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SEO 7 min read

4 Different Types of Search Intent: Definitions, Examples & Tips

Natalie Yelton photo

Written by Natalie Yelton

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Dallin Porter photo

Expert reviewed by Dallin Porter

Marketing Director @ Galactic Fed

Published 13 Oct 2021

If you have a website that tells people about your product or service and makes it possible to purchase that product or service, you should care about search intent. The more your content aligns with your target audience’s search intent, the better. You’ll rank higher on Google and ultimately drive more traffic to your website organically. 

So what exactly is search intent? 

In this article, the SEO experts at Galactic Fed explain the four types of search intent and provide examples of each to help you create content that resonates with how people are looking online, including the keywords and phrases they use to do so. Stick around! 

What is search intent? 

We’ve all been there - staring at that rectangular box on Google’s home page as we pause for a moment to think about what to type that will give us the best results that meet our needs. That’s search intent. 

It’s the term used to describe the purpose of each online search. In other words, it’s the reason why a person is searching for something online in the first place. 

We all use online searches in the hopes of finding something that meets our needs, whether that may be:

  • an answer to a question,
  • a specific website we’d like to visit, or
  • something specific that you’d like to buy.

Why search intent matters

Each type of search forms a part of the buyer or user journey. We recommend you optimize for search intent to ensure your content caters to people at various stages in the user journey, which can boost your click-through rate and drive traffic to your website. 

One of Google’s key missions is to improve its algorithm to better meet people’s search intent. If a page on your website is a perfect fit with popular or trending search terms, Google will reward you with a higher ranking on your targeted search engine results page (SERP.) That’s why it’s vital to ensure the content on your website fits nicely with the various types of search intent of your key audience.

The four types of search intent 

There are a handful of different types of SEO search intent. The following four types are the most common: 

  • Transactional intent 
  • Informational intent 
  • Navigational intent 
  • Commercial intent 

Transactional intent 

Transactional intent refers to someone taking to the internet with the goal of completing a purchase. In other words, someone with transactional intent has a primary purpose of searching the web to buy something, whether a product, service, or subscription.

Examples of transactional searches:

  • “Buy an iPhone” 
  • “Grammarly discount code” 
  • “Duolingo premium price” 
  • “Cheap meal kits” 

Content optimization tip:

Do you have a landing or eCommerce page for each of your products based on the most recent keyword intent data? 

Is each page optimized for your targeted keywords, including headings, subheadings, alternative text, and captions? 

Informational intent 

A large majority of searches on the web are done by people seeking out information on a particular topic. This type of search could be for information about quick dinner recipes, local schools, the score of a sports match, the list goes on! 

People with informational intent have a specific question in their mind or want to learn more about a particular topic.

It’s vital to understand that Google’s grasp of informational intent goes beyond simply showing people results that give information about a specific keyword or phrase they type into the search box. For example, Google knows that people searching for “salsa” are most likely looking for a recipe to make their own salsa, rather than how to salsa. Google can even decipher that for some search terms, like “how to build a bookshelf,” it’s helpful to the user that results include videos and images:

Examples of informational searches:

  • “The best salsa recipe”
  • “The football score”
  • “How to build a bookshelf”
  • “How old is Joe Biden”

Content optimization tip:

Could you provide a step-by-step video for people to view related to your product or service? The Home Depot did this well with a video uploaded to YouTube on how to build a bookshelf:

Video uploaded to YouTube on how to build a bookshelf.Source: Google

Navigational intent 

Another common search type is navigational intent. People with navigational intent want to visit a particular website. For example, someone searching for “Netflix” is most likely wanting to visit the Netflix website. The searcher already knows where they want to go. It’s most likely quicker and easier for them to Google the website than to type the entire URL into the address bar. And more times than not, people aren’t sure what the exact URL is. 

It comes as no surprise that the top three navigational searches in the US this year are “YouTube,” “Facebook,” and “Amazon.”

Examples of navigational searches:

  • “Netflix”
  • “YouTube”
  • Facebook”
  • “Amazon”

Content optimization tip:

While it would be nice to rank for people searching using your exact company, your click-through rates will tend to be on the low side, and because of this, Galactic Fed doesn’t suggest investing too much time and energy in doing so.

Commercial intent 

People with commercial intent are the window shoppers of the web. They most likely intend to buy later on (transactional intent,) but they want to do a little research beforehand. 

They could seek out reviews or comparisons to help them make their final decision. In other words, they are weighing up their options before making a purchase. 

Examples of commercial searches:

  • “best sunscreen”
  • “top food delivery services in Chicago”  
  • “Slack vs. Asana” 
  • “Uber reviews” 

Content optimization tip:

Reviews are your best friends. Spend some time acquiring them and promote them by including them in the content on your website, particularly for specific products and items. You can also create a comparison chart with your main competitors to make it crystal clear to those yet to make up their minds why your business stands out from the rest.

Content that caters to search intent 

Whatever stage of the buyer journey your target audience is in - be it transactional, informational, navigational, or commercial, ensure the content on your site compliments each. 

By doing so, you can ensure search engines rank your website higher on the SERP and boost your click-through rates up and to the right. 

For even more tips on optimizing your website for search intent, see our complete guide launched earlier this year. 

Galactic Fed has a lot of experience helping companies grow by shaping their content to suit different search intent types and many other advanced SEO techniques. Contact us today if you’d like a helping hand with search intent.

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Natalie Yelton photo

Natalie Yelton

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed