30 Oct The Booster Seat Episode 12: Keywords & User Intent (The Halloween Edition)
Welcome to another edition of The Booster Seat! This is a special episode – it’s Halloween, of course, but it’s also the last episode of the season. Yes, I know it’s sad, but we WILL be back very soon. So, since this is a special episode, I want to cover an important topic, and that’s keyword research. There are many aspects to keyword research, but I’m only going to cover one aspect of that: user intent.
User intent is a really fun aspect of keyword research. User intent is finding what a user intends to do with a certain keyword. One of the fun things to think about when talking about user intent is finding words that mean two different things. It makes it tricky because Google only has one page for any given keyword, only one page to display a certain topic. An example of this is the word “apple.”
If you search “apple” on the search engine, what is Google going to show? Are they going to show the apple fruit, or the company? It all comes down to user intent. Google’s going to use their massive amount of data to identify which one they think users intend for a given keyword. Now, in this specific example, believe it or not, Google actually shows the company, not the fruit. Isn’t that interesting? A fruit that has been around for who-knows-how-long isn’t actually the number one result for its name. It’s a company that’s been around for a just a few years, comparatively. It all comes down to user intent. Google says that for that particular keyword, people are looking for that particular company.
Now, user intent is very important when looking at keyword research. So let’s go through a couple things that you can use to help you identify what the user intent is of that keyword before you start optimizing for it at all.
First thing is to conduct a keyword search. Pretty easy, right? Conduct a keyword search, but look at the first results on the page. As an example, if we were trying to optimize for “apple” because we have an apple orchard and we are trying to sell apples, if we did a search for “apple,” we wouldn’t target that keyword because Google is going to be showing the company. So we would try and identify other keywords that are relevant to us to see if we can get ranked for those keywords because you will never get ranked for that other keyword because Google has decided that that isn’t what they want to show on their search results page for that keyword. Do a Google search and start looking in-depth at the results and see if your website is relevant to what Google is determining to be the user intent of that keyword.
There are a lot of local businesses that want to show up for other locations that might be outside their brick-and-mortar store or might even be within their service, but they target those locations because that’s where the users come from, that’s where they think a lot of traffic is coming from. A great example of this is a business that I worked on a long time ago. They were a chiropractic office outside of Seattle and they wanted the keyword “chiropractor seattle.” Now, that’s great, right, but what is the user intent when somebody Googles “chiropractor seattle”? So, we did a lot of research about just that. We did Google searches that indicated that the only results that were showing up were chiropractors actually in Seattle.
Google has mentioned that users are willing to travel only short distances for general, or common, services, but they are willing to travel great lengths for specialized services. Chiropractor isn’t a specialized type of service, at least not for this area or search term, but maybe if this customer had done something a little more special, users would be willing to travel a little bit further for that service. So again, location is key. Don’t go beyond your physical location unless you can answer this question: “Can I provide that user in that location a service and would they be willing to travel that far for it?” Again, location is key for local businesses.
Lastly (and I always stick this in here when talking about user experience), is to use your best judgment. Obviously doing a Google search and looking at your location is great, but when using your best judgment, ask yourself this one question: “What would the user want?” and make sure that your webpage is what the user wants for that keyword. If it isn’t, then don’t worry about optimizing for it – if you don’t show up, it’s not going to work anyway. Again, think “What would the user want?” and if you can answer that the user would want your website and would be willing to travel for your business, then that’s a great answer and you should definitely optimize for that keyword.
Well, that’s it! Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you liked this episode and we will see you in the next few weeks. Stay cool.