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Search Intent: Look to Your SEO Teams to Get the Why Behind Searches

By Shannon Evans
Business.com / Business Intelligence / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Do you understand why people search the way they do? Learn the intent behind searchers to maximize your SEO.

What’s the meaning of life searches?

While some people chase the meaning of life, digital marketers search (pun intended) for the meaning behind customer searches. This is where your SEO team comes in.

They have the tools to decipher why and how people search certain keywords or phrases. They have a better understanding of how to create content, and make sites more visible within the search engines.

What Does a Keyword Mean?

Search has evolved over the years, both from a searcher and search engine perspective. In the infancy of search (some argue it is still in its infancy), search engines were only able to look for the exact search terms entered by the users.

As a result, searchers had to think in basic terms when searching.

Jump forward to today, search engines understand synonyms and other variations of keywords listed. Google is at the point where it can now answer your question within the search engine results page (SERP). And we won’t even get into Google’s new A.I. capabilities.

The evolution of how people search and how search engines react to searches means digital marketers need to ask themselves this question: What is the intent behind this search?

Related Article: Back to Your Roots: How to Master Local SEO in 2016

Collect a Set of Keywords

Before you can decide the intent behind a search, you need to get a grasp for what people are looking for within your business vertical. Since Google doesn’t share this information anymore, there are a couple ways to still find this information.

Use Keyword Planner

There are two ways you can use Google’s Keyword Planner. You can type in a word or phrase and have the tool populate similar keywords to get ideas, or you can put in a URL and have the tool populate keywords based on the page. For this exercise, I’d recommend to put the URL in the tool.

Keyword planner search volume data example

Once you download the keywords, you’ll find a variety of terms similar to the content currently on the page.

Related Article: Build It And They Will Come: How to Design a Website With SEO in Mind

Search Console

Log into Search Console, and go to the “Search Analtyics” report. It will give you keyword data from the last 90 days.

Google search console drop down menu graphic


From there you can see keywords your site is currently getting traffic from. If you want to focus on a certain page on your site, you can select the “Pages” option within Search Analtyics.

search analytics "pages" results graphic

If the page you are looking for is populated, click on the listed page to get more information. Once you are in the page report, select Queries to populate the keywords driving traffic to that page. Note the “Pages” option will show in brackets which page is being shown. In the example below, it is the home page.

search analytics "Queries" and  "pages" results graphic

Once you have populated the report you’d like to dig into, scroll to the bottom of the page and download the report. This will give you more flexibility within Excel to play around with the keywords.

I’ve Got Keywords: What’s Next?

Now that you’ve got a good keyword set, it’s time to dig into Excel. This part can be a little manual, but pays off down the road. Take a look at your keywords, see if you can find any commonalities within your keyword set.

Think about where these searchers are in your sales funnel to help guide you. For example, if someone is:

  • Considering a product or service: the keyword is more general (broad term). If you are a provider of different loan types this could be searches like “loan” or “types of loans”. Both of these examples show they are aware they need a loan, but not sure what they need just yet.

  • Aware of your brand: brand or product awareness is another important step in the sales funnel. These types of searches can include your brand name and a product/service you provide, like “Mort Gage home loan” or “business loans by Mort Gage”.

  • Ready to buy: keywords are very specific for your site, and can be long-tail. An example: “home loans in Boston from Mort Gage”.

Once you get your keywords bucketed, it’s time to look at the content on your site in a new way.

Related Article: Get the Word Out: The SEO Advantages of a Local, Niche Content Strategy

Does the Search Intent Match My Content?

This is where things get interesting (and fun). Now that you’ve got your keywords bucketed, take a look at the current content on the page. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does the current content match the intent of the search?
  • Is there a way to create more content to better engage the searcher?
  • Are the searches what you envisioned people would be searching for to find the page?

Asking these questions enables you to start formulating a plan for covering any content gaps you may have, and relying on your list of keywords can guide you down the right path for content creation.

Search intent is an integral part of digital marketing. Understanding how people search for your products can help drive your content creation and as a result drive your business forward.

Turning to your SEO teams who have the tools to provide and analyze keyword sets can get you started down the right path to understand the “why” of searches.



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