Importance of Search Intent & 4 Different Types

As Google users, we’re used to searching for something and finding exactly what we need at the top of the first page. But occasionally, you type something into Google and find yourself sifting through pages of results, looking for a result that actually answers the question.

This experience is all down to the user intent behind the search, also known as search intent.

When it comes to your SEO strategy, understanding the importance of search intent and the four types of searches users make is your golden ticket to increased rankings, clicks and conversions. Let’s get into it!

Why Search Intent Matters for SEO

Search intent is “the why” behind a search term. Whether trying to find a quick fact, locate a specific website, or buy a new computer, each search has a purpose. In a nutshell, it’s what you, the searcher, want to find or accomplish from your search.

Search engines want to deliver the “perfect answer” for users at the top of their search results, as it keeps them coming back each time they need to search for something. This allows SEOs to align content with this purpose to help their site rank higher and attract more relevant traffic.

When there’s a mismatch between what’s being searched and the content available, you end up having to hunt for the right information. This typically happens when content that ranks well for related keywords doesn’t meet the exact user search intent, or it might be too generic, outdated, or simply off-target. When this happens, the searcher is frustrated, and sites ranking at the top of the search engine results page get less traffic and conversions.

Understanding search intent isn’t just a technical SEO skill. It’s important for SEO at a fundamental level because search intent helps you connect with and understand the searcher’s needs.

4 Different Types of Search Intent

Search intents fall into four categories: 

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Commercial
  • Transactional

Informational Search Intent

Informational intent searches are driven by curiosity or a need for information. Searchers aren’t usually looking to purchase when they enter informational queries into the search bar. Instead, they want valuable, easy-to-digest information.

Search terms typically start with:

  • “How”
  • “What”
  • “When”
  • “Where”
  • “Who”
  • “Why”

You’ll often find long-tail keywords with an informational search intent when performing keyword research.

Informational Search example

Optimizing for Informational Search Intent

When creating content for information-based keyword intent, focus on creating scannable but in-depth content so users can easily find the content they need and are not left with more questions than answers.

Your content should include:

  • Clear and descriptive headings
  • Short paragraphs and lists
  • Images, infographics and videos

Informational keywords have the most opportunities to target featured snippets in SERPs. Where possible, format answers to common questions as bullet points or numbered lists to increase the chances of appearing in featured snippets.

Optimizing for Informational Search Intent

Navigational Search Intent

Users with a navigational intent behind their search know where they want to go. These search queries, such as “Twitter login” or “SEMrush blog”, are typically brand or website-specific. 

Navigational Search example

Optimizing for Navigational Search Intent

Optimizing for navigational search intent is easy for smaller brands, but the more well-known you are, the more competition you might have. This is because your competitors may choose to target your brand-related search terms with the aim of “stealing” your traffic.

The good news is that Google cares about search intent too, and they know if a user searches “Twitter login”, they don’t want to end up on Threads, so their algorithms will typically rank the brand’s domain above competitor results.

To avoid competitors outranking you for keywords with a navigational search intent, you should:

  • Include your brand name on every site page, as well as meta titles and descriptions.
  • Organize your site’s navigation to make important pages easily accessible.
  • Optimize your website for Sitelinks so users navigate to key areas of your site directly from the SERP.

Commercial Search Intent

Commercial search intent sits between informational and transactional intent. It’s used when users are considering a purchase and are looking for the best options. Commercial intent keywords are often medium-tail keywords and include terms like:

  • “Best”
  • “Top”
  • “Review”
  • “Comparison”

Optimizing for Commercial Search Intent

Best practices for commercial search intent optimization depend on the specific search query.

For comparison-related keywords like “best”, “top” or “comparisons”, aim to provide clear, unbiased comparisons between products or services. If you only mention your own product or services, users are likely to leave the page and return to SERPs to find more suitable content, which will impact engagement rates. Instead, highlight your product or service USPs to highlight what sets your product or service apart from the competition.

For review-related keywords, provide an in-depth review of all key features if you’re reviewing a product or service. If you’re promoting your own reviews, highlight positive feedback to influence potential buyers.

Optimizing for Commercial Search Intent

Transactional Search Intent

Transactional search intent is all about making a purchase. Users have made a decision on what they want, possibly from previous informational and commercial searches, and they are looking to buy.

These keywords typically include terms like: 

  • “Buy”
  • “Discount”
  • “Deal”
  • Product names
Transactional example

Optimizing for Transactional Search Intent

When the user’s intent is to make a purchase, your goal is to provide them with a quick, easy and clear way to buy. You can do this by:

  • Minimizing clicks from the landing page to checkout to create a smooth buyer journey.
  • Using clear CTAs like “Buy Now” or “Get 50% Off Today” to encourage immediate action.
  • Displaying pricing upfront to avoid surprises and build trust.

Avoid overcrowding key engagement areas in the buying process with lots of unnecessary content on these pages. If you need to increase word count for SEO purposes, use accordions, expanded product descriptions and footers.

How to Determine Search Intent

Search intent isn’t always obvious. You need to determine search intent during your strategy’s keyword research phase to ensure you create the most suitable content for your target audience. 

When using Wincher’s Keyword Explorer, we make it easy for you to identify the search intent behind your seed keyword and related keywords as you perform keyword research. We do all the analysis for you, so you can review the type of intent when choosing the most suitable keyword for your content or strategy.

Wincher's Keyword Explorer

Note: If you don’t see the Intent column on Explorer, open Settings to toggle the column.

Importance of Search Intent

Understanding and optimizing for your audiences’ search intent isn’t just a good search engine optimization strategy; it’s a necessity. Grasping the four types of search intent can transform your strategy, allowing you to carry out advanced and data-driven keyword research. When you match the user’s search intent, you create a pathway for them to find exactly what they need from your website, resulting in better rankings and shareable or high-converting content.

Start Your 7-Day Free Trial Today

At Wincher, we’re committed to supporting your journey to rank higher in search results, which is why we prioritize users’ search intent as a key metric in keyword research tools. Start your Keyword Explorer 7-day free trial today to start making your way to the top of SERPs.

Importance of Search Intent & 4 Different Types

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