An ever-present dilemma in the digital marketing world is how a business can access potential customers that are ready and willing to convert.
Every digital marketer knows that this is the key to job security – unlocking that magic formula that places your product or service in front of that motivated customer at the exact right moment. What most marketers have discovered, and what we are here to teach you, is that Search Engine Optimization is essential to that formula.
So how can we use SEO to find those users that are ready to convert? With keyword intent.
Keyword intent (or search intent) is categorized as the definitive goal of the person using the search engine. Everyone is different, so it’s safe to say that people look for and react to content and information in different ways.
There are three principal kinds of keywords:
- Informational – These users are searching for a specific answer to a question or problem. These queries typically start with “how to” or “what is”.
- Navigational – These users are looking for a specific website and almost always use branded keywords.
- Transactional – These users are looking to buy a product imminently. These types of keywords are also called “commercial keywords”.
For example, let’s say your website sells marzipan candies. A user searching for “how do I make marzipan” is looking for something very different than “cheap marzipan to buy” or “Niederegger Marzipan”. All of these users have different expectations for what they find on the Search Engine Results Page.
Thanks to natural language processing and the major advancements in machine learning, we can finally begin to understand keyword intent. In the SEO world, these advancements came about in the forms of the RankBrain and Hummingbird algorithms. .
How to Understand Keyword Intent
Now that we know what search intent is, how do we capitalize on motivated buyers? It’s pretty unlikely that someone is going to type in Google “I want to buy marzipan this very second.”
There are actually three sources you can use to figure out keyword intent (don’t worry – they are all free).
- AdWords Keyword Planner: This is an SEO campaign, so you aren’t going to bid on your “marzipan” keywords. In order to get an insight on the current marketplace, though, it doesn’t hurt to see how much other businesses are bidding. Note that low suggested bids are a good indicator of low commercial intent.
- SERPs: Google can be your best friend here – results with ads and shopping opportunities indicate an increased commercial intent. Alternatively, search results with featured snippets or knowledge graph panels are likely used for navigational or informational keywords.
- Bounce Rates: Is your site optimized for keyword intent? You can figure this out pretty easily with your bounce rate. If your landing pages aren’t aligned with the user’s ultimate goal, they will leave your site immediately. You can check your landing page report under Search Console in the Acquisition section of Google Analytics to see how each page is performing. You can also see how your pages are performing by channel; if your Google traffic has a higher bounce rate, your pages probably aren’t optimized for search intent.
Let’s take a look at the different SERPs for these keywords – “how to make marzipan”
Look at how that is different from “cheap marzipan to buy” –
The Google shopping results and Ad result indicate commercial intent.
Using Keyword Intent For Your Benefit
We’ve covered what keyword intent is and how to understand different types of queries, so how do you use this information to enhance your marketing strategy?
In terms of your SEO strategy, matching keyword intent will lower bounce rates. That is advantageous to your business because it allows users to interact with your site. Additionally, Google uses bounce rate from search results as a ranking signal.
Consider also the benefit of Conversion Rate Optimization. Optimizing your site for the transactional keywords will obviously result in more conversions, but that’s not the end of it. If you also provide worthwhile and high-quality content for informational keywords, you will likely augment your brand and customer retention.
Informational and transactional keywords fit nicely into the conversion funnel, as you can see below:
Want Results? Track Your Keywords
Keyword rankings are still one of the most important factors to SEO. Clearly, you need to be tracking your keyword rankings to measure your performance.
If you effectively keep tabs on your rankings, you can see in real time the impact of your SEO efforts. This can help you learn what’s working and what isn’t for your marketing plan.
As a digital marketer, you need to remember to always test, optimize and test again. Refining your SEO strategy to match keyword intent will help you on your quest for better rankings and increased conversions.