Understand how people search and why they use keywords. Select keywords based on competitiveness and relevancy with user intent in mind.

Psychology of keywords

  • People use many different types of queries. Google provides relevant pages regarding the query and includes relevant info about it. 
  • Make sure you provide answers to a variety of questions users may have.

Proper keyword selection

  • Attract searchers with specific keywords.
    • For example, since we are a public four-year university and want to attract searchers looking for info about universities:
      • Do not use keywords like "university" or "best university" because that's not specific enough.
      • Do use "best public four-year university (in California, of all time, for transfer students, for international students, etc.)"
    • Users will be more engaged in content that is specific to their needs.

Stages of search

  1. Awareness: organic search

  2. Evaluation: evaluating based on research

  3. Preference: narrowing options

  4. Purchase: final decision

  • Buyers' search and intent matters.
    • Users aren't always looking to buy something, but the path and process to making a purchase will be similar.
  • Begin with a broad topic and then refine it.
  • Organic search helps customers gain awareness of your brand, product or service.
  • User preference is when you identify a need by users who are seeking resolution.

Types of search queries

  • Navigational query: When a frequent visitor who appreciates a site's content searches directly for the brand's name
    • Requires little optimization and results in more engagement
    • Shows news and Twitter posts as well
    • Example: When you google "Amazon"
  • Informational query: When users want to gain more info to make an informed decision before making a purchase
    • Middle parts of a buying funnel (evaluation and narrowing/preference)
    • During this stage, users are more likely to see suggested search queries from other users, which could influence what keywords they use.
      • Look at Google search suggestions when researching potential keywords.
  • Transactional query: When a user is ready to buy and they're hoping Google will provide a place to buy from
    • Not every transactional query results in a transaction of money. Someone might want to sign up for a newsletter, set up an account, fill out a form, apply, etc.

Long-tail keywords

  • Long-tail keywords: Specific keyword phrases that account for a lower volume of searches but drive the most interested traffic to the site
    • Choose keywords that best match buyer intent, have low competition, and generate traffic
    • Used less frequently because they're difficult to optimize. It's a challenge to predict the exact long-tail phrase someone will use. But the majority of your traffic will naturally come from these.
    • Because these are more specific, there's a higher probability of conversion due to the user being later in the search phase/buying funnel.
    • Less competitive, so your page will rank higher and attract more people

How users search

Did you know?

  • Only 30% of searches use popular keywords.
  • A whopping 70% of queries come from long-tail keywords.
  • Query length
    • 50% of users use fragments when searching (2-3 words like "rent textbooks")
    • 50% of users use phrases when searching (4+ words like "rent college textbooks online")
  • Question queries
    • 27% used a query in the form of a question
    • 73% used a non-question query

Keyword length

  • Head-term keywords: Short keywords that are highly competitive and have high search volume
    • Example: "textbooks" or "textbook rentals"
  • Mid-tail keywords: Medium-length keywords that are more specific than head term keywords
    • Example: "online textbook rentals"
  • Long-tail keywords: Long keyword phrases that are very specific or super specific
    • "Rent college textbooks online"
      • Easier to guess and optimize around
    • "Practical Business Math Procedures 11th Edition"
      • Very low search volume, but could be worth looking into because the visitor is very likely to convert

Example of a long-tail keyword phrase

  • For "online college textbook rentals," you have 4 targeted keywords within one long-tail key phrase:
    • "Textbook rentals"
    • "Online textbook rentals"
    • "College textbook rentals"
    • "Online college textbook rentals"
  • By writing great content for a page using this key phrase, you are building authority for the topic, so your page may rank higher for more competitive phrases.

Question format

  • Generate keywords and content ideas based on potential user questions.
    • Examples:
      1. How do I find affordable textbooks?
      2. What textbooks are available online?
      3. Where is the best place to rent textbooks?
      4. How do I rent a textbook online?
      5. Why should I rent textbooks instead of buy them?
  • Most popular question types
    • How, why, and where
  • Least popular question types
    • Which and what

Seasonality trends

  • Seasonality trends: Changes in site traffic volume depending on the time of year
    • Example: searches for textbook rentals surge at the beginning of each quarter
  • Do redesigns during low traffic periods, and publish/republish content a little earlier than peak traffic periods.
  • You can check Google for what searches are trending and when.
    • Example: "climate anxiety" is trending the most during April 17-23