The types of search intent of a search engine user

The search intent someone has when he types in a keyword in Google is very interesting for you to know. Learn how to use it in your SEO.

Sam van Houten
May 19, 2022
5 min read

In this article we will explain the basics about search intention and why this is important. We will do so by answering the following questions:

  1. What is search intent?
  2. Why do I want to know the search intent of keywords?
  3. What can I do with intent to improve SEO of my website?

After reading this, you will be ready to implement all your intent knowledge like a SEO Scientist.

Let's get scientific!

What is search intent?

The definition of search intent is as follows:

Search intent is the intention a search engine user has when using a certain keyword. - KeyWI

We have categorised the intention of search engine user in four groups:

  1. Informational intent
  2. Navigational intent
  3. Commercial investigation intent
  4. Transactional intent

Informational Intent

The intent someone has when he is looking for information is called informational intent. About 80% of all searches are informational according to research studies. Below we have shown a few trigger words that can help you identify informational intent. Besides that, we have listed a few examples.

Intent description: Keywords used by someone who is searching for information.
Trigger words:   What, Who, Where, When, How, Why, Facts, Tips, Examples


  • "How old is Barack Obama"
  • "200 fahrenheit to celsius"
  • "Donald Trump tweets"
  • "FC Barcelona score"

Navigational Intent

When someone is looking for a certain "place" on the internet, in other words a url, they have a navigational intention. They are looking for a link where they can do something, for example log in or contact someone.

Intent description: Keywords used by someone to find a specific website or webpage. They already know where they want to go on the web.
Trigger words:
Brands, product names, service names


  • "Facebook",
  • "Amazon log in",
  • "google cloud platform",
  • "contact volvo""

Commercial investigation Intent

This is probably the most tricky one. The intention someone has is of investigational nature, someone is investigating where to make a transaction. The transaction could be a purchase, sign-up or download. So someone might know they want to sign up for a video call service but they don't know which one yet. They might search for "zoom vs. teams".

Intent description: Keywords used by someone who is investigating what or where to perform a commercial action. In comparison mode, still weighing up options.
Trigger words: Compare, best, vs, top, list, deals, reviews, characteristics of products


  • "Best protein powder",
  • "top restaurants london",
  • "mailchimp vs convertkit",
  • "iphone X reviews"

Transactional Intent

Transactions often follow commercial investigation, however sometimes people just know what they want to buy. In all these cases the intention is to make a transaction and therefor transactional intent.

Intent description: Keywords used by someone who wants to make a transaction, signup, download or register etc. They already know what transaction they want to do.
Trigger words: Buy, Shop, Coupon, Discount, Price, Pricing, Order, Shipping, Delivery, Returns, Sale


  • "Buy laptop lenovo 13 inch",
  • "galaxy s3 cheap",
  • "premium lastpass price",
  • "download slack mac"

Of course there are exceptions for all intentions and some keywords may be interpreted ambiguously. However, if you look at the intention of a group of keywords you may find the most common intention. Remember to write your content based on the intention you have and you want your searchers to have.

If you're looking for a tool that helps you group keywords automatically, predicts search intent and suggests search marketing tasks check out KeyWI.

Sam van Houten co-founder KeyWI
Sam van Houten

Sam van Houten is Co-Founder of KeyWI, has an educational background in data science and is always eager to learn new stuff. Together with the KeyWI team he has been busy developing SEO software and understanding how to use code to automate and smarten SEO tasks.

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