Navigating Search Intent: A Guide For Beginners

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As SEO’s, we are always trying to understand the best way to target our audience. Search intent is one of those things that will help you do just that. Understanding what keywords people are searching for and why they are searching for them can help you better understand your audience’s needs, wants, and desires. This blog post will give an introduction to how search intent works and how it can be used by marketers!

What is search intent and why is search intent important?

The search intent of a keyword is what the user is expecting to get search results for. There are three main types of search intents: informational, navigational and transactional.

Informational Search Intent: Users search with informational search terms when they want to know more about something or find out if something exists. For example, if someone types in “What are hot dogs made from?” into Google, the search engine will display informational results – it will list out ingredients and give you more information on search intent.

Informational search terms are the top search queries in the world and make up about 30% of all search engine queries. The intent of informational search queries is to get general information on a topic.

Navigational Search Intent: Users search with these search terms when they already know that specific resources exist and they want quickly to go to them without having to use navigation menus or spend time searching for them on search engines. A great example of this would be when someone types in “Salesforce” into search they are searching with search intent to reach Salesforce’s website so they do not have to search around the web for their site.

Navigational search terms make up about 40% of all search engine queries. The intent of a navigational search is to get you directly to a website or online resource.

Transactional Search Intent: Searchers use transactional search terms when they want to take any action or complete a task. When users search with transactional search intentions, they are looking for products or services to purchase, to sign up for something, or to download a piece of content. For example, if someone types in “free Kindle books” into Google, they are searching with search intent to visit ebooks on Amazon so that they may purchase them.

Transactional search terms make up about 30% of search engine queries. The intent of a transactional search is to buy, use, download or sign up for something.

Search intent is changing the marketing funnel

Why a good understanding of intent will help you succeed in digital marketing

Understanding search intent means you can get more people to your site, and get more of them to convert. As an online marketer this will help you improve the number of sales/leads coming in along with increase conversions.

Understanding better what type of person is using each search query, why they’re using it and if they’re ready to buy is an invaluable tool in your SEO arsenal. This will help you create a more detailed picture of your target market, which in turn can really improve the number of conversions you’re getting.

It’s also important to remember that just because someone is searching for something doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy or are looking to spend money on these products. It might be that they just want to find out more information before buying your product or signing up for your service.

How to determine search intent

While search engine results pages are not entirely based on search intent, they do play a role. The search intent of the search query is usually visible through 1) website placement and 2) ad copy.

For example, if you search for “Google Search Console“, the first result is Google’s tool, because it is a navigational search. The search engine tries to show navigational search results above informational search results because they would be irrelevant for searchers using Google to look up information on a topic. But a search like “What is Google Search Console?” would then make it informational.

In this case, it’s easy to tell that the intent of “Google Search Console” is navigational – that’s why their official website comes up first. This search query falls under navigational.

Another general rule is that if a search is worded like a question then it is going to be an informational search.

A search engine’s ad copy can also indicate search intent. For example, if you search for “best SEO tool”, the first results will be sponsored links from ahrefs or Rank Math on the SERP. This search query has search intent to transact as it is looking to buy ebooks from Amazon.

How to optimiae for search intent

Google’s ranking algorithm is designed to show the most relevant results, highest quality pages for any given search query. The intent behind a search can vary depending on the person and their reasons for searching; it might be wanting to find out more information, or buy something. It’s important that you optimise your pages across many different factors (content, schema, technical set up etc.) to match the search intent of your visitors

There are many ways you can find out what search intent your visitors have, and if they’re in research mode or ready to buy. Google Analytics is a great tool for finding this information; look at the search terms people used before coming to your site – did they just want to get started with something? Were they looking for a solution to a problem? Were they trying to buy something from you?

If someone is at the research stage of buying, or looking for more information then it’s much more difficult to turn them into a customer. It’s much easier if someone is ready to buy as there are far fewer barriers in your way and it will be much easier converting these people into customers.

It’s important to optimise your pages for the right intent so that you can engage with people at the right stage of their buying journey.

How to optimise for search intent

How search intent is redefining the marketing funnel

Many marketers are now adjusting the marketing funnel to include two main stages; unqualified and qualified. Unqualified is where the user has shown no interest in your product, they’re just looking around. This can be incredibly frustrating for marketers as you’re spending all this time getting people to look at your website, knowing that many won’t do anything or buy anything. In the past, marketers may have lost visitors at this stage by not providing a quick and easy route to purchase or sign up.

With all this great new data on intent, marketers can now find out what search queries people use when they’re in research mode – these are the most valuable users for them at this point. Marketers can then focus on these people’s queries and re-engage with them by providing more information on their search results page, or personalised content at the top of your site.

With this data, marketers can now optimise their online presence not just for attracting people in the unqualified stage of conversion, but also for engaging with users to move them along the funnel faster.

Tips on how to increase the effectiveness of your ads by targeting specific searches

Search intent targeting can help you drive more search engine traffic to your website. To increase the effectiveness of your search ads, follow these tips:

a. Use search intent keywords in your search ad copy to match search terms from a search query with a similar or relevant search term. This way, you can ensure that users looking for information about a specific topic will see your search listing and click on it because they think you have the right information to satisfy their search intent.

b. Include multiple search intents in your search ad copy so that people looking for different types of info will see your business as a potential source for satisfying their search needs. In addition, if you use brand or generic terms as part of the text of your sponsored link, search intent targeting can help you drive traffic to your business from search queries related to search terms that are relevant for your product or service.

c. Monitor search volume data on search engines for search intents and other search terms related to your products or services, to get a better idea of how your ads will perform when they get impressions, clicks, and conversions from search queries with search intents.

As search engines acquire more user data, search intent targeting will help search engines have a better understanding of how people use search engines to find information about particular topics. This means that search terms with high search volume relative to other search terms might indicate the need for greater coverage in search listings for businesses and search marketing professionals.


This article has provided you with some insights into how the human brain works and what this means for your search marketing strategy.

Understanding these principles can help you better communicate to people at each stage of their buying journey, as well as providing more insight into who they are and why they’re searching in the first place.

If all of this sounds too complicated or if you just want a little bit of extra help from our team, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ll be glad to provide guidance on which cognitive neuroscience principle will work best for your digital marketing needs!


Google provides a lot of knowledge about how you can use intent data in your optimisation strategy, as well as some great insights into what search terms people will use when they’re researching different topics.

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