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Crafting Ads for Different Types of Search Queries

Crafting Ads for Different Types of Search Queries

The words and phrases that people type into search engines can vary greatly, but, in general, they can be grouped into broad intention-based motives: Navigational, Informational and Transactional. Understanding what drives these motives is the key to achieving success from your campaigns.

Navigational Search Queries

These are queries made by people who know what they are looking for and just want the search engine to point them to the right place. For example: if someone types “Gmail” into a search engine, they are just looking for a link they can click to get to their Gmail account.

Advertising on your brand name and navigational search queries centred around your brand is a very good idea and something that all companies should do.

From a marketing perspective, it is essential that you own the space when someone is searching for your brand. By providing ads in addition to business contact information (as provided by Google MyBusiness) and your organic results, most brands can usually ensure that their content dominates the area above the fold. Google even aids your brand in achieving this by placing your expanded site link extensions, and other extensions on your ads.


To make the most of your navigational search queries, try to ensure you have links to the primary sections of your website so that users can navigate to the exact place they wish to go. Your site link extensions are also a great place to put a link to a new, or trending, product or service you are promoting right now.

If you are targeting navigational search queries that do not belong to your brand, chances are the low click-through rates, high CPCs and general lack of interest is having a negative effect on your ROI. There is a good reason you don’t see a Pepsi ad when you search for Coca-Cola.

Informational Search Queries

As the name suggests, these are queries that people type in when they are looking for information and resources, usually without any specific website in mind. There is a fairly big range of informational search queries, and I like to think of them in two sub-groups: Broad and Narrow.

Broad queries are normally limited to very few words, and could indicate a wide range of interest. For example the search query ‘toys’ could be typed into search engines with a range of informational intentions, such as seeing what the latest toys are, news about a toy manufacturer, video reviews of toys, or even the Pixar animated film.

Narrow queries are much longer, and usually quite explicit. They will contain greater detail about the topic in which the user is interested. For example, “2015 superhero toy reviews”.

Crafting ads for broad search queries is very hard because your ad is not likely to address the broad range of needs and desires that the audience have. As a result, targeting broad informational keywords tends to result in poor click-through rates and low return-on-investment.

Targeting narrow informational search queries that are relevant to your brand can give you good results. However, it is important to understand that your audience is mostly searching for information rather than products or services.

Using our toy example, when crafting an ad for the query “2015 superhero toy reviews”, you may want to direct the user to your YouTube channel and a video of your “2015 new release Marvel superhero toy reviews”, or your custom landing page with an embedded video. A page promoting your products may make some sales, but will most likely provide poor performance.

Transactional Search Queries

These are search queries people type with an intention to purchase. Personally, I consider research and comparison queries to be part of this group because although the person may not be looking to purchase at the exact moment that they are searching, they are revealing that they are looking to buy in the immediate (or very near) future.

Advertisers typically find that transactional search queries deliver more conversions and better ROI than most other queries. However, these searches are also going to be the most competitive keywords and, therefore, more expensive.

It is also worth noting that these types of queries are given more exposure and take up more of the results pages than other searches. Searching for a transactional term, such as “iPhone 6 plus” will show you 6 shopping ads with images, as well as two or three ads above the organic results, another four ads on the right, and possibly even a few ads at the bottom of the page.


Ads that appear for transactional search queries should clearly state your unique selling points, reputation and benefits so that the searcher can make a decision on why they should choose you over another brand, product or service.

While transactional search queries present the most obvious benefit when using paid search engine marketing, it is important to understand the potential benefits that your company can gain from informational and navigational search queries. Understanding your audience’s intentions and that crafting your ads to match those intentions can deliver significant improvements in your return-on-investment.

Contact Metrixa today to learn more about understanding your audience, their intentions, and how to better meet their needs. Try our AdWords Audit. Alternatively, you can talk to me on twitter at @nathan5ri.