for users with transactional intent.


Understanding the psychology behind user intent is essential for businesses. By creating content aligned with user intent, optimising existing content, and providing a seamless user experience, businesses can improve their search rankings and increase conversions. Keep user intent in mind when creating content, and you’ll be on your way to better rankings in search engine results pages.

Cornerstone Digital is a digital marketing agency in Sydney. We’d be glad to talk to you about finding the right keywords. Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at [email protected].

Darlyn Herradura

A self-professed book and digital marketing nerd, Darlyn Herradura focuses on building trust between customers and businesses with the written word. She understands that creating valuable content is the best way to get found online and happily spends her time doing that.

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