SEO Keyword Research – User Intent and the Opportunities

The Google Keyword Tool has recently been updated and there has been a lot of uproar about the new data it produces. There are a lot of people who say the update has rendered it worthless and a lot of forum posts on the subject, this one from the warrior forum. For me personally, the data provided by the old tool was often way off. I haven’t seen a massive change in the new tool data. Maybe it’s just because of the markets I work in. But reading these got me in the mood for writing a post on keyword/market research. For me, one of the most interesting parts of working online.

The Searchers Intention

When considering your user group, most searchers fall into the following categories:

1) Navigational: These are users looking for something really specific (your brand). They are usually one or two words. Of course Google has recently made a change so multiple listings can be shown for a navigational search (try “apple” in

2) Commercial: These are people looking to purchase something. Google will intentionally show ecommerce & shopping listings.

3) Informational: These are people looking for information on something. Google will show less commercial sites for these kind of searches.

4) Research Purchase: These queries are often used in the research phase of a purchase i.e. reviews, comparison of prices

5) Action: These are queries like “watch movie” or “download pdf”

Google Figuring Out Intent

Google still has to work a little to figure out user intent for some queries and it can get help from”

a) Current Events: Is your query current i.e. related to a current event. For example, the Bet Awards were on in the US recently. Searching for these on shows a mixture of results. We get current news results at the top, but most of the ranked data is from 09 – DOH !!

b) Location: Your results are altered with regards to your location i.e. if searching for a generic term like hotels, they will be customised for your region.

c) Personal Data: Your results are customised based on the history Google has built up of you as a searcher.

Getting Keywords – For Free

1) Google Keyword Tool: For me it’s still the best keyword tool to use. Although not that accurate at times, it still gives great data. I always start with the keyword tool to build up a list of both head and long tail keywords. If you are looking for another tool, then I would check out Wordstream.

2) Google Suggest: Google suggest is still a good tool for looking for relevant keywords.

3) Google Related: Google related intent (based on “Clustering Query Refinements by User Intent“) are another great source of related key phrases.

4) Google Insights: My favorite research tool. Not just for keywords, but to create a keyword calendar for your market (more of that in another post).

5) Steal Competitors Keywords: Unfortunately or fortunately everybody’s strategy is up for grabs online. You can tell what keywords your competitors are going after and how they are doing it. To get some keyword ideas, why not run their sites through a number of tools which scrap their keywords (I will update this part – my internet connection is acting up, so I can barely load other sites to grab their URLs —– DAMN UPC !!!)

Constructing Your Site

When conducing keyword research above, keep in mind both the type of search and intent. This will help you build a site that is not only optimised for the search engines, but is perfectly designed for your target market and conversions. Here is a great post from SEOMoz on the subject .

Proper keyword research can not only identify opportunities in your market, discover the intent of different user groups, but also help you build a site that is optimised for your market & conversions.

Special Thanks to Vanessa Fox and her book Marketing in the Age of Google, which is a REALLY good read and has lots of great information on the above topics.

About Kieran Flanagan

Online Marketer who implements both inbound and paid strategies to help companies grow internationally. Lover of content marketing, SEO, analytics, CRO and strategy. A highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack.