HomeDigital MarketingKeyword Analysis: Determine Search Intent

Keyword Analysis: Determine Search Intent

When it comes to keywords, we often only focus on factors like traffic volumes, PPC competition, and SEO competition (remember KEI ?). One aspect that should never be forgotten is the search intent represented by the keyword. Is the word we like so much a term that launches an informative or commercial search? What does the user who executes this query (search) expect? Information or a product to buy quickly online? Distinguishing keywords by intent is very important, let’s see why.

SEO experts aim to generate relevant organic traffic through search engine searches . Therefore, a fundamental element for building an organic SEO strategy is understanding the target audience , the way users think, discuss online and research the service or product we want to sell.

Those who work in the SEO market are aware of the fact that search engines are tools that guide users to content, they are the means, they are not the end, and you must know how to use the means. Using a search engine’s search box is different from typing a URL directly into the browser’s address bar, clicking a bookmark, or clicking a link to go to a website. An online search is also different from an offline search, for example, which you might perform in the library.

Searches are done with intent, the online user wants to find specific information, rather than landing on random pages – wasting time is never an option. Searching is also different from browsing by clicking links on a web page. Because of this characteristic , search traffic is generally of higher value for marketing than other types of traffic .

What follows is a review of the different types of online searches, their categories, characteristics and the processes that follow.

Navigational or brand searches

Users conduct navigational searches with the intent of directly opening a specific website. In some cases, the user may not know the exact URL and would search for the brand or website name, and the search engine would show the homepage of the searched site.


  • Alitalia website
  • co.uk
  • EVE Milan


  • for searches of other brands, not yours, the opportunity is to attract the researcher to your site to read, for example, an informative content. Three quick examples of information content on other brands: ” Updated guide for SemRush, Opinions and opinions on the XYZ service, Nike vs Adidas best running shoes 2019, … “. The article ties into XYZ brand queries and could potentially drive traffic driven by XYZ brand queries.
  • For your brandsearches, the opportunities are to monopolize the first page of Google with proprietary results (related institutional sites, social pages, news, videos, etc), pushing unofficial results out of the SERP .

Average traffic value:

  • For brands other than yours, click-throughrates will tend to be low, but this can be an opportunity to “steal” customers from a competitor or be pulled along by well-known brands.
  • Traffic value is very high when the searches are for your brand. This type of search tends to have high conversion rates. However, these queries come for the most part from users who already know you, the volume of traffic obtained from these queries depends on your brand awareness (the notoriety of a brand towards the public).

Information searches

Informative searches involve an incredibly wide range of questions, I have dedicated an article to this aspect, also useful for developing an SEO publishing plan .

Consider the many types of information people might be looking for: local weather, driving directions, a recent interview, how to cure a cold, how-to guides,… The possibilities are practically endless.

Informational searches are not transaction or purchase oriented although they may include searching for information about a product or service. The information itself is the goal of the research and no interaction is required – I read the information and I am satisfied.


  • Discounts for Alitalia relatives
  • Is Amazon Prime worth it?
  • EVE Milano how to migrate website

Opportunity: Attract inbound links with quality content, get attention from journalists and researchers, and potentially convert users into buyers or newsletter subscribers.
Average Traffic Value: The researcher may not be ready to buy yet, or they may not even have the long-term intent to buy, so the value tends to be average. However, some of these users will carry out more targeted searches, and this presents an opportunity to connect with potential customers. For example, informational queries that focus on commercial searches for products or services can have high value. Demonstrating that you are an expert in a specific sector, explaining a procedure or a working methodology, can be an important sales tool, especially in the consultancy field.

Transactional searches

Transactional searches don’t necessarily have to involve a credit card or an instant transaction. Creating a Pinterest account, signing up for a free trial of an online tool, or finding the best local Tuscan restaurant for dinner tonight can all be transactional queries, it depends on each website’s goals. For some sites, the final conversion might be downloading an eBook, for other sites, registration, and for others, selling online.

In general, transactional searches are searches that are positioned at the end of the decision- making funnel , they are searches of those who have in mind what they want, and want it now, therefore they are searches of high commercial value .


  • Milan Olbia Alitalia
  • Amazon AAA batteries
  • EVE Milano cost backlink analysis

Opportunity: Obtaining a transaction (financial or otherwise).
Average traffic value: Very high, positioning yourself with transactional queries allows you to generate revenue and traffic based on the volume of searches for a particular service or product, regardless of the reputation of our brand – brand awareness.


In this pie chart you can see represented the distribution of navigational, informative and transactional queries based on data collected from a search *.

* Research carried out in 2007 by Pennsylvania State University and Queensland University of Technology shows that over 80% of searches are informational in nature, and only about 10% of searches are navigational or transactional.

Our findings show that more than 80% of Web queries are informational in nature, with about 10% each being navigational and transactional. In order to validate the accuracy of our algorithm, we manually coded 400 queries and compared the results from this manual classification to the results determined by the automated method. This comparison showed that the automatic classification has an accuracy of 74%. Of the remaining 25% of the queries, the user intent is vague or multi-faceted, pointing to the need for probabilistic classification. We discuss how search engines can use knowledge of user intent to provide more targeted and relevant results in Web searching.

In the past, there was adaptive search

In the past, search engines were able to deduce the intent of a search also by analyzing the sequence of searches carried out previously . This information was confirmed in a 2011 interview by Eric Enge with Jack Menzel , Product Management Director for Google Search. It was possible to verify this function by trying some search sequences, such as a search on “Florence” followed by a search on “hotels”. Normally, a search for “hotels” would not have included results for hotels in Florence, but when the previous query was for “Florence”, some results for hotels in Florence were included.

Tracking users’ previous searches and taking them into account when displaying new search results is a process known as adaptive search , and was used to help search engines understand the intent of the user’s search.

Why did I use the past on adaptive search ? Because as of the date of this writing this function is no longer implemented . Probably after a few years of testing they will have noticed results that do not conform to expectations.

Research intent

When performing keyword analysis for a customer or your website, remember that ranking each term by its intent could help you a lot in your selection. This information allows you to think about the best type of content to offer to the user based on the different search intent. It is also possible to differentiate strategic keywords to be used in the blog with informative content, and in the “sales” site with commercial content.

While informational queries are less likely to convert and generate sales, that doesn’t mean you should give up ranking on this type of query. Positioning your information content well and having it quickly found by users looking for information can be an incredibly valuable strategy, capable of transforming users into customers , users who otherwise would never have converted.

Building a relationship with users who find your site after an informative search should be a priority, make sure that the user remembers you and your site. A user who knows you and appreciates the information you provide on your portal is more likely to buy from you in the future, and may also decide to share the information with others via their blog website, or through social media. Trust plays an increasingly important role in markets where competition (and rip – offs) grow day by day.

One problem with online searches is that users usually run fairly short search queries, limited to a handful of words (usually one to four). Since most people don’t have a deep understanding of how search engines work, it happens that searches are performed that are too general or are presented in an unclear way to search engines. It may seem trivial to you but it is not: a generic search leads to generic results, a specific search leads to specific results. Try comparing the search results “best car” with “best diesel sedan car 2016”, the second search shows much more specific results.

Why buy informational keywords with PPC

Companies that buy pay-per-click (PPC) traffic by focusing only on keywords with a high conversion rate, lose market share day after day in favor of competitors. A user interested in buying a camera could start the series of generic searches by looking for “camera”, and then move on to increasingly specific and detailed searches, such as Olympus OMD or Olympus OMD characteristics and opinions . Ultimately the user would end up buying from the online store that ranks with terms specific to the Olympus OMD model and provides in-depth information on the product being sold.

Despite excellent SEO and content organization, it happens and will happen that some visitors arrive on the site by mistake, looking for completely different things. Part of an SEO’s job is to maintain a high level of relevance in page content to minimize off-target visits



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