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April 28, 2023
How do you think your audience finds your content online? For many brands, organic search and social mentions and shares are one of the most popular ways to bring audience members to your site. But those methods are most common with new visitors. What about people who are already familiar with your brand and want to connect with you in a specific way? Using navigational keywords in your content helps cater to this audience. Today, we’re looking at what navigational keywords are and how you can use them to direct your audience to the right locations online and in person:
Navigational keywords are the words searchers use to find a specific location on the internet or out in the world. People use these keywords to find company websites, online stores, or social media profiles. Some also use navigational keywords to find store and office locations, points of sale, or contact information for companies offline. These types of keywords can help you gain organic traffic, especially if your company has a strong brand reputation.
Related: Search Intent: An Introduction for B2B Marketers
Image via Unsplash by @rocinante_11
Searchers use navigational keywords when they want to visit a specific piece of content or website. The marketing funnel typically has between three and six primary stages, depending on the model or diagram you find. Navigational search intent and keywords come at the bottom of the funnel, even after the purchase phase.
The keywords fit into the loyalty segment of the marketing funnel when previous customers return to your brand for more information or products and services. Navigational search intent may also exist at the top of the marketing funnel during the awareness stage. This may happen when your audience hears about your brand offline, such as from a word-of-mouth recommendation or through traditional advertising. Then, they may turn to search engines to look up your company for more insight into your brand.
Related: How To Target Search Intent in the Marketing Funnel
Navigational keywords help your company make sure target audiences and other searchers can always find you online when they need to. More people than you’d expect use Google and other search engines to find a web address—even one they’ve already visited—rather than typing the URL directly into the address bar. These keywords can also tell you what elements of your brand are most popular with your audience. It may tell you if people are looking for your website, your in-person locations, or how to contact your brand.
Related: How Important Is Navigational Search Intent for Content Creation?
There are a few types of navigational keywords you can use in your content to attract more traffic. These keywords can also help searchers find your brand and its resources. They include:
Brand name keywords are exactly what they sound like: keywords that include your brand or company name. For companies with a unique brand name, the keyword may be as simple as the company name. CopyPress is one of these types of brand name keywords. They can also include your company name along with other modifier words to find more specific company locations online. For example, searchers may use your brand name followed by a word from this list:
All of these modifier words help people navigate to specific areas of your website or to your profiles, accounts, and other services. Some parent companies with child or sister brands may use navigational keywords for both or all brands in content to show that they’re related. For example, Procter and Gamble is a parent brand with many child brands under its umbrella. Its marketing team may use the keyword P&G in content, but also names like Swiffer, Bounty, and Tide.
It’s important to remember that sometimes searchers may misspell your brand name or use a name variation when searching. While you wouldn’t include these types of navigational keywords on your website, you could review them when conducting social listening and keyword research to understand how and why people are misusing your brand name in search.
Related: What Is Branded Traffic and How Does It Affect SEO?
Product and service name keywords are words that describe the things your company sells. Some products and services have trademarked names that users can search to find exactly what they’re looking for. Keywords like iPhone or McNuggets are so popular or well-known in their own right that searchers don’t need to add modifiers to bring up the right results. For less common product and service names, people may use the brand name as a modifier along with the product to get the most accurate results. Examples of these keyword combinations include:
Like brand keywords, your audience may also misspell or misuse product and service keywords in their searches. For example, they may search “Fruit Loops” instead of “Froot Loops,” or “Play Dough” instead of “Play-Doh” to find these products. While you would still use the correct names, spelling, and stylization in your content, it’s important to check your keyword research programs and analytics programs to track how you’re bringing in traffic with these variations.
Navigational keywords aren’t just for digital content. Businesses that operate in the real world and not just online can use them too. Searchers may want to navigate to your in-person store, event, or service location. Using navigational keywords in your digital content can help them get there. Most navigational location keywords are longer phrases. They include the brand name and the geographic area where the searcher wants to find your brand. For example, if someone wants to find an oil change service, they might search “Penzoil oil change Columbus” to get locations in the area. Some common location keywords include:
Location keywords may be some of your less common navigational keywords thanks to device location services. Most mobile devices and computers allow users to opt in to share their location information with certain websites, like Google. When a user does this, the search engine or website calculates results based on the device’s current geographic area. This feature eliminates the need for a searcher to include a specific geographic location in their query.
It’s still important for marketers to include them in their content, though. Search engines crawl your pages and content first before searchers ever find them. You need these keywords to tell the search engines where your company is located so they can recommend the right results to people using location services on their devices.
Related: How To Uncover Search Intent for Local SEO
Sometimes navigational keywords help people learn how to contact your business rather than visit it. For example, someone who wants to visit a new restaurant may look up contact information to call and make a reservation. This happens before they’re ready to visit your location. But, like other navigational keywords, these searchers still want to connect with your company or brand directly. Examples of contact information keywords include:
Searchers often pair these contact keywords with a brand or product name and location to make sure they get the information for the right business.
Navigational keywords can be a single word or a key phrase. The length of the keyword or phrase often depends on exactly what searchers want to find. Most navigational keywords are long-tail keywords. This doesn’t mean they have to include many words. Instead, “long-tail” means that these keywords or phrases have a lower search volume but a higher engagement rate from users. On a graph, this correlation makes a fishhook shape that looks like it has a “long tail.”
An example of a long-tail navigational key phrase would be “Woody’s Italian restaurant website Pittsburgh.” This key phrase specifies the restaurant name, cuisine type, location, and what the searcher wants to find. For a company with a more unique name, the brand name alone may be enough for a targeted navigational search. For example, when you search “CopyPress” on Google, all the information is about our company.
SEO and keyword research tools have indicator boxes and buttons to tell you the search intent of a keyword or key phrase. Ahrefs and SEMrush are some of the most popular options because they give you this information automatically. You can still find navigational keywords with free tools, though you have to be more manually involved in the process.
Programs like Google Keyword Planner, Analytics, and Search Console provide you with lists of available keywords or ones already bringing traffic to your website and content. You can review these keyword lists and separate them by intent. Then you can review the navigational keywords to determine what’s bringing branded traffic to your site or which resources searchers are most interested in.
Navigational keywords help direct your audience to a specific location online. But you also need to make sure you’re attracting audience members and traffic that aren’t loyal customers yet through your content marketing. Creating content for informational, commercial, and transactional intent helps your company connect with audience members throughout the marketing funnel.
The nurturing you do with these keywords helps push your audience to trust your brand and become repeat customers. These are the ones who rely on your navigational keywords and content to bring them back again and again when they’re ready for more products, services, or content.
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