It’s impossible for SEO people or search marketers to decode the complex algorithm of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, and understand its internal set-up to know how it actually works. If you are a search marketer yourself, all you can do is focus on building quality links, remove any broken links, insert the target keywords in the right places, create top-class content and market it, and make sure your entire optimization model is going in the right direction.
There’s no short cut. Do all the hard work, repeat, and then repeat again! Do this consistently and then hope for a rise in your ranking. A time will come when your efforts will pay.
If you closely study the target search queries and how they’re performing, you will come to know that Search Engines are slowly becoming Answer Engines. ‘Searcher is the Boss’ and all search engines are working towards providing the best possible search results to the searchers. All that is shown on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) must satisfy the searcher in the best possible manner. That’s what search engines are looking for.
The kind of ‘Keyword Research’ you were performing 5 years ago is not going to work now. It’s not merely the keyword, but the INTENT behind the keyword that matters. Therefore, you would need to optimize your website for the real purpose or the intent behind a search query, not just the search keyword.
That is what this post is all about. Stop performing the old-school keyword research. Start performing the new age Intent Research.
So, what exactly does this “Intent Research” mean?
Intent Research is studying the exact purpose of a searcher behind performing a particular search in the search engine. Of course searchers type words or text (known as search keywords) in the search box, but every search keyword can have multiple meanings. It’s important to study and find out ‘what’ exactly the searcher’s intent was behind that search.
Let’s put it this way:
Suppose ABC.com is a very big full-service web design company out there in your state offering their services to a very big geographic location. In comparison to them XYZ.com is very small and are primarily offering basic web design consultation and training to absolute beginners.
At a given point of time, a searcher performed a search by typing the keyword “Web Design” in the search engine. The searcher had no idea how search engines show results, but the intent was to find an ideal web design training center online that would provide useful consultation and proper training on web design basics. The searcher basically is not looking for advanced paid course or web design service.
In such a scenario XYZ.com would be a better choice for the searcher than ABC.com although the latter is much larger in size than the former and they both come up on the search results for the particular keyword.
This is one instance where Intent Research wins. Even though there are multiple search results for a given keyword, the website that is optimized for the exact intent of the search gets customers and sells its product(s) or service(s).
So, how do you find out the actual intent of the searcher?
The answer is: There’s no hard and fast rule or tried and tested formula, or at least there’s no formula as yet.
But, you can apply your common sense and go deep learning how searchers are behaving upon your target search terms. Moreover, you can analyze Google’s Universal Search system to understand the searchers’ intent up to a certain extent.
Here are a few features of the modern search results that can signal the searcher’s intent:
- Google’s Search Suggestion as the searcher begins typing the search query.
- Google’s “Quick-answer” search boxes and “People Also Ask” features show informational intent.
- Google’s Shopping results that include product images and prices show high-intent searches.
- Google’s Local results and Knowledge graph.
- And, Google’s “Search in Search” feature to learn a searcher’s intent.
After studying these modern search results features you can design your own formula to target the intent of the searchers and organize your keywords effectively.
So, Intent Research clearly has many advantages over Keyword Research. Let’s quickly discuss 3 major advantages below and wrap things up.
- Faster Ranking
Let’s discuss a little bit more about the same example we mentioned above. “Web Design” as a keyword is highly competitive and for businesses like XYZ.com (that only target absolute beginners that are looking for basic consultation or training on web design) optimizing for “web design” cannot be productive. Due to the excessive competition worldwide it will take a long time to get ranked.
Alternatively, if they study the intent of their searchers and add a word or phrase to form a keyword like “basic web design training” or “web design consultation for beginners”, they could rank much faster. Long-tail keywords rank faster due to their low competition level.
- Better Conversion Rate
Correct intent research helps website owners find their right target audience, and if all goes well they make conversions easily. Studying the user’s intent behind a particular search query will help you understand what your user actually wants or needs. It helps you create proper landing pages and design your products/services that can sell easily.
A well-thought-out intent research always has a positive impact on the conversion rate.
- Easier Product/Service Management
The digital team finds out the signals obtained from Intent research and passes the ideas on to the relevant team. For example, keywords with information intent should be forwarded to the content people as important content ideas, keywords with commercial intent need to be passed on to the product development team or straight to the designers that design the landing pages.
This way, the product/service management gets streamlined easily and quickly. Less time, less effort – and focus is on boosting the productivity.
It’s the searcher’s intent that matters!