It is commonly accepted that there are three different types of search query:
- Transactional: This user is looking to complete a purchase or transaction of some kind.
- Navigational: Navigational searches are those which are an attempt to find or access a specific brand or website.
- Informational: These searches are focussed on the user getting more information about a product, place or topic.
In this post, I’ll be focusing specifically on how to increase the reach of a website by identifying and targeting relevant informational search queries.
Why target informational search queries?
Increasing organic reach
The volume of products you’re able to sell will always limit the number of product category pages you are able to create, and the services you offer will always limit the number of service pages you’re able to promote. Thus, in order to increase a websites reach in the search engine results pages, it’s important to focus time on researching and expanding the amount of informational content on a website.
It has been estimated that around 50–80% of searches fall into the “informational” category, so if you’re not already creating content to target these types of searches, then you’re missing a huge chunk of potential traffic.
Optimising for quick answers
As you may have noticed, informational search queries often lend themselves to direct answers in Google’s search results:
Direct answers are driven by Google’s knowledge graph, however publishers also have the opportunity to try and improve visibility in Google search by optimising for Google’s quick answers:
For informational search queries, our definition of search engine optimisation expands beyond the traditional 10 blue links, and into any information unit that can drive traffic and brand awareness.
Increasing brand awareness at the top of the funnel
By identifying and targeting relevant informational search queries, you’re able build brand awareness with searchers at the top of the funnel, who may not previously have encountered your brand. Indeed, if you’re operating in a highly competitive industry, identifying and targeting unanswered informational search queries can be a great way of gaining visibility in a search landscape that may otherwise prove difficult to penetrate via transactional search queries.
Searchers using informational queries are unlikely to convert any time soon, yet creating informational content has value in that it has the potential to act as a linkable asset, and improve your authority for related search queries.
How to Research Informational Search Queries
There are quite a few tools that we regularly use to generate ideas for informational content, but my favourite (free) tool to quickly and easily generate a tonne of informational content ideas is Answer the Public:
In the example above, taken from Answer the Public, we have identified a huge range of questions around our chosen topic (roof windows), which could be used to generate the following content ideas:
- Sizing up roof windows – the essential guide
- Choosing the right roof windows – which style is best for you?
- How to fit roof windows – a step by step guide
- How to clean your roof windows with minimal effort
- Where to position roof windows – the options explained
- How to seal roof windows and avoid leaks
How to target informational queries
The best way to target informational searches is with high-quality content that genuinely provides helpful information relevant to the query. The goal is to position yourself as a trustworthy, authoritative source of information, without being overly promotional.
There are many different formats you can utilise when creating content aimed at answering the informational search queries you uncover, however it is also important to consider how the content is collated on your website. One way we like to structure informational content for our clients is via the use of content hubs, which enable us to aggregate information around a set topic to increase the sites authority for the topic in question.
Optimising for informational queries
To ensure your content is highly visible for informational search queries, it is important to spend time on ensuring the content is technically optimised for Google and other search engines. Below I have outlined 3 basic steps that will help give your content a better chance of being displayed for informational search queries:
- Follow on-page optimisation best practice to improve the rankings of your informational pages.
- Bearing in mind the rise of quick answers, Google needs to be able to pull the information quickly from your copy, so include the answer to any informational searches in the first paragraph of your content, use lists and bullet points where possible.
- Use schema markup to help search engines quickly interpret your content, which will improve your chances of gaining rich snippets in Google’s results.
By identifying and targeting informational search queries, marketers have the opportunity to increase brand awareness and visibility with searchers at the top of the funnel, whom they may struggle to get in front of in more competitive markets, especially via transactional search queries.
While this post has focused mainly on targeting informational search queries via organic search, it’s also important to think about how you’re going to promote your informational content across the web. Ask yourself who you’re trying to attract with the content you’re creating and think about where they can be found on the web. Don’t just think rankings; think overall visibility.
Have you developed a strategy for targeting informational search queries? If so, how have you collated this content? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.