eBook: Breaking Down SEO into 4 Easy Steps

By Lena Liberman
TOPICSFeatured, Marketing Tips, Organic Search, SEO

The content below is an abridged version of our eBook, Breaking Down SEO into 4 Easy Steps. The full eBook is available for free download here. 

This consolidated version is designed to help you learn what user intent means for your keywords so you can focus your efforts, drive better performance, and measure the success of your campaigns. The full version is illustrated and contains visual data and examples.


As one of the pioneer agencies in SEO, EXCLUSIVE has broken down our strategy into four easy steps. By understanding these, you can see how each component directly contributes to the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. 

  • STEP 1: Back to Basics 
  • STEP 2: Three Types of Keywords
  • STEP 3: Prioritize Your Efforts
  • STEP 4: Track Results

STEP 1: Back to Basics

Ensure that your site meets the following criteria to stay atop Google’s algorithm in these two areas:

Content: 

  • Keywords are naturally integrated in metadata and site body content.
  • Content is free of algorithmic penalties, such as those that result from duplicate content, content with grammatical errors, or pages with little to no content.

Technical: 

  • Ensure strong crawl authority to your most important pages by prioritizing them in the navigation.
  • Consolidate your index to prevent dilution of your site’s pages, while also funneling traffic to your highest-value page. 
  • Check that technical site signals are all positive (no errors, mobile issues, site speed issues, etc.) 
  • Create an intuitive, stress-free experience with category-level filters, product reviews, easily accessible shopping policies (like shipping and return information), and company contact information.

Setting realistic goals is essential. Not every keyword is attainable for every website, but you want to follow these best practices to put your site in the best possible position for success.

STEP 2: Three Types of Keywords

In SEO, intention is what distinguishes each keyword.

The three main keyword types include shopping intent, research intent, and local intent. Google treats these keywords differently to make sure users get exactly what they’re looking for. 

All you need to know is which result type Google is serving for your target keywords. With that knowledge, you can adjust your SEO strategy to better increase your chances of ranking by appealing to the intent that Google has assigned to each term. Note that each term may have several result types associated with it.

Shopping Intent

Take this search at right for “nike basketball shoes for men” as an example. This user knows the brand and product they want, and they’re further along in the buying stages (versus researching “basketball shoes”), so Google’s algorithm will respond by showing them products they can purchase.

Category Page Strategy: 

  • Add content with the right keywords to tell Google what a user can find there 
  • Display products (not subcategories) from top-level category pages 
  • Use product filters on the page to improve user experience 
  • Implement properly structured data markup, including breadcrumbs 
  • Have a product counter on the page (i.e. “Displaying X of X total products”)

Product Page Strategy: 

  • Add content that describes your products, including specific shopping intent keywords like unique product features 
  • Have properly structured data markup (reviews, breadcrumbs, pricing, and products) 
  • Have crawlable user reviews on the page (which also provide additional unique content)

Research Intent

Let’s say another user is also thinking of buying a new pair of basketball shoes, but they have some questions first. This user might look up “how to buy good basketball shoes,” which is an example of a research intent phrase. This intention is easy to spot since it’s usually a question (why, how, what, etc.) with the goal of getting more information.

Research intent pages establish your site and your company as a reliable resource when a user is seeking product information. Not only are they more likely to return, but your site is more likely to rank higher on the SERP for similar searches as a result. 

Start with E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trust)

Establishing this with your buyers (and Google’s algorithm) begins with designing pages that help users. These could be blogs, forums, Q&A pages, buyer’s guides — anything to showcase your proficiency in a topic.

Research-Keyword Planning

If you wanted to make a resource blog or buyer’s guide for basketball shoes, you could optimize for keywords such as “best basketball shoes,” “ankle protection” and others. You’ll notice this has some overlap with category and product page keywords, but it also covers the must-have features relevant shoppers need. 

On-Page Features: Other things that signal a page that will serve a research phrase are: 

  • Including author information 
  • Citing sources 
  • Including dates of publication and updates 
  • Using category headers and anchor links (allowing Google to show relevant sections in SERPs)

Local Intent 

If a would-be shopper wants to see shoes in person, the keywords in their Google search would show just that. Think of a search along the lines of “basketball shoes near me.” 

  • Have a consistent NAP (name, address, phone): This information should all match across your website, Google My Business page, and all the other official listings you have on the internet. 
  • Use local lingo: Regional terms make for great keywords to help Google recognize your store as a place that customers can visit in person. 

BOTTOM-LINE BENEFITS

Because Google categorizes keywords by intent, these differences in keyword targeting and user experience show Google that your site pages should be re-categorized into different keyword types based on the search. When it comes to dominating a keyword and ranking well on the SERP, this holistic strategy can help you rank for various searches with multiple site pages tailored to the keyword types that best suit your company and your customers. 

Example of a Not-So-Obvious Intent Keyword: As mentioned earlier, there are keywords that may have multiple intents assigned to them by Google. A great example of this is the term “buy basketball shoes,” where you’ll find the following search results: 

  • Research Carousel 
  • Map 
  • Shopping Results (Dick’s, Champs Sports, etc. — all category pages) 
  • People Also Ask 
  • Brand Carousel 
  • Images

STEP 3: Prioritize Your Efforts

Applying Intent: 3 Steps to Achieve Ranking Discover Keywords

Start by uncovering all possible keywords for a section of your site. Use keyword research tools like BrightEdge and SEMrush as well as your own data from on-site search and paid search campaigns. 

Organize by Intent

Once you have all of the relevant keywords, organize them based on intent. You’ll want to divide shopping intent keywords that you’ll be targeting on the category or subcategory level from the keywords that you’ll be targeting on the product page level. Page 4 outlines the differences in optimization for these. 

Map & Create Content

Once you’ve organized keywords by their intent, map them to a single URL you’re targeting to rank for that term. Then, prioritize content for these pages. We recommend prioritizing based on the most important categories for your site, focusing on shopping intent targets before moving on to research and local targets. Use the checklist at right for the recommended order in which to tackle content projects on your site.

STEP 4: Track Results

Shopping Intent Tracking

Reporting in Google Analytics and other platforms will work just fine for tracking performance with shopping intent keywords, providing you with bottom-line performance based on revenue and conversions. 

Local Intent Tracking

For local intent keywords, tracking your phone calls and Google My Business results will gauge general performance and identify shoppers that have met specific local intent conversion criteria. Google does have its own call-tracking software, and there are a couple of low-cost options available to small businesses looking for a more complete picture of SEO performance. 

Research Intent Tracking

With research intent, tracking can take many forms. Ranking for Quick Answer result listings is a great way to measure success for a research-intent-optimized page because Google typically displays these for quick-fix searches.

This type of result always appears at the top of the SERP, giving your site maximum visibility. To keep track of clicks on these and other research intent pages (e.g. “People Also Ask” results), you can use software like BrightEdge to measure your site’s visibility and performance. 

Search Console also provides valuable reporting on research-intent phrases in Google Discover. Discover connects users on mobile devices with a scrollable list of research-related topics based on their previous interactions with Google products or content that they choose to follow directly. It’s not limited to showing what’s published on a given day. If Google thinks that a user would find earlier content interesting, then Discover will show it. You can often identify insights about the type of content Google elects to serve by dissecting the reporting info provided in Google Search Console for Discover.


The full Breaking Down SEO into 4 Easy Steps eBook is available for free download here. 

Or, if you’re ready to start growing sales using SEO, paid advertising, social marketing, marketplaces, and more services in our holistic eCommerce marketing solution, contact us for your free growth analysis.