User search types can be grouped into three different categories: informational, transactional and navigational.

Each of these categories requires a slightly different form of SEO.

Informational searches account for approximately 80% of all searches, with the remaining 20% being divided equally between navigational and transactional searches.

Around 70% of Internet users employ a search engine to help them navigate to the required web resource, and all of the major search engines try to determine the intent of the search being carried out by analysing the search query and matching it with previous search behaviour.

SEO for Informational Searches

An informational search, as the name suggests, is carried out by a user who is seeking information on a specific topic or fact, and this covers quite a broad spectrum of searchers.

Initially, the searcher will be seeking as much information as possible on a given subject with the purpose of gaining knowledge. He will rely on the search engine to serve up as much relevant information as possible.

Optimising for keywords or phrases that are not just mainstream is important. Experimenting with a variety of niche and brand-related keywords will eventually produce the best results.

SEO for Navigational Searches

A navigational search is generally carried out by a user who is trying to locate the URL for a particular website. Assuming the search engine has done a good job in the SERPs, these are usually the fastest searches because, once the user has seen the link they are looking for, there is no need for them to search further.

Sometimes a navigational search is carried out to find an individual web page, perhaps one that the user has seen before but does not know the URL for, or simply because it is easier to enter part of the URL into a search box than to enter it accurately in the address bar.

To improve for navigational SEO, label pages individually, and in accordance with their exact content, including the title tag, heading and meta description.

SEO for Transactional Searches

A transactional searcher is seeking information with a specific outcome in mind, such as purchasing a product or service. Transactional searchers have most likely completed all of their research, so they are ready to make a buying decision.

This type of searcher is the most important of all to optimise for. They will be more willing to look through several search results than another type of user – and they want to buy, not learn.

The ideal way to optimise for transactional searches is to use persuasive language, highlight deals, include strong calls to action and optimise for the most relevant keywords.

Conclusion

Not all searchers are equal, and the types of search conducted may well overlap.

Clearly, it is important to engage and encourage all types of search traffic to your website.

If you fail to optimise for all three types of searcher, you could be missing out on valuable traffic and conversions.

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About the author:

Alistair Harris is ClickThrough’s head of content. A double-award-winning senior journalist, Ali holds both the NCTJ and NCE qualifications and has more than ten years of experience in traditional press and PR. He has worked in digital marketing and SEO for the past three years and is passionate, enthusiastic and committed to quality.