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Understanding keyword intent and keyword research

March 2, 2020

One of the most significant areas of crossover between SEO and PPC and one that helps you with both strategies is the keyword research area. It’s arguably the most fundamental principle of both disciplines and crucial to success. Getting it wrong could mean you see no results whatsoever, and waste valuable time and money on it. The rewards you can reap from a little keyword research, however, is impressive.

If you find a specific keyword performing well for SEO, you can start using that keyword and landing page for your PPC campaign and ‘double down’ on it, and it also works the opposite way. If you use a keyword for a PPC campaign that brings in a lot of conversions, you can use it for SEO and build a page around it and optimise for it to capture organic traffic from it too.

To do that effectively, however, you need to understand the intent behind keywords. The intent is the action that is driving the search for the keyword. Three different behaviours drive searches, these are;

1. Informational

a. Keywords that are aimed around an answer to a question, or knowledge on a topic
i. Example: Different Window Types
ii. In the example, the intent behind the keyword is to find out more about the different types of windows

2. Navigational

a. Keywords that try to find a specific website or place
i. Example: Window Experts in Portsmouth
ii. In this example, the intent behind the keyword is to a specific company in Portsmouth, and the user is trying to navigate to them or their website. These are often Branded keywords

3. Transactional

a. Keywords around products/services with the intent to purchase
i. Example: Skylight Installation Company
ii. In this example, the user is trying to find a company that performs Skylight installation potentially to buy, but it may also be informed as they may only be searching for potential providers and working out the cost

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The last example was poor – but there was a reason. The purpose behind it was to show that it isn’t always obvious what the intent is behind a keyword, so how can we work it out? The answer is actually straightforward and often missed out by people performing keyword research. Google it. When you Google the keyword, the results will tell you what the intent is. If you see lots of results around selling the product/service, you know it’s transactional. If however, you see lots of results providing information on the query, then it’s informational.

These types of keywords fit into the marketing funnel (we’ll have a series on funnels coming soon!), and each has a place, and each type is subject to different placement within the funnel depending on where the user is! Like I said, I’ll actually discuss this in greater detail in a future series.

So, now you know the different types of keywords and how to identify them. For most PPC campaigns, you’re going to want to focus on the Transactional type of keywords. Simply because they’re the ones with the high chance of converting. The easiest tool to use for keyword research is the Keyword Planner tool found within Google Ads. There are several different tools out there that do Keyword Research and provide additional information such as difficulty, intent etc. – but they mostly cost money. As a small business, you likely can’t justify the monthly cost of £100+ just for a keyword research tool.

The Keyword Planner in Google Ads will give you information such as Search Volume & Cost Per Click. It will also group related keywords to the one you searched. This is great for building your initial Ad Groups, but as you do manual research into the intent of them, you may find yourself starting to remove them.

It’s not a good idea to just select all of the high search volumes and just press go, although it is tempting. Research the other paid & organic results for the query and determine if the Ad Group is actually related to the intent. For example; Keyword Planner suggested the keyword: Double Glazing Cost 4 Bed House, for my Ad Group on Double Glazing. It’s got a low search volume, and it’s a pretty cheap CPC. I might be very tempted to add it to my Ad Group because my Cost Per Acquisition would be really low and might get some good leads. But, when I do manual research, I find that most of the results are information blog posts and cost guides. So is the intent behind that keyword really to get in touch with a company and book a job?

Probably not quite yet, but it might be worth bidding on that keyword anyway especially if the CPC is low because as I mentioned above, you might get a lead from it worth quite a lot of money. At the end of the day, it is worth testing everything. If you test it, and you don’t get any leads, you can later remove the keyword from the Ad Group, and you might find that you spend £10 and get ten enquiries, with each quote worth over £500 each!

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