Intent-Based Keywords – The Basics

We all know that keywords are the foundation of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and search in general. However, what many of us fail to realize is that search engines care more about the actual intent behind the keyword even more than they care about the exact keyword being used. Let’s take a look at the basics behind what exactly an intent-based keyword looks like, and how to do intent-based keyword research using tools like the Google keyword planner.

How to Find Keywords

Finding keywords for your website is as easy as using the Google Keyword Research Tool. The tool can help you to discover high-volume keywords for your company and is extremely easy to use. Simply visit the website for the tool and follow the on-screen prompts to get started. Please note, however, that before you can use the tool you will first have set up a Google AdWords campaign (you don’t have to actually pay for it or use any ads, but you will have to sign up for the service).

The Google Keyword Research Tool is also not the only keyword research tool available to online marketers and site owners. Some other popular tools to use to discover high-volume keywords include:


What is an Intent-Based Keyword?

Let’s pretend that we’re doing keyword research for a plumbing company. Let’s also pretend that while we were doing our keyword research we found that the keyword “pumps” comes up as a high search volume and popular keyword. The word “pumps” even seems like it would be a great fit for the types of services offered by our fictional plumbing company.

However, after a quick preliminary Google search for the word “pumps”, we can see that shoe stores seem to make up the majority of the results. Why is that? It’s because Google has decided (through algorithms and data analysis) that when a searcher uses the word “pumps” as part of their query, that they are generally looking for a specific style of shoes, and not for plumbing companies that work on/with pumps.

This is the general idea behind intent-based keywords: if the keyword in question is generally used for queries that don’t relate to your service, or that don’t generate clicks and sales, then you’re less likely to have success using said keyword.

If You’re Ranking #1, Should Intent Even Matter?

The short answer here is YES ABSOLUTELY. Even if you can get your page to rank #1 on Google for a particular keyword, it is useless to you as a business owner if that rank position doesn’t translate into clicks and conversions. In short, the type of traffic your business receives is more important than the raw amount of it. 10,000 site visitors don’t mean anything if none of those visitors decide to hire your company for your services!

Google (and other search engines) are exceedingly dedicated to matching and understanding searcher intent. From the perspective of the search engine, if an article/post/page is getting clicks for “pumps” and their site is related to shoes, then they are less likely to want to show a result that relates to plumbing. Intent matters!

How Do You Figure Out the Intent of a Keyword?

When it comes to figuring out exactly what the intent of a particular keyword is, just do a quick Google search for the keyword in question. Like with our “pumps” example earlier, when we did a quick Google search for just the word “pumps” we found that the majority of the top results (including ads and the local 3 pack) were for women’s shoe stores and styles. This means that when searchers use the keyword “pumps” in their queries that they are most often looking for women’s shoes and not for plumbing companies. Basically, you don’t have to do much to figure out the intent of a keyword because Google has already done most of the heavy lifting for you!

Does Intent Matter More for SEO or for SEM Keywords?

There is a difference between intent for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) keywords.

SEO keywords don’t cost you anything to use. So you can be a little more lackadaisical with your intent-based keyword selections. With SEO keywords, you’re generally pretty safe selecting any keyword that relates to your business and has a relatively high search volume (lots of people search for that keyword every month). Just make sure to be careful with how many SEO keywords you try to optimize for. Spam is generally considered worse for your SEO than poorly selected intent-based keywords.

SEM keywords, on the other hand, are expensive. Since SEM relates almost exclusively to paid advertisements on search engines, you will wind up paying for every single click that your keyword brings to your site through search. Since you have to pay for each click, it is generally considered wise to make sure that your SEM keywords are very carefully selected. This is where the intent behind the keyword is extremely important. If the clicks you bring to your site don’t convert, then you’re just throwing money away by using the keyword in question. Again, intent matters!

Conclusion

Intent-based keywords are extremely important for both SEO and SEM. The more accurately your keyword conveys the proper intent of the searcher, the more likely clicks through to your site will convert.

If you would like help optimizing your keyword lists for searcher intent, then feel free to contact the SEO and SEM professionals here at Contractor Advertising. When it comes to intent, we have you covered!