How to Better Match Your Keyword Strategy With User Intent

By: Britney Muller, Senior SEO Scientist, Moz

February 13, 2020

In SEO research, it’s crucial to develop a firm understanding of keywords that apply to your brand and their search volumes. This will allow you to better evaluate competitors and get more granular with your search strategy, looking at the differences between searches based on seasonality and location. (For more on developing an initial list of keywords, see my earlier post.)

moz, senior seo scientist, brittney muller

Britney Muller, Senior SEO Scientist, Moz

Here are three ways to take your keyword research to the next level as you get closer to matching your content to consumer intent.

Competitor keywords. Investigating your competitor’s keywords will leave you with a lengthy list of possible terms. You can break this information overload down by prioritizing high-volume keywords that your competitors are either currently ranking for or not ranking for. This process will uncover opportunities for your business to compete for the keywords that your competitors have found success with. It can also reveal opportunities that your competitor is missing.

Conversely, it’s helpful to analyze which competitor pages are performing the best in search. What can you learn from competitor websites that rank highly for multiple terms, and how can that inspire your SEO strategy?

Seasonal keywords. Keeping your eyes open for seasonal trends (using a tool like Google Trends) will be beneficial when crafting content. Knowing when certain search terms begin to spike allows you to shape your keyword strategy proactively. For instance, knowing people start to search for “easter eggs” in early February might cue you to push custom-made content heavily during those crucial conversion periods.

Regional keywords. Keyword research tools can be used to target locations. Google Keyword Planner can be used to narrow down keyword research by township, county or state; Google Trends can assess “interest by subregion” and “over time.” Geographic content research shifts how you communicate with your target audience.  For example, research may uncover that people in Texas call large trucks “big rigs” while people in New York prefer the term “tractor trailer.”

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Next steps: Fitting your format to search intent

Google formats its search results based on the intent of the searcher. According to Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines, the most common goals for queries include searching to “know” information, “do” a certain task, find a “website” or to “visit-in-person” (visit a location). The five major categories of intent include:

  1. Informational Inquiry: Consumers search for information, like a celebrity’s age or the number of calories in chocolate chip cookies.
  2. Navigational Inquiry: Searchers enter a query to take them to a specific page, such as Instagram or Target’s corporate website.
  3. Transactional Inquiry: Users seek something to do, like buying a concert ticket or watching a YouTube video.
  4. Commercial Inquiry: Searchers compare products to choose one that meets their needs.
  5. Local Inquiry: Searchers find local locations, like a restaurant, dentist or movie theatre.

Keyword research can be further refined through evaluating specific terms’ unique SERP landscape. Google analyzes searcher behavior data to tailor the SERP based on searcher intent and preferred content.

For example, when someone searches “dresses,” they will typically be greeted with a shopping carousel because Google has decided that those who search for “dresses” do so with the purpose to shop. A Local Pack feature is also offered to guide consumers to local retailers. If the search is inconclusive, Google will suggest the “refine by” feature to narrow and clarify search results.

Helpful tools 

When debating the value a keyword may add to your website, consider taking advantage of the following keyword research tools:

At The Social Shake-Up