What is Keyword Intent?
Keyword intent is the starting objective of a search. Every search has an actual idea behind it. This idea leads the searcher to type certain queries in the search bar. Understanding it well essential for any type of content marketing strategy.
Selecting the right keywords to target is a big challenge for many marketers. Because keywords research should be done very strategically.
Most marketers only consider search volume and keyword difficulty metrics targeting a group of keywords for their content marketing campaigns. Although this approach is essential it is not sufficient to move a marketing campaign to the next level.
Driving traffic to a website important, but driving the right traffic makes the difference.
I don’t want to tell you that you should only target qualified traffic ignoring the amount of traffic you can get. You should work to maximize to bring in the maximum amount of qualified traffic that is likely to take action to convert for your business.
Why should you care about keyword intent?
Since the keyword intent represents the searcher’s mind map, Google pays special attention to it. Because Google’s goal is to serve the most relevant results to what searcher is looking for.
Many businesses are dealing with poor conversion rate problems. People visit and leave websites without taking the expected action from them.
It is essential to have a conversion diagnosis in order to find the exact root of the problem.
However, the most common reason for low conversion rates is targeting the wrong audience. The problem is usually sourced from not understanding search intent and pursuing the wrong group of keywords.
For instance, pursuing low commercial intent keywords wouldn’t create a high conversion rate for a website primarily focused on selling items online.
Then why would websites still pursue certain keywords although they may not offer high convertibility?
The reason is quite simple. Most profitable keywords are the ones the most competitive.
Pursuing low commercial intent keywords is the only way for many businesses to get organic traffic from the search engines that are somewhat related to what they are doing.
The mastery of good keyword research is picking those keywords that still have commercial intent but not obvious enough for everyone to easily find out.
How does Google determine relevance for very short search queries?
We already know Google serves quite satisfactory results if a searcher makes the search by typing a descriptive search term. These search terms are usually long-tail search queries that create no challenge for Google.
If you type in Google “Best digital cameras under $200 to make Youtube videos” you are likely to see the relevant results to what you have typed.
However, when someone searches for “Dogs” on Google, it is hard to match the intent with the search results. In fact, these short-tail search queries are the most difficult for search engines to serve a relevant result.
In my opinion, there are 3 types of people who make searches typing a very short search query.
- Lazy people who don’t want to spend extra energy on typing.
- Very conscious people who are usually making an informative search.
- People don’t know the search query they need to type to get what they want from Google.
Google struggled for a long time to serve a relevant result for these types of searches.
If someone searches “Dogs” on Google, he/she maybe
- Making research about dogs
- Wants to buy a dog
- Wants to see the funny dog images
Obviously this list goes on and on. To respond to this type of search query, Google used to serve on the SERP result one site representing each type of search intent.
Why keyword intent is important for keyword research?
Keyword intent is a key component of relevance. Because keywords are targeted by considering the value and real relationship to a business.
Keyword search volume and keyword difficulty are directly correlated with the intention behind the keyword. Understanding it well will dictate the level of profitability for a business.
We can group keyword search intent under 4 main categories:
🧭 Navigational Search Intent
Navigational search is a targeted search to find a specific website or brand. Searcher usually knows on what site he should land on or at least wants to see a group of sites he can choose from.
An example of a navigational search is typing on Google “Golden retriever community”. Because the search aims to find a specific site(s) people discussing the golden retrievers.
🖥️ Informational Search Intent
Informational search as its name refers to a search made to obtain information about a topic.
Wikipedia describes informational search queries as,
Queries that cover a broad topic (e.g., colorado or trucks) for which there may be thousands of relevant results.
Informational searches don’t focus on finding a specific website but rather on obtaining information from the web.
A search query of “How long golden retrievers live?” would be a good example since it specifically focuses on finding a certain piece of information.
As you can see in the above screenshot, Google started serving direct answers for these types of search queries in featured snippets.
This is what most internet marketers call as zero-click searches which is a scary nightmare. Because it completely eliminates the need of visiting a website to have information.
Informational searches are not profitable in general because they are hard to monetize. For these types of searches, Google loves to rank authority sites with a ton of informational content about the topic.
The real benefit to rank for informational searches is building authority on the web. More authority your website builds, more backlinks you earn naturally. More backlinks you earn naturally, Google will likely to position your site as the authority in your niche.
Even the hardcore affiliate review sites publish a certain amount of informational content. Because it is the only way not to be perceived spammy by the search engines.
The ways to rank for informative search queries:
- Creating descriptive educational content (how-to posts, step by step guides)
- Publishing visual multimedia like infographics that requires no time to digest.
- Inviting experts to share their opinions on your website.
What percentage of your keywords should have informational search intent?
There is no magic number for what percent of your selected keywords should have informational search intent.
Most SEO experts recommend allocating %50 of keywords to have informational search intent and remaining to have commercial search intent that likely to bring sales and conversions.
🛒Transactional Search Intent
Transactional search intent is made when someone is ready to buy a certain product or service.
“Buy golden retriever leash” would be a good example of a transactional search. This type of search is most likely to be closed with a sale. Hence it is the most profitable type of keyword for any marketing campaign.
As I have earlier mentioned the more clear buying intent for a keyword, the higher competition we may expect.
⭐Commercial Search Intent
Commercial search intent covers the searches that are usually made before making a purchase. Although it is similar to transactional search intent they are different, and should not be confused.
“xyz brand dog leash review” can be a good example of a commercial intended search. Because the user has the intent to purchase however unsure if the product is what he/she needs.
Another example could be a search made typing “dog leash buying guide”. Although the user clearly shows a need to buy dog leashes, he/she still unsure of which product would be the best match.
How does Google understand the search intent?
In the past, Google used keyword instances on a page to determine search intent algorithmically. Anchor text used for both inbound outbound links also provided some kind of information for search engines determining relevance.
But those days are gone. Google no longer matches the search query directly with the keyword on the page. It uses sophisticated techniques to find the best match that is relevant to the search intent.
Here are some of the ways of Google determining the search intent.
🧠Semantic Search Technology
Google uses semantic search technology to serve the most relevant results to what searcher is looking for. It tries to comprehend search queries within a contextual concept rather than focusing on a purely keyword-based interpretation.
You may have probably heard before semantic keywords, which are related to latent semantic indexing (LSI). It refers to search engines using word association to decide what you’re really looking for.
Since LSI keywords help search engines to serve more relevant results, we can include these keywords in cour content to make our content more competitive in the search results.
Although we don’t exactly know-how Google achieves understanding search queries with a human-like capability, we know Google spends billions of dollars to employ the sharpest engineers from all over the world.
RankBrain is another piece of Google’s algorithm to understand search queries more efficiently to provide users the most relevant search results.
🛤️Tracking old searches
It is no surprise that Google tracks the searches you have made in the past. By using this information Google can provide you better results.
By using the information provided by a collective of searches done earlier, Google can assess what searcher really wants to see.
I want to give you a quick example.
In the early days of Google the search query “Cow Fishing” resulted in meaningless cow-related content.
People wanted to see fishing related information of a specific type of fish called “cow”.
By analyzing user engagement metrics on the search results, Google found out what people want to see and fixed the problem.
If you want to learn more about how Google’s algorithm process search queries you can directly visit the source here.