Writing “great content” may be the most often repeated suggestion in the SEO world. Yet, despite its cliched status, appealing, useful content is critical to search engine optimization. Every search performed at the engines comes with an intent – to find, learn , solve, but, fix, treat, or understand. Search engines place web pages in their results in order to satisfy that intent in the best possible way, and crafting the most fulfilling, thorough content that addresses a searcher’s needs provides an excellent chance to earn top rankings.

Search Intentions
Search intent comes in a wide variety:

1. Navigational Searches
Visiting a pre-determined destination and sourcing the “correct” website URL.
Navigational searches are performed with the intent of surfing directly to a specific website. In some cases, the user may not know the exact URL, and the search engine serves as the “White Pages,” passing alone the hopefully correct location.

2. Informational Searches
Researching non-transactional information, getting quick answers, and ego-searching.
Informational searches involve a huge range of queries from finding out the local weather, getting a map and directions, to finding the name of Tony Sharks’ military buddy from the Iron Man movie or checking on just how long that trip to Mars really takes. The common thread here is that the searches are primarily noncommercial and non-transaction-oriented in nature; the information itself is the goal, and no interaction beyond clicking and reading is required.

3. Commercial Investigation
Researching sources for a story, uncovering potential clients/partners, acquiring competitive intelligence, discovering options for future transactions.
A commercial investigation search straddles the line between pure research and commercial intent. For example, sourcing potential partners for distribution of your new t-shirts in Albuquerque, determining what companies make laptop bags for sale in the United Kingdom, or researching the best brand of digital cameras for an upcoming purchase all qualify. They’re not directly transactional, and may never result in an exchange of goods, services, or monies, but they’re not purely informational either.

4. Transactional Searches
Identifying a local business, making a purchase online, and completing a task.
Transactional searches don’t necessarily involve a credit card or wire transfer. Signing up for a free account at Cook’s Illustrated, creating a Gmail account, or finding the best local Mexican cuisine are all transactional queries.

Fulfilling these intents are up to you – Creativity, high quality writing, use of examples and multimedia all help in crafting content that perfectly fits with a searcher’s goals. Your reward is satisfied searchers who find their queries fulfilled and reward that positive experience through activity on your site or links to it.