What is search intent and how to implement it with your keyword research efforts?
Google’s SERPs are highly competitive. To rank high, attract qualified leads, and sell more stuff, you need to optimize your pages for the keywords people really use. However, to bring value to your visitors and provide them with exceptional buyer journeys, you also need to take search intent into account.
What is search intent and how to implement it with your keyword research efforts?
Let’s find out!
What is Keyword Intent?
In the past, it was possible to optimize your site for the most popular keywords in your industry and appear on Google’s page #1. Today, this is not that simple. Given that Google sees 15% of all daily searches for the first time, it introduced an AI-powered algorithm – RankBrain. To help users find relevant sources, Google now analyzes the quality and relevancy of your content and not only its keywords.
Let’s see a simple example. You’re a local business. Logically, you want to appear high for relevant local searches and, to do so, you first need to understand your customers. Your goal is to understand what searches people most commonly use when they’re looking businesses like yours. If you also have a blog, then you also need to know what keywords they use when looking for content related to plumbing.
These are two keywords segments that have completely different search intents – one is commercial, while the other is informational (we’ll discuss that later in the article).
In other words, search intent is the reason why users conduct a specific search. It shows you what kind of results they want to get when they google a certain keyword. Given that, it’s logical that understanding search intent is immensely important. It’s your compass – something that guides your SEO strategy and helps you put the right content in front of the right audiences.
Understanding Different Types of Search Intent
Your customers conduct searches for multiple reasons. Some of them want to learn more about a certain topic, some want to familiarize themselves with new brands, while some want to buy online. The key to any successful keyword optimization strategy is to understand what intent your users have when they google particular keywords.
For starters, here are a few types of search intent you should know of:
Informational intent – lots of online users conduct searches to find certain information or ask a specific question. An example of an informational keyword would be “types of insurance,” “Sydney Melbourne Distance,” or “online content types.”
Navigational intent – searchers use it to land on a specific website. For example, if someone types “Ikea” into the search bar, they probably want to visit Ikea’s website.
Transactional intent – people with transactional intent already know what they want to buy and browse the web to find the desired item. These are search phrases like “child clothes store near me” or “buy Basecamp 3.”
Commercial intent – it’s similar to the transactional one, but it’s still not the same.
Namely, users having commercial intent have the intention to make a purchase, but they’re fist conducting searches to multiple brands and products until they find the best one. These could be keywords like “best digital marketing tools” or “top winter widgets for cars.”
Tools to Use to Understand Google Searches
When doing keyword research, we usually focus on some traditional keyword research tools like Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, Google Keyword Planner, or Moz Keyword Explorer. However, your search-intent keyword research should go beyond these basic tools. Among a bunch of relevant keywords, you need to choose the ones that align with the abovementioned types of search intent and drive relevant leads to your website.
Search Engine Journal made a comprehensive list of tools marketers should use to understand what their target audience searches for and here are some of them:
Buzzsumo – this nifty tool has an amazing Content Discovery solution that lets you find topics that are trending at the moment of your search. Knowing what your competitors, clients, and publishers are talking about, you will be able to focus your keyword research on topics relevant to your target audience.
Answer the Public – using Google and Bing databases, this tool predicts what online users are going to ask.
Google Trends can boost your keyword research in multiple ways. For example, you can use its related queries to find new keywords relevant for the one you searched for, compare two keywords, or simply analyze the growth of a particular topic.
Social media features like Facebook Trends or Twitter Trends can help you see the hottest topics people are discussing. Reddit and Quora may also be valuable sources of customer information.
Google’s SERPs features like its Autocomplete, People Also Ask, Related To, or Answer Boxes are gold mines of long-tail and conversational keywords searchers use.
Things to Know when Doing Intent-Based Keyword Research
Invest more Effort in Local SEO
With the rise of mobile and voice technologies, local SEO has also grown. Many mobile users conduct searches to find businesses and products in their vicinity. Most importantly, the way they perform such searches has changed. They don’t use short keywords when interacting with search engines. Instead, they use highly conversational, long-tail phrases.
This is a great opportunity for local businesses. For example, if you’re a Brisbane-based plumber, you will want to rank high in the local search.
Your goal is to analyze the intent behind each of your keywords, find the right local keywords, and guide your searchers to relevant pages on your site. For example, if you notice that search intent for keywords like “plumber near me” or “plumber Brisbane” is commercial, you could take them directly to your “Services” page, where they can familiarize themselves with your prices, find your address, or book your services directly on your site. This is where working with local agencies that specialize in doing SEO for Brisbane businesses may help, as they understand your local searchers and help you align your keywords with their intent.
Pay Attention to Ambiguous Phrases
When doing keyword research, you will notice that not all phrases on your list are easy to identify. For example, a single keyword may have multiple meanings, adding an additional level of complexity to your SEO strategy.
Let’s say you’ve built an amazing project management platform and built a website for it. If someone googles “buy project management platform,” it’s logical that they want to buy it. However, what about searches like “project management platforms.” Are they looking for a list of all project management platforms to learn more about them or they want to inform themselves about the purpose of these platforms? What if they want to buy one? To address the needs of searchers using such queries, Google usually offers diverse results in its search pages. Your rankings will, in this case, depend on how common the search intent of your page is.
Consider Search Volume
If you’re a small business or you’ve just entered digital marketing, then you should focus on embracing keywords that are not that popular. For example, ranking high for a low-volume keyword may bring you more visibility and conversions than high-volume search phrases. These words are highly competitive, as the majority of the marketers in your industry are using them, meaning that it would be extremely difficult for you to rank high for them.
Over to You
The key to your SEO success lies in aligning the right keywords with the right search intent. The volume or the competitiveness of a keyword don’t matter if your keyword is not relevant to your users or it doesn’t guide them to the right page on your site. To understand what your searchers search for, start from some basic Google searches. Then, use the tools mentioned above to get greater insights into the intent behind your keywords. Finally, you can always hire someone more experienced who understands your target audience and their buyer journeys to do intent-based keyword research for you.
Hope this helps!