Keep Up With Search Intent Using Question-Based Keyword Development

As developers change the way search engines view and analyze keywords, it's imperative that digital marketers evolve keyword research and content development processes. Typically with keyword research, you try to identify what phrases people enter into search engines when seeking information.  Google and Bing are doing a better job of understanding how the content matches up with the searcher’s intent and helping them answer the questions of what, how, when, and where.

Optimizing for the entire sales cycle with the questions your customers are asking in “natural language” is crucial for capturing all stages of traffic. Question-based keyword development will make sure you consider all customer needs and how you can develop content to satisfy them.

Things to consider from a customer-need perspective:

  • What are the problems that your customers are having, and how can you help solve those problems? In addition to transactional searches at the end of the sales cycle, you can capture new customers during their informational searches at the start of the sales cycle.
  • Search queries are getting longer, and tend to have a conversational tone, so it's important to use keyword research not only to find the topics to write about, but identify the long-tail phrases to use while writing.
  • With an increase in the usage of voice search with Siri, Google Now and Cortana, it’s necessary to understand how you would pose a question for phrases like, "why does…" "how do I…" "what to do…" and "tell me where…" that match up with the services or products you provide.



Things to consider from a customer’s search situation:

  • What device is the searcher using (e.g., desktop, mobile, or tablet), and are searches performed across multiple devices?
  • Is there time sensitivity to the search (for example, the answer is necessary today) or are the searches conducted over a period of days, weeks or even months?
  • What type of searcher is looking for help?  Is the user experienced, or is this a newbie who needs more information?

Tools or Ways to Conduct Research

Traditionally most SEOs have relied on Google's Keyword Planner to provide keyword ideas and a sense of popularity with monthly search volume. This is unfortunately oversimplified. The value of this tool is not with the keyword recommendations, but the ability to identify keyword volume. There is a significant number of potential keyword phrases that will not be recommended by Google, but if identified by other means, can provide significant targeted traffic.

Other methods to consider when identifying keywords include:

  • Look at Google’s “searches related to” suggestions at the bottom of each search result.
  • Tap Google Instant: As you type in your search query, see what Google is identifying as relevant keywords. YouTube is considered the second largest search engine so don’t forget to check out its predicted phrases.
  • Review internal site search to see how visitors are using your site and what phrases they are using.
  • Consider other sites such as Ubber Suggest and Soovle. They do a nice job of presenting a number of variations of your search query. Once keywords are identified, try Buzzsumo to see if they are hot topics with significant social sharing.

Lastly, it’s key to understand that you don’t need to go after all the keywords related to your service or product. You need to prioritize keywords based on their value as defined by your business goals and the user’s intent. A good way to do this is to rank your keywords by attributes such as stage in the funnel, competitive difficulty, traffic quality and content relevance. By doing this, you will ensure that you are investing your efforts on content targeted to the most valuable keywords.

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