The SEO industry is no stranger to buzzwords. From ‘trust rank’ and ‘authority’ to ‘latent semantic indexing’ and ‘stickiness,’ a lot of the search marketing industry is built around terms that seem strange to industry outsiders.
Each and every one of them, however, is vitally important to SEOs. During the next era of SEO, where keywords are carefully selected and ‘spray and pray’ tactics lose their value, one more buzzword will grow more popular: ‘commercial intent.’
The concept of buying keywords and informational keywords isn’t new. In fact, in the world of paid search advertising, it’s one of the first things that advertisers will learn. For SEOs, however, it’s often glossed over due to an obsession with traffic.
We love high-traffic search terms, particularly those that are easy to optimize for top placements. However, many SEOs fail to consider that 10,000 users that visit their websites from a commercial keyword could be worth as much as 1 million visitors stopping in from an informational keyword.
Here’s a great example: the keyword ‘furniture’ receives 368,000 exact searches per month. It’s not a giant keyword, but it’s certainly a big one. As such, most SEOs see it as the ideal target for a furniture-based website’s search marketing campaign.
The keyword ‘buy furniture,’ by comparison, is a small time target, attracting 2,400 exact searches per month. Because of this, most SEOs would place it near the end of their target list, and certainly after high-traffic general keywords like ‘furniture.’
Compare the top search results for the two keywords, however, and it couldn’t be a more different picture. ‘Furniture’ brings up informational content – two Wikipedia pages, hobbyist websites, and very few ads. ‘Buy furniture,’ in contrast, brings up a variety of furniture stores, paid Adwords advertising, and furniture wholesalers.
The results indicate a clear truth of search marketing: commercial keywords, even those that have very little traffic, are often a far more effective target for your SEO campaigns than their higher-traffic informational counterparts.
Traffic, it seems, isn’t always everything. As it becomes increasingly more difficult to rapidly optimize websites for high-traffic keywords, SEOs – like search advertisers – will have to pay far more attention to the quality, not just quantity, of their traffic.
The key to the picture is found in the data. While informational keywords receive a modest advertising spend from Adwords advertisers, commercial keywords tend to be saturated with paid advertising. Software company WordStream estimates that almost two thirds of commercial keyword clicks go to paid search advertising.
Adapting your campaigns to the reality of commercial intent is simple. Google’s own keyword selection tool, designed primarily for Adwords advertisers, gives SEOs data on the average CPC of certain keywords. While far from final, it’s an educated guess at the value of certain keywords – one that’s backed up by advertisers’ spending.
As Google cracks down on easy link building, keyword stuffing, and low quality on-site content, keyword research is becoming more important than ever. Adapting to the reality – that low-traffic, ‘buying keywords’ are often the ideal target – will help you get the greatest benefits and fewest disadvantages from your SEO campaigns.