Saturday, December 19, 2009

Searchers' Queries Types

The most important thing for SEO professionals is to understand the audience in order to provide them results that are relevant to their queries. Once you grasp how your target market searches for your service, product, or resource, you can more effectively reach and keep those users.

Search engines are different from typing the exact URL of the website that you want to visit. It's different from clicking a link from your startup page or from some resource page. Search engines are tools that are used with a particular intent. Thei
r intent is answers, to find different resources about the answers they are searching for, or to find something in particular, rather than just land on it by happenstance.

In order to define types and characteristics of certain types of queries performed by searchers, I will point 3 types of queries:

  • Navigational Queries
  • Informational Queries
  • Transactional Queries

Navigational Queries

The intent in performing a navigational query by a searcher is made because of finding a particular information in mind. The searcher might now know the exact URL of the website he is looking for, but the name, or the brand of
the company can easily take the searcher to the website.

A navigational query can be defined as: Visiting a Pre-Determined Destination Sourcing the "Correct" Website URL.

Take for example a searcher who might search for "Alaska Flights". His intent is to find the "Alaska Flights" company and use their services. If you manage you optimize a certain page for "
Alaska Flights" key phrase and rank high, or even outrank the company's website for that key phrase, then you are in a position to distract the visitors to go on your page and profit from targeted traffic. These kinds of navigational key phrases have very high percentage of conversion rate, as they are searched with high intent.

Informational Queries

Informational searches are performed with an intent for researching about particular subject. Informational searches don't have transactional character, but can be made for some product research, features about the product, etc ... The information itself is the goal and no interaction beyond clicking and reading is required.

Having well designed and well written informational content can bring you good inbound links. You can receive attention from journalists, researchers, people will sign up if you have that kind of option, and other similar actions.

Websites that are writing on product reviews are nice example of the answer that an informational query might be searching for. Searchers will find the information, and in future that might lead to a conversion.

Transactional Queries

Transactional queries have high value. They are performed with a particular need, and that need is spending money on products or services you might be offering through your website. The transactional queries are identifying a (local) business, the next step is making a purchase online, and task is completed.

Research by Pennsylvania State University and the Queensland University of Technology shows that more than 80% of searches are informational in nature and only 10% of searches navigational or transactional.
But these percentages does not mean that they are universal. A searcher might be searching for an informational query and through that search he may end up on a website/page that is offering a product or a service, which leads us to think that not all informational queries are strictly informational.

For instance, if you are buying pay-per-click ads and you don't include informational queries in those ads, lets say something like digital camera, then you will leave that search market to your competitors. Even digital camera is more of an informational query, the searcher might give a click on a company that is showing up for that in the paid search and end up on a page that is offering Canon G 10 and then purchase that product.

So yes, it is important to deal with your PPC campaign in a more strategic way. We will talk about pay per click strategies in some of the further posts.

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