Understanding query classification in SEO: a 10-point guide

by our SEO Agency Optimize 360


The classification of requests into SEO is a key concept for referencing and digital marketing.

It allows us to better understand users' intentions, to optimise the content of web pages and to improve the relevance of the results proposed by search engines such as Google.

In this article, we will review 10 important aspects of this classification that will help you optimise your SEO strategy.

classification of requests

1. What is a request?

In SEO, a query refers to the set of terms or expressions typed by an Internet user into a search engine. The way in which these terms are classified and interpreted by the algorithms determines the quality of the content proposed in response.

2. Why classify requests?

Classifying queries allows us to establish categories that make it easier to analyse and interpret the search intentions of Internet users. In particular, this helps to improve the content and structure of indexed web pages, as well as refining the search engine algorithm to deliver ever more relevant results.

3. The three main categories of request

The experts SEO experts generally agree on three main categories of queries:

  1. Information requests Research: the search for information or intelligence on a given subject.
  2. Transactional requests The user is looking to carry out a specific action, such as buying a product, downloading a file or subscribing to a newsletter.
  3. Navigational queries The aim is to navigate to a website often known by its domain name.

4. Information requests and their characteristics

This type of request is the most common on the Internet. Internet users are looking for information without necessarily having a precise idea of the site on which they will find it. Search engines must therefore provide the most relevant response possible, taking several criteria into account:

  • The quality of the contentIt is based on a rich vocabulary, clear explanations and credible sources.
  • Website authority that offers the content, measured by indicators such as the number of backlinksthe brand's reputation and the relevance of the keywords used in the meta tags.
  • Social signals such as shares, 'likes' and comments, which show how popular popularity content to Internet users.

Examples of information requests

Here are some examples of typical informational queries:

  • How does a diesel engine work?
  • Apple pie recipe
  • History of the Eiffel Tower

5. Transactional requests and their specific features

Transactional queries are marked by an intention to take immediate action on the part of the Internet user. It is therefore crucial for search engines to offer sites that correspond to this desire, by focusing on :

  • Quality of serviceThese criteria include speed of delivery, ease of site navigation and transaction security.
  • The attractiveness of the product or offeringThese include price, variety and availability.
  • Opinions and testimonials from other Internet usersThese can be used to assess customer satisfaction and anticipate any problems encountered when using the service.

Examples of transactional requests

Here are some examples of typical transactional queries:

  • Buy iPhone 12 online
  • Book flight Paris New York
  • SEO training registration

6. Navigational queries and their specific features

In this case, visitors already know about the site they want to visit and are simply looking for quick access to it. Search engines must therefore be able toidentify the brand or the name of the site according to the terms typed in, and provide a direct link to its home page.

Examples of navigational queries

Here are a few examples of typical navigational queries:

  • Facebook connection
  • Amazon online shop
  • YouTube videos

7. The role of semantic indicators in query classification

To classify queries effectively, search engine algorithms use what are known as "semantic indicators". These indices enable each term or expression to be assigned to a specific category. These can be :

  • The vocabulary usedwhich include certain keywords that are characteristic of a search intention (e.g. "buy" for a transactional query).
  • Any modifiers which specify the nature of the request (e.g. a geographic complement).
  • Syntaxwhich provides information about the way in which the terms are combined (example: a question for an informational query).

8. Customised results based on user history and profile

Search engines also take into account the context and browsing habits of each Internet user to adapt the classification of queries to each individual's needs. This includes :

  • Browsing historywhich reflects the user's interests and preferences.
  • Demographic datasuch as age, gender or geographical location.
  • The terminal usedwhich can influence content choices (e.g. a smartphone for a local search).

9. Query analysis and SEO tools

Several tools exist to help SEO professionals analyse and rank the queries targeted by their website:

  1. Google Analytics and its report on organic keywords
  2. La Google Search Console and its data on the most searched terms linked to the site
  3. Platforms specialising in semantic analysis and paid search, such as SEMrush or Ahrefs

10. The importance of the long tail and keyword diversification

To optimise your SEO strategy, it's essential not to focus solely on highly competitive generic terms, but also to focus on the long tail (more specific, less frequently searched queries). This makes it possible to :

  • To touch niche markets potentially less competitive.
  • D'adapt its content to varied and targeted research intentions.
  • Strengthen the site's authority and visibility by broadening the range of keywords covered.
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