The 3 Types of Search Query & How to Rank For Them in 2023

by Josh Barney

There are 3 types of search query – in this post, you’re going to discover what each is, why they’re relevant and how you can target them.

Just like any tool, search engines are used in different ways. A user’s intent, situation and thought process affects their search queries. 

Websites like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo and AOL have given us access to almost unlimited resources, answers and content, but their search engines are not always used in the same way. 

search engine logos
Some of the world’s most popular search engines.

As a website owner, marketer or creator, knowing the different types of search query, in addition to understanding them and how they can benefit your brand, gives you the opportunity to prime your website and content for greater organic traffic, and capitalise on it. 

BTW: Organic traffic refers to website visitors that enter from a search engine results page (when the result is not a paid ad) 

Why Does This Matter? 

Search engines drive 53.3% of trackable website traffic (Source: BrightEdge) making it the internet’s most valuable source of website visitors. 

In other words, you should be priming your website to rank on search engines like Google. 

However, there is tons of competition, it can take some time to rank and SEO is perceived as a tricky business. 

search engine browser share
The worldwide market shares of search engines (Statcounter)

A key step towards beating out your competitors and truly understanding how to obtain more free organic traffic from search engines is understanding why your target audience are making their search queries. This is known as ‘search intent’.

Search intent plays a fundamental role in the thought process of any reputable SEO specialist – and this is because more traffic isn’t always the most valuable aim.  

For example, if you’re able to rank on page 1 on Google for the search query, ‘buy new trainers’, it’s going to result in more sales than, ‘shoe trends’.

search query example
Popular search queries will return millions of results.

Every type of search query plays a role in the building of your brand, business and long-term digital presence, but knowing how and where to approach each query is what’s going to separate you from your competitor’s SEO efforts. 

How To Generate Organic Traffic

Think about why people go on search engines – to find answers, solutions, recommendations, products etc. If you’re going to rank on search engines, your website needs to be the source of these solutions. 

This means knowing what people are searching for, why they’re making that search query, and then providing them with the answers. 

answer the public search
Tools like AnswerThePublic will help website owners discover what they’re target market are searching for.

Of course, there is a lot more to gaining high volumes of organic traffic, but this is the first brick in the wall, and it’s something that every new or burgeoning website needs to get behind. 

The solution comes in the shape of content. 

Content is a very broad term, but in the world of marketing, it means things like blogs, written excerpts, videos, podcasts, images, website copy and social media posts.

If you aren’t already, it’s time that you started creating content about your industry and the solutions that your business offers. 

The 3 Types of Search Query

There are 3 types of search queries.

BTW: A search query is the ‘keyword(s)’ that a user enters into a search engine. 

Analyse your SEO strategy against the different types of search query and decide where you should focus your search optimised content creation efforts. 

The Navigational Search Query

What is a Navigational Search Query?

A navigational search query is a keyword search for a specific brand, website or product in an attempt to find their presence online. 

For example, a Google search for the words ‘Einstein Marketer’ is an attempt to navigate to this website. 

einstein marketer search query
A brand name search is an example of a navigational search query.

The top 10 most common search queries on Google are all navigational, the terms ‘YouTube’ and ‘Facebook’ were the two most searched keywords on the internet in Jan 2021 (Source: Ahrefs)

most searched keywords on google
The most popular search terms on Google and their search volume.

How Are Navigational Search Queries Important For Your Website? 

Navigational search queries are a great measure of your brand’s impact and awareness online. 

Users will not search for your business or website if they have not heard of it – and they will usually perform a search like this because they’d like to find out more about a brand via their website. 

Navigational search queries are a clear sign of intent by the user. They are showing a clear interest in your brand by searching for you. 

If your website is brand new, it may not yet rank for your brand name, but over time and with work on your website, you will gain number 1 position. 

How Can You Optimise For Navigational Search Queries? 

It goes without saying that your website’s URL should include your brand name. For example, Einstein Marketer is found at

This is a clear indication to Google that you must rank for this type of navigational search term. 

After this, it is important that you use your brand name on your website – an ‘About’ page is a great opportunity for this. 

You should ensure that all your brand logos have your brand name included in the alt-text and title of the image. 

navigational search query
A branded navigational search for images.

You should build links back to your website with your brand name as the keyword (online directories are an easy place to start), and you should link your website to all your social media pages with your business name. For example, the Einstein Marketer website is linked to our Facebook page and that links back to our website. 

The Informational Search Query

What Is An Informational Search Query?

An informational search query is a user’s attempt to discover more about a specific term. 

This type of search query covers a broad range of possibilities, including seeking answers to questions, researching a subject, or discovering how-tos. 

informational search query
An example of an informational search query.

Informational search queries can use very broad or narrow search terms. For example, the term ‘marketing’ is a broad informational search query and ‘how to create content for marketing purposes’ is a narrow informational search query. These are both examples of the same type of search query, but they’re very different. 

How Are Informational Search Queries Important For Your Business? 

There are a lot of different types of informational search queries, but they’re all very important for your business’s website and your future opportunities. 

Informational search queries tend to be made when a potential prospect is in the research stage of their journey. This is when they’re fact-finding about potential solutions, answers and new methods to solve their problems. 

question search query
Questions are typical informational search queries.

A typical ecommerce website would focus very little resources on users who are in this stage of their customer journey, but a great eCommerce website knows how to use this type of search query to its advantage. 

Informational search queries give you the opportunity to educate, inform and capture the contact details of somebody who is clearly interested in your industry and will (most likely) end up buying a product from within it. 

How Can You Optimise For Informational Search Queries? 

If people are searching for information, provide them with it. 

This means creating great content that comprehensively answers their questions, provides the knowledge they’re searching for and is worthy of recommendations (via social sharing).  

Content that has historically ranked well for this type of query is blogs, but videos are now beginning to rank on search engines too.

videos ranking on google
Videos are a common feature on a Google search results page.

A few types of content that work well for this type of search: 

  • A Complete Guide, e.g. The Complete Guide to Google 
  • How To Content, e.g. How to Rank on Page 1 of Google
  • Step-by-step instructions, e.g. 5 Steps to page 1 of Google
  • List content, e.g. The 11 Best Ways to rank on Google

The trick to making this type of search query work in your favour is to avoid aiming at a large volume of informational search queries that appear relevant to your brand. Instead, find keywords that align with your business and a point on your target market’s customer journey. 

For example, if your business sells podcast training, the search term: ‘how to start a podcast’ is a great informational search query to aim for. By creating content that provides all the answers to this question, you can also make offers, demonstrate your value via great content and knowledge, and capture contact information with lead magnets. 

Alternatively an informational search query like ‘best podcasts in the UK’ probably isn’t going to return the same rewards, even if it does drive more traffic

lead magnet
Offering your organic visitors a high quality lead magnet is a great way to capture contact details and future sales.

Think about the questions, problems and research stages that face your potential customers before they enter into a ‘buying mindset’ and research the keywords that fit.

BTW: A keyword is a term that is entered into a search engine.

The Transactional Search Query

What is a Transactional Search Query? 

A transactional search query is a keyword search that signifies a clear intention to buy a product or service. 

This type of search query usually includes keywords like: 

  • ‘Buy’
  • ‘Shop’
  • ‘Purchase’
  • ‘Order’
transactional search query example
An example of a transactional search query.

But, not all transactional search queries include these terms.

Keywords that include specific product names also indicate an intention to buy. For example, ‘best mobile phones’ suggests a customer is still researching, which places this as an informational search query, but a search like ‘iPhone XR 64 GB’, suggests that the user has already chosen the phone they would like and are hunting for the best place to buy it from. 

product search query
Product searches show high buyer intent.

Transactional search queries can also include keywords that define a local area, demonstrating an intention to purchase in person. For example, ‘book restaurant North London’.

How Are Transactional Search Queries Important For Your Business? 

People who make search engine queries with a clear intention to buy are the low-hanging fruit of the digital world. 

These are users who have already been through the research and consideration stage of their purchase and they’re ready to buy.

In other words, they’re at the end of their customer journey or sales funnel, and all they want to do is hit the ‘Buy Now’ button. 

aol search

If a business can tap into these users by appearing on page 1 of the SERPs for a transactional search query, it can be extremely lucrative and become an evergreen source of continuous sales. 

However, competition in the SERPs for transactional search queries is extremely high and this is why many brands decide to run PPC ads on them. 

buy keyword search query
Keywords like ‘buy’ are heavily targeted by advertisers.

How Can You Optimise For Transactional Search Queries? 

Optimising your webpages to rank for terms like ‘buy’, ‘purchase’ or ‘order’ is not easy, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do everything you can to rank for them. 

The easiest way to do this is to use some of these transactional terms on your buying pages, just make sure you aren’t cramming your page with repeated messages.

You could also make buying guides to boost your chances of SERP success. – just remember to use some of the transactional search queries. 

buying guides seo
Buying guides are a great way to include many buying intent keywords on your website. These examples are from the IKEA website.

As you’ll notice on the SERPs when searching for a transactional search query, many of the results are either from: 

  1. Ads
  2. Market leaders

If you own a relatively new website or have a low domain authority rating, you’re going to have to:

  1. Compete with PPC ads – You’ll have to bid against competitors who are also aiming for the same transactional search queries. In many cases, users actually prefer to click on PPC ads when they have a high intent to buy.
  2. Find alternative transactional search queries – If there are any industry-specific terms that a buyer in your niche will use when they’re ready to buy, you should research the opportunity and the difficulty of ranking for them (use a tool like Keywords Everywhere or Ahrefs). If there is an opportunity, use these terms to prime your landing pages or create content that funnels your users onto your buying pages. 
  3. Abandon transaction search queries – These are the hardest search terms to rank for. You might be better off focussing on Informational Search Queries and creating a funnel from your content that captures leads and converts sales at a lower rate. 

The Different Types of Search Query

Every type of search query plays its part in your success online. The one that you aim for depends on your industry, aims and how far you’ve come already. 

Organic traffic drives long-term, evergreen traffic – giving your website the building-blocks to grow. 

It may take time and a lot of effort (particularly to start with) but, when you begin to rank on the SERPs for your desired type of search query, it makes a massive impact on your brand, business and website. 

Do the basics right and after that, sweat on the smaller stuff. 

Josh is the Founder of We Imagine Media, an award-winning content marketer, best selling author and creator of the He creates and strategises content, sharing the most successful tactics with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links so he can get back to writing as himself.

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