Why Keyword Search Intent Is The New Top-SEO Metric

Search volume isn't enough. Learn why keyword search intent is the new top-SEO metric and how to attract the right audience and boost organic traffic.

Written by
SEO.AI's Content Team
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April 24, 2024

When researching new keywords SEOs have relied on search volume as one of the most critical metrics. After all, volume means more potential visitors, but there has been somewhat of a shift.

Now quality ranks above quantity, meaning: Attracting the right visitors is better than simply attracting more.

Therefore picking a keyword with a hyper-relevant search intent for your targeted audience is the new best practice.

Tip: You can find the intent on your keywords, using our free keyword intent checker.

Gone are the days when search volume alone could dictate the success of a keyword strategy. Because while search volume provided a glimpse into keyword popularity, it failed to capture the essence of relevance and user intent.

We need to embrace a more holistic approach that goes beyond search volume and considers the quality, context, and evolving expectations of users - In short, We need to keep their goals in mind.

Keyword Search Intent helps with just that.

In this article, we will delve into why search volume is no longer the definitive metric for contemporary SEO and explore the rise of search intent as the new top-SEO metric that marketers should prioritize.

Search Queries Have Become More Complex: We Need to Adapt

People have become more sophisticated in their search queries. They don't simply type a broad keyword and hope for relevant results. Users now expect precise and detailed answers to their queries.

They have become adept at framing specific search queries that reflect their intent.

In a recent blog post by Ashley Liddell at Search Engine Land, she finds that this evolution in user behavior has prompted search engines to adapt and provide more personalized and relevant results.

Example from X (Twitter) of Google developing their algorithm to support complex search queries.

As a result, search volume alone is no longer the definitive metric for contemporary SEO.

For example, instead of searching for "Italian red wine," users are now more likely to search for "best Italian Nebbiolo red wine under $50." These long-tail queries may have lower search volumes, but they have high intent and are invaluable for content strategies.

Brands that truly understand their audience are better positioned to create engaging content that resonates with their users. By mapping content strategies effectively against the needs of their audience, brands can move users through the conversion journey.

Another factor that has influenced the shift away from search volume as the defining metric is the rise of voice search and conversational queries.

With the increasing adoption of voice-activated devices, users now ask questions in a more conversational manner. This has led to an increase in natural language queries that may not align with traditional keyword research based solely on search volume.

Reaching People Through Social Media is Like Overtaking Google on the Inside

The rise of social media platforms has threatened Google's dominance in the search landscape. Platforms like Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube have emerged as powerful ways to search for answers and, as a brand, connect with an audience.

Keywords that may not have a high search volume on Google could be trending on TikTok or extensively searched for on YouTube.

In terms of keyword research, search intent sometimes aligns better with social media platforms than with Google. Users on social media are often looking for inspiration, entertainment, or visually appealing content. They are likelier to use conversational language and ask questions casually and informally.

Therefore, SEO marketers need to recognize these platform-specific nuances and adapt their keyword strategies accordingly.

How to Research Keyword Search Intent

Assessing search intent is crucial for SEO marketers to understand what users are looking for and how to tailor their content to meet those needs. By utilizing keyword research tools, you can gain valuable insights into search intent and develop effective keyword strategies.

Below, you'll find some of the key factors we consider when assessing keyword intent and some advice on what to consider moving forward:

1. Understand the search query: Keyword research tools can provide data on the specific queries users are searching for.

Look for tools that offer keyword suggestions and variations to uncover the different ways users may phrase their search queries.

This will help you identify the specific intent behind their searches.

2. Analyze search volume and competition: While search volume alone may not be the defining metric, it still provides valuable insights. Keyword research tools can show you the search volume for specific keywords, allowing you to identify popular topics and trends. If you need help in finding search volume for your keywords, you can then use our free keyword seach volume tool for search volume insight on up to 800 keywords at a time.

Additionally, assessing competition levels can help you gauge the difficulty of ranking for specific keywords.

3. Utilize long-tail keywords: As mentioned earlier, long-tail keywords are becoming increasingly important in SEO. These specific and detailed search queries often indicate high intent and can lead to more qualified traffic.

Example from X (Twitter) of the importance of search intent.

Keyword research tools can help you discover long-tail keywords relevant to your industry and target audience.

4. Consider user demographics and preferences: Keyword research tools can provide demographic data, allowing you to understand the characteristics and preferences of your target audience.

This information can help you tailor your content and keyword strategies to better resonate with your audience.

5. Stay updated with trending topics: Some tools can also help you stay updated with current trends and popular topics. By monitoring keyword trends and search volume, you can identify emerging topics relevant to your industry.

Creating content around these trending topics can help you attract more organic traffic and stay ahead of your competition.

6. Keep an eye on CHERPs: Search engines are integrating generative AI in their results: Bing leverages GPT in their chat, and Google is working on its Search Generative Experience.

These Chat Experience Result Pages (CHERPs) value intent even higher than SERPs, so keep an eye on how they evolve. Otherwise, your rankings might start to drop.

Audience Based Research Tool is a Short Cut to Search Intent

At SEO.ai, we have developed an innovative tool designed specifically to address search intent: the Audience Based Keyword Tool.

By leveraging the power of artificial intelligence, our tool takes keyword research to a whole new level. It allows you to provide a key term and select an audience from our AI suggestions or input your own.

You can then choose the problem or goal of that audience. For example, if your key term is 'yoga,' your audience could be 'People looking to improve their physical health and fitness,' and their problem or goal could be 'Increasing flexibility and strength.'

Example from Audience Based Keyword Research Tool by SEO.ai

Once you have provided this information, our tool goes to work, identifying relevant keywords along with key metrics. Here's how you can use our tool to maximize your SEO efforts and drive targeted organic traffic:

Understand the specific intent behind searches

Our tool helps you uncover the different ways users may phrase their search queries by offering keyword suggestions and variations.

By identifying the specific intent or purpose behind these searches, you can tailor your content to better meet the needs of your audience.

Analyze search volume and competition

Our tool provides you with search volume data for each keyword, allowing you to prioritize your efforts and discover those keywords that bridge search intent and high volume.

Example of the results page in the Audience Based tool by SEO.ai

Of course, our tool also analyzes competition for each keyword, giving you an understanding of how difficult it may be to rank for those keywords.

Try the 3 powerful keyword research tools in SEO.ai and see for yourself what AI can do for your SEO efforts

Ultimately, the goal of SEO is to drive targeted organic traffic to your website. By optimizing your content with the right keywords and understanding the specific intent behind searches, you can improve your chances of ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and attracting relevant traffic.

Our tool not only helps you identify the right keywords, but it also provides key metrics to guide your SEO strategy.

By analyzing searcher intent, search volume, and competition, you can make data-driven decisions and prioritize your efforts to maximize your organic traffic.

Why Keyword Search Intent Is The New Top-SEO Metric

This is an article written by:

The Content Team is comprised of several SEO.AI staff members, augmented by AI. We share a deep passion for all things AI, with a particular emphasis on SEO-related topics