When it comes to keyword research, the majority of SEO professionals tend to overly focus on the search volume of keywords.
While keyword search volume is one of the important factors to consider when deciding your final list of keywords, it is completely irrelevant if you ignore the other crucial factor: The Search Intent.
But What is The Search Intent?
Search intent, in simple language, describes the intention behind a search query. For example; when I search “How to knot a tie”, I am looking for some information. We refer to these kinds of queries as the informational type.
On the other hand, if I search “regular blue jeans”, I am most probably looking to buy a pair of jeans. We refer to these kinds of queries as commercial types.
Similarly, we have the navigational type and transactional type queries. Navigational queries seek directions to locations, places, etc and transactional queries carry buying intent/value in them. “Restaurants near me” would fall in the navigational category while “iPhone XR” would fall under the transactional category.
Whenever we use Google to search something, we have one of the following reasons to do so:
- We are looking for some information
- We are looking for directions to some place.
- We are considering to buy something.
- We have to purchase some products or services.
These things define the search intent of our queries.
Why is Search Intent More Important Than Keyword Volume?
Imagine you have an online website selling only brown boots. You start your keyword research and come up with following keywords with search volume indicated against them.
- Boots – 100k/Month
- Best Boots – 50k/Month
- Brown boots medium size – 1k/Month
- Brown boot – 15k/Month
Which among these would be most beneficial to your business? It may happen that you get tempted to pick up “boots” which has a huge deal of search volume.
It would mean lots of traffic to your website! But think for a moment, are these people who search for “boots” actually looking to buy brown boots? The answer is No! These people are just researching about boots.
Maybe they are considering to buy but are not yet ready with their colour choice, brand and size. This keyword has a very low conversion rate for your business.
Even if you spend a ton of your resources on website SEO for this keyword and happen to land on page 1, you would not get as many conversions as you would expect. Your ROI would be very low.
We say the intent of these kinds of keywords are not aligned with what your website serves. If you run after these misaligned keywords with high search volume, it would take a lot of your time (more than 2 years with SEO) only to gain little from them.
We can apply same reasoning to the second keyword “best boots”
The third one has a very low search volume compared with others but it has a high conversion rate for your business. People searching for “brown boots medium size” are ready to buy once they end up on your website.
These 1000 users per month are potentially 1000 transactions per month. More importantly, it is easier to rank on this keyword with shorter time and hence ROI is pretty high.
“Brown boot” can also turn out to be a valuable keyword since this is used by people who are ready to go with brown boots. Although they have few choices to make like size and type, we can turn them into customers if they land on our website where they can see more options.
What We Want You To Do?
The key takeaway here is that the search intent should be your first criteria for keyword research followed by the search volume.
Narrow down your keyword list using search intent and then proceed to pick ones based on search volume. The search intent needs to align with what your web page serves.
Search intent mismatch with your web page is a problem for your SEO budget as well as your business ROI.
Alright, How Do I Figure Out The Search Intent of Keywords?
Think like your customer. Put yourself into your customer’s shoes and figure out what am I looking for when I am searching for some query.
For example, think what does the customer need when he searches for “black hats”. Maybe he is looking for some good options among black hats to buy. All you have to do is to think from your customer’s perspective.
Matching the intent of keywords with your business goals is the ultimate way to drive long term growth.