How does ‘Search Intent’ influence strategy?
The simple answer is that by understanding what consumers are searching for – or even better what they will be searching for – the easier it is to position strategically. But actually understanding the Search Intent of consumers at large is difficult.
‘Search Intent’ for SEO
Insights into the Minds of Consumers
If we can gain better insights into how certain Customer Segments are searching for information or transactional opportunities, strategic implications are huge:
- differentiation – position products around intent (benefits) vs. features (like everyone else)
- trending models – see shifts in business models, as we are currently seeing with eCommerce for example (shift away from DTC, move towards wholesale)
- see emerging ideas – parse data to see what types of ‘big ideas‘ come up in the process that may take a business or brand to a whole new level
- position SEO – position webpages and content around new search terms that emerge, build a new funnel before others in the market
Where are some of the top places to see the data on Search Intent:
- Google Trends
- Google Ads ‘Keyword Planner’ and associated tools
- Google Console for Search
- SEO Software like SEMRush
- Parsing through keywords on social apps like Twitter
There is no one-size-fits-all approach, as much depends on the Category and the type of customer (B2C vs. B2B, etc.).
Different Types of Search Intent
Search Intent can generally be broken down into 3 categories:
- Informational – people searching for specific information
- Navigational – people looking for specific brands or websites
- Transactional – people looking to buy
There are many specific SEO and Search Ads strategies related to Search Intent around the specific keywords, but that is not the point of this post.
The point is to look at keyword trends and ‘Search Intent’ data as a broader strategy signal.
Search Intent as a Market Signal
Let’s say you are looking at a new trend that relates to a specific vertical.
‘mid term rentals’ > see BMTrends – Mid-Term Rentals
- the corresponding ‘Volume’ is monthly search volume in the U.S.
- the corresponding KD% indicates “Keyword Difficulty’
- there are many combined keyword terms that come up
- ‘apartments barcelona mid term rental’ #Transactional
- ‘what is mid term rental’ #Informational
- ‘mid term rental websites’ #Navigational
- ‘airbnb mid term rentals’ #Navigational
From this ‘Search Intent’ data, we can surmise a few things:
- ‘mid term rentals’ is a very early-stage market – now is a good time to be positioning for new entrants, or scaling-up for existing players
- people are generally not sure what the major ‘mid term’ brands are – they are looking for brands that are specifically focused on that niche
- as a default, a small subsection of searchers assume Airbnb is the default platform to look on
- as a transactional trend, demand is high to rent mid-term apartments in Barcelona
While seemingly simple on the surface, there is a lot that can be developed strategically in this market as either:
- a) an existing player
- b) a new entrant
- c) a company with an adjacent product
Trend Mapping with Keyword Data
We could extrapolate this Search Intent data with some form of Trend Map like that pictured below.
As a starting point, at the heart of any sort of ‘Trend Mapping’ is the Value Proposition.
If we put the Value Proposition into a Trend Mapping interface, then we start to create a structure in order to extrapolate Keyword Data into real Opportunities.
Trend Map Template
If we then take the keywords for ‘mid term rentals’ mentioned above, and plug it into the first circle, it would look like this.
Finally, we can extrapolate those keywords into associated ‘Opportunities’ relative to the firm or individuals looking at them.
Trend Map Example – ‘Mid term rentals’ data
To explore the Opportunity, there are many tools in the Business Model Toolkit that can be used to further dive in.
The overarching point is that using keyword data – based on various forms of Search Intent – is a great signal to extrapolate different opportunities in many different types of markets.
Overall, looking at keyword data based on Search Intent can be used as a strategy signal to help define certain types of consumer behavior based on how they are searching – informational, navigational, transactional. It can then be extrapolated to uncover new opportunities in the market, uncovering trends that can be exploited before others.