To master search intent, you have to know how users look for information on search engines, first. At a closer inspection, you’ll find out that intent can be divided into these four categories.
It all starts with a simple informational search. It’s the type of intent most people going to a search engine have- to gather information on a topic that occupies their mind. They might be looking for the weather forecast, trying to figure out the name of that actor they loved in a particular movie, or even browsing to learn more about a term they’ve been introduced to, like “search intent”.
What’s specific about this category is that users who look for content that falls under it want to learn more about the topic they’re searching for. For example, if a user is looking for carbonara sauce, they are most likely looking for recipes on how to prepare pasta, and search engines understand and offer them that.
Search engine algorithms go as far as to distinguish between words with multiple meanings and which one people are most likely to be looking for. Words like “park”; “pitcher” are likely to give you results that include pictures of green parks and pitchers filled with water.
In transactional searches, users intend to perform a specific action. It can be purchasing, finding the best deal on a flight, or signup for a service. These searches are likely to also be location specific. Users located in New York looking for movies nearby will get search results for their area.
To further improve the search experience, Google will display a carousel with the movies playing at local theaters, and websites they can buy tickets online from. By clicking on a movie the users can even see more detailed information about it, like, casts, release date, showtimes, and more.
Transactions, are also search queries that compare different products. Say a user is wondering if they should upgrade to the latest iPhone, they’re likely to look for its benefits. Typing “ iPhone features” will show users websites and videos where a list of the smartphone’s latest technical specifications.
Detailed information like that personalized for your business can reap a lot of benefits.
Navigational searches, as the name suggests, target keywords that aim to help users find a specific place. That might be the physical location of a business or its website. People could type “Apple store address” or “YouTube” and the search engine will give them results that direct them to those places.
Most of these searches are branded and can offer information on how people interact with or think about your brand too.
Commercial searches fall somewhere between informational and transaction intents. The keywords that characterize them focus on words people would use when they’re making purchase decisions. For example, if someone is wondering between two products they can compare them by typing something along the lines of “iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 14”
Results in the commercial intent category can also relate to reviews, recommendations, lists with top products of the year (agnostic recommendations), trials, and demos.
Knowing the four types of search intent and how to incorporate them into your SEO and content strategy can help to give you the edge over your competitors.