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Understanding Search Intent Will Boost Your Search Acquisition Channels!

crop man surfing internet on smartphone at home

Google processes over 88,000 search queries per second worldwide. Basically, it roughly translates to 7.6bn per day and circa 2.8 trillion searches in a single year.

Each search query means something about how the consumer (or user) thinks, what does he want and need. 

Of course, search queries leave a lot of room for interpretation and are usually short or partial, but you will be surprised how much information you could learn from analysing these few words. 

Here, we explore the different types of search intent, why we should use this tremendous knowledge and how we could optimize your strategy by considering the purpose behind search queries. 

By the way, more than 3 millions queries have been searched since you started this article. So hurry up! 

What is search intent? 

Search intent (also known as keyword or user intent) is the underlying purpose of a search query. In other words, it is the “why” behind the couple of words we typed in our search engine: are we looking for background information? Do we want to buy something or be directed to a specific website? 

Let’s fall into searchers’ mind!

What are the types of search intent? 

Now you might be thinking: “Ok great, but with 88k queries per second, I must be dealing with countless intent possibilities!”. For sure, even with the same words we might be thinking about something completely different, but usually, most of our search queries could fall under 4 broad types of search intent. 

Let’s dig this out with an example! 


First, most of the searchers are looking for information and answers. Basically, we want to know more about something and be guided. This usually could be a question “How do electric cars work?” but not all informational queries are question-based and it’s sometimes a couple of words that describes our mindset: “I want to know more about electric cars”. 


Here, we investigate and want to extend our awareness because we are on the verge of taking a decision. We are no longer stuck at the information stage but ready to compare and find the best solution. Commercial intent usually deals with reviews or comparison and it could be branded “Renault Zoe vs. BMW i3” or non-branded.


We know what we want, and we are only looking for direction. We’re lazy or just don’t know the entire URL of what we are searching for but, who cares, it’s quick and easy with Google! Navigational intent is usually branded (or with the website name) with some specifications to be sure to land where we are supposed to.


Here we go, I’m ready! Transactional intent arises when we want to do something. Of course we are not always in “buying mode” and may want to sign-up somewhere or download something but that’s the spirit!

Bonus: Transactional + Navigational + Local

We are dealing with the Holy Grail here, if your consumer/user adds a local standpoint to its query then we could not be better placed in the commercial funnel.

How to detect search intent? 

In the end, that’s the question right? From experience, there are two main options to help us categorize intents: 

  • Semantic-based approach: perfect to cast a wide net of intent but may be partial! 
  • Context-based approach: perfect to capture nuances but may be highly volatile!

Once again, let’s dig this out!

Semantic-based approach: Focus on keywords modifiers 

Keywords modifiers could be very helpful when looking at search intent because they typically indicate the searcher’s mindset.  

Unfortunately, not all search queries contain keywords modifiers and you might miss some important insights or market trends.

We need something else!  

Context-based approach: Using SERPs and featured snippets

Today, search engines, and especially Google, have implemented algorithm adjustments to interpret to the greater extent possible the intent of people and SERPs tend to fit our mindset and not only the words we have typed.

I’m pretty sure you’ve already come across this: 

In fact, organic results have been eaten up over the last years with SERPs featured snippets. Some are displayed above: 

  • Top stories (red, featured stories in line with searched keywords) 
  • knowledge panel (green, mix of different sources with the objective to enhance searcher experience)  
  • “People also ask” section (blue, top questions in line with searched keywords) 

Others include: Adwords advert, shopping results or carousels, reviews table, Google direct answers (“Rich Answer”) etc. 

Why does it matter? Actually, by analysing the SERPs featured snippets you might deduct the searcher’s intent (or what Google thinks you are looking for…). Some SERP features pop up more or less frequently depending on the underlying intent. 

Here is our classification (but don’t take it for granted!): 

As you see, SERPs featured snippets are not always exclusive, and many search queries have mixed SERPs results so that not all transactional search intent will result in a shopping carousel !

Don’t accept SEO evangelist guidelines at face value : SERPs are useful but are by essence volatile, they are linked with your locations and browsing history, so while a keyword may seem to link with one specific intent today, it could change easily tomorrow !

Why does search intent matter? 

At this stage, we’ve seen the different types of search intent and how to detect them, but why does this matter in the end?

Understanding your audience is essential to build a successful marketing strategy or simply to be aligned with current trends. Remember that search intelligence gives you the pulse of your market without noise and bots! 

Analyzing search intent is a must-do but don’t be lured by profits and only focus on transactional intent ! You should pay attention to each type of intent because each one represents an opportunity for your business, whatever it is!  

In fact, search intents describe accurately the different stages of the purchase funnel.

Above all, search intent should be the cornerstone of both your SEO and SEA strategies. 

From an SEO standpoint, we need to be visible without creating clickbait. Tailored content is definitely a must-have to match our potential prospects throughout their commercial journey.

Likewise, when launching a successful PPC campaign, we can’t load up a bunch of keywords we may think appropriate. If we target the wrong keywords, we could end up spending a lot of money without any conversions! 

Search intent matters!

How to optimize your strategy with search intent 

At Trajaan, we have developed a platform to guide you in your future marketing/product strategy by compiling all the relevant keywords associated with your market. These keywords are grouped by search intent, in time and space !

  • How does it work concretely?

Our methodology is based on text analytics algorithms capable of quickly detecting and measuring all search queries (on any search engine), segmented by main regions or countries. 

  • How to implement it?

With the relevant keywords, labelled by intent and displayed in time and space, you’ll have no excuses not to boost your strategy!

From an SEO standpoint, select the top keywords and run them through your landing pages or blog posts. How many are missing? 

If you are looking to answer informational intent, selected keywords must be placed in strategic positions: headings and subheadings, title or page description. We will not discuss in detail here all the common SEO tricks but always remember that relevance is the flagship of any SEO campaign. 

What if then, you could have all the necessary metrics to ensure an efficient SEA campaign ? With Trajaan Explorer tool, we provide you with the competition score of any relevant keyword, its cost-per-clicks over time and in any location. 

Don’t miss any market outliers or patterns and launch your next Google Ads campaign with confidence!

Key takeaways

Search intent is the reason behind a query and the most relevant tool to catch your audience. Knowledge is power and if you fail to provide the searcher with what he wants, your chance to convert is slim!

By aligning your strategy to search intent you will:

  • be relevant to your audience
  • boost your brand awareness and be rewarded by search engines
  • provide valuable and quality content
  • drive conversion and engage retention

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