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Understanding Search Types for SEO

Everyone uses search engines for everything now. Finding a local business. Researching a holiday destination. Figuring out how to fix something in the house. And it’s tempting to think of all ‘search’ as the same.

But it’s not quite that simple, and for those businesses that truly understand search, their search engine optimisation (SEO) can get a huge boost.

So, what are the main types of search and why should you care?

Classifying Search

Search classification is useful because it allows businesses to tailor their content to meet the needs of different types of searcher. This specialisation and specificity is beneficial because it allows more precise targeting of users based on what they are putting into a search bar.

Being clear and specific is also helpful. For example, if you’re trekking through the wilderness in North America and someone sees an something rustling in the bushes, then knowing that it has four legs and fur is sort of helpful because it tells you it’s an animal. But the specific detail ‘it’s over 2 metres tall’ is where the real value is because it’s this information that tells you that the animal is likely a bear, not a small household cat. More detail is always better.

Informational Search

This is the ‘bread and butter’ of search engines. One of the most common queries is ‘restaurants near me’ or ‘weather forecast for the weekend’. If you’ve used a smart speaker like a Google Home or Alexa then it’s likely that most of your searches on it are of the informational search variety.

Of course, informational search can also be highly detailed such as searching for instructions about how to build a deck or renovate a kitchen.

Purchase Intent Search

This kind of search is used when a browser has some idea of what they want to buy, and are seeking an outlet to buy it from. Whether that’s ‘groceries’ or a high end business laptop, chances are that the user has already performed research (using informational searches) and is now ready to make their purchase.

Research Intent Search

This kind of searching comes before purchase intent searching. Sometimes, people will skip this step if they already have a recommendation from a friend or are comfortable with the product already (e.g. if they have an older model iPhone and simply want to upgrade to the latest release). But other times, people are choosing for the first time and want to compare options. This kind of search favours comparison style websites and articles that highlight differences between options.

Known Destination Search

This kind of searching is specific, and used when the browser already knows the website that they want to end up at. This might be a specific news website or a site like Facebook, YouTube or Netflix.

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