02 Jul SEO Keywords: Exploring Search Intent & Identifying Issues
Keywords are the building blocks on which every successful SEO programme is built. If you have the right keywords, then your programme will be strong and robust but pick the wrong ones and it will fall down like a poorly constructed tree house. Finding the right keywords, however, isn’t as easy as you might think.
Each keyword you choose needs to be assessed in terms of its context, its relevance to your specific business needs, as well as your website and the SEO strategies you implement.
So just what is a keyword?
Simply put, a keyword is the word or phrase that an individual enters into a search engine, such as Google, in order to conduct an internet search. As the owner of an ecommerce business, it is your objective to marry your keywords with the content of your website and the nature of your offering.
There are, naturally, a number of factors to consider that will influence the strategies that underlie your targeted range of keywords. An example of this would be how competitive a certain keyword is; there is little point in targeting a keyword if it is so competitive that you will never realistically be able to rank for it. So if you sell bicycles, attempting to rank for ‘bicycle’ might not be your best SEO strategy, even if it is the first most logical keyword to aim for. Instead, you might wish to explore more specific terms, such as certain bicycle parts, or a geographical location, with the aim of capturing a more localised market.
But in order to most effectively create traffic to your website, you will also need to be focused on what kind of internet searcher you are attracting. To do this, it pays to have an understanding of the different kinds of searches that people make.
What is ‘search intent’?
To help us craft SEO strategies that will ultimately yield the biggest ROI, we need to develop an appreciation of why individuals search for things in Google. We can break down this ‘search intent’ into 4 basic areas:
1. Informational intent
This where someone simply conducts a search in order to answer a question or find out about a certain subject. An example of informational intent would be when you use Google to find out the score of a football match, or when you use it to check a recipe. If you want to find out about tomorrow’s weather, you might use a search engine to do this. Want to fact-check a dubious claim made by a US president? An informational internet search will soon establish what’s real and what’s fake.
2. Navigational intent
Here, the search is made in order to arrive at a certain website. Instead of directly entering a URL address into your browser, you might find it easier to place the name of the site in Google. Many Google searches for well-known websites such as Wikipedia or YouTube are not to explore information about them, but simply to find them quickly.
3. Transactional intent
If you conduct an internet search with the objective of making a purchase or precuring a service, this is an example of transactional intent. Want to go ahead and buy some new trainers online? Maybe order some pizza? Or would you like to book some tickets? An internet search with transactional intent is normally your first step to doing so.
4. Commercial investigation
Finally, commercial investigating is where the individual wishes to gain information before making a purchase. Perhaps you are looking for reviews of a certain product; perhaps you are comparing similar goods to help you decide which is best. Before you’re ready to buy a new pair of headphones or get yourself that blender for the kitchen, you’ll want to do a bit of reading first.
By considering these different kinds of search intent, we can make better use of the data that we review during the keyword research phase of search engine optimisation. Furthermore, we can use this understanding of the psychology and practice of internet searches to develop more sophisticated SEO strategies.
For example, we might explore the possibility of capturing commercial investigations, and then redirecting those individuals to transactional pages on our websites. Here, we are using a broad net to fish with before filtering through our target internet user to the web pages where we are most likely to make a sale. The formulation of such SEO strategies requires not only an advanced understanding of internet users, but also of the profile of your prospective customer, as well as the intricacies of your specific offering.
How do you know when a keyword isn’t working?
Here are some of the warning signs that you could be optimising the wrong keywords, and the response required in order to address the issue:
1. Limited Organic Visibility
Content marketing is a great way to drive results, to add value to your brand, and is particularly beneficial from an SEO perspective. However, what is the point of having a well-rounded, beautifully constructed, keyword-rich piece of marketing content if the keywords that you’ve chosen have limited organic visibility? Be careful not to turn your business into a vanity project, and keep focused on maximising your ROI.
The content you have created should have a clearly defined goal, and that goal should be aligned with the keywords that you choose. Look at the search results for the keyword you want to create your content around, and you will see what other people are asking, and what the related search terms are. This will help you understand other popular questions that people are asking around your topic. Let this guide you (rather than something smaller and more niche) so that you can be sure the content you are creating is relevant to your target audience, will appear in organic search, and will be visible to your target audience.
2. An Imbalance Between Impressions and Click Through
Congratulations! You have created an ad that appears in a large number of searches. Each display of your ads in the results page of a Google search is called an impression, and lots of impressions means that your content is highly visible. But…. you still aren’t seeing any increase in the number of clicks through to your content. This means a low click-through rate (CRT) and no improvement in conversions. So what have you done wrong?
This could be a sign that you have optimised the wrong keyword, and that the content you have created doesn’t match the what users searching that keyword expect to see. Perhaps your content simply isn’t relevant to the reader. Is this because the content is right but your target audience is searching other key terms? Either way, you are not successfully driving internet traffic to your transactional pages, so you will at the very least need to re-evaluate your keywords and your ad content.
3. Your Content Has a High Bounce Rate
It doesn’t take long for a user to land on your page, realise the content isn’t relevant to them, and then move on to a new search. If your content has a high bounce rate, or users simply don’t spend long on your web pages, then this it is possible that the content isn’t driving the action you wanted and therefore not serving its purpose. However, consider the possibility that the content is strong, but the keywords for which it is optimised is somehow misleading to the searcher.
At this point you should revise your content, the keywords and the structure of your landing pages to ensure that you are achieving relevance in the topic, that content is engaging, and that your website is fast and user-friendly. Successful SEO campaigns take in a huge number of variables and for this reason require constant data assessment and re-evaluation. By responding intelligently to these issues, we can effectively fine-tune our keywords and SEO strategies.