Understanding Search Intent and Micro-moments

Google’s search algorithms are developed to understand user intent based on a number of key factors. Keywords, links, and search history provide data to the bots to help deliver the search results that are most likely to match the user’s search intention.

Below, we explore how Google develops search recognition capabilities to understand a user’s search path.

If Google can understand how a user thinks to deliver meaningful search results, it makes sense that Internet marketing specialists should also research a customer’s search queries to develop a strong SEO strategy.

So how does Google understand user search priorities?

Typically, searchers on desktops or mobiles follow certain patterns of behaviour and search for certain answer types that helps Google develop a profile on the user, which also helps determine their intentions. These highly personal patterns are identified by Google as “micro-moments”.

Google Micro-moments Explained

When people are seeking information or inspiration, they ask specific what – why – when or how questions. These questions tell Google the search results that should be displayed must answer the question, and this is where developing featured snippets to answer these questions helps boost your page rank in the search results.

I want to go is a specific type of “micro-moment” in search that identifies a specific intention from the user that will be reflected in the words they use in search, and Google will do its best to supply a specific answer. When thinking about answering micro-moments, it’s vital to understand what the user is searching for, not just the product or service, but also the action they need to take or want to do to get the product or service.

For example, searches based on location that signal a desire to travel to a destination typically use queries such as “hotel near me”, the user could also ask for “directions to a hotel near me” or if the location is far away it might include the place name.

I want to do is a micro-moment that is indicative of things people want to do. I want to learn Chinese, I want to lose weight, I want to read braille – all of these queries would be answered by “how to” results. How to lose weight, how to learn Chinese, how to read braille.

I want to buy. This request in search is very specific, and most likely the user wants to make a purchase at that moment. These search queries usually include terms that indicate a purchase, such as “buy”, “deal”, “sale”, and “best price” in addition to the item keyword.

These linguistic triggers identify the priority of the users, and Google does it’s best to respond with results that match the user’s perceived intention. An internet marketing specialist understands the way both a user and the Google algorithms think to develop an SEO strategy that ranks high with the algorithms while matching how a user thinks and searches.

User Experience Segmentation

Basically, when Google segments micro-moment searches into different categories such as I want to do (fly a kite) versus I want to go (to the zoo), it understands the difference between do and go and can deliver the results that match the intention more accurately than focusing on the keyword of  “kite” or “zoo”. 

Google Smart Thinking

Google is constantly striving to become more intuitive to the user, so while specific keywords are still a crucial component of search strategies, it is also important to be sensitive to the bigger reasons behind the search.

For example, a search query for “restaurants in Toronto” will deliver the practical geographic results, but a search query for “best restaurant in Toronto” tells Google that the searcher is looking for more information than just location. The word ‘best’ implies a desire to find information that is qualitative and not merely quantitative.

In order to expand the user experience, the search results will also deliver articles on the best restaurants, and most recent news about restaurants in Toronto to give users a more qualitative result.

Depending on whether the user journey is focused on a destination or a purchase, the search friendly content should reflect the perceived desires and needs of the user.

Search marketing initiatives that want to target people who want to buy a product should also think about many aspects of the product that might be of interest to the user, such as price and deals, but also reviews and news that surround the product.


Search strategies are constantly evolving and improving as the technology becomes more sophisticated and user psychology is explored in more depth.

At Blueprint Internet Marketing, we offer a free SEO analysis to help you get started on building a successful SEO strategy for your business.