It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole of SEO keyword research and get stuck, wondering which words will give you the edge you’ve been searching for. While keywords are necessary, it’s important to remember that searcher intent should guide which ones you use to drive content and rank your pages. Searcher intent is the reason why people conduct a specific search. People have different goals when they use a search engine, and because of this there are different answers they’re looking for. The 4 basic types of intent are:
- Informational intent – People are looking for information about something. You may see words like “What is,” and “How.”
- Navigational intent – People are trying to find a specific website (Facebook, Google). This includes branded keywords.
- Transactional intent – People want to buy something. You may see words like “Buy,” “Get a quote,” or “Subscribe.” In this case there should be a clear call to action and conversion path.
- Commercial investigation intent – Someone has intent to buy in the future, but is still browsing. Searcher may be comparing seasonal prices or different companies with the same product. This includes words like “Best,” “Review,” or product categories (winter boots).
Once you understand your searcher’s goal, you can use this to better align your pages with their needs. It’s worth taking the time to do a bit of research, get inside your user’s head for a minute, and align your keywords with the searcher intent. Your page becomes useful and exactly what they’re looking for, instead of trying to force your site pages into an ill-fitting search.
The first thing you need to do is clarify searcher intent. What is your customer looking for when s/he types a query into the search bar? This is not always clear, as keywords can sometimes be misleading. For example, if I search “ice cream store” I could have a few different intents. I could want to see options close to me, the best ones in town, or information about local ice cream stores. In fact, I get all these kinds of results when I search this phrase. Performing a Google search and analyzing your results gives you some insight into how Google views your keyword. Are a lot of informational pages being pulled up, or do you see more transaction pages? Based on this info, optimize your keywords on each page for the action being taken.
After this, you can create content to meet the searcher needs of each page. Creating ranking content comes from understanding what your user is looking for. Once you understand intent, check content that ranks for that search term and make more of that. Use Google SERP’s, search suggest, and related searches to flesh out your content.
Finally, step into your searcher’s shoes and examine your website as a user with a goal. Ask yourself if your site does what you need it to do, answers your questions, and is helpful and engaging.
The benefits of this are a more efficient use of your SEO time and energy. This strategy does the heavy lifting for you in terms of driving relevant traffic to your site, and delivering your relevant content to people who need it in the moment. Instead of trying to force content to rank for an incompatible searcher intent, your pages become relevant to the user. This will also result in improved conversion rates from putting the right page in front of the right person, reduced bounce rates through appearing in more relevant searches, more page views, and wider reach. If you can optimize your pages to meet searcher needs and deliver relevant information, your audience will come to you.