Originally at http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/9375/2368484

Posted by Tom-Anthony

SEOs traditionally say that a specific search query can be classified as either navigational, informational, or transactional. The categories were originally published in 2002 in a peer-reviewed paper by Andrei Broder who worked for Altavista (remember them?!) at the time.

The categories that Broder came up with have been invaluable to SEOs for many years, helping many of us explain the different types of search query that we should consider.

However, it’s time to revisit these categories to see if we can improve their usefulness in a world of direct answers, apps, intelligent personal assistants, and other developments.


For those who haven’t reminded themselves recently, here is a quick recap of the three categories:

Transactional – Here the user wants to get to a website where there will be more interaction, e.g. buying something, downloading something, signing up or registering etc.
Informational – This is when the user is looking for a specific bit of information.
Navigational – The user is looking to reach a particular website. There’s only one likely destination that they’re looking to reach.

Google, in their human rater guidelines, call these three categories:


Google also widened the definition of the categories slightly from their original paper. Interestingly, Andrei Broder, who created the original categories, now works at Google.

Beyond the Web

However, what is important to understand is that Broder’s was proposing “A taxonomy of Web search” — i.e. the categories were designed for web searches. Even though Google widened the definition of these queries in their Do-Know-Go framework, they also still discuss them in terms of web search.

Here’s the thing — so many of the searches we do nowadays are not web searches at all. Various papers have estimated differently, but most estimates (here, here, and here) are that around 50–80% of searches fall into …

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