Website operators who want to create tailor-made content for users should know the various search intentions. You can read everything about the differences, potentials and best practices for navigational, informational and transactional search queries here in the Searchmetrics Blog.

The 3 search intentions on Google

  • Navigational: With navigational search queries, the user already has the domain in mind, but may not know the TLD ending or simply use the convenience of search engines to get to the desired domain quickly. Example: “Apple website”
  • Informational: The informational search queries represent the majority of all queries made on Google & Co.. Users are looking for information about news, entities, but also inspiration and advice for products. For almost every online business, informational search queries represent an enormous amount of potential that can be leveraged for more traffic and sales. Example: “Best smartphone 2021”
  • Transactional: The purely transactional search queries, behind which there is a specific purchase intention, have the lowest search volume of all three types of online content. However, transactional search terms are the most competitive because they promise the highest conversion rate. Example: “Buy iPhone 12 with contract”

What kind of search intentions should I optimize my website for?

It depends on the type of website. Even so, there are some similarities for websites that can be clustered according to potential and difficulty:

  • Low potential, low difficulty: Even if the search volume for brand-related navigational search queries is the highest of all three types of content, it is hardly worth optimizing for this. Users already know which website they want to go to; accordingly, other websites that try to get something off the high search volume pie by generating branding landing pages themselves will usually have little success.
  • High potential, high difficulty: The optimization for transactional search queries is the supreme discipline in the content and SEO area. The reason is that the competitive situation is often very high because the users are ready to make a purchase decision and the conversion rate is top Rankings in this area can be best exploited. However, the competition is also great here – not only in the area of ​​organic competitors for the best search result positions, but also for the paid listings on the SERP, mostly in the form of product listing ads.
  • High potential, medium difficulty: The best option for long-term online success is to optimize your own website for informational search queries. Users want information – about news, entities, but also products. The area of ​​informational content now goes well beyond the SEO footer with a few hundred words and a high keyword density. In many cases, companies leave important rankings and thus sales behind because the website lacks content such as purchase advice or comparative product tests, users can pick up relevant content early in the sales funnel and the likelihood of a later completed transaction increases.

How do I find out what search intent is behind a Google query?

In order to understand what intention the users have when they search for a topic, either the search results page can be analyzed – or the search intent can be determined using software. The following questions can be answered for the “manual” analysis:

  • Are product listing ads represented? Then this is a clear indication of the transactional character of the search query. In this case, website owners have the highest competition – and have to compete with organic competitors and paid product ads for traffic.
  • Are e-commerce giants like Amazon or Ebay trending? This is also a clear indication of the transactional character of the search query. Websites that do not have an integrated shop will find it difficult to achieve a good ranking. The reverse applies: Shops with unique content such as purchase advice or detailed product comparisons can thus develop a ranking opportunity against the e-commerce heavyweights.
  • Are Wikipedia, glossaries, or is there a featured snippet? Then it is probably an informational search query. Those who prepare the information better than the competition can count on top rankings and reach the user at a touchpoint that is early in the sales funnel. This user z. For example, winning it as a valuable lead and possibly accompanying it on a buying process is a good opportunity for more online success.
  • Which SERP feature does Google play? In the case of a direct answer, a knowledge panel or a displayed widget for Google Flights / Google Hotels, Google tries to answer the search itself. Optimizing for the exact search query makes little sense. Here you can then consider which USP the Google answer cannot serve – e.g. B. the addition of “child-friendly” something when looking for a hotel? Can I use this more specific search query? It looks different when featured snippets, picture, news or video boxes are present. Then valuable organic traffic can be achieved by optimizing the aforementioned SERP features.

The search intent can also be determined using software. The Searchmetrics Search Experience determines the user intent for each keyword in the project area. This means that the share of navigational, informational and transactional keywords can also be determined at the keyword, URL, tag or project level. This is how the search intent is distributed at project level as a pie chart:

The breakdown of the search intent according to individual tags that were assigned to a project and, for example, depicts the category structure of a website, can convey a much more granular picture of the various search intentions on a website:


3 best practices for the search intent

  1. Analyze the content of the competition – and do it better: Unfortunately, a lot of content on the web is generic and interchangeable. Although a general improvement is slowly being experienced, the main idea for many websites seems to be to collect as many leads, traffic and conversions as possible – and to view the content as a “necessary evil”. Here you can try to be better than the competition. Use valuable content as your USP and leverage to generate more users and thus sales for your website.
  2. Focus on informational search queries: there is often an informational search intention behind a Google search. So if you google for a topic, you first want to get information, inspiration or advice. This is where companies can start to reach users at an earlier stage in the sales funnel with useful, unique content and, thanks to this touchpoint, secure a front-row chance for a later transaction.
  3. Landing page follows the user’s search intention: researches the search intent for the targeted keyword cluster before creating or expanding pages and topics. Design your pages in such a way that they serve the search intent. It applies here that people as individuals are interested in different sub-areas of a topic. Distilling the most important ones and presenting them on the landing page can be a useful dimension expansion on many levels for many topics and pay off with a lot of traffic and a high conversion rate.


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