You want to make sales, so it's natural for your SEO strategy to focus on transactional keywords: search queries with purchase intent.
However, this could mean that informational keyword opportunities are left untapped.
Informational keywords are queries that prospective customers make when they're in earlier stages of the buying journey. And with 59% of shoppers using Google to research purchases they plan to make in-store or online[i], there is a lot of search demand out there.
Publishing quality content that caters to relevant informational queries allows you to attract and engage upper-funnel customers, which should ultimately result in more sales down the line. It can also help to improve your site's E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness).
Here, I'm going to talk you through nine types of informational keywords and share some tips on ranking for them.
When people are seeking advice online, they often ask a specific question or look for instructions. They might also search for tips, hacks, advice, or help. If there are keywords like these in your niche, then you may have a good opportunity to create valuable resources and engage relevant audiences.
Examples: sleeping tips (2,400 searches/month[ii]), things to help you sleep (4,400 searches/month)
Content tip: It's always a good idea to attribute informational content to a qualified author, but it's especially important when it comes to 'Your Money or Your Life' (YMYL) topics, such as health and finance.
Benefit analysis keywords
When consumers aren't sure whether they need a product or service in the first place, they might make some benefit analysis queries containing search terms like benefits, pros, cons, advantages, or disadvantages.
Examples: benefits of yoga (9,900 searches/month), resin driveway pros and cons (880 searches/month)
Content tip: While it's tempting to avoid all negativity when it comes to your products and services, being honest about any drawbacks will result in better-quality content that's more likely to rank and instil trust in readers.
During the consideration phase of the buying journey, shoppers may want to make direct comparisons between different products. In these cases, they may use modifiers like vs, alternative, compare, or comparison, or superlatives like best, most, and least, in their search.
Examples: iPad Air vs iPad Pro (2,900 searches/month), best electric cars (22,200 searches/month)
Content tip: Create an overview table that allows shoppers to compare key specifications and features side by side. "Best for…" summaries can be useful for readers looking to absorb information and find what's relevant to them at a glance.
Example and inspiration keywords
Keywords containing example, list, or ideas usually have informational search intent, so these are good candidates when creating an upper-funnel content strategy.
Examples: protein foods list (3,600 searches/month), bathroom ideas (110,000 searches/month)
Content tip: Users making these kinds of queries are typically looking for easily scannable lists or images rather than in-depth content. Big headline numbers often attract clicks, although carefully curated lists sometimes come up trumps — take a look at the search engine results page (SERP) competition and consider how you could stand out.
When people search for imagery, they are often looking for inspiration or information. Queries containing modifiers like images, pictures, photos, diagram, or labelled can therefore be strong contenders for pre-purchase content.
If you have a good keyword research tool, you could also try seeing which terms generate an image pack on the SERP.
Content tip: Take a look at our post on how to optimise images to ensure your visual content is accessible and SEO–friendly.
Searchers looking to educate themselves will often ask "how to", but there are other ways for these queries to be formulated. Try entering keywords like instructions, step by step, guide, and ways alongside your topical terms.
Examples: step by step eyeshadow (1,600 searches/month), ways to cook eggs (1,900 searches/month)
Content tip: When writing a step-by-step guide, use numbered list formatting and header tags to ensure search engines can easily identify each step. These may then be picked up in a Featured Snippet (list type).
When looking for information based on our own circumstances, we may search for interactive tools. You can therefore find content marketing ideas by performing keyword research with terms like tool, quiz, or calculator.
Examples: dog breed quiz (3,600 searches/month), mortgage calculator (673,000 searches/month)
Content tip: As with all categories, interactive keywords can be extremely competitive. If your main goal is to attract organic traffic, you might be better off pursuing a lower-volume term.
Many informational queries take the form of questions, so it's a good idea to conduct keyword research with seed keywords like who, what, where, when, why, how, which, can, could, should, does, and do, plus a term that's relevant to your brand.
There are also free tools to help you find searched questions in your niche, such as AnswerThePublic.
Examples: which ipad should I buy (2,400 searches/month), can dogs eat apples (22,200 searches/month)
Content tip: Question keywords often generate SERP features like People Also Ask boxes and Featured Snippets. Marking up your questions with HTML header tags and offering clear, succinct answers underneath can help you to secure this kind of search exposure.
Examples: how to change a tyre (generates video carousel — 1,600 searches/month), dog training videos (320 searches/month)
Content tip: Creating an accompanying article or transcript is an effective way to get extra value from your video content. People prefer to consume information in different ways, so it's often a good idea to provide various formats.
A final note
These informational keyword modifiers aren't foolproof. As discussed in this Ahrefs article, you'll need to do extra digging to fully understand (and therefore cater to) the search intent behind each query. However, this list should provide a good starting point for your upper-funnel keyword research.