Understanding Search Intent

Search intent’ is what lies behind every keyword used in internet search. In order to get a clearer picture of this concept, it is essential for you to look at the search process from the point of view of the person who is searching for the term you are considering for SEO. This will help you to better understand what the person is really looking for.

By carrying out this exercise, you will discover that most keywords can be put under one of two main search intent categories, namely:

  1. Research intent

  2. Buying intent

It goes without saying that the keywords categorized under research intent are those that people type into a search engine when their sole aim is looking to gain more knowledge on the particular keyword. For example, due to spending long hours seated at my desk, I started to experience episodes of back pain. I therefore searched Google for ‘back pain.’ The search resulted in several articles that outlined the causes and possible cures for back pain.

On the other hand, the keywords classified under buying intent are phrases that people type into search engines when they are looking to buy a product or service. In my case, it only took me a short while to realize that there are several products that have proven to be effective remedies for back pain such as anti-inflammatory drugs. I did not require any drugs, but if I did, I would likely have searched for a term like ‘anti-inflammatory chemists NYC.’ It is easy to see that this example keyword has much more buying intent than the initial search for ‘back pain.’

Now that you have a grasp of the concept of search intent, we will investigate how you can tailor your SEO strategy to take advantage of this knowledge.

Focus Your Efforts on Buying Intent Keywords

It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that SEO should aim to ultimately drive sales, not just help gain a higher Google ranking. Keeping this in mind, SEO efforts should be concentrated on buying intent keywords and phrases instead of research intent keywords.

If you fail to do this, you will end up wasting a lot of your time and investing a lot of money on keywords that boost your search rankings but do not drive any sales.

To be clear, focusing on buying intent does not mean completely ignoring research intent keywords; there is a lot of value to be found by ranking high for these types of keywords, but buying intent keywords should be your initial focus. In order for this to happen, your on-page optimization for the product or service should be relevant to buying intent.

Once your product or service pages have been fully optimized for buying intent keywords, you need to expand your focus to research intent keywords. However, this will need you to take a slightly different approach.

Using Research Intent Keywords to Widen Your Marketing Funnel

As I mentioned above, it is easy for you to target buying intent keywords because it is a matter of simply optimizing the relevant product pages on your website. In order to target keywords for research intent, it is likely that you will have to create new pages on your website. Often, the best way to do this is to create a completely new section of your website (for example, a Resource Center) which would contain pages that have information relevant to your industry and are optimized for the necessary research intent keywords. A blog also works as well as a Resource Center in this aspect.

Widening your marketing funnel in this way – through targeting of research intent keywords – ensures that you are able to capture prospective buyers much earlier within the sales cycle. For instance, I did not know anything about the various pain medications available when I was researching back pain.

After I had completed researching back pain, guess the product I would have bought if I felt I needed treatment for my back pain? You guessed right – I would be more inclined to purchase the product sold by the business that offered me the most useful information on the causes, symptoms and remedies for back pain. Put simply, publishing useful information that is optimized for people searching for research intent keywords helps you reach your prospective customers even before they know they require your product or service.

Of course, for this to be effective there is a catch…

A Lead Magnet Is Necessary

For effective conversion of traffic from research intent SEO to sales, it is vital to find a way to capture your visitors’ contact information and use it to follow up and pitch your product or service. Failing to do this will mean that you offer visitors to your website plenty of useful educational information, but they leave your website to purchase from a competitor.

A Lead Magnet is the most effective method of capturing visitor contact information. A lead magnet is valuable content that you offer to your website visitors for free, such as a checklist, guide, informational eBook or coupon in exchange for completing a form. Upon collecting the email address of your prospect, you will be able to do a follow-up message with more information regarding your product or service.

Your approach to SEO will mainly depend on the search intent of the phrases and keywords that you would like to rank for. The first step you should take is to optimize the pages that have details of your product or service for buying intent search phrases, and then optimize your general information pages for research intent keywords. You may then use a lead magnet, which is a tool to help convert researchers into buyers.

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