Understanding what your intended audience is searching for is key to developing an effective SEO plan. One of the fundamental driving forces of Google’s ranking algorithm is how well pages and websites satisfy search intent.

Four Types of Search Intent

Although there are many different reasons that someone may be looking something up on a search engine, those reasons can be further lumped into four different categories. These four categories are informational, navigational, transactional, and commercial investigation.


When a user creates a search query and is looking for information, it is referred to as an informational search intent. Informational search queries are often, but not always, worded as questions. They can be specific or vague. Perhaps, a person is looking for a simple answer to a math problem. A person could also be wanting an in-depth answer to how airplanes are constructed.

Navigational search intent is when a user wants to find a particular website. Navigational does not mean that a user is looking for directions, as this would fall under informational. This type of search is when a user types in a website into the search query. This could be due to a user not being sure of a website’s URL or simply not wanting to type the whole site out. For instance, a user may type in “Facebook login.” Users may also type in titles to articles that they want to navigate to.


When a user engages in transactional search intent, it is because they want to make a purchase or see how much something costs. These are users that typically already know what they want to purchase and have already been through the informational stage. This is a user that is in purchase mode. This would include users looking for coupons for certain products, as well as prices.

Commercial Investigation

A commercial investigation is when a user is interested in a product or a service, but is still in the research phase and is not yet quite ready to make a purchase. This user may be checking reviews of different products or comparing different restaurants. Many searches that have local keywords like, “near me,” are often commercial investigation.

How to Determine One of the Four Types

By taking note of keywords, it is often simple to determine what a user’s search intent was. For instance, let’s assume the search query, “how do I roller skate?”. That user is looking for an answer to help them to figure out how to roller skate. That means that that user is looking for information, and thus, it would fall under informational search intent. Some common keywords for the different types of search intents are listed down below.


  • How
  • What
  • Who
  • Where
  • Tips
  • Learn


  • Product Name
  • Service Name
  • Name of Brand


  • Coupon
  • Buy
  • Cheap
  • Price

Commercial Investigation:

  • Best
  • Review
  • Top

How to Optimize for Search Intent

The guide below can help you to get started.

Informational Intent Optimization

Informational intent optimized content is simple to incorporate as part of your content. You will need to make sure that you answer the question entirely. Imagine you have a 4 year old kid that keeps asking “why” to every answer you give.

Make Your Message Clear

The user should know exactly what your brand is about and what products or services you offer. The user should be made aware of how they can go about making a purchase, and the way for them to do so should be simple.

Keep The Design Clean

Your design elements should match your brand, be visually appealing, and be consistent throughout your pages. This will help you gain a foundation of trust with the user, and they will see your website as being more reliable. Design elements should never overpower your brand or make it challenging for a user to make a purchase.

Utilizing Search Intent for Your Business

Understanding how search intent can be beneficial for your business will help if you have a basic understanding of how SEO operates. This is because search intent and SEO often go hand in hand. The first thing you will want to do is recognize that search intent and SEO cater to the user who is making the search query.

You may have already guessed that you will primarily want to utilize commercial investigation intent as part of your marketing strategy. However, you can use other intents to funnel users into making a purchase. No matter which intent you are targeting, you can still get users to make a purchase.

Quality Content

When deciding what search queries you want to answer, you may think that quantity is more. However, that is not how the Google algorithm operates. Google wants to show users content that satisfies their search intent and is reliable. This means that trying to answer too many questions in one article or “keyword stuffing” could result in a drop in your rankings. Instead, focus on providing valuable information on a topic.

Understanding what your intended audience is searching for is not always a walk in the park. However, by utilizing this information, you will have a better understanding of what search intent is and how it can be used to help with your marketing moving forward.

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