How to Use Search Intent for Your Business
Consumers use search engines for a range of purposes. By understanding these different purposes, or intentions, you can cater your marketing strategies to each one.
For example, a user might be looking to buy a cleaning product online, learn about different cleaning products so they can then buy one in person, or be interested in learning about what’s in cleaning products. In each of these scenarios, the user could type “cleaning products” into Google.
For a business in the cleaning products industry, using the generic “cleaning products” keyword isn’t enough to attract your specific consumer. If you sell cleaning products online but the user was trying to learn about common ingredients in these products, they aren’t going to buy from you. You need to understand the reasons why they’re using those keywords so you can be more specific with the keywords you aim to rank for.
Search intent is the user’s reason for entering those specific keywords into the search engine. It’s also known as keyword intent.
3 Types of Search Intent
A user’s reason for searching for “cleaning products” can fall into a handful of categories. They include informational, commercial, and transactional intents. Each of these categories will uniquely dictate your keyword strategy and marketing plan.
When the search intent is informational, the user is doing research on a topic. They might start their query with “how to” or “what is” or “why do”. In terms of your marketing funnel, this search intent sits at the top of your funnel. Your consumers are doing basic research on your industry to get a better understanding. They aren’t ready to make a purchase or even talk to a sales representative yet. However, they could be doing research with the intention of purchasing a product or service in their local community in person. And, they can be nurtured into becoming a customer in the future.
To Avoid Paying for Something
Searchers use certain keywords when they’re trying to find ways around paying for something. For example, “DIY” or “Free” keywords. You likely won’t be able to convert these users or get them to buy something. However, you can convince them of why it’s important to pay for reputable products or services instead of the cheapest option. For that reason, these users are at the top of your marketing funnel in the information-seeking section.
This type of search intent can be for information regarding a store’s location, hours, and reviews. The user is conducting research on which option is most convenient for them and how other consumers rate them.
They also might be looking up directions to get to a specific store. So, if you have a brick and mortar location, choosing keywords for commercial search intent is key.
Alternatively, users with this intent might also be interested in comparing different products by reading the reviews. For this reason, they’re considered to be in the top-middle of your funnel.
Users with transactional search intent are looking to convert in some way. That could mean making a purchase, but it could also mean signing up for a newsletter or asking for more information from a sales representative. They likely already know what they want to buy or do, they’re just looking for the best way to do so.
These users are near the bottom of your marketing funnel. You could also consider these users “hot leads” and worth investing a good portion of your marketing budget into targeting.
Buyer Intent Keywords
When planning your content, you need to identify the search intent your target consumers have at each level of your funnel. Strong content marketers create content for each level of the funnel with keywords to match users’ search intent.
For your marketing plan, create a spreadsheet that includes each level of your consumers’ search intent along with the campaign that targets each level. You should list the appropriate keywords to use in each campaign.
There are a handful of different types of keywords that match different search intents.
The first is “Buy Now” keywords. These people have transactional search intent and are looking to make a purchase. You can assume that these users aren’t looking for long, dense blog posts; they want quick and easy buy buttons.
It’s wise to target your paid ads to these users and their keywords since your potential ROI is higher than it is for ads targeting users who are just gathering information. The best tools for finding transactional buyer intent keywords are UberSuggest and AdWords.
One strategy for making a sale with these users is to create a dedicated landing page for their transactional query. Make it very clear and obvious where they should click to make the purchase. Use specific keywords for their intent. All the important calls-to-actions should be above the fold.
The second type of buyer intent keywords is “Product Search” keywords. These searchers know they have a problem and are generally aware of how to fix it. For example, they might be a salesperson who needs a way to manage their leads. They know they need a customer relationship management tool, so they might search “Best CRM software”. This user is willing to spend money on the solution, but they want to ensure they choose the right option first.
The keywords that target these users are usually expensive and competitive. However, they can pay off when your ads or web content convinces them that your product or service is the best choice.
The third type of buyer intent keywords is “Informational” keywords. Consumers at the top of your funnel are gathering information about different solutions, ideas, and concepts.
It’s crucial for marketers to know what informational keywords consumers in their industry are using. For example, a user could enter “how to protect website from hackers”. If your business specializes in data security, create content that specifically targets this search. You could create a blog post with a title that exactly matches the search query and content that concisely answers the question.
Although these searchers aren’t ready to buy, they will be in the future. By targeting their informational keywords, you can start building trust and authority with them from the start.
The fourth type of buyer intent keywords is the “Low Purchase Intent” keywords. These are used by consumers with informational search intent but want to avoid spending money.
Unless you have a business model that offers something for free, these keywords won’t be effective for you. For example, if you offer free shipping in your online clothing store, you might want to target “free shipping”. Or, if you sell software at different tiers and include a free base level, then using keywords like “free” and “cheap” could attract users to try your software.
Assess Your Current Keyword Strategy
Before you know what you need to improve on, you need a benchmark. It’s important to see which pages on your website are currently generating traffic, conversions, and high click-through-rates. You can do this by logging into Google Search Console and going page by page, assessing the URLs and impressions.
Your URLs, meta descriptions, or title tags might not be aligned with the search intent of the user they’re targeting. It’s important to use the exact keywords you’re targeting in your URL, title tag, and meta description.
What if you have web pages that don’t have any impressions? You need to create a better, more effective keyword strategy for these pages. Perhaps the page doesn’t have a clear target user and the content isn’t unique enough. Consider looking at your competitors’ pages that offer the same products or services as you. Notice what they’re doing differently from you and how successful they are.
If your page is reputable, clear, and highly targeted, you may just need to work on building authority. You can do this with a strong backlink strategy and social media linking and sharing.
How to Pick Your Buyer Intent Keywords
So, how do you decide which keywords are most effective for your campaigns? There are a few different strategies you can use.
The first is browsing the search engine results pages on Google. Start by setting your browser to incognito mode and clearing your cache so Google doesn’t try to cater its results to your past search history.
Enter your seed keywords. These are the basic words that describe what you sell. For example, “natural hair extensions” or “business coaching”.
Note the questions listed in Google’s Answer Box. Look at the other related searches at the bottom of the page. Notice the options in the dropdown list from Google’s autofill search function. Last, analyze the websites on page one of the results and the common words or phrases they use in their page titles and content.
From this initial research, you should have a list of questions and long-tail keywords that consumers in your industry are searching for on Google.
The next step is conducting more thorough keyword research with a professional tool, like SEMrush or Ahrefs. Enter your seed keyword into the keyword exploring search bar.
In Ahrefs, notice the results under “Having Same Terms”. The results will be a range of keywords that relate to your offering. Some of the results won’t be relevant, so you will need to filter them. Notice the high buyer intent keywords that use this formula: “Best” + “keyword” + “for” + X.
Going back to your spreadsheet on funnel stages, campaigns, and keywords, enter the different keywords you find into their appropriate categories.
When it comes to choosing keywords for your paid ads, the third step is analyzing your competitors’ campaigns. You can use SEMrush to find out which keywords your competitors are bidding the most on. These are the keywords they deem most valuable for their campaigns. You can use this as guidance for your own split testing efforts on your website.
Split testing is when you use two parallel campaigns for the same offering to see which does better. You can do this with keywords. Write two ads with everything the same except for the keywords.
When you know which one performs best, you know where to channel your efforts and budget.
Language and Search Intent
Searchers may use specific language that is unique to the industry, their location, or their intention. It’s your job as a business owner or marketer to understand your consumers and their natural language.
Is there common slang that consumers use for your products?
One way you can learn more about your consumers’ search intent is by studying their natural language. Consider conducting a survey on your social media page. Ask them what problem your product or service solved for them. Notice how they describe the problem and what types of slang, abbreviations, and language they use.
An important page on most business websites is the FAQ page. This is where you can answer consumers’ questions and make it easy for them to find the answer. Plus, you can word the questions as the consumers do in their natural language. This allows your FAQ questions to match the exact words searchers use on Google.
The more you know about your consumers and how they search, the better you can target your marketing to them.
Are You Interested in Learning More About Your Users’ Search Intent?
Understanding search intent is a crucial aspect of your marketing plan. Without adequately targeting the right consumers at the right time in their cycle, your marketing efforts are useless. Why spend money on keywords and ads for people that aren’t ready to buy? Knowing your users’ intent at every step of their buying cycle informs you of which keywords to use in your campaigns.
At SEO Heroes Bangkok, we know a thing or two about search intent. Our team of expert marketers can help you understand your buyers’ intent and create a custom marketing plan around that information.
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