Is user intent a Google ranking factor?

Published: January 9, 2019

Yes, user intent is a very strong ranking factor, according to official statements from Google. Intent has been a focus at Google since they 2000’s, 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 queries that are too generic (i.e. apple), and queries for which Google has no personalization based on searcher’s history.