The 4 Types of Search Intent and Why They’re Essential for SEO

SEO / 23 Sep 2022

The 4 types of search intent and why they're essential for SEO

Search intent – also known as user or keyword intent – is the purpose of an online search. Understanding the why behind someone’s search query is essential for optimising SEO content writing

Why? Well, a better question might be: what is Google’s main objective? Answer: to satisfy user intent. 

When you understand the different types of search intent, you can create relevant content designed for a more specific audience, with a more specific problem to solve. That kind of content is going to please the reader, which is what will leave you in good standing with the undisputed king of the search engines. 

How does Google use search intent? 

Quite frankly, Google is obsessed with search intent. With the help of various algorithm adjustments and bots, Google punctiliously analyses keyword intent and then delivers users the results that best align with it. 

Benefits of optimising websites for types of search intent 

Improves relevance 

One of Google’s primary ranking factors is relevance. To improve the relevance of your content, you need to understand your audience and their pain points.

Once you have this knowledge, you can bolster your content to align with what your audience is searching for. By doing this, your pages will speak to your audience’s needs and (with time and perseverance) rank for the appropriate keywords. 

And remember, it doesn’t end with a single click. Creating a content strategy based on informed, audience-driven decisions rather than guesswork will leave users feeling appreciated and understood. This means users are more likely to (a) return to your site and (b) recommend your services elsewhere.

You can use the following data analytics to help consider relevance: 

  • Click-through rate: how many users click on a page
  • Bounce rate: how many users click onto a page then immediately click – or bounce – off (usually a sign of informational or product irrelevance)
  • Impressions: how many users have seen a link to a page or site on Search Ending Results Pages (SERPs) or discovery channels

Remember, content can rank for the keywords used in a query but remain irrelevant to search intent which can impact the above data. If you’re short on time, jump ahead to Navigational Queries for more information. 

Improves authority  

You’ll rarely make the top of SERPs for your target keywords ​if Google doesn’t rate your website’s authority. This means that improving your authority – and thereby building trust with both users and search engines – is (or should be) a hunky chunk of your SEO strategy.

There are many contributing factors to site authority. To start, consider:

  • How many links your website has within and to or from your site
  • How established your site is and how long it has been running
  • Discoverability – not just via search engines but from social media platforms and site traffic
  • User experience and site loading times – nobody likes waiting ten minutes for an image to load

Improves user satisfaction 

To consolidate the above points, maximising your SEO content for the different types of search intent can vastly improve user satisfaction. 

As we’ve already established, Google’s main goal is to enhance its users’ experience. Google’s algorithm prioritises well-rounded content that provides maximum value to a user. In other words, by ensuring your content is clear, answers the necessary questions, and prevents the frustration of searching for the answer via multiple sources, you’re in for a win. 

If this all sounds like mumbo-jumbo, no sweat. Contact our team of friendly Beestingers who will happily break down the need-to-knows of SEO content writing

The 4 Types of Search Intent

Informational Queries 

This intent generally falls under the bracket of educational content, or the desire to learn something. It’s generally a request for information. 

Informational queries often ​​include words like who, what, where, why, and how, and make up the vast majority of internet searches.

As an example, in healthcare marketing you might be looking to rank for informational queries on:

  • Who you can contact for healthcare support
  • What symptoms are present for certain conditions
  • Where you can seek treatment
  • Why one treatment is more effective than another
  • How you can ease particular ailments

Navigational Queries

Navigational searches interest those looking for a specific website or page. For instance, a user pops ‘Twitter’ into the search box in order to find the site’s login page. 

Various other websites will still rank highly for the Twitter keyword. However, they won’t get many clicks from this navigational search as the user is after a specific page related to their query, not information or answered questions. 

Your site may experience increased impressions for this keyword intent but a low click-through rate or an elevated bounce rate. 

Before you press the panic button, bounce rate is not a Google ranking factor. It’s just a metric. That doesn’t mean you should ignore bounce rate though – it can provide valuable insights into how to improve your ranking.

Lower bounce rates can correlate with higher conversions. Users that stick around on your site longer are more likely to make a purchase, subscribe or joyfully slide down your marketing funnel to where you want them to be.

Transactional Queries

A transactional inquiry is when users search for something to buy. Transactional queries tend to involve users who know what they want to purchase and are after a specific product page. This is particularly important for those in the realm of e-commerce to consider.

Commercial Queries 

Similar to transactional intents, commercial queries also concern users looking to make a purchase. However, users with a commercial purpose usually require more information or persuading. They’re not necessarily ready to purchase pronto but want to do a little digging to make the right choice. 

Using the different types of search intent for SEO purposes

When you understand what your audience is searching for, you can develop content that directly fulfils their needs and wants. 

Creating balanced content that provides coherent answers – whether for informational, navigational, transactional, or commercial queries – is paramount for sweetening conversion rates and business growth.

Now it’s time to put all this into action. Not sure where to start? Talk to us for a helping hand in producing perfectly optimised SEO content, or for guidance in developing a cohesive content strategy that actually gets results.