What are the types of SEO

Types of search queries: transactional, navigational, informational


Types of search queries: Brief explanation

Internet users use search engines with different search intentions. Depending on what a searcher intends, he or she formulates his search query in a different form and therefore expects a different result: for example texts, videos or an entire website. Basically, three types of search queries can be distinguished: transaction-driven (transactional), navigation-driven (navigational) and information-driven (informational).

Detailed explanation:

Search engine operators always try to display the most suitable content in the search results. Because only if users receive helpful results in their search will they continue to trust the search engine of their choice.

In order to output the right content, Google and Co. have to understand the intention of the user. It is not enough to recognize the individual keywords and keyword combinations of the search input and compare them with websites that contain the same phrases. In order to properly classify the user's search, the intention behind the query must be recognized and correctly classified. Users whose search query shows that they want to buy something are directed to an online shop. Users looking for information are more likely to find a tutorial or blog article on the desired topic.

Not every search query can be clearly assigned to just one intention. Overall, however, three basic types of search queries can be distinguished:

  • transaction-oriented searches (transactional search queries): Queries that show that the user wants to carry out a transaction, for example “buy texts” or “iPhone 6”.
  • navigation-oriented search queries (navigational search queries): Queries that show that the user wants to go to a specific website or provider, for example “Youtube”, “Apple”.
  • information-oriented search queries (informational search queries): Queries that show that the user is looking for information, for example "making coffee".

Transactional search queries



Search queries that reveal a clear intention to buy or another planned transaction are considered to be transaction-oriented search queries (also transactional or transactional search queries). Searchers are here to purchase a (digital) product, regardless of whether it is free of charge or against payment. You use the search engine to select this product, call it up and purchase it on the respective website.

Like all searches, transactional queries are designed according to certain patterns. Verbs such as “buy”, “order” or “download”, but also specific products or even product names, indicate a transaction-oriented search query. In addition, there are search queries that do not make it clear, but imply that there is a transaction intention behind them: The search for a flight from Frankfurt to New York, for example, indicates that a searcher actually wants to book a flight. Accordingly, the search engine can indicate prices and / or times that have already been suggested here.

Example of a transaction-driven search query with the keyword "iPhone 6"

Navigational search queries



Navigation-oriented search queries (also known as navigational or navigation search queries) are searches that are aimed at a website as a direct destination. The user does not need any specific information about a product or company and has no clear purchase intention. He wants to go to a specific website and uses the search engine to navigate. Navigation-driven searches are often used when the user does not know the exact web address or the correct spelling of the brand or company they are looking for.

Examples of navigation-driven keywords are “Apple”, “Frankfurt City Library” but also “Nike running shoes”. With these search queries, users want to reach the websites or targeted sub-pages of the brands, organizations or companies. Often, out of ignorance or out of habit, searchers also enter a complete URL such as “www.textbroker.de” into the search box.

Example of a navigation-driven search query with the keyword "Apple"

Informational search queries



Information-oriented search queries (also informational or informational search queries) are probably the most original form of search queries. Search engines originated in the past to specifically filter out information from an immense amount of data (the World Wide Web). Users search information-driven when they need instructions, background knowledge or specific information on a topic or product without having a specific purchase intention or a fixed landing page.

Information-oriented search queries include an infinite number of different keyword combinations. They can be put in question form, for example “How do I make coffee”, but also as simple word combinations, such as “Make coffee”. Individual words can also be interpreted as information-driven search queries, for example "dog". Search engines then provide general information on the keyword being searched for, often on information sites such as wikipedia.org.

Example of an information-driven search query with the keyword "making coffee"

Google's results for search query types

Depending on what intention search engines like Google suspect behind a user's search query, they display a different type of content. The results for transactional, navigational and informational queries can therefore differ greatly. While transaction-driven search words tend to call up the appropriate online shop in the search results, navigation-oriented search queries usually lead to the actual brand or company page. To search for information, Google often shows blog articles, tutorials, videos, but also knowledge databases such as Wikipedia or Duden.

In addition to the regular organic search results, Google is increasingly integrating its own services into the SERPs. For example, AdWords ads are played out for almost every search query, through which Google is largely financed. Here, too, the search provider differentiates between the different types of queries and generally shows more advertisements for transaction-specific queries than for information-driven queries.

In addition to ads, services such as Google Images, Google News or the map service Maps are now an integral part of almost every search result. Transaction-driven search queries often show results from the Google shopping service, searches for flights bring Google's flight service into the SERPs.

With the Knowledge Graph, Google has integrated a function that extracts information from websites and makes it available to the user directly on the search results page. In particular, information-driven and navigation-driven search queries can lead the user to an answer on the Google page without having to click on a search result.

Example of Google's Knowledge Graph in the search result for the query "Saturn Planet"

Not all queries can be clearly assigned to a search query type. For example, the search query “Apple iPhone” can result from information, transaction and navigation needs. Accordingly, search engines show for certain keyword combinations one Results page offers different content and website types, such as knowledge databases, tutorials, but also online shops. Google also tries to tailor its search results more and more individually to the individual user. The results of every search query are therefore always dependent on previous search queries, the place where the searcher is located, or whether the user is logged into his Google account or not.

Implications for website owners

For website operators, the different types of search queries mean that they should set up their content broadly in order to be found by users. You have to plan your content carefully and, above all, think about the needs of the user. A good website should offer different content depending on what the goals of your own website are - for example sales or information - at which point a user may be in the buying process and who the target group is. Ideally, a company should produce the right content for every type of search query.

  • For information-driven Search can be used to create helpful content such as blog articles, e-books, videos or tutorials. High-quality and user-oriented content spreads virally on the Internet and can also be rated highly on the search results pages.
  • The appearance in the results of transaction-oriented Search queries, on the other hand, are much more dependent on Google and good search engine optimization. Good onpage and offpage optimization of the shop or website form an important basis for good rankings.
  • To for navigation-driven To be found in search queries, it is first of all a basic requirement that one's own brand is known and perceived as a strong brand. Only when users know a company can they even search for its website. With good marketing, especially with good content marketing, companies can raise their profile and increase their authority. In addition, website operators should offer Google structured data to be displayed in the knowledge graph, as well as identify sitelinks so that users can also navigate directly to sub-pages. Both can be set up using the Google Search Console.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for website operators to direct users to their own website. Because you can only partially influence whether they are displayed for each type of search query. Ranking factors from Google and Co., which are often difficult to understand, decide who appears in the SERPs and who does not.

In addition, the websites not only have to assert themselves against competing providers, but also increasingly against Google itself. With its own services and functions, the search engine provider is increasingly trying to keep users on their own site and in their own "system". This trend is particularly evident in mobile search: users have to leave the Google app less and less to find the information they are looking for. The closed world of social media and developments such as Facebook's Instant Articles or buy buttons in the apps also contribute to the fact that users have to visit a company's website less and less frequently.


Search queries can basically be broken down according to the intent behind them. Basically, users use search engines for three reasons: to obtain information, to find their way online or to carry out a transaction. These intentions result in information-driven (informational), navigation-driven (navigational) or transaction-driven (transactional) search queries. Each type of search query can be recognized by the keywords a user is using and the form in which they are entered in the search engine.

Google and Co. show a different type of content in the search results, depending on the different search query types. They try to recognize the respective intention of the seeker and thus to meet his needs. More and more often, search engines are also integrating their own services for this purpose in order to make certain information accessible to the user even more quickly. This means that the search engines themselves compete with the content providers who appear in the "regular" organic search results.

Website operators can respond to the different types of search queries with different types of content, good marketing - especially content marketing - and search engine optimization and thus respond specifically to the needs of the users.