For the longest time, many SEO professionals have been building their SEO strategy around keyword research, which, in all fairness, is a pretty solid approach which has been yielding favorable results over the years.
But with the frequency at which Google makes changes to its search algorithms, an SEO professional worth his or her salt should at least try to keep up. And since the Google algorithm changes are geared towards providing searchers a better user experience, SEO pros would do well to consider user intent at all times when coming up with a sound SEO strategy.

What is User Intent?

Simply put, user intent is all about what the user actually has in mind when typing in a search query. A search engine user always wants to know something, do something, go somewhere, or buy something. It is this user intent that all SEO people need to understand to be able to create content that will meet users’ expectations and connect with them instantly.

The problem is, many players in the SEO industry hardly ever incorporate user intent into their SEO strategy despite knowing about it.

Why User Intent is Valuable for SEO

Despite the ever-growing importance of looking at the user intent when researching for keywords, many SEO pros still choose to build their keyword strategy the traditional way. It’s all about picking high search volume keywords, low-difficulty keywords, or ones that are related to your industry. User intent gets set aside, and the SEO professionals who do this tend to miss out on the following:

Coming up with precisely targeted content: User intent tells you what the user is looking for, and that should help you create the right content that would target that user.

User Intent in Keyword ResearchFor example, you are writing for a website that promotes Pilates classes, and people are searching for Pilates classes under $50. Do your keyword research magic using tools such as Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool, find out the search queries they are using, and incorporate them into your content. Now those users will get what they’re looking for because you figured out what they really want.

High-value long-tail keywords:  Keyword popularity is often the standard by which SEOs choose their keywords. The problem with popular keywords, however, is that they don’t always capture what users are actually typing into search engines.

Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, can easily rank high, simply because they are designed to serve user intent. So even though they typically have lower search volume and lower competition, long-tail keywords tend to have high conversion rates, all because they are driven by user intent.

Crystal-clear demographics: Keywords that were chosen with user intent in mind can prove to be extremely valuable for businesses with highly specific demographics. Typing in “buy churros,” a rather generic and probably high-volume keyword, probably won’t do much good for your churros place operating out of, say, Phoenix. However, if you consider user intent and target “best churros place in Phoenix” instead, you are definitely going to attract a specific audience that is highly interested in an excellent place for churros in The Valley.
Developing an improved content strategy – When you have an understanding of user intent, you will be able to come up with content that will always take into account what your target audience needs, what their interests are, and the problems that they need solving. By keeping in mind the actual human beings who do the search queries in your keyword and content optimization efforts, you are essentially aligning your goals with that of Google’s: providing users with the best possible experience.

Without any doubt, traditional keyword research, and keyword targeting and search engine optimization remain valid keyword strategies, Google’s increased focus on user intent, however, is already influencing rankings. It is in your best interest to implement user intent in your keyword strategy, and make it a complete one.