Score Big with Search Type Targeting

A couple weeks ago, seoWorks touched on the types of search queries in an SEO article about Google’s RankBrain. There are three main types of search queries that people use on the internet:

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Transactional

SEOs can liken the goals of optimizing web pages to a simple formula:

traffic volume * conversion rate = volume of new customers

By pursuing both goals, you improve the prospects of gaining new customers and also potentially send signals to Google that will place you higher in search rank and increase website impressions to a broader audience of potential customers. How does this relate to the types of search queries? Search query types are a reflection of the traditional sales funnel stages:


Informative query type is the equivalent to the bottom of the sales funnel called Awareness. These are COLD leads, no chance to buy. These folks aren’t even IN the buyer’s cycle yet! Still, informative queries offer a meet-and-greet; a chance for your brand to wedge its foot in the door.

Navigational query type matches the middle sales stage. Leads are lukewarm. Tepid leads are nurtured in this Consideration stage of the buying cycle. These leads are people who already know the company name, business name, or an individual’s name to navigate to a specific website. Easy example is YouTube. In 2014, an estimated billion users got to YouTube through a navigational search query.

Transactional query type represents the very top of the sales stage. Customers have made their decision to buy right there, right now through your website.

Optimize by Targeted Search Type

So, now that we’ve examined the three main query types juxtaposed against the sales funnel, we see that online marketing and old fashioned, traditional sales strategies still apply.

Informational Search

Informational Search Queries Defined

Think of the “how to” guides of the web. Straight facts. Technical instructions. Statistical data. Imagine a pair of feuding friends settling a bet in a pub by consulting the Guinness Book of World Records. Those guys are your informational searchers.

In sales speak, they are ice cold leads; not likely to convert. Yet these leads have value in that they improve your authority for other types of search queries, and also raises brand awareness.

Example of Informational Search Query

The user’s query in this example is “how to boil an egg.” The results yield:


Notice Google’s knowledge graph/featured snippet box. This is high-priced real estate for any site vying for authority and traffic volume.

It’s the outlined box that appears above the fold in Google results that displays a brief passage of text. The featured box answers informative search queries for facts, trivia, how-to instructions, etc.

It’s possible Google could, over time, revise SERPs (search engine results pages) altogether and show exclusively knowledge graphs instead of regular listings for all informational queries (bad news for us SEOs).

Informational Search Query Tools for Marketers

Straightforward keywords are your most reliable tool to lasso those informational searchers to your site.

Best Keywords to apply in your website copy, titles and descriptions include:

  • how-to
  • basic nouns like “eggs”, “silver”, “gold”, “photosynthesis”
  • short phrases like “small wart on palm”
  • short questions like “do frogs smell?”

Consider the informational query type can bounce traffic fast if a website is optimized for transactions only. Successful websites should have high quality, well-written content throughout its pages so that users find value in it.

How to Measure Informational Search to Website

Measure informational search queries by looking at month-to-month Google Analytics’ traffic volume.


Analytics does not tell you a user’s query type, per se. However, if web traffic increases and that traffic spent a long time reading your site, there’s a decent probability those users were informational searchers. By “a long time,” assess what your average session duration is, then add 3-5 minutes to it. Remember this value is just a ballpark, not rock solid evidence.


Navigational Search

Navigational Search Queries

The *OFFICIAL* definition (ahem, there isn’t one) of a navigational search is when a user types a specific brand name directly in the search bar with the intent to find a specific website like “Amazon” or “Facebook.”

When you need to settle a bet with a friend and type in “Guinness Book of World Records” to get to its homepage, this is a navigational search. The user is already familiar with the brand. They remember it and return to it.

Steal These Keywords for Navigation Search Queries

Since Navigational Search is practically synonymous with Brand Awareness, there are no keyword tools or tips to apply. There are, however, best practices to adhere to:

Best Practice to Target Navigational Search

  • company name
  • business name
  • person’s name
  • domain suffixes

How to Measure Navigational Search Traffic

Navigational searchers are lukewarm contenders for conversion. Smack dab in the center of the sales funnel, they can go either way.

Measure it by branded keyword performance in a basic keyword ranking report by Direct Traffic or Returning Traffic reported in Google Analytics.


Transactional Search

Transactional Search Queries

Hot leads, ready to convert! Transactions are not limited to strictly e-commerce purchases. Consider form submissions, eBook downloads, and video views as actions users took to transact with the website.

Steal These Keywords to Target Transactional Search Queries

As a general rule, the best keywords to target transaction-seekers are where traditional calls-to-action fall. Calls-to-action invite engagement between a user and the website via site functionality communication.

CTA Buzzwords You Must Use On Your Website Now:

  • apply
    apply for financing
    best book now
    download eBook
    download video
    free estimate
    free shipping
    get a price quote
    hot deals
    listen to audio
    play song
    schedule appointment
    self-candidate quizzes
    special promotions
    watch video

Publish any number of these on your website where applicable. Watch what happens.

E-Commerce Conversion

Successful e-commerce websites strive for a typical conversion rate of 5% or higher.

Websites that use the aforementioned keywords listed average a 38.9% conversion rate or higher.

How to Measure Transactional Search Queries

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see when revenue rises. Aside from just making more money, the key performance indicators for transactional search queries are measured by monitoring clickthrough rate and counting Goals set up in Google Analytics.


Count user engagements in transactional search queries. Include form submissions, e-commerce completed transactions, the number of appointments booked, etc.

Then tie it all together with a big, red bow titled


We’re All Friends Here

There’s no competition among search queries. Each serves a unique purpose for the user’s intent and buying cycle. For marketers with short attention spans, be sure to share this free snapshot of The Wonderful World of Search that combines definitions, keywords, and specific measurement tools that any marketing can use starting now. Cheers!