Keywords Have to Match User Intent

Writing by Nick Stamoulis

Let’s say you took the time to do thorough keyword research (or hired an SEO consultant to do it for you) for your website, a wholesale fruit distributor that sells to restaurants. After weeks of combing through hundreds of potential keywords, you narrowed it down to your top five choices for every page. The keywords accurately reflect the content of each page and you took the time to update the Meta tags, H1 tags and page content so the keywords seamlessly fit without disrupting the user-experience. Not too long after you optimized the site, it moved up in the search rankings for your choice keywords. Everything looks great…but you aren’t seeing any significant in traffic. Houston, we may have a problem.

There can be a variety of reasons that, even if you have good SEO working for you, your site just isn’t seeing the traffic increases you were hoping for (I mean a realistic increase). One thing to consider is that you carefully selected keywords don’t match user intent and therefore, even though your site is being pulled into the search results, it doesn’t contain the information the user is looking for. It’s not enough to just rank, people have to actually click over to your site. Sometimes it isn’t a simple thing to connect the two.

So you’re a wholesale fruit distributor, right? Well, a very common fruit is the apple, which you selected as one of your top keywords for your apple page. Here is the problem- if a user types “apple” into the search engines, do you really think they are looking for a wholesale fruit distributor? Chances are they are looking for Apple, of the Steve Jobs variety. In fact, if you type “apple” into Google, it’s going to be a few pages before you find any results that aren’t related to the computer behemoth.

If you wanted to go after “apple,” it would probably be better to make the keyword a long tail keyword and incorporate something like “apple fruit” and “apple fruit distributor” into your content. The difference is using the word “fruit.” Someone searching for “apple distributor” or “apple seller” is most likely looking for an authorized dealer of Apple products. While these phrases may have less people searching for them, it is going to help place your website into the search results of a more targeted user who is more likely to click through to you site.

Understanding user intent when they type in their search query is not something that you can learn over night. It can take years of getting used to small differences. For instance, in the SEO world, someone searching for “SEO consultant” is usually looking for a single person to work with. Someone searching for “SEO consulting” might be looking for an SEO consulting company, not just a one-man enterprise.

There is no rule about going back in to your keyword research and redoing it after a few months. Some pages may be right on target after the first round, others make take a little more editing to really hone in on the keywords that both matches the content and coincides with user intent.

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