What are the different types of user intent in search engines?

In modern SEO, there’s so much more to understand than just how to rank on Google and how to focus on your target keywords; everything is so much more sophisticated these days and you need to be a real expert in the field to be able to get truly remarkable results. One of the most important aspects of modern SEO and search, in general, is user intent and how we can begin to understand the different types of intent to best serve our target audiences. Of course, not every user searches with the same intent, just as not every search has the same type of intent – this is why it’s important to learn more about how people search and why they search in that way. If you’re interested in finding out a little more on the topic of user intent within search engines, check out the rest of this article!


Here at Embryo, we’re experts in all things search, so feel free to get in touch if you want to increase your effectiveness in the SERPs and boost your visibility and reach using an intelligent SEO strategy. 

Do-Know-Go: how we search

Do: transactional queries

Probably the most known type of search that we see is “do” searches, which are exactly what you’d expect them to be; a search where the user is trying to do something, or achieve a specific action. These searches are also known as transactional searches, as the action is usually one where a purchase is made. This type of search makes up much of the eCommerce industry, where the end goal is to encourage the user to purchase with their business. By optimising your website to appear for “do” searches, you can be sure that you’re setting up your company for success when it comes to online conversions.  


On the other hand of “do” search queries, we also see device action queries rising in prominence, which shows us the progression in how we are now using our devices, particularly mobile, in new ways. As of 2015, mobile searches now make up the majority of searches, with those numbers essentially dominated by mobile searches in 2021. These mobile searches can still be classed as “do” searches in many ways, but they’re frequently used as an intermediate research tool before making a purchase action using a desktop device, which again signifies a massive change in the way that we utilise search, devices, and websites when looking to achieve an action. 


Know: looking for information

In addition to the above, we are now seeing many more queries which relate to gathering information, especially from mobile devices. These devices are known as “know” searches, as the user intends to gather knowledge rather than make a purchase with these types of queries. Google has undertaken many studies into the rise of “know” searches on mobile, referring to the number of micro-moments that are now occurring every minute of every day. Rather than loading up a laptop or desktop to search, we now just need to pull out our mobile and type in our questions, or even use voice search for modern smartphones with Alexa, Siri, or Google built-in. This makes the work involved in making a search minimal. The reward is very high; we are giving ourselves instant resolution and satisfaction, which again signifies a big change in the way search is evolving. These micro-moments can range in complexity – some may be as simple as “what is the weather like in Manchester?”, whereas others may be far more complex such as “what is the best movie?”, which means search engines are now becoming more and more aware of the intricacies that searches can feature


In recent years, Google has had a huge shift in focus towards contextuality and user value; this is one of the major reasons that make content such an important part of any SEO strategy. By using content to expand on the topics that your business relates to, you give the user and the search engine more information about your business – this means that Google can accurately define your business, and the pages within your site, which will inevitably lead to your site ranking higher for the relevant and contextual terms. 

Go: queries for navigation 

Lastly, we have “go” terms, which are essentially just terms that help you to find locations in an instant – these are very prominent for brick and mortar businesses who trade through physical shops, which is true for many independent businesses or service providers. For many physical companies such as hairdressers, beauty salons, restaurants, bars, or cinemas, “go” searches are perhaps the most important, particularly in areas where there is a high demand for your service or product or where businesses in your field are incredibly saturated. If the user intent is to find a “restaurant near me”, it’s vital that your establishment is ranking for the Google result page and the Google Maps result too – this is an incredibly useful tool that enables the user to physically locate businesses in their preferred areas using a recognisable map of the town. If you are a company that relies heavily on the business of locals, “go” services have to be your number one priority. 


If you want to take your search strategy to the next level, get in touch with our expert team here at Embryo today!


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