Understanding Search Intent Types and How They Can Help You Create Content

By: Chris Thompson on November 28, 2018 Categories: Content Strategy, SEO
search intent types

If you think about it, marketing is a bit like psychology. Search intent is a particularly interesting way to relate psychology to marketing.

Much like our esteemed friends who study the science of behaviour and mind, marketers are always trying to get into the heads of their customers so they can better understand their reasons for a particular action. One way to get those customers in the first place is by optimizing your content with keywords that your target audience is searching for. This is all good and well, but if marketers just stopped their process at increasing website traffic without understanding the real reason behind their user’s search — how would they ever create content that is reflective of their needs?

Search intent helps marketers understand the why of a user’s search. People with the sole intention of buying your product or service only account for one segment of users who visit your site. For example, some people might be looking for information on how to buy a house while others go straight to a website that sells them.

Google has become more sophisticated and the search engine now analyzes search intent in order to connect users with the right content. If you’re marketing a product or service, you need to understand the different types of search intent and how to create your content based on those types.

Know Your Search Intent Types

There are four main types of search intent that describe how users conduct searches. Using content marketing as an example, let’s take a quick look at how each of these function to understand how to build content for them:

  • Navigational: These searches are done with the intent of visiting a pre-determined website or URL. If you’re looking for us, for example, just type our company name into Google.


  • Informational: These types of searches are done with the intent of researching non-transactional information that can answer a user’s question or give them more insight into a particular topic of interest.


  • Transactional: These types of searches are done with the intent of completing some kind of task. It’s important to note that it is not limited to an online purchase where a credit card is required.


  • Commercial: These types of searches are done with the intent of completing a task at some point in time through commercial investigation. For example, someone with this kind of intent might be searching for reviews of a product or service, or the hours of a store that carries it. They are doing online research before completing a task.


Using Search Intent Types to Create Content

Now that you understand the four search intent types and how these correlate to customer psychology, it’s time to create content based on these insights. For this, we’re going to take a look at each search intent type separately to determine their content needs.

  • Navigational: This is a branded keyword search so there is an immediate implication that a user is familiar with your company. Once they land on your site, remember to build content on this page around links. You want to direct people from that landing page deeper into your site. To do this, create content that will help entice them towards different linked content resources such as your blog, case studies, and e-books.
  • Informational: This is your opportunity to provide a solution to a problem your user may be experiencing. If they’re having issues creating a content marketing workflow, for example, you should have content to address that. Your blog is a perfect instrument to gain the attention of users with this kind of search intent. Perform keyword research to understand relevant search queries your target audience is conducting. You can even take it a step further and ask your audience directly in order to build informational content based on their specific needs.
  • Transactional: The key to creating content for users with this kind of search intent is pretty simple — don’t waste their time. They’ve already researched your product or service. Give them content that correlates to a conversion. That could come in the form of a purchase or starting a free trial. Because they already know what action they want to complete, you need to create content accordingly. Don’t send them to a lengthy blog post with tons of information, send them directly to a landing page where they can complete their task without any additional filler.
  • Commercial: These searches represent people that are already in the consideration phase and may be thinking about a purchase or free trial. That said, they also want to dig a little deeper and do their due diligence about products or services on the market. Content for users from this segment needs to be convincing with strong data and research that clearly shows why your product or service is superior to others on the market. Giving them a blog post that compares the features of your product or service against others on the market is a good place to start. You can even show it in a more visual way through a video that shows the benefits of your product or service. It’s all about making your product or service stand out with tangible evidence these users can internalize. They want to know why you’re the best option.

It’s imperative to create various pages on your website that address different search intent types in order to direct those users researching your product or service from their initial research stage up to when they’re are ready to convert.

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