How Search Engine Optimization and User Intent Relate to Keyword Research
I will admit it: I’m a huge SEO nerd. When I’m not at work executing SEO strategies for clients, I’m likely reading articles about it, and I’m always the first to laugh at SEO mistakes I find on websites, which my friends find painfully annoying. Search Engine Optimization is something that many companies struggle with.
Clearly, having your company website rank high for relevant searches is one of the easiest ways to gain new customers and to get your company’s name and brand out there.
Today’s digitally experienced potential customer trusts search engines. They associate a company’s legitimacy and quality based on where that company’s website falls in search rankings.
Additionally, only 25% of people scroll past the first page of search results, so a strong search engine optimization strategy is one of the absolute biggest investments you can make in your website and company. Additionally, once your website has been fully optimized and is seeing good rankings, it becomes one of the cheapest digital marketing strategies to gain new and repeat customers or site visitors.
While search engine optimization can often feel overwhelming, below is a brief overview of SEO and how it relates to your website’s prime keywords as well as your target site visitor’s initial search intent. Remember, there are also a lot of nitty-gritty technical elements that affect a website’s ranking, as well as a lot to do on the backend of any website.
Monitoring key metrics on the backend and through certain Google tools and various software platforms is also extremely highly recommended. For this reason, a truly holistic SEO strategy should be developed by a firm with digital experts in-house, at least in the initial phases of strategy development and execution.
SEO is An Investment
Many people approach us to launch an SEO campaign expecting to rank as the number one search result for every relatable search a week after the campaign launches. I always tell clients to think of search engine optimization like a credit score. If it was easy and simple, every single person would have a perfect credit score. The same is true of SEO. If it was a simple and uncomplicated process that could be executed in a week, every website would rank first in search results, which obviously isn’t possible or even feasible.
Search engine optimization is not only a lengthy process but an ongoing one. It is something that companies need to commit to. While the initial campaign will be a more thorough and timely process, we typically map out a list of key essentials that companies need to be doing weekly and monthly in order to maintain the rankings we have earned them, as well as continue to rise.
Content is King, but Keywords Are Its Queen
There’s an old adage that SEO professionals use: “content is king.” Content is king for several reasons, but two take precedent. First and most importantly, when search engines crawl your website they read the content to understand what exactly your website is all about. Are you selling a product? Are you providing a service? If so, what type of industry are you in? Who would want to buy your product or service? Are you a non-profit organization, a school, a band? Without content that helps search engines understand what the website is all about, it is impossible for them to understand who would find your site relevant.
The second reason goes back to the almighty keywords. If your company sells paddle boards, your content needs to reflect that. Also, I’m going to stick with the paddle board example throughout this article, because earlier I was daydreaming about being out in the sunshine watching dolphins.
When considering important keywords to include in your content, you should think of primary and secondary keywords. You should also think of short-tail versus long-tail keywords in relation to relevant searches. Going back to the paddle board company, a short-tail keyword is obviously “paddleboard.” A long-tail keyword might be something like, “top-rated paddle boards in Miami.”
Sprinkle, Don’t Stuff
Another thing to remember is that search engines, especially Google, can sniff out keyword stuffing from a mile away, and will actually lower a website’s search results because of it. Your main key phrase would be in the title of the page’s content (H1 heading). You can also use sub-headings (H2 and H3 headings) to further include various forms of key phrases that you wish to rank for. However, we recommend sprinkling a variety of key phrases and keywords throughout the content. We never, ever recommend jamming a keyword into a piece of content or blog post 47 times!
Keywords and Search Intent: How Stages of the Marketing Funnel Affect Search
People will reach your website will find your from search engine results that come from searches at all phases of the marketing funnel. I always explain the marketing funnel in six phases when it comes to the keywords clients should consider when thinking about specific keywords and key phrases.
I’ll stick with the paddle board theme and provide examples of a potential search for someone at each stage of the marketing funnel.
- Awareness: “difference between a paddleboard and a surfboard”
- Interest: “how much is a paddle board?”
- Education: what paddle boards are best for saltwater?” “best paddle boards for girls”
- Commitment: “paddle board stores Miami” “used paddle boards for sale Miami”
- Sale: “buy a paddleboard online” “buy a paddleboard online from local store Miami”
- Repeat: This simply involved someone who already purchased re-searching for your specific website or product, a prime example would be someone searching for the store they bought a paddle boat from five years ago.
How Each Stage Affects Content Desire
When developing your keyword strategy, it is important to think about these six phases when considering someone’s intent. If they are simply looking to learn more about paddleboards, they likely are a complete novice. Due to that fact, you wouldn’t want to simple barrage them with a list of 200 paddle boards and no information. You would want to direct them to a page or a blog post that provides them with the information they are searching for. We know that by having this type of informational content with the proper keywords, you are more likely to rank higher for people searching in the awareness stage.
On the flip side, we know that if someone types in a search along the lines of, “Cruiser SUP paddle board in aqua blue,” they certainly are not looking to find general information about paddle boards, paddle boarding tips or a site that offers an intro to paddle boarding. They know what they are looking for and are likely closer to the commitment or sale stage of the marketing funnel. Therefore, they are likely looking to see the different types of Cruiser SUP, different colors or to read reviews.
The benefits of having various types of content can’t be overstated. Of course, you want to tell searchers what you are about, what your offer and any other essential information. However, multi-faceted content should include things like an About Us page, content that answers common questions, a Contact Us page, any pertinent information regarding pricing and, of course, some type of blog.
A blog has many benefits. The two strongest benefits are the opportunity to position yourself as the industry expert; the second is to benefit your SEO strategy.
Don’t Discount the IQ of Search Engines
Finally, I will leave you with the best piece of advice I can give: search engines aren’t simple robots. They are highly intelligent (in fact, I’m always highly surprised there hasn’t been a movie yet about them coming to life). They know that when I search for “corgi” I’m looking for a dog. They know that when I search “mass times savannah ga” that I’m Catholic and they won’t show Lutheran or Baptist churches, at least not on the first page.
Therefore, when developing a keyword strategy, know that your content shouldn’t continually include a keyword or phrase repeatedly to rank high. The key to remember when creating content is to always craft high-quality content with some portion revolving around a key phrase or searches you wish to rank highly for.
Cheers to page-one search rankings!
Founder, SEO Director
Jason leads the Break The Web Search Engine Optimization team.
Based in New York City, when he’s not nerding out to SEO, Jason can be found falling from the sky as an avid skydiver.