As marketers and content writers, we usually end up creating the content we want. We make a couple of inherent assumptions around the kind of content the reader might be looking for, and create content that fills those perceived gaps. We optimize this content using keywords that are relevant to the industry. And in all of this what gets completely ignored is “user intent”.
The term “user intent” has been a buzzword in the SEO community for the past couple of years now. Google introduced its Hummingbird update in 2013 and every SEO consultant worth their salt were writing about user intent and why it’s important. But it’s time to move beyond what it is and dive into the why, and more importantly, how to weave it into our keyword strategy.
What is User Intent?
Just a quick recap of what exactly is user intent:
User intent is best defined as: what information is the user trying to find when they type in a particular search query.
Google’s sole objective is to deliver a great user experience by offering them content that answers the exact questions that they are asking. So if they ask for “pet food for dogs”, Google is no longer just looking for phrase matches and throwing up results highlighting “pet food” or “dogs” in the meta descriptions. It is deciphering that in a majority of cases this search query is typed with the ‘intent to buy’ dog food. And hence, it shows the best dog food brands you can buy on Amazon, or results for pet shops that sell dog food.
Why Do You Need User Intent in Your Keyword Strategy?
Building a keyword strategy is all about choosing the right keywords for your business and creating content that helps you rank for those keywords. Up until Hummingbird, the best way was to choose keywords that were related to your industry, had a high search volume, and low keyword difficulty. However, those metrics are no longer enough and you have to now look at the user intent of any given keyword.
It’s become crucial because:
Precision Content: It helps you target a precise section of the audience who are looking for exactly what you have to offer. If you are creating content around organic dog food and someone out there is searching for why organic dog food is better for their pet, you need to know what exact search query are they using. Use that in your content and bingo!
You’ve reached a highly interested reader who now has access to the exact information they were looking for, thanks to you. They find relevant information, stay engaged, and finally are confident enough to make a purchase.
Clear Demographics: If you are a business with a clear demographic focus, user intent based keywords are a goldmine. For example, a brick and mortar pizza place in Brooklyn would be best served with the target the keyword “get pizza in Brooklyn” which makes it clear what the user wants, rather than the more generic but probably high volume keyword: “buy pizza”.
Now this is just an oversimplified example, but you get the picture. Digging into user intent gives you keywords that could be very specific to the demographics you are targeting, and hence attract a highly interested and engaged audience.
Optimized Pages: If you know what your users are looking for with a particular search query, you can design your web pages or landing pages to drive higher conversions. This is particularly true for keywords where the intent is to ‘do’ a certain action, like buy something, join some community, contact some company.
When your CTA matches their search query, conversion becomes a piece of cake.
How Do You Get User Intent into Your Keyword Strategy?
So now that we have the what and the why, the million dollar question is: How do you do it?
One way to look at the user intent of any particular keyword is to type it into Google and analyze the search results. When we did this for dog food, the dominant user intent was to ‘buy’. And this is how most of the SEO blogs out there are advising you find out user intent. But truth be told, that is not always a very fool-proof method, nor is it a very efficient one. There might be cases where finding user intent is not so straightforward.
Complexities aside, let’s assume analyzing SERPs gives us the required user intent for a keyword. Is that enough?
As a marketer, you want to convey different kinds of content to your audience, content that guides them through a buying cycle. In order to cater to a typical buying cycle, you would want to cater to the following user intent:
- Awareness: Satisfy the ‘Know’ intent. What their exact requirement is, and what solutions are available to fulfill those
- Consideration: Satisfy the ‘Know’ intent. How the various solutions compare to each other
- Decision Making: Satisfy the ‘Do’ or ‘Go’ intent. Do the purchase online or go to a brick and mortar store to complete the purchase
Now, what analyzing SERPs does not do is: Tell you which keywords cater to which intent.
So you know “pet food for dogs” is tied to the “buy” intent. But you don’t know which keywords to use if you want to tell your readers why their pet needs organic dog food, or how different organic dog food brands compare against each other.
You do not know which search queries are used by readers to find this information, and you do not know the search volumes. You can guess, try out permutations on Google to see what comes up. But once again, that is inefficient and time consuming.
At Irayo, we equipped our tool to gather user intent based keywords and volumes in a more efficient way. The basic idea is to give content writers the freedom to create content without worrying about which user-intent based keyword to use.
What can you do with it:
Create your content: Your first step is to create your content and feed it into Irayo
Choose your intent: The next step is where you choose your user intent. You think of which stage of buying cycle your content belongs to, and consequently, what would be the user intent.
If it’s Awareness or Consideration level content, you chose “something to learn about”. If it’s content that aids decision making, you choose “solutions and services”. If you are not too sure of where your post belongs, you can choose “it’s a general post”.
Choose your relevant keyword: Once you hit go, you are presented with a bunch of keywords. From this, you pick a keyword that seems most relevant to your content piece. We haven’t yet factored in user intent, so pick one that is in the general vicinity of your content.
Find Your User Intent Based Keyword: Once you choose the most relevant generic keyword, Irayo swings into action. It takes your chosen keywords and your intent, and runs through a host of permutations and combinations.
What’s happening here is that we built a library of phrases associated with each user intent. For example, if the intent is to learn something or “Know”, the phrases would be: what is, why, how can I, where, how is, how to, or terms like courses, classes, etc. Similarly, if it’s the “Do” or rather the “Buy” intent, there are terms like solutions, services, companies, vendors, providers, or words like buy, get, offers etc.
What Irayo does is take your primary keyword, and create combinations with all the phrases in the library for your chosen intent. These combinations are checked against Google searches to identify which of these have search volumes.
The end result is a series of keyword suggestions that have combined your primary keyword with the user intent, along with their monthly search volumes.
Now all you have to do is pick one that best suits your content, and meets your search volume expectations, and use it for on-page optimization.
So while your initial keyword strategy would have identified the broad search terms that are relevant in your industry, your actual content is being built around user intent based keywords. And that is how you can make sure that your keyword strategy implementation has leveraged user intent.
While it is important to understand the basics of user intent, we think you cannot afford to spend any more time just trying to figure out how this changes things. The change is here to stay, and already affecting search engine rankings. So it is time to implement ‘user intent’ as a crucial part of the keywords strategies that we design, for ourselves and for our clients. And Irayo helps you do that in an organized and efficient way.
Watch Irayo in action, and take a look at how it can provide the right user-intent based keywords for your business.