Understanding the intent behind a keyword has become a hugely important topic to SEOs and digital marketers lately. Of course, it has. How can you be visible for a keyword if the type of content you’re producing is not aligned with what a user wants to see?
Some keywords are explicit in their intent; usually, these are keywords with modifiers appended or prepended to them. Example include:
BUY used cars
Mailchimp VS Hubspot
iPhone 12 SPECIFICATIONS
Where the modifiers “buy”, “vs” and “specifications” give a very clear indication to the search engine what sort of content around “used cars”, “Mailchimp” and “iPhone 12’s” you wanted to view.
But what does someone want to view when they search for something without any modifiers? What’s the intent behind a keyword like “CBD Oil”? In this case, it’s most likely “transactional”; surely if someone searches for this term it’s because they’re looking to buy CBD oil right?
This is what we mean by “keyword intent”.
With that in mind, it’s fantastic to see many SEO tools bringing “intent classification” as a core part of their product feature offering. If you’d like some good examples, check out Neural Text, Content Harmony, Sistrix and, most recently, SEMRush. (There will be others coming with similar methods)
At Keyword Insights we developed a similar, but slightly different metric. We call this “Keyword Context”:
When we talk about context, we mean “what is the contextual setting around this keyword?”. If you’re confused I wouldn’t blame you so let’s revisit our example of “CBD Oil”.
Our hypothesis is that the intent behind such a keyword is transactional. Indeed, using Semrush’s new intent classification tool our hypothesis is proved correct:
Which makes sense. People searching for “CBD oil” will want to purchase CBD oil… eventually. Enter “Keyword Context”.
If you actually witnessed the SERPs for that keyword, you’ll notice a lot of the results tend to favour more “long-form” type and not “product pages”:
This is where our metric, keyword context comes in. For the keyword “CBD Oil”, Keyword Insights would show you this:
Basically, the intent behind the keyword is “transactional”, but the context of it, currently, is “informational”.
We use the “Keyword Context” function, in parallel to the “Keyword Cluster” feature, to quickly find groups of keywords that should be bundled together and written about in a long-form way. In short, we’ll often be able to show you keywords that are inherently transactional in nature, but for which the context of which is informational.
How to use Keyword Context + Keyword Clustering + Rank data to turbocharge your content strategy: Case Study
We’ve briefly covered what we mean by “Keyword Context” and how it’s slightly different to “Keyword Intent”. I’m now going to run through how we used Keyword Insights to actually make use of it.
A client of ours specialises in podcast editing as a service and consequently wanted to improve their existing rankings (as well as find new opportunities) for anything to do with “podcasts”.
Consequently, we pulled together a keyword list of around 11k keywords which came from various sources including Search Console, Google ads, SEMRush and Ahrefs. We uploaded these into Keyword Insights, went and made a cup of tea and by the time we came back, it had finished working (for those of you who haven’t used Keyword Insights before, it’ll send you back a premade pivot table with your keywords already organised into clusters).
We created a custom column called “opportunity” which took into account existing ranking information and keyword search volume and immediately noticed this:
For the keyword cluster “online voice recorder” there was still a lot of opportunities to be had. By opportunity we mean to say that we’re ranking well for some of the keywords in this cluster, but there is potentially a lot more we could be ranking for.
Indeed, when we expanded the row to see all the keywords within the cluster, we saw many instances where the URL didn’t rank at all or averaged page 2 or 3 instead of page 1:
We also saw a really quick win. The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed by the date in the URL (we changed the prefix of the URL for client confidentiality) they had written a blog post on online voice recorders.
You may have also noticed that the context behind the keyword suggests some form of “product page” is the most likely to rank:
So we advised the client to create an actual voice recorder that people could use online for free and redirect the blog to it. You can see the redirect here:
When we compare the two URLs “estimated traffic” in Ahrefs before and after the redirect we see this:
That’s a 341% increase in organic traffic!
So, by using Keyword Insights’ cluster, context and ranking data, we were able to identify and suggest a quick win at the same time it took us to make and drink half a cup of tea.
Another idea is to use clustering, context and rank to find content development opportunities (i.e. content you currently don’t have on your website and so don’t rank at all for). You’ll often be surprised at the number of times a keyword (and its a cluster) has a different context to its perceived intent.
Incidentally, most keyword intent classification tools classify “online voice recorder” as “informational” (rather than “product”) again highlighting the subtle difference between our metric, Keyword Context, and Keyword Intent:
This isn’t to say one is better than the other. We advocate using both in conjunction with each other.