Keywords that Convert: Search User Intent and How to Use It to Improve Conversion Rates

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Keywords that Convert: Search User Intent and How to Use It to Improve Conversion Rates

Tired of using keywords that don’t convert? Econsultancy found that a miniscule 22% of businesses were satisfied with their conversion rates. Join the club by optimizing for search user intent.

How keyword intent impacts conversion rates

Search engines try to give users the most relevant results possible, and they do this by delivering pages that help them get things done. In other words, they go beyond technical considerations like domain age and back links to create the best experience.

This is where user intent comes in. The term refers to the goal that the user wants to achieve when typing in a keyword, key phrase, or search query.

Aligning yourself with user intent allows you to produce content and headlines that match search queries, leading to better rankings and higher conversion.

But make no mistake, the technical aspects of SEO still matter – definitely, don’t neglect your meta tags – but getting to the heart of a simple question such as “What do users really want?” can do wonders for your bottom line.

More so if you optimize for keywords with commercial intent, or keywords that users type into the search bar when they’re ready to make a purchase. More on that later!

Understanding the different types of keyword intent

Before you can incorporate search intent keywords into your content, it is crucial to identify the underlying goal of the user’s search and to comprehend search intent in marketing funnels.

These are the different types of keyword intent and their place in the marketing funnel:

Informational intent. Users enter keywords with informational intent when they are ready to learn more about a topic, product, or service.  Sometimes referred to as “know” keywords, users conduct searches containing informational phrases and industry terms such as:

  • Best Bondi Beach hotels
  • How to make lasagna
  • Benefits of losing weight

These users are often in the awareness and discovery phase of the marketing funnel. Marketers who want to capture the attention of users with this kind of intent must produce relevant content using informational phrases related to their industry, products, and services. Infographics, checklists, listicles, and how-tos typically work well for these users.

Why target informational intent keywords? They may not be as high converting as commercial intent keywords, but Jumpshot found that about 8% of search queries were phrased as questions, starting with the usual “what”, “why”, “how”, “where”, “when”, and “am I?”, which still presents an opportunity for marketers.

Moreover, older data from a 2008 Penn University study found that a whopping 80% of search queries are informational, while Moz pegs it between 50% and 80%.

Navigational intent

When users enter keywords mentioning the name and description of a brand or business name, they express intent to navigate their website.

In some cases, they already have an idea of what they’re looking for, and they want to see if the company has the product or services they need.

These users are in the consideration phase. Also known as “go” keywords, users type keywords or phrases that will lead them to the website, rather than type the URL.

Marketers who want to target these keywords can use a combination of brand names and navigational phrases:

  • [Brand name]
  • [Brand name] site
  • [Brand name] Facebook

To spark users’ interest, marketers must create and optimize web pages with navigational keywords in mind, and make sure that those pages are easy to find.

Ahrefs found that the majority of Top 100 Bing global searches as of April 2019 were branded and navigational in nature, with searchers using the engine to get to Google (#1), YouTube (#2), Facebook (#3), Gmail(#4), Yahoo (#6), Amazon(#7), eBay (#13), Netflix (#18), and many other companies.

In fact, there are 46.67 millions searches for Google on Bing each month, accounting for 14.79% of the engine’s search volume worldwide.

Investigational intent

Status Labs found that 90% of users have yet to make up their mind about a brand or company before starting the search. Moreover, a 2016 Conferences Survey Report states that buyers view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales representative, which is why marketers shouldn’t neglect keywords with investigational intent.

Users with investigational intent are midway between informational and transactional intent. They use online search to make comparisons between wedding suppliers in their area, find the best courier that can ship their products to New Zealand, or observe seasonal fluctuations in hotel prices.

These users want more in-depth knowledge of a brand, product, or service versus its competitors. They are not ready to engage, but they are open to doing a transaction.

Similar to their informational counterparts, investigational keywords include informational phrases and industry or brand names.

These queries should lead to product pages instead of content pages. Give these users a nudge in the right direction by making it easy for them to complete a transaction. Include brand or product keywords, clear links, meta descriptions, and images.

Make sure that the path to checkout is fast and clear – Vouchercloud found that 29% of buyers will bail out on a purchase if asked to register during checkout, while 10% will abandon the whole checkout process  altogether if it takes too long.

Transactional/commercial intent

Users with transactional intent are in the conversion phase and are ready to make a purchase. Known as “go” keywords, transactional keywords typically include action phrases and sales lingo coupled with product or brand names:

  • Buy [product name] in Melbourne
  • [Brand name] clearance sale
  • Cyber Monday [company name]
  • Download [eBook title]
  • Bookings [hotel name]

Commercial intent keywords fall under these categories:

  • Buy now” – Buyers with a sense of urgency and are ready to take action will use these keywords, which have the highest likelihood of converting. These are strongest commercial keywords.
  • Product – Somewhat tied to navigational search queries, these keywords include the names of brands, products, services, or product and service category.
  • Tire-kicker – Users who want to get a product or service without any intention of buying or spending money use tire-kicker keywords, which often contain the words “free” and “download”.

To optimize for commercial intent keywords, make sure your PPC ads and landing pages are on point – Wordstream founder Larry Kim found that companies lose 97% of their leads on leaky multi-step landing pages, or landing pages with links that take users off the page.

The solution? Kim suggests using Call Only buttons.

High intent versus low intent keywords

High intent keywords are known to have strong commercial intent.  If keywords are signals from customers, then these keywords have the most potential, as they indicate a strong intent to initiate a transaction.

Keywords with high commercial intent tend to have higher click-through rates and conversions. Targeting these keywords allow you to attract qualified traffic and take a cost-effective approach to marketing, as advertisers who target high commercial intent have lower wastage.

Taking a zero-waste attitude towards PPC campaigns is more crucial than ever as firms start allocating more resources towards online marketing – Impact statistics show the average company is expected to distribute 41% of its marketing budget to digital marketing this year, and that rate is expected to increase to 45% by 2020.

A 2012 Wordstream research study based on advertiser data over a 60-day period in the United States found that PPC accounts for 64.6% of clicks high commercial intent keyword searches, which means that PPC marketing and search user intent play a vital role in attracting qualified, high ROI traffic.

Invespcro also found that of paid ads for high commercial intent keywords span 85.2% of above-the-fold pixels.

Low intent keywords, on the other hand, tend to be informational or navigational in nature. Someone who is still in the early stages of gathering information and assessing a brand or product is less likely to commit to a purchase, meaning their commercial intent is much weaker.

There’s also deep and shallow intent. The former indicates a greater sense of purpose from the user, as it requires them to click through links, read articles, or watch and listen to media – that’s your content.

The latter, meanwhile, involves questions that an app like Siri can readily answer, and does not require much effort on the user’s part.

Marketers would do well to target deep intent, since it targets users who are actively looking for information – zero click searches, or searches where users don’t click on any sites as they readily find the information they’re looking for – have increased by 11% over the last two years, with Google scraping and displaying information from sites to answer search queries before any clicks can take place, and before any value can be added to your content.

How to identify commercial search intent keywords

Despite the existence of keyword types, marketers can never be 100% certain of user intent. For example, marketers can mistakenly classify keywords as commercial when they are, in fact, informational.

One way to identify commercial intent is to search the keyword yourself and review high ranking content in order to assess what Google perceives as user intent. Go on incognito mode and clear your cache to prevent biased results, and analyze the turn out for comparable keyword groups to see what kind of pages Google deems most relevant.

You can also identify commercial intent through user intent profiling, which allows you to understand the intent, relevance, and context behind keywords.

Relevance determines how closely related the keyword is to user intent, while context pertains to the background or setting of a topic.

To incorporate user intent profiling into your overall SEO and marketing strategy, you must:

  • Identify topic clusters that will result in the most conversions
  • Assess existing content on the bases of context and relevance in order to address user intent
  • Make existing content more comprehensive by covering subtopics and related topics
  • Think of other user intents that may be relevant to your goals
  • Use research findings to produce content briefs with actionable instructions

The best tools for keyword research

Google Ads Keyword Planner. This powerful tool is a must in any marketer’s arsenal. Signing up for an account lets you find the most relevant search intent keywords for your campaign.

Google Search Console. Measure site traffic and performance and identify issues to help you site perform better in Google Search.

Longtail Pro. This lets you run keyword and competitor analysis on as many as 13 metrics, as well as evaluate keyword profitability.

SEMRush. An all-around marketing tool covers PPC and competitive research.  

The goal is Searcher Task Accomplishment

Searcher task accomplishment takes place when user intent is successfully met by your content and online strategies. To determine search task accomplishment, Google evaluates the following elements:

  • Search queries
  • User intent or goals
  • Results and ranking of relevant content
  • Clicks
  • Task completion
  • Follow-up search

Based on these elements, Google decides which pages are relevant and ranks them accordingly.

How Contevo drives attract qualified traffic to your site

The experts at Contevo believe in conversion focused digital marketing. We employ smart content marketing techniques to improve rankings, enhance traffic, and ultimately, maximize sales.

The secret to our success is Continuous Evolution. With over 15 years of experience, we execute industry leading strategies to improve your bottom line.

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