Did you know that good search engine optimization (SEO) begins with excellent keywords? Sure does!
However, it goes further than that. Not only do you need to master how to use and implement excellent keywords, but you must also master keyword intent.
What is Keyword Intent?
Keyword intent, also known as search intent, sums up the user's reason for a particular keyword search. In other words, what will Joe Internet Surfer do when (and after) searching for a particular phrase?
When you effectively consider a user's intent, you consider what your ideal customer truly looks for when that person types specific keywords and phrases into Google. Search queries fall into a few different camps: knowledge, website search and action. What does this mean?
A quick overview:
- Knowledge: Some users Google to add to their knowledge base. Think of the last time you became curious about something and how you Googled it. For example, my kids and I wondered just this morning how many hours per day cats sleep (due to our very, very lazy feline). Afterward, I thought carefully about the exact words I used when I asked the question so I could write this post!
- Website search: When users want to find a particular website, their intent changes. They don't search for general information; they search for a specific website. Maybe they've heard rave reviews about a particular website from their buddies that will lead them down the perfect path toward the best recipe, hairdo or pair of shoes. In your case, it'll be about the best independent college consultant on the planet — you!
- Take action: These users want to take action, whether that involves making a purchase or getting advice about something. These users want to do something.
Does user intent matter when you craft college-related blog posts?
Of course! Understanding user intent can help you optimize keyword selection and help you target your audience in the right way.
Why is it Important to Understand Keyword Intent?
Imagine how much of a game-changer you could make your blog: Let's say you focus completely on how to serve your customers before you sit down to write a single word. You don't focus all your energies on finding the perfect keyword. Instead, your people find you because you work to serve them.
You serve your customers carefully throughout their college search, so why wouldn't you also carefully guide your customers using search intent as well?
Does that mean you throw keywords out the window and write about whatever you want?
Not exactly. In sum, you carefully blend a keyword strategy with a solid keyword campaign. In this way, you put your customers first.
When you conquer user intent, SEO and something called conversion rate optimization (CRO), everything comes together seamlessly. Then, you get a higher return on your blogging investment because it completely incorporates your customer and his or her buying journey.
The right people who look for your specific services will find you, opt into your funnel (another topic for another day!) and become your customers. Even better, your customers' younger children also become customers as well. Keyword intent helps you find them!
Steps to Driving Keyword Intent
Take these steps to focus on keyword intent and your customers with your college blog.
Step 1: Consider your customers' journey.
First, envision all stages of the buyer’s journey. This will enable you to craft content to focus on your customers at each step in the process. Getting a complete grasp of your users' intent ensures that you serve the exact people that need your blog. Hopefully they pick up the phone and call you, email you, Tweet you — whatever you want them to do!
Step 2: Identify the intent behind a keyword.
Oh, yes, you still need to find the right keywords for your business. Finding the right keywords involves some investigation.
Let's say you want to create an article called "how to start the college search" for an article you want to create. What does college search mean in the context of your business? Does a post like this make sense directed toward students? What about parents? What part of the college search will these individuals — either parents or students — currently undergo?
Knowing the searcher's intent behind that keyword can also more effectively help you write your blog post. If your content strategy targets students just starting the college search process, you'll need to make sure your keyword intent makes sense before you start writing.
Step 3: Consider your query's meaning.
Let's take a little glimpse into a small (very small) way in which Google works. Check it out: When someone Googles “phone,” Google must determine whether that person is looking for information about a telephone (you know, the old-fashioned rotary phones) or a cellphone. Google uses other words and phrases in the query (also called a longtail keyword) to decipher what information the user wants. For example, the user might actually give Google more clues, such as "flip phone" or "how to dial a phone," so it can then display the correct, relevant results.
Putting forth high quality, intentional content ensures that you focus on the right content for that person.
Step 4: Hone your listening skills.
How do you get better at determining the best keywords and intent for your blog? You listen to your customers! Then you use a full-on keyword research strategy to blend your customer's needs with the keyword process.
How might you go about collecting this information? You could:
- Email them a survey to ask what they want information about.
- Ask them every time they come to your office.
- Send a link to one of your blog posts in your email and ask for a direct response.
Those listening skills can help in ways you never imagined and can only help your overall business — not just your blog!
Learn More About Blogging
You probably already realized that a Google search addresses problems that searchers intend to solve using a simple keyword or keyword phrase. The secret sauce involves making sure you choose the right keywords with clear user intent.
I have a FREE, special offer to get you started, called 6 Secrets to Killing It With Your IEC Blog: College Blogging That Gets Noticed. Don't delay! Get my secret tips so you can craft the best blog for your college business.