Importance of Navigational Search Intent for Content Creation

Christy Walters


June 2, 2023

Overhead view of city traffic with holographic location icons hovering over; concept for navigational search intent.

Search intent is the reason someone looks for information online. There are several types of search intent to target with your content marketing: informational, transactional, navigational, and commercial intent. And all search intents factor into the business plan of acquiring leads and converting them to customers. However, a lot of businesses and brands don’t focus on navigational intent for generating direct sales or leads. If you’re not focusing on navigational intent, you could be missing out on key opportunities for driving conversions with your content.

Jump ahead:

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 You 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.

Some people may joke, “Oh, my mom searches ‘Facebook’ in 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 use this kind of search more often than you might 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’d immediately think of a furniture store.

But now with so many businesses online, if you search the term “Annabelle’s,” you get restaurants, creepy dolls for sale, and some NSFW results. Imagine what would happen if customers typed in what they thought was the web address for the furniture store and it took them to a NSFW option. It’d cause quite a shock to customers and hurt the company’s credibility and trustworthiness.

So, you need to prioritize targeting navigational search intent. Surprisingly, a lot of smaller businesses have names that are similar to other, larger, 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 business?

How To Target Navigational Intent in Your Content

What good is understanding the importance of targeting navigational search intent if you don’t have a framework to do it? Below, you’ll find a few key steps that can help you do just that:

1. 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. Focus on integrating navigational keywords within these pieces to help people find your brand. 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 targeting navigational intent with your content, include 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

2. Claim and Customize 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. 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)

3. Choose Brand or Business Names Wisely

Your branding and brand identity is critical for doing navigational search intent the right way. 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 the 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? Here’s a hint: it’s all in the brand name.

Since the business had only been around for a few months, it encountered the problem of intent because of its name. The business had chosen a name that was exactly the same as another business that closed—right in the same town! And because the business is still so new, Google doesn’t understand the intent behind people’s searches. It’s not aware that the navigational intent is to find the new business and not the old one that’s closed down.

Greg’s solution to the customer was the same solution we’ll give to you: when naming and branding your business, you have to be smart and specific about it. Whether you’re a new company just starting out or you’re established and working on a rebrand, you have to be highly intentional about everything you’re doing. It’s hard for Google to figure out what the intent is with business names when 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 that are just setting the foundation, as you can start immediately with navigational intent in mind. Try to see it from the perspective of how navigational intent factors into your naming and branding process. Research companies in your industry and immediate geographic location to make sure your choices are unique and original.

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.

Navigational intent is only one area to target. But assessing how each type of search intent fits into your content marketing strategy is key to boost traffic, improve your rankings, and engage your best customers.

Curious how CopyPress can help your business or brand do this? Get in touch with the team, and we’ll work with you to uncover your best content marketing opportunities—including targeting search intent for better content performance.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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