Both SEO and PPC are built on the foundation of keywords, or keyphrases, i.e. what the user types into Google. There are multiple metrics that can be gained on a keyword such as average monthly searches, a rough idea of bid cost in PPC, and how easy or difficult a page 1 result is for SEO. However, the most important metric of them all is “user intention” which should be the first metric used to keep or remove a keyword from your potential working keyword list.
I really can’t overstate how important user intention is – even picking a keyword with a slightly better user intention can have massive positive results.
So what is user intention ? It’s basically about looking at the word(s) used by the user and how likely they are to want to buy your product or service and nothing else.
Let’s say a client sold a vegan cooking book and the goal was more sales. We gather the keyword research and from it, here’s a few different keywords and how looking at other metrics first could result in the traffic from these keywords not working well for the business..
“book” at the top of the keyword list is the keyword “book” with 100,000 searches a month, wow thinks the client, such amazing search numbers we’ll take that keyword. However, with this keyword, the percentage of users that want a vegan cooking book could be just 50 a month, and this keyword is extremely hard and we need to beat players such as Amazon, and the clients site isn’t big enough, old enough and not enough budget to go after this keyword so if used, we wont make page 1 and even if they had enough time and budget, once there they would have a terrible bounce rate from their site as only a small percentage want to buy a vegan cook book, and bounce time and time on site are big SEO metrics google looks at so this now hurts our position and we drop off page 1. So, a lot of time, effort, budget for potentially 50 users a month and it goes really badly.
“cook book” this one has 10,000 searches for example, and its far better than book as they do a cookbook, but traffic to this might want to know how to cook amazing steaks, and there aren’t a lot of pages in a vegan cook book about this. So whilst not as bad as “book” the users intention, ie their need, isn’t met a lot of the time so similar issues on this keyword.
“vegan cook book”, this is now very focused user intention. The user wants a book, a book about cooking, and about vegan cooking, its 100% what the clients sells, but there’s only 200 people looking for this, compared to the above keywords. However they are much more likely to convert to this traffic. More focused keywords tend to be a lot easier for SEO and cheaper on PPC.
“buy vegan cook book” the user intention on this is even better as it has the “buy” signal in it.
so when looking at all the keywords in the data, removing all that don’t have very high user intention would leave potential keywords such as ….
Vegan cook book
Buy vegan cook book
Simple vegan recipes pdf
…. These will rank faster, convert better and have much better user metrics such as click rate, time on site, bounce rates, all major metrics Google looks at and rewards or punishes for SEO and PPC.
Seed keyword ideas
High user intention is also needed in the initial keyword ideas we use in our systems to get more keyword ideas and data. Using this same example, if we put the keyword “book” into our systems, we’d get all sorts of bad data with poor user intention eg
Harry Potter book
how to train your dog book
how to get profitable in forex trading book
etc – none of these keywords will help to get the traffic that is really interested in a vegan cooking book. So when thinking about the seed keyword list to provide to us, its best to think “if I Google this, will sites I see ONLY show me the same products or services I sell”, so if they Googled “books” they probably wont see a single vegan cooking book on page one, but if they google “vegan cook cook” they will.
So the key to picking the best seed keywords is to think about the mindset of the user, as the best thing about online marketing is, we can tell what the user is thinking, what their needs are based on what they type, so when thinking of the seed keywords think, would my ideal customer use this, and only my ideal customer and no one else etc. And then, pop it into a Google search and if the keyword has high user intention you should see sites that offer what your business does, or similar.
Hope this helps and if you have any questions on this then please feel free to contact me.