Keyword Research: Understanding Your Customers Intent

Today I wanted to introduce a concept that I have been looking into heavily over the last two months to help with my own content efforts and the reach of my clients.

In the modern day, we are more engaged with Google than ever, and user intent is not something that is new to search engines. In fact, it’s something that has been very well researched, which helps in one sense because there’s a flood of information to use on how we can use the data to better target customers, however it could be seen as a curse, as who is to say what is right, who is current and what information works in 2018?

We can see in the image below, there are several ways we search google that describes our intent.

The describe three dynamics in the way in which search engines are used:

Transactional – Transactional keywords are targeted towards people who have an intention to buy a product or service. When someone has already got the information they need, and they’re ready to purchase, these searches tend to feature words such as “buy,” “for sale,” or “subscribe.” And from my understanding, transactional keywords may also include the phrase that is really descriptive of what someone wants to buy, for example “brown belt for men.”

Simply, they imply someone is ready to make a transaction. They are great to rank highly in for your PPC advertisements efforts.

Informational – A lot of research says that you should avoid these, but my own instinct tells me that when someone is looking for information, you better be there. This is where content marketing can help you. Particularly with the use of long-tail keywords (a topic I’ll discuss in the next keyword research blog in more detail), they can be great to reach people who are in the consideration phase of the buying cycle (covered below).

Navigational – Here’s one to be aware of for your online brand. When people search your company or brand name, that is a navigational search; they know what they want, they know the company or product and they just want to find the right internet address. See my ideas on how you can better optimise your performance in navigational searches below.

Reaching your customer at each stage of consideration

The only differentiation between the above three ways in which we use Google is the context, quite obviously. But delving into that from a marketing perspective, we could say that customers are using Google at different stages of the buying cycle.

When we use Google, we are either looking for information as we consider our pain or problem, and solutions. We are actively looking for information are looking to be educated, or consider different ways to solve our problem (interest/education and consideration), or we are trying to buy something.

Now, in business to business sales, the consideration and justification may take a lot longer than business to consumer purchases. For example, if I want to visit a coffee shop nearby I may well just Google “Coffee Shop near me.” If I’m looking to hire a digital marketing specialist for my business, I’m probably going to want to do some research before I sign that long-term agreement.

You need to consider, within your content, who you are targeting and where they are in the buying cycle, and how that affects how they will be searching Google.

Marketing is literally appealing to user intent..

SEO is not just about being high on a search engine anymore. It’s about conversion, and driving the right traffic to your website.

When you write content for your website, you are looking to drive traffic, but not only that – you want to develop business relationships. To do that, you need to optimise your content to ensure that is helping your target audience with their pain points.

As  explained in a Hubspot article, “SEOs are starting to understand the importance of optimizing for the user experience rather than focusing solely on search engines.”

When we think about the user intent, you’re thinking “How can I best meet the needs of my potential customer?” As a marketing concept – particularly when we are looking at your digital strategy and converting customers online, giving the user what they need and are looking should be the primary aim.

Here’s some steps for each and tips to use when you are considering how you want to reach customers across Google, taking into account the above.

Informational or Research:

Buying stage: Pre-Awareness, Awareness, Interest/Education, Consideration

This is where you can reach people when they are in the consideration phase.

In my opinion, and from my research, this is the best way in which you can reach your customers. It’s before they’re ready to take action, or whilst they’re in the consideration phase of their problem. At both of these points, if you can be a reliable source of information, they are more likely to get in touch when they are ready to make a purchase.

There are many ways you can do this, but we recommend content marketing. Specific ways include:

  • Conduct keyword research to see your audience’s pain points (what are their problems that relate to your service/product?)
  • Publish on topics that are relevant to your customer’s pain posts and the keywords relevant to your audience
  • Create landing pages on your website that are optimised to the emotional triggers of your customer’s pain points

Buying stage: Consideration, Justification, Purchase

Transactional searches are high in conversion, and to rank high on these terms you should have optimised landing pages that are relevant to your audience and high in authority.

When you are looking at developing your landing pages for your services, here are some things to consider:

  • What do the user want, or what are they looking for?
  • Based on the intent of the search, what would they most likely convert on?
  • What type of action would the be expecting to take?
  • What next steps would they be interested in?
  • How can I optimise my page to complement that experience?

Buyer stage: Consideration, Justification, Purchase, Post-Purchase

Test it out for yourself – type in your company name on Google. What comes up? How easy is it to find your company? If it is easy, where is that channel? Is that your website, your business registration page at companies house (it happens), your social media pages.. what? Are you registered on Google Maps – have Google indexed you into their Knowledge Graph (that’s the right hand-side graph you see company information on when you do a search..)

  • You can optimise your Google Business Listings, to ensure that if people search for your business name you are more likely to showcase the information they need to get in touch with you.
  • Ensuring you are on local directories and your technical SEO within your website is optimised will also ensure that your search engine results are optimised when someone wants to search directly for your business with a navigational search.
  • Raising the authority of your website with technical SEO

Ultimately, it’s about understanding how we are using Google, and using that knowledge to inform your digital marketing strategy, including what you’re posting on social, what content you are writing and how you are looking to engage your audience and grab the attention of your customers – that’s what we’re talking about.

Content ideas for keywords relating to your audience

Here are some ideas to ensure that your customers are researching you at the different buying cycles.

The first rule would to be produce a mix of content within your blog that is around 80% value, 20% promotional.

You want to be visible to the buyer before they are ready to buy and are looking for information. Why? Because then when they are ready to buy, you are the one that has been providing them valuable information for the last three months, or who’s voice has been the most dominant across search engines and within their social media circles.

This will allow you to sell your goods, with a great call to action, but also give your users something to go home with and use practically.

Ideas of this may include:

  • Mechanics – how to change a tyre (video)
  • Dentist – 14 reasons to have a great smile (blog)
  • Plumber – how to fix your tap (step-by-step blog)
  • Fitness Coach – fourteen ways to stay healthy this week (how-to blog, guide)
  • Yoga Instructor – 10 poses for yoga you cannot miss out of your daily routine (blog)

Within these subjects, you will have call-to-actions, as you can see time after time in my blogs. It’s the form at the bottom of the page, or the part the resembles this: “Do you need help with your digital marketing for your local business? Get in touch on 07904008731.”

Using a call to action effectively on pieces of quality content effectively? It can be one of the best ways to convert customers online.

This is a subject that has a large scope for detail, and I will continue to revisit this under Keyword Research. Stay tuned for more articles on short-tail and long-term keywords, different ways you should be looking to raise your authority with Google, how you can use keyword planners to ensure you are hitting home with topics that matter within your content marketing, how to use those same tools to ensure your pay-per-click advertising is optimised, and generally how to use Google to better understand your customers.