Why Search Intent is the Secret to Superior Keyword Research [Video]
In this post and video, I'm going to give you a system that'll help impact how your keyword research is conducted, how it's implemented into content, and, I believe, impact the results you're going to get from that keyword research.
First off, what is search intent?
Essentially, there are four categories of search intent.
- Navigational searches - For example, someone searching for something specific, like 'Twitter support' or looking up 'Facebook'
- Informational searches - These are 'who, what, when, where, how' type searches
- Commercial investigation - Someone looking for unbiased reviews, or maybe looking through Amazon reviews or Yelp
- Transactional searches - Someone at the end of the buying cycle looking for the best deals and extras like free shipping, or 'buy it now', or 'products near me'.
I'll give you a practical example of what I'm talking about as we walk through each of the steps you need to take.
Step 1: Google your main keyword and analyze the results
This is like defining your head term - for example, I've Google 'beard oil'.
Step 2. Understand which search intent categories Google is displaying
In your head term results, click into the search box and look at what Google's showing. You can see here (below) they're displaying 'beard oil reviews' which is a commercial investigation.
'Beard oil growth', meanwhile, is more in the 'informational how to' category.
Then below that there are transactional results, and you could maybe even could consider these navigational because they're trying to get somewhere specific on a specific site.
What does this tell us? This, you'll see, plays out on a lot of head terms, and the head term is essentially something very broad, not very specific. Google doesn't actually know what your intent is, so it gives you a little bit of everything.
Step 3. Hone in on results for a specific category such as Informational
You now want to hone in on your results for the specific category that you're going to try to make content, do keyword research and optimize for. In this case, we're going to look at informational.
I have 'what does beard oil do?' Notice there are no ads - the results are all informational.
None of this is complicated, but once you get this ingrained in how you do keyword research and how you match this up, it's going to make a massive difference. From these results, I can see that these informational searches are probably the way I want to go, so I want to match up with what's out there and doing well in the top 10 and top 20 on Google.
Step 4. Use Answer the Public to find additional question and preposition keywords
Answer the Public is a free keyword tool.
Answer the Public will show me all the questions and propositions that are being asked around my head term - this is where you're going to get a lot more informational intent.
- Who needs beard oil?
- How do you make it?
- What's it made out of?
All of these kids of common queries are listed - with this, you want to then export your list to a CSV for further analysis.
Step 5. Analyze your keywords in bulk with Keywords Everywhere
The next step is to analyze the keywords in bulk with another free keyword tool - Keywords Everywhere.
You can take all the prepositions and questions from Answer the Public and then paste them into Keywords Everywhere. In my results (below), you can see that one of the top searches is 'what does beard oil do?'
Step 6. Create a target keyword list that aligns exclusively with your search intent category
The next step is to create a keyword list that aligns exclusively with your search intent category by removing those that don't apply.
'Beard oil near me' - that's a mobile search, it has nothing to do with your search intent that you're optimizing for.
'Beard oil for sale'- that's transactional.
Remove all of these keywords that are not informational. Do not try to do too much with one thing. Hyper-optimize on informational search intent if that is what you're going for.
Step 7. Use the remaining keywords to create a rough outline
You're going to end up with is a list like this - these are the target keywords that I grabbed, which are informational.
- How do you do this?
- Why do you do this?
- How often should you do this?
I've removed all of the things we just talked about - the research queries, the commercial ones. All that's now gone and we're left with a list of focused informational terms.
This is where most people tend to make a mistake - they take this keyword list and they hand it off to their copywriters. It's not the worst thing in the world to do, you're definitely giving them a lot of direction. But at the same time, you're likely not going to achieve optimal results. It's just human nature that they're going to try to shoe horn in these keywords everywhere - and 99% of the time it won't work.
What you're actually going to do is use the remaining keywords to create a rough outline. This is nothing groundbreaking, just a very basic overview of a post.
I'm going to try and make one great resource that Google can look at and go, "Wow, if I send people here and they're in the informational stage, this would be an amazing resource, because it hits on everything."
I can put together this whole list, then down at the bottom, you'll notice that I've even added notes on content and video suggestions to help - this can be established in the next stage.
Step 8. Get the average content length of the top ten results to approximate the depth your content should cover
You want to get the average content length of the top ten results to approximate the depth of your content.
You don't need to be so specific, you just need an approximation - if you don't have a tool that can do this for you, you can literally just visit each of the top pages, copy out the body content and paste that into a Google doc, then note the average word count.
Step 9. Hand the outline (not the keyword list) to your editor
Hand the outline - not the keyword list to your editor. You're going to get much better content back, and they're going to be writing for the user and not for keywords.
Step 10. Make slight optimization changes needed before publishing
Make slight optimization changes before you publish. Tweak the details to ensure your content is nailing everything that you want - just be sure that each sticks with the focus of your strategy, in this case, being navigational.
Could you insert a CTA in this for a free trial of your beard oil? Sure. In general, just don't try to mix them up too much.
Hopefully this post gets you thinking in this more focused mindset, which will help your end result - I know, it has helped mine.
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