4 Ways to Evaluate Keyword Intent

December 5, 2012: We all know the backbone of any good SEO program is selecting the proper keywords to target. What does a company offer and what keywords do customers use to search for it?

One factor that can often be overlooked when choosing the right keywords is the keyword intent. While a keyword may seem valuable on the surface (i.e., it has strong search volume, it describes the service/product, and it’s used by competitors), do you know what people are really looking for when they search it?

Here are four ways to evaluate keyword intent:

1. Search Result Content

It’s easy to look at the sites appearing for a specific keyword, but you should also look at the type of content being shown. Are the results made up of home pages, blog posts, product pages, resource papers or something different?

The type of content being shown will give you an idea of what the search engines think people are looking for and can help you determine if the keyword is relevant to your site.

Tip: The type of content shown can also help you define content targets. If all the results that appear are blog posts, you should think about including that target keyword in your blog posts as well.

2. Related Searches

When searching in Google and Bing, you’ll often see a “related search result” box in the search results. Pay attention to them.

The related searches are a great indication of search intent. Why? Because they tell you what else people are looking for when they search on a particular phrase.

For example, if we look at a search for “email marketing software,” we see the following related searches:

By looking at these related searches, I can make at least two assumptions:

  • People searching for “email marketing software” are most likely in the early stages of the buying cycle.
  • There are a number of people looking for free ways to do this so I’m probably going to get some unqualified traffic should I target this term.

Knowing these two factors can help me plan my keyword strategy and content strategies as well as help me drive my lead gen. strategy.

3. Google Instant

We know there are some funny Google suggestions out there, but for the most part, Google Instant is a good way to gauge search intent.

Simply start typing your keyword phrases into the search box and see what comes up.

If we stick with our “email marketing” example, we see that people are looking for services, solutions, and tips.

If we continue even further and include software, we start to see some of the keywords we saw in the related searches.

As you put all of these things together, you start to develop a more clear understanding of what people are looking for when they search on these terms.

4. Quora

If you haven’t been in Quora lately, head on over there and check it out. There are a lot of really interesting and informative conversations happening.

The nice thing about Quora is it’s sorted by topics and it allows you to follow specific topics and questions that interest you. It’s also another great place to do some research and evaluate intent.

This time, let’s assume that I’m actually an email marketing consultant doing keyword research for my site. “Email marketing service” seems like it would be a fit but what happens when we look at the Quora results?

Here we start to see that people looking for “email marketing service” probably are targeting providers or platforms. This may not be the best fit for my site.

Tip: When evaluating keyword intent through Quora, take a look at the questions being asked and, more importantly, the answers being given. This allows you to see how people are actually interpreting questions.

The key to choosing the right keywords is understanding the keywords and how people use them. By using the above four ways to evaluate keyword intent, you can start to understand how the keywords are being searched and ensure you’re targeting the right phrases for your site and your audience.

  • http://twitter.com/brickmarketing Nick Stamoulis

    When selecting keywords you need to consider more than the search volume. Relevancy is always the most important factor. Selecting the wrong keywords that aren’t quite accurate will result in the wrong traffic coming to your site that won’t convert.

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