How Important Is Navigational Search Intent for Content Creation?

white hand pushes red thumbtack into a white map with black lines


June 17, 2022 (Updated: March 8, 2023)

Search intent is the reason someone looks for information online. There are three types that you can benefit from when you target them with content marketing. Commercial, informational, and transactional search intent all play into the business plan of acquiring leads and converting them to customers. But the last kind, navigational search intent, doesn’t seem to be that important for brands and businesses since it doesn’t bring direct sales or leads, right? Wrong. If you’re sleeping on navigational intent, you’re missing out on key opportunities for your business and content creation.

What Is Navigational Search Intent?

People use navigational search intent when they want to visit a specific website or piece of content. It’s most associated with the loyalty level of the sales and marketing funnel. This is at the absolute bottom of the funnel and brings people back as returning customers and clients. Navigational keywords help searchers find your brand or business online when they need you. Common keywords that indicate navigational intent by users are:

  • Company names
  • Event names
  • Exact content titles
  • Visit
  • Find

Targeting navigational search intent helps you discover which elements of your brand are most popular with your audience. For example, if you get a lot of hits on your eCommerce store or your blog, these may be the primary reasons people visit your site. What insights does that give you about your audience and your content strategy? These could be your key areas of optimization to make sure they’re converting visitors into clients or customers.

Related: Search Intent: An introduction for B2B Marketers

Why Should Companies Care About Navigational Search Intent?

If you have a solid brand, the top organic search result when people search your brand name is your blog, website, or online store. Navigational search intent has online reputation management (ORM) implications. The more you can get ahead of your ORM, the more you’re making sure that your brand is synonymous with the things people search for related to your company and niche.

screenshot of a navigational search intent for facebook

Some people may joke “oh, my Mom searches Facebook within Google to get to Facebook” instead of typing Facebook’s URL into the navigation bar. That’s a type of navigational search intent. It may seem silly, but is it? The first thing that comes up when you search for Facebook on Google is the social media site’s home or login page. And people using this kind of search is more common than you may think.

Even if people know where they want to go online, they may search for a brand name to get the web address instead of typing it in or clicking a saved bookmark. Especially if they’ve never visited the site before. For example, there’s a store in Florida called Annabelle’s Fine Furniture. It’s named after the founder, which wasn’t a big deal in 1979 before people did their shopping on the internet. If you lived in Tampa and someone said Annabelle’s you immediately thought of a furniture store.

But now with so many businesses online, if you search the term “Annabelle’s,” you get restaurants and creepy dolls and some NSFW results. Imagine what would happen if their customers typed in what they thought was the web address for the furniture store into the navigation bar and it took them to that NSFW option. It would probably freak out their customers and hurt the company’s credibility. You need to care about targeting navigational search intent because a lot of smaller businesses have names that are similar to other, larger, more influential companies that may or may not be in the same industry. And if you’re not working to target your navigational search intent, how are the right people going to find your company?

How Can I Target Navigational Intent in My Content?

Use these steps to target navigational search intent in your content:“`

Update Your On-Page Organization

The content types you choose and the information you include in each piece need organization. They have to make sense when people search and include what they want to find. Types of content most associated with navigational search intent include:

  • Web pages
  • Landing pages
  • Blogs
  • Content hubs
  • Social media profiles
  • eCommerce stores

Target navigational intent with pieces where your brand and content live permanently online. This helps people find you when they need you. If your company also has brick-and-mortar locations, sometimes navigational search also helps people find you in the real world, not just online. Just because the searches are digital doesn’t mean the visiting, conversions, and purchases always are. When you’re trying to target navigational intent with your content, include elements like your:

  • Street address
  • Hours of operation
  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Staff lists
  • Maps
  • Company bios
  • Live and accurate web links

These are all ways people can come back to your online content or your in-person location when they need to.

Related: How To Uncover Search Intent for Local SEO

Tailor your Google Business Profile

Google and its search engine pals are always trying to make life easier for users. That’s great when you’re looking for information, but annoying when you’re on the marketing and SEO side of things. Not only are you trying to get your content to rank as high in SERPs and you can for the right intent. Now you also have to contend with featured snippets and other “Google-sourced” content in position zero. One of these is a Google Business Profile, but you can use this feature to your advantage.

Google Business Profiles are your own free slice of Google real estate for your brand. You control the information that appears when people search for your business name online, like contact information, map locations, and web links. Unlike other types of position zero content, any business can add or claim their business profiles and optimize them. But here’s where it gets tricky. To add or claim your business profile, you must have an in-person contact with an address and a way to converse with customers during business hours.

Now, if your company is online-only, don’t let that stop you from creating a business profile. Use a home address, rented office space, or another in-person map location with ties to your company. This works as long as you have some kind of regular business hours where people can contact your organization. Another issue is what if there’s another brand out there, especially in your nearby geographic location, that has a similar name as yours? How does that affect your Google Business Profile and targeting navigational search intent with your content? For that, we turn to branding.

Related: How To Claim Your Business on Google (And Why It Matters)

Brand, Brand, Brand

Branding your business is critical for doing navigational search intent right. One of our client partners, Greg Gifford from SearchLab, gave a great example in our recent Search Intent Webinar:

“I’m a product expert on the Google My Business Forum, and I answered a question th e other day where somebody said ‘hey, look, I set up my Google Business Profile, and whenever you search for me it shows this other business that’s not me, that’s not even related to what I do. And it shows that the business is closed, so we’re losing business because of it.'”

Can you spot the problem yet? Here’s what happened:

“The problem turned out to be it was a newer business that’s only been around for three or four months. And for some not intelligent reason, the new company chose a business name that’s literally exactly the same as this other business that was closed, that was in the same town… And because it’s so new, Google doesn’t understand the intent of what people are looking for. Google thinks the navigational intent for people searching the name of the business is looking for that old established business that had been around for years that now, due to COVID, ended up closing.”

Gifford’s solution to the customer was our solution to you: when naming and branding your business, you have to be smart and specific about it. Whether you’re a new company starting out or you’re established and working on a rebrand, you have to be really intentional about everything you’re doing. It’s hard for Google to figure out what intent is with business names where there are tons of companies that share similar ones. So what’s going to get yours to rise to the top?

This is easier for new businesses. You can start with navigational intent in mind. Think from the perspective of how can navigational intent factor into my naming and branding process. Researching companies in your industry and immediate geographic location is a good start.

screenshot of a SERP for branding with navigational search intent

For example, if someone wanted to start a content agency called BrandPoint Media, they could do a quick search and see what comes up. There are already two related companies with that name that pay for ad space on Google, one of which has a Google Business Profile that appears in position zero. That’s not the best name choice when targeting navigational intent because these companies already exist.

Related: FAQ: What Is a B2B Brand Identity and Why Does It Matter?

Navigational intent is only one option to target, and your best bet is to reach all four. CopyPress creates content for your branding, but also pieces that help you target commercial, informational, and transactional search intent. With the help of our proprietary tool, Thematical, we help back up your content topics with data that shows what your target audience is really searching for online. Start your first strategy call with or team today to see how CopyPress helps you tackle search intent and SEO to get to the heart of what your customers need and want from your business.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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