What do real customers search for?
It seems like a straightforward question, but once you start digging into research and data, things become muddled. A word or phrase might be searched for often, yet that fact alone doesn’t mean those are your customers.
While a paid search campaign will give us insight into our “money” keywords — those that convert into customers and/or sales — there are also many other ways to discover what real customers search.
We are in the era where intent-based searches are more important to us than pure volume. As the search engines strive to better understand the user, we have to be just as savvy about it too, meaning we have to know a lot about our prospects and customers.
In addition, we have to consider voice search and how that growth will impact our traffic and ultimately conversions. Most of us are already on this track, but if you are not or want to sharpen your research skills, there are many tools and tactics you can employ.
Below are my go-to tools and techniques that have made the difference between average keyword research and targeted keyword research that leads to interested web visitors.
1. Get to Know the Human(s) You’re Targeting
Knowing the target audience, I mean really knowing them, is something I have preached for years. If you have read any of my past blog posts, you know I’m a broken record.
You should take the extra step to learn the questions customers are asking and how they describe their problems. In marketing, we need to focus on solving a problem.
SEO is marketing. That means our targeted keywords and content focus should be centered on this concept.
2. Go Beyond Traditional Keyword Tools
I love keyword research tools. There is no doubt they streamline the process of finding some great words and phrases, especially the tools that provide suggested or related terms that help us build our lists. Don’t forget about the not-so-obvious tools, though.
Demographics Pro is designed to give you detailed insights into social media audiences, which in turn gives you a sense of who might be searching for your brand or products. You can see what they’re interested in and what they might be looking for. It puts you on the right track to targeting words your customers are using versus words your company believes people are using.
You can glean similar data about your prospective customers by using a free tool, Social Searcher. It’s not hard to use — all you have to do is input your keyword(s), select the source and choose the post type. You can see recent posts, users, sentiment and even related hashtags/words, as reflected in the following Social Searcher report:
If you are struggling with your keywords, another great tool to try is Seed Keywords. This tool makes it possible to create a search scenario that you can then send to your friends. It is especially useful if you are in a niche industry and it is hard to find keywords.
Once you have created the search scenario, you get a link that you can send to people. The words they use to search are then collected and available to you. These words are all possible keywords.
3. Dig into Intent
Once I get a feel for some of the keywords I want to target, it is time to take it a step further. I want to know what type of content is ranking for those keywords, which gives me an idea of what Google, and the searchers, believe the intent to be.
For the sake of providing a simple example (there are many other types of intent that occur during the buyer’s journey), let’s focus on two main categories of intent: buy and know.
Let’s say I’m targeting the term “fair trade coffee:”
Based on what is in results, Google believes the searcher’s intent could either be to purchase fair trade coffee or to learn more about it. In this case, the page I am trying to optimize can be targeted toward either intent.
Here’s another example:
In this scenario, if I was targeting the keyword, “safe weed removal,” I would create and/or optimize a page that provides information, or in other words, satisfies the “know” intent.
There are many tools that can help you determine what pages are ranking for your targeted keywords, including SEOToolSet, SEMRush, and Ahrefs. You would simply click through them to determine the intent of the pages.
4. Go from Keywords to Questions
People search questions. That’s not newsworthy, but we should be capitalizing on all of the opportunities to answer those questions. Therefore, don’t ever forget about the long-tail keyword.
Some of my favorite tools to assist in finding questions are Answer the Public, the new Question Analyzer by BuzzSumo, and FaqFox.
Answer The Public uses auto suggest technology to present the common questions and phrases associated with your keywords. It generates a visualization of data that can help you get a better feel for the topics being searched.
With this tool, you get a list of questions, not to mention other data that isn’t depicted below:
The Question Analyzer by BuzzSumo locates the most popular questions that are asked across countless forums and websites, including Amazon, Reddit, and Quora. If I want to know what people ask about “coffee machines,” I can get that information:
FaqFox will also provide you with questions related to your keywords using such sites at Quora, Reddit, and Topix.
For example, if I want to target people searching for “iced coffee,” I might consider creating and optimizing content based on the following questions:
There are constantly new techniques and tools to make our jobs easier. Your main focus should be on how to get customers to your website, which is done by knowing how to draw them in with the right keywords, questions, and content.
Feature Image: xanya69/Depositphotos
In-Post Images: Screenshots taken by author, September 2017.
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!