The Five Key Types of Search Intent

Although every person and their search intentions are unique, Search Intent types can generally be categorised into five groups.

five types of search intent

As we’ve discussed above, the words people use when they input a search reveals their motivation or ‘intent’. These words tell search engines two vital things — why a user is searching in the first place, but most importantly, what they hope to achieve.

When considering Search Intent in your own content or that of a client, it’s essential to recognise the five key types of Search Intent if you want to achieve your goals. These are informational, transactional, commercial investigation, navigational or location-based.

1 - Informational

Informational is the most common type of Search Intent expressed by users. Whether it’s a basic request or something that requires a more specific or in-depth response — informational intent reveals that a user is looking for, you guessed it, information! More than 80% of web queries are informational.

With informational Search Intent, queries tend to include ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘when’, but aren’t always necessarily a question. For example, when a user searches for ‘UK Prime Minister’, the result pages will produce a vast array of information about them and also offer relevant news stories — despite there not being a question within the query.

2 - Transactional

As you can likely gather from the name, transactional intent tells you when a user wants to purchase a product or pay for a service. Example keywords for this type of intent could be something like ‘cheap iPhone’, ‘Nike running shoes’, ‘buy sunglasses’, etc. You get the drift!

The vital factor to note here is that these search queries often mean that a user is already at the buying stage of their journey. With this in mind, it’s essential to optimise for transactional intent if commerce is your goal. The user already wants to buy, it’s your job to ensure that your content makes you the seller they stumble upon.

3 - Commercial Investigation

Commercial investigation intentions are shown when the searcher is looking to make a purchase but isn’t 100% committed to a specific product or service.

This intention may be expressed in the form of comparison or can produce content about specific products, i.e. ‘Mac vs PC’ or a ranking, i.e. ‘best foundation for dry skin’ or ‘best accounting software for independent businesses’. As they’re still weighing their options, these searchers look for additional information, reviews and comparisons to inform their purchase.

4 - Navigational

Among those on this list, navigation Search Intent is the most straightforward. This occurs when users already know precisely where they want to go but don’t know the URL or simply can’t be bothered to type it out. A few simple examples include ‘Facebook’ or ‘Netflix login’.

5 - Location-Based

Location-based searches are qualified by a specific place or area, which is an indication the searcher wants to tailor results to a particular location. For example, ‘best vintage stores in Cornwall’, ‘coffee shops near me’ or ‘opticians in Bristol’.

Location qualifiers tell Google the searcher only requires information relating to that location and ensures they eliminate results from elsewhere, which, of course, would be useless.

With this in mind, Search Intent is an incredibly crucial aspect of local SEO as it ensures that users stumble upon the best locational content to suit their needs. For local businesses, this is essential for catching consumers at the perfect moment of their search/sale journey.

Understanding how users express their intentions in search requests and establishing an effective way to target content is vital to create a strong Search Intent strategy. Search Intent with tangible results.

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