Transactional, Commercial, Navigational, and Informational Keywords: Understanding These Can Lead to SEO Domination

When people go to Google, they have a clear intent in mind.

Very different from Tik Tok or YouTube, where the algorithm takes you down some CRAZY rabbit holes.

With Google, every person goes with a different intent

  • Hypochondriacs go to self-diagnose themselves 
  • Spouses go to prove each other wrong
  • People go to buy things
  • People go to research things that they might buy
  • And more

Every Google search keyword falls within at least one of four categories:

  1. Transactional
  2. Navigational
  3. Informational
  4. Commercial

In this guide we explain the four types of keywords and how you can leverage them for your business.

transactional keywords feature image

Contents

Keywords are all about intent

Whenever anyone goes to Google to search for something, they have an intent.

They might want to:

  • Buy something
  • Get an answer to a question
  • Compare brands
  • Find generic information about something
  • Switch services
  • Find a free tool (calculator)
  • Do research for a project
  • Get help on their homework
  • Find a funny video they remember watching in college
  • Prove their spouse wrong (just me?…)

Honestly, there are a million reasons why people go to Google. But, whatever the reason is, there’s usually a very clear reason.

Doesn’t matter if you’re a contractor trying to improve your contractor SEO or a medical practice trying to improve your medical practice SEO… people are going to Google for a CLEAR reason that, many times, your company can help with.

You should care about a keyword intent because it’ll impact conversion rate (aka $$$)

All keywords (and therefore traffic) are not equal.

Throughout this article, we’ll use a fictional Sauna Company called “Heating Co.” as the example.

Heating Co. sells saunas online.

Someone searching for “buy sauna” is obviously much more likely to buy from Heating Co. than someone searching for “does a sauna burn calories?”

So while it’d be cool to rank for both keywords, one is significantly more valuable than the other.

What are transactional keywords?

According to SEMrush:

“The user wants to complete an action (conversion).”

They sum it up nicely. Transactional keywords often include words like…

  • Buy
  • Purchase
  • Cheap
  • Best
  • Most affordable
  • Highest reviewed
  • Etc.

In the case of the sauna company Heating Co., it might be keywords like:

  • Buy sauna online
  • Best infrared sauna
  • Highest reviewed barrel sauna

How to find transactional keywords?

Transactional keywords are really easy to find with SEMrush’s keyword magic tool.

Step 1: Go to SEMrush

Step 2: Navigate to the keyword magic tool

Step 3: type in a general keyword and hit “search”

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords

Step 4: filter by intent

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords

Step 5: click on “Transactional”

For Heating Co., the sauna company, some really interesting keywords showed up after filtering.

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords

Now, what’s interesting about SEMrush’s filter tool is that it doesn’t know what type of business you are.

If you search for transactional keywords associated with “sauna,” SEMrush doesn’t know if you are…

  • A health and wellness blog looking to write content about saunas
  • A sauna company that actually builds & sells saunas
    • But do you sell infrared saunas? Portable saunas? Wood burning saunas? Finnish-made saunas?
  • A local gym that has a sauna in their locker room
  • A local spa that has a sauna in their facilities
SEMrush also doesn’t necessarily know if you’re a local sauna company (serving Portland, OR) or an international company selling saunas around the world (if that’s the case, you likely will want to hire an international SEO consultant).
 

Below is a really, really important lesson about searching for transactional keywords.

SEMrush is a tool. Just because it spits out transactional keywords does NOT mean that you should try to target every transactional keyword.

What type of content needs to be created to rank for transactional keywords?

It depends on the transactional keyword as there are different types of transactional keywords:

  • People looking for a local company
  • People looking to compare brands
  • People looking for products
  • People looking to read reviews

The big thing to think about here:

Ranking for some transactional keywords might require local SEO strategies and ranking for others might require national SEO strategies.

Here are some examples of what types of content Google is rewarding for different types of transactional keywords:

Local transactional keywords:

I typed in “gym with sauna near me.” This is what Google SERP looks like:

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords

Those businesses ranking in the Google Local Pack (maps) are “winning” for this keyword.

The type of content required to rank in the Google Local Pack have to do with a business’s Google Business Profile.

Qualifier-based transactional keywords:

I typed in “best barrel sauna” into Google. This is what the SERP looks like.

What’s interesting is that the results are all over the place:

  • Paid ads at the top
  • Blogs doing listicle posts like “top barrel saunas of 2023”
  • Sauna companies themselves ranking for their own products

Product-based transactional keywords:

I typed in “indoor infrared sauna” into Google. This is what the SERP looks like.

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 7

What’s interesting again is that the results are all over the place:

  • Paid ads at the top
  • Huge companies like Home Depot and Lowes listing out all their infrared sauna products
  • Blogs doing listicle posts like “top infrared saunas of 2023”

What are informational keywords?

According to SEMrush:

“The user wants to find an answer to a specific question.”

Outside of transactional keywords, informational keywords are my second favorite.

Users, when looking for an answer for a specific question, are in an interesting part of the buyer’s journey.

They’re basically begging a website to educate them, usually on something that they may be interested in buying in the future.

How to find informational keywords?

Informational keywords are really easy to find with SEMrush’s keyword magic tool.

Step 1: Go to SEMrush

Step 2: Navigate to the keyword magic tool

Step 3: type in a general keyword and hit “search”

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords

Step 4: filter by intent

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords

Step 5: click on “Informational”

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 8

Step 6: For informational keywords only, I also love sorting by question-based keywords. So, toggle from “All” to “Questions.”

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 11

When I did this, I found some really interesting keywords like:

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 12

Keywords like “how to build a sauna” are AWESOME. SEMrush says that 2,400 people PER MONTH (that’s nearly 30,000 people per year) are looking for this keyword.

That’s 30,000 people that are, generally, in the market to buy a sauna.

Remarketing to informational keyword traffic

One of the coolest things about informational traffic is that it builds important data for remarketing campaigns through email, display, social, and more.

Again, we’ll continue with the fictional sauna company called Heating Co. as our example.

Let’s say that you create an article on “infrared sauna vs. traditional sauna” and this one article drives 1,000 visitors per month.

You now have website data that, at a high level, indicates that the type of people visiting this page are the types of people that are interested in saunas.

Now, you can potentially leverage this data for Facebook remarketing using your Facebook pixel. Can you run a campaign remarketing to people that visited this blog article.

Or, if you’re really good, you can build a pop-up on the article that says something like “15% off your first sauna order” if the user gives their email.

Out of 1,000 users visiting this blog post per month, you probably won’t get a ton of email submissions… But you might get 5, 10, or even 20 per month. From there, you can build email drip sequences to those users to educate them and potentially get them to buy.

What type of content needs to be created to rank for informational keywords?

95% of the time, it’s educational article/blog content.

For example, here’s what Google looks like when I type in “how long should you stay in a sauna?”

As you can see, all of it is article content…

And here’s what Google looks like when I type in “how to build a sauna.”

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 18

In this case, we also have quite a bit of educational video content (since the Google search starts with “how to…”) but again, we still have mostly article content.

What are Navigational Keywords?

According to SEMrush, navigational keywords are when:

“The user wants to find a specific page or site.”

Basically, this is when the user already knows of a brand and instead of clicking around the website to find a particular product, page, etc., they just go to Google directly to allow Google to find it for them.

How to find navigational keywords

Step 1: Go to SEMrush

Step 2: Navigate to the keyword magic tool

Step 3: type in a general keyword and hit “search”

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords

Step 4: filter by intent

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords

Step 5: click on “Navigational”

Here’s what SEMrush spit out.

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 13

Now, as you can see, most of these are people looking for specific brands. They know that Costco sells saunas and so, instead of going to Costco’s website to find the sauna section, they speed up the process by having Google find the sauna section for them.

What type of content needs to be created to rank for navigational keywords?

First, usually a homepage ranks for general branded queries.

Sidenote (but important):

I bought a sauna from Almost Heaven Saunas.

As you can see in the screenshot above, “Almost Heaven Saunas” is a navigational keyword that showed up. If I type this keyword into Google, then Almost Heaven Sauna’s homepage ranks first. Pretty straightforward.

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 19

If I were Almost Heaven Sauna, I would then filter further to find out what other navigational keywords people are searching for about my brand.

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 14

Here’s what comes out:

A LOT of people are looking for Costco-specific information since Almost Heaven sells one of their dozens of products at Costco.

If I go to Google and type in “Almost Heaven Sauna Costco” (nearly 4,000 searches per year), then I see that Costco is ranking above Almost Heaven (organically, ignore the ads).

Well, not only ranking above… but dominating the first page of Google. Why is this? Well, Almost Heaven Sauna’s doesn’t have a Costco-specific page on their website.

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 20

If I were Almost Heaven, I would create a Costco-specific page on my website (something like www.almostheaven.com/costco-saunas) to encourage users to land on their website vs. going straight to Costco’s website.

What are commercial keywords?

According to SEMrush, commercial keywords are when:

“The user wants to investigate brands or services.”

Commercial keywords, from my experience, are the least reliable / most confusing.

To me, this is too similar to “Navigational Keywords,” which you just learned about.

I’ll explain why below.

How to find commercial keywords?

Step 1: Go to SEMrush

Step 2: Navigate to the keyword magic tool

Step 3: type in a general keyword and hit “search”

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords

Step 4: filter by intent

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords

Step 5: click on “Commercial”

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 10

Here’s what SEMrush came up with:

how to find transactional commercial informational keywords 16

For me, most of these are either educational or transactional. Folks looking for information (such as “sauna vs. steam room”) or transactional (such as “saunas for the home”).

I personally think that SEMrush can consider ditching Commercial Keywords altogether and have all keywords fall within the other 3 types of keywords.

What type of content needs to be created to rank for commercial keywords?

Again, because I’m not too keen on Commercial keywords as a definition, I’m going to leave this section blank.

Transactional vs. Informational vs. Commercial - What Should You Care About?

At the end of the day, you should care about what you target audience cares about, regardless of what they keyword is technically defined as.

Instead, you should focus on…

  1.  Finding ALL the most important keywords your target audience is searching into Google.
  2. Determine what type of content is ranking for EACH keyword (to figure out what Google is already rewarding), and then
  3. Replicate what Google is already rewarding but make your content 30% better (why reinvent the wheel!?)
Picture of Joey Randazzo

Joey Randazzo

Owner & CEO of Portland SEO Growth