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Finding Intent Based Terms For Your Search Marketing Funnel

Apr 27, 2020
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Connecting with users on search can seem overwhelming. Keyword research alone can takes hours, and you're not even guaranteed to rank for the terms. What if you approached search from the perspective of your users' journey instead? In this video, I'll show you how to close the gaps in your keyword research and create a funnel that builds trust and leads to conversions.



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Video Transcript:

As I said in the opener, we're going to be talking about leaping the keyword chasm. And the chasm, what we're talking about is very similar to the technology adoption life cycle that is laid out in crossing the chasm. Now when we're telling our story through search, there are certain things that we need to do to make sure that we move our users from start to finish in their journey. The goal of this video is to give you tips to finding the right intent-based terms to target. So why is this important?

The Gap Between Research and Action

There are gaps between researching a solution and taking an action. Many times SEOs miss this. They don't take the time to understand the funnel and users do a lot of different searches before they take an action. About one in five searches lead to a change in the search query itself.

This means that a user types in something, they don't see anything they like, so they change how they type in that query to get more topic or contextual based information to meet their needs. When we focus narrowly on topics like SEO or keyword research or content marketing, we miss out on connecting and engaging our audience throughout the entire journey and meeting them where they are in their journey. It's important for us to look at the entire funnel process and how our users move through that in order to make sure that we are informing them and giving them the information they need.

Understanding the Funnel

The funnel has changed quite a bit. The traditional marketing funnel is very linear. You've got awareness up at the top and you've got some sort of consideration in the middle and it results in a conversion at the bottom. This is the way it worked when marketing and advertising was controlled by just a few channels. But today the user controls the channels and the mediums that they use to engage and educate themselves. Because of this, each journey ends up being very unique.

Right here we have three examples of possible journeys that users could take, and they are very unique to the specific user and the end goal that they're looking for. Users typically engage in many different touchpoints across a number of devices and a number of different channels. And some of them even continue to make that search or investigate and research after they've made a purchase or did some sort of conversion action.

There's a pretty good short piece of content by Think with Google that talks through these different search intents and walks you through how some of their users based on the click data that they reviewed have used search to inform themselves throughout the process.

More to Keyword Research

Most of the time we look at keyword research in the way it's taught and shown online. We focus on informational queries that deliver a lot of traffic volume. Maybe these very broad terms that we're targeting a few long tail variants. And then we might create a pillar page around it or something where we have this core topic, we read a couple of blog posts around it that are a little bit broader. We do the internal linking and push people towards the top, or hopefully, our content will rank.

Now, not to say that strategy is bad because it's not, but I think there are some missing pieces if you don't look at the entire journey. What happens is you have these core topics and some long-tail variants and then you've got your product and transaction-based terms at the bottom, but what you're missing is that connection where people are not coming in to learn and then after a couple of clicks get a product. But what they're looking for is that second level of information, that second level of engagement where trust is made.

Developing Customer Trust in the Funnel

That's where the real currency of today's economy is, in trust and people aren't going to take that action and engage with you until they can trust you. We have to decipher this gap and then start to fill in the content and the context through that process. The goal of SEO isn't just more organic traffic, at least it shouldn't be. It's about meeting your target audience where they are with the right information, when they need it the most. It doesn't just encompass the top of the funnel, it should encompass the entire marketing journey.

Let's look at how we can start to close this gap using some information that's readily available to us. I've logged into search console and where we can start right now is by exporting the last three months of our data. You can go further back if you want to, but this is an example of a process that I had been working through to help tell better stories and leverage search to do that.

Research to Close the Gap

I like to export to Google Sheets. Once you've exported into Sheets, it's going to look like this. You're going to have a bunch of things down here at the bottom. I've already added a couple here. I didn't want to bore you guys with all the steps and me filtering things. I want to make it a little bit easier for the video, but you're going to get the queries, you're going to get the pages, countries, devices, search appearance. They're going to drop it all into Sheets for you, which is really helpful.

What we want to do here is we want to look and see where the conversion point is, and then from there go backward and look at what the full path of a user could be. For some of this, we're going to use data and some of this we have to understand how users search for things and understand what the process looks like. You can't use a tool for all of this, you're going to have to use some intuition and that's really important when it comes to marketing or sales or running a business. You can't only rely on the tools, you have to rely on gut and intuition as well.

Finding the Keywords Driving Traffic

The first thing I want to do is put a filter on here. And for this example, I'm going to use a very, very high-level keyword, a filter by Condition and Texts Contains and it's actually going to be keyword.

Okay? What this does is it filters out only the terms for the last three months where keyword was in them. It's telling me queries that people have used. It's going to show me the number of clicks, the number of impressions, my click-through rate, my average position. Now what I went ahead and did, and this sheet as well is added in this script, which I'll put in the video as well. Just copy and paste it in. What it does, it tells me over here the query and it tells me how long. So how many words are in this query. If we look at these on average, most of these queries are pretty long and they're specific. What I want to do now is copy this out and put it in a new sheet. Over here I have that information.

Then what I also added was the type of keyword. Typically we talk about three different types of keywords. Informational, navigational, and transactional. Informational is exactly what it sounds like. People are looking for information learning more. Transactional is some sort of search where the intent is a conversion so people are looking to download something, sign up for something, engage with something, and then navigational is times they're looking for a specific website, specific destination.

It could be a location to visit a brand or something of that nature. I broke it down. As you can see, most of these terms that I am ranking for targeted around keyword research template are transactional, so it's safe to say that the conversion point for this funnel for me is my keyword research template and it's something that we've developed and we use and it can be helpful when you're getting started.

Look at what keywords to target. We also have some other terms in here too that are a little bit more informational. Things like LSI keyword, keyword stuffing, some of the technical stuff, topics for keywords and SEO, some very helpful keywords, but most of the terms we're ranking for and most of the terms that people are finding us for are at the bottom of the funnel.

Keyword Research Tools

This is a great one for us to look at to start to build out that full story. This is where you're going to use a keyword research tool. You can use Google Keyword Planner or something like Moz. I like SEMrush. It's a really good tool and you can check it out for free. We have a link in this video as well, you can get a 14-day free trial, for the whole tool.

What you do here is we go into the keyword magic tool and you drop in a keyword.  We did keyword research, which is the term that we targeted and now normally it's going to give you something like this where it's going to show all the different terms and variants based on how I've filtered it through. Using a broad match and going through and here are all the different tools and then all the variants of those tools we can use.

What I want to look at are questions because I'm trying to understand intent and I'm trying to understand user behavior. What I've done is I've checked a couple of these boxes or these terms and put them in a bucket, which is my keyword manager and now I can go a little bit deeper on this research and that's what I've done right here. I've got 13 terms in all with a total volume of 1800 searches per month with an average keyword difficulty of 70.8.

Working With the Information

This is obviously a highly competitive field. It's in the SEO field, which means obviously there's a lot of people especially in search that are trying to rank for terms. Now that's a little bit important, but again for me right now I'm interested in understanding the searcher's journey and that's going to help me really improve the total number of terms I rank for. But also helping that to build trust within the search results with users who find my content and engage throughout that journey.

As you can see, we've got a number of different terms, how, what, how to, what is, why. These different terms where people are researching and understanding at different levels. It's going to show us the volume, it's going to show SERP features. This is important for us to look at because this is going to tell us some areas where we can earn some positioning that's not in the blue links, but it's in the knowledge panel or image search or video search.

Given the estimated click potential, how much of the traffic I could possibly get if we rank in the top for these given keywords. And then it will give me the competition. So once again, I've exported this information and I've copied it in here in the sheet too. And the reason I'm exporting in here that way I have one place to work off of it. Here are all my keywords, here's my volume, here are my SERP features. You can see there's a lot of different SERP features to work with, and then here's all the competitors I'm going up against.

This is important because I can also find more terms, like how to do keyword research, beginner's guide to SEO. These are certain terms that I also could target based on what my competition is ranking for and what they're going after and can help give me some better understanding for these specific terms.

Building Understanding of Results

From here though, I want to start building a story and I want to start understanding the gaps, not just ranking at the top, like LSI keyword, which is broad, and then go all the way down to keyword research, they have a huge gap there in the middle. This is where the manual process comes in and you can use any mind mapping tool. I would normally do this with pen and paper. That's a little bit harder to show here in a YouTube video. What I did is I made it here in Google Drawings.

As you can see, I have a funnel here starting at the top and working our way down. Now, keyword research template, Excel was that conversion point, this was our transaction term and this is the term that people engaged with us. But as we looked up here and we did research, we found a number of different terms. What I've done is I've taken these terms and I've built out a possible user journey for somebody that would end up on a keyword research template.

This isn't 100% scientifically based, this is based on keyword research and also based on the people that we try to target for our website. The first query was why is keyword research so important? So somebody who's looking to understand why this is important in the first place from that type of content, they might start to get some other questions like what is long tailed keyword research and how do I do keyword research and how do I do it for SEO? How do I do it for content marketing? Is there something different between those?

Okay, maybe I'm looking at it for free. I'm looking at it for free. I'm probably learning about the keyword research planner. Our Excel template goes with the keyword Google Planner, so that's something helpful here. But then after that they would say, "Okay, well how do I research competition because we talked about keyword competition?" This would be one of those funnels where somebody starts at the top, converts, and then continues to search to learn more.

A smart marketing strategy and a smart search strategy for this would be to try to meet them each place here along the journey to build trust. And so now we're breaking down the gap. Where we used to have that gap we didn't have anything from keyword research to keyword research template, we have an entire journey of why keyword research is important, what are some of the aspects of it and how do we accomplish it?

Closing the Gap

This is a little bit of an insight on how you can start to close that gap. Really leverage search to a higher degree and begin to create content and optimize your content that you already have to better meet the needs of the end-user and covering the entire journey and not just looking at it from a topic perspective and hoping that everything trickles down.

Again, the goal of SEO is not only more traffic, it's to connect with people, it's to build trust and meet them all along their search journey and helping them make an informed conversion. If you have any questions about what we covered today, please comment below. We'd love to continue the conversation with you online. Until next time, Happy Marketing.

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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