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SEO 9 min read

How to Optimize for the Four Types of SEO Search Intent

Ayesha Renyard photo

Ayesha Renyard

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Published 14 Apr 2021

What are your goals for 2021? Finally getting on TikTok? Finally getting off TikTok? Ranking higher on search engines? 

If it’s the latter, you probably know that search engines (particularly Google) aim to provide the best user experience possible. That includes relevant search results—which means to rank high in the SERPs, businesses need to create content that aligns with search intent.

What’s search intent?

Search intent is the why behind a search query. In other words, why did the person make this search? Do they want to learn something? Are they looking to make a purchase? Or, are they looking for a particular website?

As a part of our SEO Series, we’ll be breaking down four types of SEO intent:

  • Informational 

  • Commercial investigation

  • Transactional

  • Navigational 

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to identify the intent behind search queries, optimize your content, and ultimately bring in more quality traffic. 

Is that your intent for being here? Perfect! Read on.

Informational Intent

No one: 

Me: Want to hear my goal for 2021? Getting a proper WFH office setup. 

For the past year, I’ve been happily typing away from the couch. 

via GIPHY

Source: Giphy

As a woman in my twenties, this was once #WFHGoals. But after turning thirty a few weeks ago, my back hurts just looking at this GIF. 

So it’s safe to say I’ve been researching how to create a proper WFH office setup a lot lately—starting with “what the heck is ergonomic?” (And following with, “do cute ergonomic office chairs exist?”)

These searches are examples of informational queries. The goal is to learn something.

“What is,” “why is,” or “how to” are all classic keyword modifiers for informational queries. So when searched, guides, tutorials, and tips are all common results.

Keyword modifiers by intent type showing a sample of informational intent. Source: nDash

Although the bulk of queries are informational, Google can still sift through them and understand what type of information people are looking for. 

For instance, it knows that when people (such as I) type “spanokapita,” they really mean “spanakopita” and are looking for recipes, not the dish’s culinary history. It understands that when most people type in “Pluto,” they want to learn more about the planet, not Micky Mouse’s dog. It even knows to include video and image content for “how-to” queries.

With the bulk of queries being informational, you have to jump on this SEO opportunity to establish your brand as an authority, make people aware of what you offer, and acquire leads to convert later on. 

Tips for optimizing your content 

  • Leverage your FAQ page: Many websites have them, but few build them with any SEO strategy in mind. But why not?! You can easily make one based on common informational queries.  
  • Create relevant blog content: If you have a blog, that’s also a great place to answer users’ burning questions about your product and demonstrate its value.
  • Build internal links: Internal links signal to search engine crawlers that your website is well-built, organized and offers users tons of related content. 

Commercial Investigation Intent

Commercial investigation queries reflect the intent to buy something (soon). Users demonstrate an interest in making a purchase—but haven’t decided on what product or brand yet. 

Although commercial investigation queries are similar to informational queries in that they seek information, these searches also suggest that the user wants to make an eventual purchase.

Let’s take my next wave of queries on ergonomic chairs to clarify the difference. When I was researching what “ergonomic” is, I simply wanted to learn more about what it means and its value. 

After understanding its value (something about relieving back pain), I decided that I wanted an ergonomic chair and began to explore my options. My searches? “Best ergonomic chair brands,” “top affordable ergonomic chairs,” and most importantly, “comfortable but cute ergonomic chairs.” (I can now confirm that the last one doesn’t exist.)

Keyword modifiers by intent type showing a sample of commercial intent.

These queries want to compare what’s out there—so lists are commonly found in the SERPs. Like informational queries, consider this as an opportunity to build brand awareness, spark interest in your product, and turn more eyeballs into customers down the line. 

Tips for optimizing your content

  • Create bigger and better lists: As mentioned, blog content—in the form of lists—is a common way to target these searches. But how can you make yours stand out?\

    Do a quick search to see what’s already out there, and then find your angle. This may mean outdoing their list. (You have ten examples? Here’s eleven!) Or, you can offer another perspective. (If your competitors review one feature, you can review another).

  • Leverage user reviews and user-generated content: Searchers are looking to be convinced—and hearing from other users is one of the most effective ways to do that.
  • Target keywords in the right places: When targeting certain keywords and queries, it’s important to demonstrate to search engines (and users) what your page is all about. Incorporating them in the page and article titles, meta descriptions, and subheadings is an effective way to do that, but don’t go overboard—you’ll be penalized for keyword stuffing. 

Transactional Intent

If you haven’t already guessed, the goal of transactional queries is to buy something—these are your money makers! With customers on the horizon, you’ll want to rank high on the SERPs for these ones. 

What do transactional queries look like? Typically, phrases related to pricing, proximity, and purchasing suggest that users are ready to convert. 

At this point of my search for an ergonomic office chair, I’ve compared top brands—”Herman Miller vs. Steelcase”—and subsequently given up on my dream of having a WFH setup that’s functional and cute. 

I was leaning towards the Steelcase Leap chair. Both are high-quality (and mighty expensive) chairs that offer similar perks—such as extended warranties and arriving assembled. However, the Leap chair is slightly less expensive and more adjustable (#notanad).

Keywords modifiers classified and subcategories.

Source: BTOD

To make my final decision, I did what anyone would do—I attempted to find a deal. If the Herman Miller Aeron chair ends up being cheaper, I can do without the ergonomic adjustments!

I looked for discounts for both chairs but fell short. With reputations like theirs, I guess they can get away with asking for full price. 

Whether or not you offer discounts, you can still optimize your content to target these queries.

Tips for optimizing your content

  • Target keywords in product page titles: Flag right away that this is where searchers need to click to buy your product. If you offer free or fast shipping or in-store pickup, incorporate these words in the title as well!
  • Create landing pages: If you offer many different products or services, send users to landing pages to keep navigation simple. Landing pages allow you to focus on one of your products, making the path to conversion much more straightforward with one clear call to action. 

Navigational Intent

Navigational queries come from people that have their eyes on the prize. The intent is to go to a specific website. They know exactly where they’re going. 

For example, once I found out there were no deals in sight, I apologized to my bank account and searched for what I wanted: the “Steelcase Leap chair.” The right Steelcase product page popped up. I clicked it and put in my order. (It should be arriving any day now!)

Keyword modifiers by intent type showing a sample of navigational intent.

These queries require less attention. As you can see, common keyword modifiers are product, service, and brand names. So as long as you include your product and brand name in the page titles (which you’d likely do anyway), you should rank high.

Tips for optimizing your content

  • Don’t hide your brand and product names: We repeat, keep your product and brand front and center in titles. If customers are looking for your product, make it super obvious that they’re in the right place. This’ll also help search engine crawlers point users in the right direction. 

Bring on More Traffic!

By thinking critically about the “why” behind search queries, you can start to optimize your website in a way that’ll boost your SEO. 

So what? Ranking higher on the SERPs will bring more traffic to your website organically. Yep, it even saves you ad dollars. 

And if you’re in the standing desk business—your next immediate task is convincing me that their functionality is worth the eyesore. (A succulent can only do so much.)

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Ayesha Renyard photo

Ayesha Renyard

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

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