4 types of search intent
There are a few distinct types of search intent, these four are most commonly used:
The first type of search intent is called navigational intent. People with this intent want to visit a specific website. For example, people who search for [Facebook] are usually on their way to the Facebook website.
Keep in mind that ranking high for a navigational term is only beneficial for your organic traffic if your site is the site people are looking for. These searchers are looking to navigate to a specific website, and it’s often easier to run a quick search in Google than to type out the URL. The user could also be unsure of the exact URL or looking for a specific page, e.g. a login page. As such, these searches tend to be brand or website names and can include additional specifications to help users find an exact page.
Second, there is informational intent. Lots of searches on the internet are done by people looking for information. That could be information about the weather, information about educating children, information about SEO, you name it. People with informational intent have a specific question or want to know more about a certain topic. This could be in the form of a how-to guide, a recipe, or a definition. It’s one of the most common search intents, as users can look for answers to an infinite number of questions. That said, not all informational terms are questions. Users searching for simply “Bill Gates” are most likely looking for information about Bill Gates.
You should be aware that Google’s understanding of intent goes much further than simply showing results that give information about a specific term. It knows, for instance, that people looking for [tomato sauce] are looking for recipes, not for the sauce’s culinary history. It understands that most people typing in [Mercury] are looking for the planet, not the element. Google even understands that for some terms, like [how to build a bird feeder], it’s handy to include videos and images.
Before they’re ready to make a purchase, users start their commercial investigation. This is when they use search to investigate products, brands, or services further. They’re past the informational stage of their research and have narrowed their focus to a few different options. Users here are often comparing products and brands to find the best solution for them.
Note: These searches often include non-branded localized terms such as “best body shop near me” or “top sushi restaurant NYC.”
Transactional searchers are looking to make a purchase. This could be a product, service, or subscription. Either way, they have a good idea of what they’re looking for. Since the user is already in buying mode, these terms are usually branded. Users are no longer researching the product, they’re looking for a place to purchase it.