According to official statements from Google, user intent is a very strong ranking factor. The intent has been a focus at Google since the 2000s, and it was recognized as a strong ranking factor in 2009:
“The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content” – source (Google)
In 2018 user intent became even more prominent with the March 7 and August 1 updates, when Google diversified the SERPs to include a mix of educational, transactional, navigational, and local results. This change affected queries with vague intent or too generic (i.e., apple), and queries for which Google has no personalization based on the searcher’s history.