Effective search engine optimization (SEO) is predicated on smart keyword research, which is why analyzing the intent behind your business or institution’s keyword searches is critical for success. There is so much more to performing SEO keyword research than simply searching for products and services relative to each page of your site. Search engines go beyond just a keyword or phrase to give you results; they also analyze by search intent. Search intent is what is motivating a searcher to view the content on your site. So, to be successful with SEO, it’s important to include intent modifiers when researching key phrases to help users get to their purpose for searching quicker. Let’s explore the process of intent-based SEO keyword research.
Researching Core Keywords
The path to discovering search intent begins with your core keywords. These are generally going to be very broad topics. If we are talking about a bank or a credit union, think mortgages, checking accounts or auto loans. These terms can come from the individual product pages on your site. Keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner will help you to determine all the ways a user might refer to your product or service. Pay attention to the average monthly ranking of terms and try to include several different terms in your content strategy. For instance, auto loans and car loans or mortgages and home loans. There’s no rule that says you need to only state it one way, so be creative. If it reads well and is searched often, then that’s what matters most. To learn more about developing your core keyword list and recommended tools, read The Importance of SEO Keyword Research, first.
Understanding Search Intent Categories
There are several categories of intent. Each page of your site may fall under a different category, although it is important to recognize and explore all before modifying keywords and phrases.
When you are searching for information about a specific product service or idea, terms you enter into the search engine will read more exploratory in nature. Let’s take home buying for instance. As a first-time home buyer, informational queries will be something like, “How to qualify for a mortgage,” “How to get pre-qualified,” or “What is an FHA loan.” These questions will result in the user gaining knowledge. They may not be ready at that moment to initiate services or apply for a mortgage, but they could reach out for more information if they find that your site was useful.
For a financial institution, individual blog pages are a popular destination page for informational searchers. Having a blog requires keeping it up-to-date with industry or product trends and key phrases, so that your site offers the right content for searchers. Tools and resources such as calculators, can also help the exploratory searchers.
To move beyond exploring to conversion, it’s important to also optimize your site so that product pages are being linked from blogs and you are providing an easy path to your contact page if the user has any further questions.
When a searcher already knows the potential solution to their problem but needs to compare vendors, they fall under the category of a commercial intent searcher. Search queries for a user in this position may look something like, “Best FHA loan lenders,” “Reviews of [loan lenders] for first time home buyer,” or “compare mortgage rates in CT.”
Pages on a financial site that could be helpful for this type of user include testimonials, pages with rate comparison charts, account comparison pages, and the institution’s about page. For credit unions, a membership eligibility page is also ideal for commercial intent searches if the idea is to join a local credit union.
Unlike informational intent, commercial intent has clear modifiers. These will help to create distinguishable key phrases for your content. Some intent modifiers for this category include:
Use these modifiers with your core keywords and you have phrases that can be easily incorporated into your website content.
A user who is ready to convert falls under the transactional intent category. This type of user will be searching for a product in a specific location or for a certain price or brand. For someone looking for a first-time home buyer loan, this search would look something like, “FHA loan in CT”, “Affordable home insurance in CT” or “Apply for a mortgage online.” For a financial institution, the target pages are your individual product pages, online applications, contact page as well as each individual branch location page.
When doing keyword research with transactional intent, keep in mind these modifiers help to develop a longtail key phrase:
Online account opening
Just like local SEO, local search intent deserves its own category. If you are a financial institution with physical locations, it is extremely important to include the state or city — whichever is more important to you – within almost every key phrase. This best practice ensures that your location is clarified on every page on your site.
A search query with local intent will look something like, “Banks in Connecticut,” “First time home buyer programs in CT,” or “Connecticut Credit Union Mortgage Rates.” For credit unions with membership eligibility requirements, location becomes crucial for SEO, because it incorporates the membership requirements. If someone is searching for a location it also means that they maybe planning a branch visit which is a direct positive result of these SEO efforts.
Optimizing for search intent
Google’s sophisticated search algorithms are going beyond the query into the intent of the search. That’s why keyword research involving intent is crucial in driving traffic to your site through organic search. To get to know your searchers, take a deep dive into their intent and search experience. ZAG Interactive has experienced an search engine optimization team that is happy to explore intent-based keyword research with you. Contact us today!