When it comes to keyword research one of the most important things to factor into your process is user intent. Two people could search for very different things and use the exact same search query. For instance, if I were to search for “apple” am I looking to buy a new computer or do I need a pie recipe? Which searcher is the one you want coming to your website? On the other hand, two people could be searching for the exact same thing and use very different search queries. After all, “gym shoes” and “sneakers” could very well mean the same thing to different searchers. At the end of the day it boils down to user intent—how is your target audience searching for the products/services/information you have to offer? Those are the keywords you should incorporate into your SEO campaign. Failing to account for user intent means you could be missing out on a huge chunk of your target audience.
Let’s say you owned a company that sold accounting software for small business. “Small business accounting software” is undoubtedly one of your priority keywords and a good portion of your target audience probably searches uses that keyword or some variation thereof. But what about those prospective customers that search for “small business bookkeeping software” or “finance software for small businesses”? Failing to incorporate those keywords into your SEO program means your website isn’t going to do well for those kinds of search queries and your website might never make it on those prospects’ radar. That’s why it’s so important to think like your target audience when conducting your keyword research—you don’t want to miss valuable segments of your audience.
It’s also important to factor user intent into your keyword research because how you think/want people to search and how they actually search could be two very different things. Your industry might rely heavily on jargon but someone that is just beginning to think about your products/services might not be familiar with the lexicon you use. Believe it or not, I still get asked what “SEO” stands for from time to time. Someone looking for SEO services might actually start by searching for something like “how to show up on Google” (which actually gets over 14,000 searches a month). How is a site owner supposed to find an SEO services provider if they don’t even know to search for “SEO”? As the site owner it’s your responsibility to figure out how people search and decide if that’s the kind of visitors you want coming to your site. Remember—it’s not about how you want people to search; it’s about how they actually do!
User intent isn’t always something you nail right off of the bat. Sometimes it takes several months (or even years) to fine tune you keyword selection enough so you make sure your SEO campaign helps your website show up for the right people using the right keywords when they’re looking for your services. Keywords aren’t set in stone either. Search behavior is bound to change and you want to make sure your SEO campaign evolves with it.