Search Query Types and How to Target Them

In the world of search engine optimization, most people focus on keywords, but you can use more effective methods for return on investment when you know more about user search behaviour and are able to identify three different search query types.

There are three distinct search query types. These are known as transactional, informational and navigational search queries. To achieve ROI you will need to know how to distinguish between them and which ones to target.

Transactional Search Query

Out of the three search query types this one has the most impact on ROI. It refers to a query that is made with the intention of making a purchase or placing an order. A transactional search query means someone is ready to do business. If not, a sale will take place at some time in the future.

You can identify transactional queries from words used in the search, which are not necessarily keywords.

Here are some examples:

(a) A search query naming a brand or a precise type of product

• Bose headphones

• Waterproof mattress protector

(b) Geographical names in business searches

• Manchester Florist

• Curry house Birmingham

(c) Action words

• Order

• Purchase

• Buy

Vertical searches using words specific to a particular industry can also be counted as transactional:

• Flights
• Hotels
• Restaurants

 How to Target Transactional Search Queries

Target transactional queries with informational content in the form of product information pages and reviews. Local SEO content can also be used. PPC is the best way to generate leads that drive sales and Google AdWords is a cost-effective and scalable platform for targeting transactional search queries.

Informational Search Query

This type of query refers to typical user search behaviour when people are not looking for a specific website or thinking of making a commercial transaction. It means they are using a search box to find out how to do something, to get an answer to a question or for fact checking.

Informational search queries are less likely to achieve ROI, but more likely to increase traffic to a website or blog. The majority of blogs get 90% of their traffic from informational searches.

Queries can cover any type of topic and an informational search might bring up many thousands of relevant results. Wikipedia is likely to be at the top of results, but studies of user search behaviour suggest that most people prefer a more reliable source.

Out of the three search query types this one is the most influential. Brand awareness, reputation and loyalty are built by establishing a website or blog as an authoritative source of information, rather than being just promoting products.

Your business should not be using blog posts or articles to close a sale. You will generate more sales with content that targets information search queries and gets you known as an authority figure or an expert. Then your visitors will in future think of you first when they need the services of your business or website.

How to Target Informational Search Queries

Organic search is the best traffic source for informational searches. Target that traffic with content that is of benefit to potential customers.


• Create sharable images, using an infographic design tool, to illustrate some of the issues related to your type of business.

• Make YouTube videos that demonstrate how to make or do things that are associated with your products.

• Create blog posts that provide helpful tips, based on your own experience or professional knowledge.

Write an online guide that takes readers step-by-step through a process that is relevant to your line of business.

Navigational Search Query

Search engine users make navigational queries as a quick way to find content on a specific website. They might include “BBC” in a search when looking for a particular news item or “YouTube” when wanting to view a particular performance.

The navigational search query “youtube” is one of the two top words used in Google search, the other is “facebook”.

How to Target a Navigational Search Query

When a brand name is also a keyword, it is statistically more likely to lead to clicks and sales. For ROI you will need to get your brand to appear in sponsored results for its name as well as showing up in organic results.

Profit from User Search Behaviour

With a good understanding of user search behaviour you will be able to focus on how you will target and optimize transactional keywords to achieve ROI. When you target two, or all three search query types, you will gain more traffic and leads.