Keyword Intent

With any kind of content, keywords have long been key. The way we use them when we write has changed significantly over the years, but so long as search engines are around they’ll still be important. The more Google and friends evolve, the more keyword research needs to change, too.

The main focus at Google Headquarters at the moment seems to be on the intention of a user’s search. In most opinions, there are three main types of searches – people looking for a specific site, people looking for information and people looking to make a purchase.

Knowing the intent of a user can go a long way to optimizing your site – if they’re looking for information, that’s what you want to give them. A page of solid, non-salesy information will give them what they need, build your brand and can keep users browsing your site. A desperate push to sell on every page is likely to see your bounce rate spike. Conversely, someone looking to buy is unlikely to be sated with just information and a missing call to action can cost you sale after sale after sale.

So how do you know what users want? Sometimes it’s obvious, but other times you can simply do what your visitors do and search Google. The Mountain View giant has been working on giving searchers what they want for a long time and almost any search you try will reflect this – type something in and have a look at what’s being returned.

If most of the results are giving information rather than products, then that’s what your content should target. A search for ‘Cancun’ returns a host of pages with tourist information rather than flight or hotel deals, so it makes sense that your main page on Cancun should also be offering information to visitors. There will be some users looking for something more specific – but Google will naturally suggest terms that these people can add to the end of their query.

To target searches for information, your company’s blog is key, but not the only way to get ahead. Think of different ways you can approach the topic in posts but also consider infographics, videos and guides that answer the various questions people might have.

On the other hand, a term like ‘shoes’ brings up nothing but stores selling footwear. If you want to tell people about the history of clothes, the manufacturing process or anything else that’s not going to get you a sale, then you need to target a different phrase.

To target transactional searches it’s important that you have pages dedicated to selling the right products – whether that’s a general page showing many options or dedicated pages to specific products. Sponsored listings also do very well in these types of searches.

In these simple terms it can seem quite obvious, but once you start looking into the intent and Google’s reactions to longer search phrases, you may see that your content strategy has a glaring hole.