Search intent: What Is It And How Does It Work?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  20/09/2022

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Search intent is the purpose behind a user’s search. It is the reason why someone types a query into a search engine.

There are four main types of search intent:

  • Navigational searches are made when users want to find a specific website or landing page.
  • Informational searches are made when users are looking for facts or information about a topic.
  • Commercial searches are made when users are interested in buying something.
  • Transactional searches are made when users are ready to buy something or take some sort of action.

I would argue that while these 4 types are great categories to use, search intent goes a lot deeper than that.

Search intent

I’ve had a monster blog post that covered multiple informational queries, but still there was an intent mismatch between my content and a lot of these keywords.

I was trying to rank for teppanyaki at home, but found myself ranking for other informational keywords as well, including “what is teppanyaki”, so I decided to add that.

Then a recipe and some FAQs. But that was not the intent of someone searching for teppanyaki at home, they wanted to know what they could to make it or improve how they made it, not a history of teppanyaki.

So although all of those searches where informational, you can still get your intent’s mixed up.

I tell my writers to use this test on whether or not to include a piece of information, or a FAQ (people also ask question).

Would almost everyone searching for the main keyword or topic also want to read about that?

If not, it should be its own article. If so, it would be a nice addition to the current one.


Search intent is important for SEO because it can help you understand what someone is looking for when they type in a certain query.

It can also help you determine which keywords to target and what type of content to create.

If you know what someone’s search intent is, you can give them the information they’re looking for and increase your chances of ranking in the search results.

Joost Nusselder is The Content Decoder, a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new tools en tactics. He's been working on a portfolio of niche sites since 2010. Now since 2016 he creates in-depth blog articles together with his team to help loyal readers earn from their own succesful sites.