There are three different types of search undertaken by users; transaction, information and navigation. Each search type can be accessed using keywords that are appropriate to each classification. For example, navigational searches are generally quite specific in that they are looking for a particular web site by name. This is where branding is particularly important.
The informational searches are often dominated by blogs and sites such as Ask, About and perhaps even Yahoo! Answers. The information area is one of the most competitive on the web, particularly if you consider the number of blogs in existence these days.
The third group, the transactional type of search, is the area that most online business need to concentrate on. These searches often include words like ‘buy’ or ‘download’. The searcher is not looking for a particular merchant, they are looking for a product.
What is interesting is that transactional searchers will often follow links that are well down the results pages. Navigation and information searchers will generally look at the first two or three results – if they don’t find what they are looking for they perform another search. You can make use of search idiosyncrasies by being just a little smarter in the way you optimize your pages and it only takes two areas to work on.
First, your description meta tag needs to be spot on. The searcher is looking to buy and your site has appeared in the search results. Prove to the searcher that your site is the best place to visit and even though it may appear at six, seven or eight in the results, you will still attract the clicks. To get into the search results, optimize your site using transaction keyword phrases that are appropriate to your niche. You can undertake keyword research to help find those search phrases in common use.
Bill Slawski from Seo by the Sea has a comprehensive post on this subject that is well worth a read and that goes into more depth on all three search types. If your smart, you can incorporate all three search types – optimize your brand for navigational searches; optimize for informational searches, perhaps through a blog; and optimize for transactional searches for those looking to buy.