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Intentions Matter! Attract the Right Traffic by Leveraging Keyword Intent

Asking why users search for certain keywords will keep you one step ahead of your competitors.


Intent plays a huge role in the world of PPC marketing.


Common sense tells us that two users searching for similar keywords may not really be looking for the same thing. Careful analysis provides the context marketers need to identify intent and focus their efforts on the right audiences.


This is important because correctly identifying user intent can lead to huge gains in PPC campaign conversion rates. There is a big difference between someone searching for “boots” and someone searching for, “Size 9 Doc Martens in black near me”.


But keyword intent goes much deeper than qualifying your most likely conversions. It unlocks the potential of nearly every kind of web user you wish to address. It gives marketers the tools they need to speak to search users in their own language.

The Three Main Types of Keywords Defined

Broadly speaking, search users fall into one of three camps when looking for information online. They do this by using one of the following types of search queries:

  • Navigational. Brand names or well-known institutions alongside words like “login” or “website” typically indicate a navigational search. These users are just looking for a particular website they don’t know the URL for.
  • Informational. Users who want to learn about a subject will use specific words to find the information they are looking for. For instance, a user searching for “how to” or “tutorial” content is probably in the consideration phase of the sales funnel, if they are looking to buy anything at all.
  • Transactional. These terms signify a strong intention to perform some kind of transaction on the Internet. This includes buying a product, signing up for a service, or any other action that would qualify as a conversion.


How to Qualify Keywords by Commercial Intent

Commercial intent is one of the most fundamental characteristics PPC marketers should use when qualifying keywords. A high-intent keyword is one that displays a strong likelihood that the user will act on the information they find.


Keywords with high commercial intent are exclusively transactional. Every business has its own way of defining what it wants web visitors to do, and this often changes between campaigns. As a result, most marketers will focus on one of two general types of keywords at a time:


1. Purchase-oriented Keywords

Purchase-oriented keywords are easy to identify. They tend to include words that imply a desire for an immediate solution:

  • “Buy…” or “Hire…”
  • “Discounts on…”
  • “Deals on…”
  • “…Coupons”
  • “Free Shipping for…”



All of these keywords reflect a user who is already far along the sales funnel. Users who are already looking for discounts and shipping information probably already know what exactly they want to buy, and are ready to buy it.

2. Product-oriented Keywords

Product-oriented keywords also indicate a user who is prepared to make a purchase, but in a slightly different way. Examples of product-oriented keywords include:

  • Brand-name searches
  • Specific product searches
  • Product category searches
  • “Affordable…”
  • “Best…”
  • “…Comparison”
  • “…Review”
  • “…Specs” (for tech products, especially)



Since these keywords focus on various attributes of the product, they tend to be highly competitive. Despite this fact, they are well-suited to maximizing conversions, since people who search for specific products are often closing in on the purchase they’d like to make. 

Exposure vs. Conversion: Why Target High Intent Keywords?

It’s common for advertisers to mistake exposure with success. Getting a lot of traffic to your website is great, but if it doesn’t serve your core business, that traffic isn’t generating any value.


Imagine herding a busful of tourists into a shopping mall, only to find out that they haven’t bought anything. If the shopping mall was paying a small fee for every single one of those tourists to browse its display windows, it would not take long before it cancelled the experiment and chalked it up as a loss.


PPC marketing works in the exact same way. When brands pay for clicks, the actions associated with those clicks matter. Exposure is only worth what it generates in sales. Qualifying web visitors by leveraging high-intent keywords is crucial to maximizing the impact of the campaign.


High-intent keywords are an obvious choice because they correspond to people who are ready to convert. Additionally, platforms like Google Ads and Bing Ads have advertising formats that are well-suited to making the most of high-intent keywords. Unsurprisingly, searchers with commercial intent are more receptive to ads than people looking for unbiased information.

How to Identify and Qualify Keyword Intent

The first step towards managing keyword intent is finding out what users are searching for. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great place to start. From your Google Ads home screen, simply open up Tools and click on Keyword Planner.


From here, select your website’s target market. Select the country, keyword filters, and other options that will hone your search queries down to a manageable size.


When Google shows you Ad Group Ideas, ignore it and click onwards to Keyword Ideas. Now you can see a list of keywords arranged by relevance, with average monthly search volume, relative competition scores, and estimated bid costs. If all these factors are high, you are probably looking at a high-intent keyword.


Now you can use filter that data through an analytics program like Google Analytics, or any reputable third-party solution. The software will factor historical data in your site in order to reach new insights.


If you have included a goal-tracking pixel to your site, you will be able to analyze what keywords and phrases actually led to successful transactions in real life. This data represents a gold mine for keyword intent analysis – you can see exactly which words signify the greatest intent.

Continuously Improve Your Campaigns With New Data

Web searches are inherently dynamic. Keywords, products, brands, and user preferences all change over time, and that means that your PPC campaigns have to adapt to changing conditions. Regularly checking and re-checking keyword intent can lead to some startling observations.


You might be surprised to find keywords you did not expect on this list. You may find that high-intent keyword phrases change over time, in response to various user trends. Regularly auditing this data will help you determine which keywords are performing the best for your current campaign goals.


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