Understanding search intent
Let’s just look at search from a purely psychographic standpoint. In this exercise, we’re only concerned about the what and why of people’s mindsets as buyers or non-buyers when they land on our site from Google.
The world of keyword research is incredibly rich with psychographic information. At the risk of being crass, tell me if you can instantly understand exactly where the person typing this query is in their mind, even before its finished:
“How do I know if a boy…”
I already kind of know this person now. We can somewhat confidently deduce some demographic info (probably a younger straight female). We know this person looks to Google for advice on boys.
And if we look at the autosuggest suggestions, we get a very rich matrix of all the questions and problems someone typing this most commonly look to the web to answer:
- how do i know if a boy likes me
- how do i know if a boy loves you
- how do you know if a boy a virgin
- how do you know if a boy has a crush on you
- how do you know if a boy is about to nut
- how do i know if a boy came in me
- how do i know if a boy is cheating on you
- how to know if a boy cares about you
- how to know if a boy doesn’t like you anymore
(Duplicates removed for brevity)
At this point, if we wrote an advice column for teens and the search volume justified the effort, we could start breaking down a good outline for a guide around dealing with boys (who, from this glimpse at least, kind of suck).
In initial research, focus on how/why/what questions:
- why do i feel so
- how can I
- how do I know if
- why do people
- what do you do when
- is there a way to
- how do i get better at
Avoid questions with simple answers (yes/no/where/when/who). These will get eaten up by Google’s knowledge panel (featured snippets) and aren’t really “guide worthy” in their own right unless it’s a quick checklist or fast FAQs section typically towards the end of the guide.
“how do I” examples
“how do i start a business…”
Lets say you wrote for wannabe solopreneurs – a good question might be “how do i start a business…” and the common suggestions are related to
- With (no, 10k, 20k) amount of money
- In a \< specific geography >
- In a given context (online, in school, at home)
“how do i get better at sleep…”
Let’s say you want to help people get better at sleep, “How do i get better at sleep …” turns up rem sleep, deep sleep, in less time, during the day, etc.,
Very quickly we can see how these can break down into related groupings:
- Types of sleep (rem sleep, deep sleep, sleep habits)
- Sleep conditions ( during the day, at night, in less time)
- For types of people (night shift workers, pregnant women, in college, on keto, with a newborn, with fibromialgia, sleep apnea, after 50)
“DIY face masks for acne”
In another example, I was showing a friend how to do keyword research on the topic of DIY face masks for acne. There’s a lot of chemicals in face masks, the good ones are imported and expensive, and apparently a good face mask can be made from common and safe household materials.
BUT looking at the keyword data together, we found tens of thousands of queries around DIY face masks + < specific ingredient >, many of which do not belong on a person’s face at all.
This became a great post series for debunking myths around what’s good for your face. If you’re curious you can see Nadia’s resulting post here.
Are there any questions-as-searches that could reveal rich data about your audience? Hit reply and let me know. If you like I’ll take a look!
In this pseudo mini keyword research series within our bigger content series – next we’ll talk about going from question formats to broad match searches as you build a seed list and really start to brainstorm.
PS. I wrote another post just now as well – it’s not super relevant, but chronicling designing my first info product as I work through daily writing series.