The 4 Types of Keywords Based on User Intent

An Introduction to the 4 Types of Keywords

There are four types of keywords that can help guide your SEO and content efforts based on the search intent of a user. Simply put, intent is the purpose behind a user’s online search. Based on where an individual user is in their buyer's journey, intent is broken down into four keyword categories. The keyword types are defined as informational, commercial, transactional, and navigational. 

Moreover, they are also essential for SEO and getting your website in front of the right audiences to improve conversion rates. Not only do keywords help you rank, they help define the type of content you should be creating based on what users are searching for. Keywords are the starting point for content creation, from blogs to website pages and more.

Continue reading to learn about the importance of user intent in your marketing strategy and how to incorporate these different keywords into your content strategy. 

The 4 Types of Keywords Explained

Informational Keywords

Informational keywords are often searched by users who are higher up the funnel. Their queries indicate they are simply looking for information at this time and likely don’t know what they need, yet. 

These keywords are often in the form of general questions, such as “what is SEO?” and “what are the best keywords for SEO?”. A user might search these terms hoping to understand more about their problem at hand. In a sense, they are just getting started in their buyer’s journey. Use informational search terms to start thinking about the types of content you can put out in the form of blog posts, downloadable content, and website pillar pages.

Commercial Keywords

Commercial keywords provide more context behind a search. These types of keywords indicate users are looking for something specific and may even have a particular product type or brand name in mind.

An example of a commercial keyword might include “best SEO tools” or “benefits of Semrush vs. Moz”. This suggests that users are in a deeper research stage with more specific inquiries. In these examples, it appears a user is aware they are in need of a marketing tool to perform and implement SEO, so they are starting to shop for different options. Commercial search terms work well for informational content such as guides and ebooks. These keywords give you insights into what your ideal audience is searching for in your industry, so you can use these topics in emails and newsletters as well.

Transactional Keywords

As the name suggests, users searching for these types of keywords are lower in the funnel and closer to making a purchasing decision. The high intent of these keywords makes them excellent for targeting with content, SEO, and ads.

Examples of transactional keywords include “SEO specialists in Boston” and “SEO audit services”. These terms indicate that users are ready to increase their search engine rankings and are actively seeking options to get started with SEO. The best way to get your site in front of your ideal customers is to include transactional keywords in your website’s metadata, ads, Google My Business listing, and service pages.

Navigational Keywords

When users search navigational keywords, they are often searching for specific companies or website pages, such as a login page. Among these keywords would be examples such as "WordPress login" or "Google headquarters address". 

These keywords are less important to monitor for a marketer seeking new leads. It does not make sense to market to these users as they are looking for a specific page or piece of information. However, navigational keywords can be useful for creating customer support resources, such as support guides or FAQ pages based on what your current customers are searching for. 

How to Implement Keywords in Content

Start with an Audit

An audit is a detailed analysis of your marketing methods, tools, teams, and content to provide an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Starting with an audit of all your teams, tools, and processes can help you change your company or the better.

First review your site and content analytics, metrics, team benchmarks and goals, as well as the success of your current marketing campaigns. Talk to your teams to determine where your company is falling short and where you are doing better than your competitors. You can then determine what needs to change in order to find more success and efficiency. 

Learn More: What a Digital Marketing Audit Is (and Isn’t)

Get the Right Tools Set Up

Managing these different types of keywords start with the right marketing tools. In the marketing world, the tools your team uses is referred to as a marketing technology stack, or martech stack. Most companies don’t use their stack efficiently, subscribing to several products with overlapping features. Moreover, many team members are not properly trained to use the tools, resulting in more inefficiency. 

Performing an audit of your tools can also reveal where improvements need to be made. Start by asking your team members what tools they use and prefer. From there, consider your marketing stack's pricing, tool features, and functions to decide what should stay and what should go. Once the tools are established, ensure that your teams are trained in how to use them, or retrained if necessary.

Create a Content Keyword Bank

Compile a list of the keywords you will use. You can keep track of your keywords and stay organized by using a simple Google Sheet. Organize search terms based on their intent, topic, and ranking potential. This sheet can also include a column for organizing what type of content they should be used for — such as gated content, blogs, website pages, etc. 

For example, the keyword “SEO tips” can be turned into a high-level blog or a detailed guide meant for downloading. 

Share the sheet with your entire marketing team and be sure to update it often, as keywords highly fluctuate in ease of ranking. 

Focus on Topic Clusters

Having identified your keywords, the next step is to integrate them into your content strategy and SEO via topic clusters. Essentially mind maps, topic clusters map out your content based on the topics and intent of your keywords. Your main keyword will serve as the basis for your content campaign. In turn, content titles and relevant content ideas will develop from the original keyword.

Below is a simple example from Content Marketing Institute on how to map out your content creation plan using topic clusters. As you can see, the pillar in the middle focuses on content marketing in its entirety, while the subtopics present ideas for content and titles.

content marketing institute topic clusters

How to Use Semrush for Intent Keyword Research

The following is how you can locate intent in Semrush. In any keyword-related report, look for the intent column. Below you can see the intent of the keyword, “seo marketing”, featured in red. 

types of keywords

Clearly, short-tail keywords often have more than one intent because they are vague in nature. The keyword "seo marketing" is vague in its intent, so you wonder if the user wants tips on the topic or is looking for a company that provides the service, etc. More detailed queries, such as "tips for SEO marketing" or "seo marketing certifications", give you a better sense of what the user is searching for.

Optimize Your Content Marketing Strategy

Content centered around the right types of keywords can contribute to revenue generation by providing relevant content to your ideal customer profiles. 

Optimize your content strategy with our customized auditing services. Our team evaluates your current efforts, your martech stack, and your team's efficiency. As a result, we can identify the gaps in your marketing that are holding you back and provide expert guidance on how to focus your efforts going forward. 

Get in touch with our team to learn more about an audit for your company. 

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