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3 Minute read

Optimizing eCommerce Experience Using Search Intent Data

Today’s smart digital consumers demand fast and frictionless eCommerce experiences. The best way to respond to their needs in real-time for any B2C business is to understand user search intent and incorporate it into the digital experience.

In a brick-and-mortar set-up, this is easier. A consumer spending time in the men’s denim aisle in the clothing store has declared his intent to buy jeans. Another entering a supermarket has declared his intent to buy groceries and personal care items. However, in the digital space, deciphering the intent of a searcher becomes tricky. It can be confusing for marketers to understand exactly what potential customers are looking for and how your business can engage with them. This is where search intent data saves the day.

What is search intent data?

Search intent data, in layman’s terms, is data about what your potential consumers are searching for online. Marketers need to analyze it, combine it with keyword research and a study of top ranking pages on search engine results pages (SERP). You can also use the data to understand the demographics, goals, and intentions behind those searches.

At first glance, search intent data might seem like an interesting report of the ways people are looking for products in your product category. Your first instinct might be to use search intent data to boost your SEO effort or shape your SEO strategy. On a closer analysis, it might bring out surprises, such as tangential keywords and search intentions that you did not expect from your consumers.

How is search intent data different from consumer intent?

Consumer intent is defined as the thought or reason behind a consumer’s behavior. Search intent data is only one of the many different ways businesses can ascertain consumer intent.

Other ways to ascertain consumer intent include studying the visitors on your website, buying journey, bounce rates on the landing page, clicks on different parts of the website, and average time spent on-page. Consumer intent can also be studied by consumer behavior on third-party platforms like social media websites and eCommerce marketplaces.

Search intent data can be a treasure trove of insight into consumer intent. It can help you create a data-driven content marketing strategy to nudge consumers down the marketing funnel. It can also help you predict sales based on rising or falling demand for certain products, and eliminate blind spots you might have about the customer journey.

Search intent data can enable you to understand if you’re losing to your competition on a product page or you need to create more content around a specific keyword cluster. Implemented effectively, search intent optimization can also enable you to provide customers a seamless digital shopping experience in some of the most innovative ways.

How to understand search intent? — Examples from the Consumer Packages Goods (CPG) Market

Understanding search intent can be broken down into two parts — observing what types of keywords your potential customers are using and analyzing for any surprise elements in the search data.

In order to better explain search intent for this article, we ran an analysis on popular CPG brands McCormick, Hershey’s, Betty Crocker, Campbells, and Kraft Recipes. Here’s a quick overview:

"Search analysis conducted on the 5 brands with a tool called Similar Web."

Observing types of keywords being used

A quick review of popular search terms showed us that certain brands retained complete traffic share for certain keywords. Keywords such as “Betty Crocker” and “campbells soup” went to the respective brands. Whereas some generic keywords such as “green bean casserole”, “stuffed peppers”, and “chocolate chip cookies” had brands competing for traffic. Other generic keywords such as “french toast”, “french toast recipe”, and “beef stroganoff” went to brands that optimized for them.

Observe the search query your potential customers are using, and segregate them into the following four types of keyword intent:

  • Navigational intent: Consumer wants to find a specific page or website. Example of this would be “betty crocker” and “campbells soup” in the above data.
  • Informational intent: Consumer wants the answer to a specific question. Example of this would be “french toast recipe” in the above data.
  • Transactional intent: Consumer wants to complete an action such as making a purchase. Example of this would be “Pizza Hut order online”.
  • Commercial intent: Consumer wants to find discounts, deals, or other possible ways to make a better purchase online. Example of this would be “Pizza Hut coupon code”.

Analyzing for surprise elements in search data

When analyzing our CPG brands in the discussion here, we found that one of the most popular phrases being searched for in this category was “recipe”. Betty Crocker, having optimized for this phrase, was gaining the largest part of the traffic from it.

"Search analysis on 5 popular CPG brands done via Similar Web, showing “recipe” as the top phrase."

We further analyzed the keywords data to see that Betty Crocker’s share in traffic was well deserved. They had not only optimized for branded keywords such as “Betty Crocker recipes”, but also for generic keywords such as “cookie recipe”, “meatball recipe”, and “enchilada recipe”. Similarly, McCormick having optimized for “french toast recipe”, was attracting traffic for it.

"Search analysis on recipe-related keywords done for 5 popular CPG brands done via Similar Web."

Analyze your search intent data to see if you have any blind spots about what your consumers are searching for. See if any of your competitors are already using other related keywords to cut into your market share or SERP real estate. Insights from this exercise could give you surprising ways to engage with your customers and enhance their digital shopping experience, ultimately increasing not just your brand’s retention value but also sales and revenue.

How to use search intent data to optimize eCommerce experience?

Search intent data is about knowing what your potential customers are looking for. It’s important because 80% of major purchases start with online research, even if the purchase itself happens in a store. Further, once you understand what your consumers are looking for, you can create a digital experience for them around their search intent.

Using search intent to create a digital shopping journey and optimize the customer experience will look different for each B2C business. However, you can start by creating landing pages that fit the intent of the target audience. You don’t want consumers with informational intent landing on product pages immediately; that would scare them off. Similarly, you don’t want consumers with transactional intent landing on long articles; that would bore them away.

Once you’ve put the basics in place, you can explore other ways to use search intent data such as identifying gaps in product discovery, optimizing for long-tail high-conversion keywords, and capitalizing on emerging trends. Search intent data can help you ensure that your products are in front of potential customers when they want them, but your brand continues to engage with them in ways that are not only transactional.

For a deeper understanding of consumer intent and how you can create an experience-driven commerce strategy to stay relevant to your audience, explore our on-demand webinar, here.

You can also connect with our Digital Commerce experts at marketing@altudo.co for a more detailed discussion on how your business can use consumer intent to increase the top-line and continue to grow.

Marketing Team Technical Lead | Altudo


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