searchers intent

The Deadly Mistake Most People Make When Doing Keyword Research (And How You Can Avoid It)

By Hunter Branch

You found an incredible keyword. It has tons of traffic, is low competition, and you can create killer content for it. Targeting it is a no-brainer, right?

Hold your horses…

There’s one more thing you need to check first―something so critical that it could completely determine whether you’ll generate any leads or sales by ranking for that keyword.

And, unfortunately, most people completely miss it…

I’m talking about searcher’s intent.

What the heck is that and why is it so important?

That’s exactly what this post is about.

You’re about to see why not paying proper attention to it can tank your SEO and content strategies…

Alright, So What Is Searcher’s Intent?

I’m glad you asked. :)

Searcher’s intent is simply the reason someone decided to search a particular phrase in Google.

In other words, they had a problem, wanted to buy something, or were looking for specific information, so they decided to search Google.

There are four main types of searcher’s intent:

1. Informational

Someone doing research, looking up sports scores or the weather, or trying to learn something.

2. Navigational

Someone trying to get to a specific website (i.e. if they search “YouTube” or “NFL.com” in Google).

3. Transactional

Someone searching for a product/service online. They may not know when they’ll buy or what brand they’ll go with, but they know exactly what kind of product/service they’re looking for.

4. Commercial

Someone searching for a specific product/service online with the intent to purchase. They know exactly what brand, style, and features they want, and they have their credit card out ready to purchase.

These four levels of searcher’s intent closely mirror the levels of prospect awareness in copywriting.

Informational intent is problem aware—where the searcher has a problem, but doesn’t know of a particular solution to that problem.

Navigational intent is solution aware—where the searcher has a problem and knows of at least one brand that provides a solution.

Transactional intent is product aware—where the searcher knows of specific products that provide them with a solution to their problem. At this point, they’re just trying to pick between a few different options.

And commercial intent is most aware—where the searcher knows exactly what they want and has their credit card in hand ready to buy it.

Why Not Knowing the Intent Behind Your Target Keywords Is a Deadly Mistake

Because every search has a specific intent behind it, every person comes to your site from Google with specific expectations.

They expect to see certain content, images, products, or resources on your page.

If you don’t know the intent behind your target keyword, you don’t know what searchers expect to see when they search it, and therefore, you don’t know what to give them.

So, you’ll spend hours creating a page or blog post only to see:

  • Visitors bouncing within 10 seconds
  • Rock-bottom conversion rates
  • And eventual ranking drops

But that can change by adding a step to your keyword research process similar to the one below…

How to Figure Out The Intent Behind a Keyword (Before You Target It)

1. Analyze each result on the first page.

Google takes bounce rate, time on page, organic click-through-rate, and general engagement metrics into account when ranking pages and posts.

That means whatever is already ranking for a keyword you’re considering going after is at least doing a decent job of matching Searcher’s Intent.

So, the first step to understanding searcher’s intent is simply analyzing each result ranking on the first page for your target keyword.

As you do, look for patterns with:

  • Content
  • Images / Video
  • Design
  • Copy

Make note of any consistencies in these categories.

2. Analyze each ad on the first page.

Taking this idea a step further, you can get even more insights by analyzing the copy and subsequent landing page for each ad on the first page for your target keyword.

Adwords has something called a quality score that rates how well an ad and landing page matches searcher’s intent for a particular keyword.

Because of this, the first few ads should be doing a decent job of matching searcher’s intent (note that bidding also plays a role in how high an ad appears on the page, but this still helps for our purposes).

Read through the copy on each ad and landing page looking for common:

  • Problems
  • Pain-points
  • Benefits

Since businesses are quite literally bidding to have their ad show up for that keyword, you can reasonably assume that any patterns in these areas are likely to match searcher’s intent.

3. Analyze the related searches section.

Finally, Google gives us a goldmine of clues to Searcher’s Intent in the “Searches related to…” section.

To access the goldmine, simply type in your target keyword, scroll down to the bottom of the search results, and analyze the 8 similar searches it gives.

As you can see in the picture above, the similar searches section for “writer’s block” shows us searcher’s intent pretty clearly.

People who “writer’s block” in Google aren’t really looking for definitions or examples of writer’s block—they’re looking for solutions to it.

They’re looking for:

  • Causes
  • Cures
  • And even prompts/music to help them overcome it

Use Searcher’s Intent to Skyrocket Your Organic Conversion Rates

Whether you’re trying to sell online courses or t-shirts, knowing the intent behind your target keywords is crucial for both SEO and Adwords.

It helps you give the searcher exactly what they want, which results in more leads, sales, and quality traffic.

So, be sure to include a searcher’s intent step in your keyword research process from this day forward!

Featured photo credit: Depositphotos
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Hunter Branch
Hunter Branch is a Digital Marketing Consultant and the Founder of Rank Tree, a Content Marketing & SEO blog dedicated to teaching small businesses and brands how to create great content that generates traffic and leads from Google on autopilot. Click here to get your FREE copy of his ultimate, battle-tested guide to writing great blog posts that rank.

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