What are Search Intents and how do they impact Google Ads campaigns?

Search terms that users type into search engines can be classified based on the information they intend to find. Users could be looking for a product or service. Or they could simply be looking for information that their curious minds want to explore. Classifying these intents is important for both search advertising and for building search engine visibility.

Search intents can help determine the stage of the purchase funnel a user is in, when they visit your website either via an ad (or via organic search results). This helps you serve them appropriate content.

Let’s say you are advertising for a brand selling woollen sneakers. For anyone searching for the name of the brand, your ad copy and the landing page does all the heavy-lifting to convince the user to make a purchase.

In another scenario, users searching for “best woollen sneakers” are exploring products in that category. For these search terms, you could directly advertising that your sneakers are the best. Or you could go with an approach that builds trust by giving users the information they are looking for – a comparison page on your website comparing different woollen sneakers (you vs competitors). This page could then lead users to make a purchase if they believe your product to be the one they need.

With the usefulness of search intents now clear, lets look at the four types of search intents.

Informational intent

At this time, the user has a specific question or wants to know more information about a certain subject. They make inquiries to find answers. The search terms sometimes contain interrogative words.

Below are some examples of search terms with informational intent.

  • What is the largest tower in the world?
  • Woollen sneakers durability
  • Benefits of whey protein

What should the landing page and ad copy do?

The purpose of any content targetting these users, should be to educate them about the product/service, with the assumption that that they are not going to make a purchase immediately. This is your chance to build trust in an audience which has lower awareness about the product/service and their details.

You could advertise for these keywords, but they are going to be expensive as they are most likely to result in low conversion rates.

As Eugene Schwartz says in his classic book, “Breakthrough Advertising”, a target audience that needs to be educated could be the most expensive advertising spend. Though the book is a few decades old now, this is true for digital advertising too.

Commercial intent

Search terms with commercial intent that users use before making a purchase decision. They usually indicate degrees of quality/quantity, or the intention to compare products/services.

Here are some examples of search terms with commercial intent.

  • best toaster oven
  • compare iPhone 15 vs Samsung Galaxy
  • Top 10 Loseless Audio Players
  • Best pizza in New York

What should the ad copy and landing page do?

The best way to build trust among this audience is to show them comparison of products to help them decide for themselves.

Transactional intent

Search terms which indicate users that users intend to make a purchase are of transactional intent. These terms often include the product or service name, along with with words like: buy, order, price, promotion, shipping fee, etc.

The search terms with transactional intent look like below:

  • buy Cocoon sunscreen
  • buy flight ticket from Los Angeles to Tokyo
  • MC Donalds’ weekly promotional price
  • how to order the latest Dior handbags
  • the price of a carton of CocaCola soft drink

What should the ad copy and the landing page do?

The ad copy and the landing page only have to guide them through making a purchase. These search terms often result in higher conversion rates since the user has already made a purchase decision.

Navigational intent

Search terms which indicate that users are looking for a website or page are of navigational intent. This includes search terms that we all use when we don’t want to remember the website addresses 😀

These search terms are often branded search terms that users are using to get to your website or page. For example: “Instagram” or “login to Discord” or “Facebook”

How to use Search Intents in Google Ads campaigns?

A quick look at the Search Terms Report can help determine the type of search intent for various keywords. Grouping keywords into ad groups based on intents and showing users appropriate ads that lead to relevant landing pages can increase chances of converting those users.

Keywords with commercial intent and transactional intent can be grouped into different ad groups with appropriate ads and landing page. These ad groups could then use separate ad copy, that lead users to either a comparison page or a dedicated landing page for the product depending on the kind of search intent.

Campaigns that do not consider search intents could be leading all users to a purchase or promo page. This puts off users that aren’t yet primed to make a purchase.

We have a detailed guide to Search Terms Reports that we strongly recommend you checkout.