User Intent vs Keyword Research – What Are The Best UK SEO Company Services Saying?
When seeking to improve a website’s rankings in the search engine results pages, the core task for everyone from the best UK SEO company to the in-house SEO expert has always been keyword research. But Google’s release of the BERT algorithm is just one more step, albeit a significant one, in the drive towards natural language processing and evolutions in deep learning.
We touched on this topic recently in another of our blogs: BERT was introduced towards the end of October 2019. It’s a revolutionary tool in Google’s belt, available to help search engines everywhere to understand the context of words searchers use in their queries, rather than relying on a straightforward interpretation of each individual word. As SEO services UK wide will tell you, the aim is to better understand what the user is looking for from the outset and deliver more pertinent results. So users don’t have to spell out what they need to know – they ask their query in language that is as natural as speaking. Natural language processing then enables machines to consider the sentence or fragment as a whole, looking at all the words in the wider context; even taking into account the use of prepositions such as ‘to’ and ‘for’ that were previously ignored, but can affect the meaning of a search term dramatically. At first glance, this suggests that the best UK SEO company practitioners and in-house SEO teams alike will see the focus of their work moving away from keyword research and more towards studying their website users’ intent. That’s potentially a massive change, but is it fair to assume that keyword research is now dead in the water as a concept?
Not necessarily. For starters, Google estimates that only ten per cent of searches employ BERT to better understand what users are looking for. And the focus for the time being is primarily on US English searches, although Google anticipates extending its reach to other geographical areas and languages over time. Moreover, searchers will always use keywords to define their searches and to identify at a glance which of the search engine results is a close match to their needs. So keyword research and application for professional SEO services and in-house admins alike is still and will continue to be relevant, certainly in the near future at least. If you are carrying out search engine optimisation for any website, you’ll still use keyword research to optimise existing content, as well as when you are searching for new ideas for new content, for instance. But the key to understanding which keywords and phrases will help move your content up the search engine rankings is to really know your target audience and what questions they want you to answer in your text. SEO experts and other practitioners can divine user intent from all manner of sources, like Google’s Featured Snippets at the top of the search results, the queries in the ‘People also ask’ section and the area at the bottom of your search engine results that deal with ‘Searches related to (your query)’. And very often, knowing the kinds of questions your users are asking will naturally guide you towards using more long-tail keywords that are more specific and less competitive.
These findings will also guide you towards writing more relevant, interesting and engaging copy that will win you trust, authority and better search engine rankings. So for the moment at least, intent research very much works hand in hand with keyword research, for everyone from the best UK SEO company to the in-house SEO team.