What is Navigational Search Intent and How to Optimize for It in 2024?

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By Tomislav

Key Takeaways

Search Intent Categories: Understand the main types – Navigational, Informational, Transactional, and sometimes Commercial.
Navigational Intent: Focuses on directly reaching specific web pages using keywords.
Optimization Strategies:
Prioritize top Google ranks for your brand’s name variations.
Consider ad bidding on navigational keywords, especially if competitors are doing so.
Content Enhancement: Integrate relevant navigational keywords related to your business, like ‘near me,’ ‘directions to,’ ‘brand name,’ etc.
Competitor Awareness: Monitor and potentially mirror competitors’ strategies on navigational keyword bidding.

What is Search Intent?

When we use Google to search for a keyword, we’re driven by a specific purpose.

This underlying motivation is known as “search intent.”

Typically, when we input a keyword into Google, we aim to “go” somewhere, “know” something, or “do” something.

Thus, the three main types of search queries are:

Additionally, some marketers also identify Commercial search intent as a distinct category. This falls between Informational and Transactional search intents.

Lately, there’s a trend among marketers to categorize search intent based on the users’ problems and their solutions.

For a deeper understanding of this advanced search intent classification and search intent in general, you can read my detailed article on the subject.

Also, explore an article discussing the advantages of optimizing content around search intent for further insights.

What is Navigational Search Intent or Navigational Query?

Navigational search intent is the goal to access specific online pages via search engines, using keywords instead of full web addresses.

Consider this example of a navigational query:

Imagine you want to access X’s Support page. Normally, you would:

  1. Visit the X homepage which is still on domain.
  2. Search for a support link in the homepage’s footer.
  3. Realize that X labels their support as “Help Center,” not “Support.

This process is a bit cumbersome. Alternatively, you could simply search “X support” on Google, and the first result would lead you directly to the X Help Center.

This is the essence of Navigational Search Intent: a singular focus on reaching a specific page.

How to Optimize for Navigational Search Intent

Frankly, there’s limited scope for leveraging navigational search intent outside your own domain.

Users entering navigational queries are typically seeking a direct link to a specific page.

However, you should aim to secure the top rank on Google for all variations of your brand’s name.

Google generally excels in identifying navigational search intents and guiding users to the appropriate domain.

But, remember the significance of advertisement slots in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

It’s common for businesses to bid on their competitors’ navigational keywords. For instance:

AWeber, an email autoresponder service, naturally ranks first for the query “aweber.”

However, three of its competitors have secured the top advertisement spots above AWeber’s rank#1 position.

While AWeber retains the top organic rank, it appears below these ads, potentially losing clicks to competitors.

AWeber likely perceives this as minor, assuming users typing “aweber” are intent on reaching their site.

In contrast, their competitors view the ad space and occasional clicks as a worthwhile investment.

Should You Bid on Navigational Keywords You’re Already Organically Ranking For?

There’s no universal answer to this question.

It’s a contextual decision.

Determining whether to bid requires careful calculation.

Some studies indicate that it can be profitable in many instances.

However, this decision involves numerous variables, and only you have all the necessary data for an informed choice.

Your decision to bid on your navigational keywords often hinges on whether your competitors are doing the same.

If they are, you might want to consider a similar strategy.

Experimenting can be valuable in this context.

Start with a moderate budget to gather essential data without excessive financial risk.

How to Optimize for ‘Your Own’ Navigational Search Queries

Focusing on navigational keywords outside your domain is generally unproductive.

The likelihood of ranking on the first page of Google for such keywords is low, and attracting clicks from users with navigational intent is even less likely.

However, when it comes to your business and domain, the situation changes.

Ensure your content covers all relevant navigational keywords related to your business and domain.

Consider creating content around these navigational keywords:

  • Location of
  • Near me
  • Locations near me
  • Directions to
  • Cost of
  • Price of
  • Hours of
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Brand name
  • Brand Login
  • Brand Contacts
  • Brand References
  • Product or Service name

Not all off these will be applicable for every business so choose the ones that make sense for your particular situation.