Search Intent: Beginner Guide for User Intentions

Search Historian
August 12, 2023
Updated on:
August 15, 2023

What is Search Intent?

Search Intent (also known as User Intent) is a way of thinking about the reason why users search for something, instead of focusing on keywords that users type into search engines.

In other words, searcher intent is semantic SEO optimization practise that revolves around:

  • Understanding why users typed certain keywords into search engines
  • Understanding what kind of results users expect to find
  • Using this understanding to create most accurate page (content) formats that are tailored to issues that user has when searching for something

Types of Search Intents

There are 4 main search intents:

  • Informational
  • Commercial
  • Transactional
  • Navigational

We could argue that there a much more other types of user intents or some of these intents can be split into more accurate categories.

Though in general, these 4 allow SEOs, content strategists and marketers to communicate and plan websites in way that focuses on being as helpful to each user as possible.

Informational Web Pages (Search Intent)

Informational search intent means that users are problem aware and are searching for a specific type of information. Users seek to get a specific answer to the problem they have, but users don’t know what type of solutions exists.

Example searches: how to build a website, what is a website, website building tutorial, why businesses need websites

Typical words within search: how, why, what, tutorial

Stage in marketing funnel: not applicable or top of the funnel (awareness of the problem)

Conversion likelihood: very low

User Goal: to get a specific answer

Typical content types on informational pages: educational content, FAQs, blog posts, tutorials, how-to articles, step-by-step guides,  videos, images, infographics, datasets,  podcasts, etc.

Commercial Web Pages (Search Intent)

Commercial search intent means that users are both problem aware and solution aware, they are now investigating best solutions and comparing them to pick the right one for them. 

In other words, users are trying to prepare for a decision regarding the problem they are having.

Example searches: best website builders, webflow review, compare webflow and wordpress, easiest CMS solutions

Typical words within search: best, review, compare, {product name}

Stage in marketing funnel: top of the funnel, middle of the funnel (consideration)

Conversion likelihood: low to medium

User Goal: investigate options, prepare for a decision, compare solutions,

Typical content types on commercial pages: listicle articles, top 10 lists, product categories, comparison or vs content, videos, images, datasets, comparison tables, 

Transactional Web Pages (Search Intent)

Transactional search intent means that the user is problem aware, solution aware and are ready to take action (in commercial search intent users were not ready to act, just looking at their options).

In other words, users have already researched their options and are ready to make the decision - complete the action they were planning for before.

Example searches: webflow pricing, create webflow account, webflow starter templates, 

Typical words within search: buy, cheap, for sale, online, download, register, sign up

Stage in marketing funnel: middle of the funnel, bottom of the funnel (intent)

Conversion likelihood: medium to high

User Goal: start or take action, final vetting steps

Typical content types on informational pages: landing conversion content, feature content, pricing cards, login or account creation modals, onboarding flows, templates, etc

Navigational Web Pages (Search Intent)

Navigational pages on any website will only be searched for by users that are brand aware. 

Users typically need some specific information about a specific brand, it can be contacts, documentation or any other type of content that is needed after conversion has happened.

Example searches: webflow, webflow university, webflow terms and conditions, webflow experts program

Typical words within search: website/brand name, branded queries

Stage in marketing funnel: bottom of the funnel (retention)

Conversion likelihood: typically, users are already converted

User Goal: find specific information about specific (aspect of) brand/product

Typical content types on informational pages: terms, cookie policy, address, contact information, scheduling forms, documentation, how to, tips, examples, best practices, etc.

Does My Website Need All 4 Web Page Types?


How Many % of Each Page Type Does My Website Need?

It depends on the industry, competitors, your budget (time and money), stage business is in and many other factors. 

But every successful website should aim to have a significant amount of each page (search intent) type, asap. 

Keep in mind that with each search intent type going downwards, there will usually be gradually lower search traffic. Also, having each search intent page makes it easier to rank other search intent pages (as you show your authority and topical coverage). Also in general, ranking for certain types of search intents can be easier when compared to others - as always in capitalism, the more money there is to make, the more competition we have.