89% of customers start their buying process in a search engine. If your brand isn’t showing up in the right places, you’re losing out on sales.
Luckily, you have a huge opportunity to target and own the most valuable search queries: those with buyer intent keywords.
This guide is going to show you what buyer intent keywords are, and everything you need to know about how to discover and target them.
Let's jump right into the guide.
What are Buyer Intent Keywords?
Buyer intent keywords are search queries that show someone is actively looking to make a purchase.
Once you know the buyer intent keywords that your ideal customers are using, you can start to target them with relevant content or paid ads.
Another common name for buyer intent is commercial intent, and in this article we’ll use the two terms interchangeably.
Isn’t Keyword Volume the Most Important Factor?
It’s common for marketing teams to focus on high volume keywords that are somewhat related to your business. But, that’s not always the right thing to do.
High Commercial Intent vs. Low Commercial Intent Keywords
How do you determine which keywords have buyer intent behind them, and what makes them worth targeting?
Not every keyword is worth targeting and spending ad money on.
So, how do you distinguish between keywords with high commercial intent and low commercial intent?
You need to think about your ideal customer’s buying journey.
- What pain points do they have?
- What solutions would they be searching for?
- What words would they use?
Once you understand how customers find your solution, you can start to incorporate buyer intent keywords into your marketing and sales strategies.
To understand the difference between high and low commercial intent, let’s take a look at the different types of search queries.
Understanding the Different Kinds of Search Query
Not all search queries are created equal. When it comes to optimizing your SEO or ad spend, you need to be able to focus on the searches that are more closely linked to revenue.
There are 3 main types of search query:
- Informational queries – These are queries that are very top of funnel, and are likely to have a variety of results. For example, “B2B marketing strategies”.
- Navigational queries – These are searches where someone is looking to navigate to a particular page. They could be lower in the sales funnel. For example “Internal Results”, or “Salesforce pricing”.
- Transactional queries – These queries have the most buyer intent behind them. They relate to a particular action that’s closely related to a purchase. For example, “Best Keyword Research Tools”. Most transactional queries will end in a purchase decision.
Once you understand what these search queries are, you can map them onto your sales funnel. From there, you can start to create content or target audiences with relevant ads that match where your buyer is in their buying cycle.
You’ll need a mixture of top of funnel and bottom of the funnel content that answers all types of search queries.
Crucially, you need to ensure that you’re meeting buyers where they are searching by responding to those keywords with strong buyer intent.
As you can expect, in practice these buyer intent keywords manifest themselves in a range of ways. Some are going to be extremely valuable, whereas others won’t be as useful for your business.
Let’s take a look at the 4 main types of buyer intent keywords.
The Different Types of Buyer Intent Keywords
1. “Buy Now” Keywords
These are self-explanatory. If someone is looking to “buy x now” we can assume they’re ready and want to make a purchase. They’re not looking for review sites or long blog posts on the topic. They’re looking for a vendor who’s going to sell them the solution they’re looking for.
As you can see in the image above, when you type “buy CRM” into Google, you’ll see ads from a range of CRM companies. They know it’s a keyword with higher buyer intent, and are willing to spend money targeting it.
2. “Product Search” Keywords
When someone knows they have a problem and know that there is a potential solution to it, they’ll use a product search keyword.
“Best email marketing tools” is an example of a product search keyword in action.
These show buyer intent because someone is preparing to make a purchase, and they're actively researching to find the best product for their needs.
It’s often worth targeting Product Search keywords in your content or ad campaigns, as you’ll be putting your solution in front of your buyer at an ideal time.
One factor to note is that these keywords will generally be quite expensive to target with ads, and the organic results will be competitive to rank for. But, the effort could pay off in the long run as your brand will be in front of potential customers when they're actively researching.
3. “Informational” Keywords
The third type of keyword that signals buyer intent is “Informational” keywords. As the name suggests, these are keywords and queries that buyers will use when they're looking for information about a problem they’re having, or a solution they’re evaluating.
These keywords are higher in the sales funnel and have a lower level of buyer intent compared to the keyword types we’ve already seen above.
Despite being earlier in the buying cycle funnel, informational keywords can be critical to the final decision.
Take the above image. If someone is choosing an email marketing tool such as Mailchimp they’ll want to ensure it’s GDPR Compliant.
As we can see, Mailchimp answers this query with their content, thus answering the informational query, and hopefully moving the searcher towards becoming a customer.
You should ensure you’re creating strategic content around informational keywords, as it’s a great time to reassure and convince potential buyers that your solution is ideal for them.
If you’re using an intent data solution like Internal Results you can discover when businesses are searching for keywords like this and in the market for a solution similar to yours.
4. Low Purchase Intent Keywords
Finally, we have Low Purchase Intent keywords. An example of a low purchase intent keyword is the word “Free”. If someone includes that in their search query, they probably aren’t going to open their wallet.
If you’re selling a DTC product or run an eCommerce store, these won’t be useful to you, as you aren’t going to ship products for free.
But, if you have a freemium model you may still want to go after these keywords. As long as you can effectively convert free users to paying customers, low purchase intent keywords could provide a valuable source of traffic.
Some low purchase intent keywords are very competitive, particularly in the SaaS and IT space. For example, here are the search results for “free project management software”.
As you can see, 3 companies are bidding on this keyword (and other companies’ ads pop up if we go to Page 2 of the search results). It's a low purchase intent keyword, but companies operating on a freemium model know that these low intent searches can be worth going after.
It’s important to note that if you have no free or affordable pricing options, then going after these terms is a risk. While you may still convert some buyers, other searches will want a free solution and bounce from your site.
How to Identify Buyer Intent Keywords
Now know what buyer intent keywords are, you’ll want to find the keywords most relevant to your business.
Let’s take a look at three simple ways to identify your buyer intent keywords.
You can start by doing a Google search for queries related to your solution.
Generally, keywords with high purchase intent will have multiple ads, and they will often include a direct Call-To-Action such as Start Free Trial, or Buy Now.
You can also scroll down to the bottom of the page and review the Related Searches.
While these are only suggestions and you won’t always find relevant suggestions here, it can be a goldmine for searches with high buyer intent that can give your team some great ideas to create content around.
2. Keyword Research Tools (Ahrefs, SEMrush)
You can use keyword research tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush (most good tools should work!).
With these tools, you can quickly find a list of high purchase intent keywords with a simple process. Here's how you can do it with Ahrefs.
Step 1: Put the keyword that best describes your solution into the Keyword Explorer.
Step 2: Look at the results for the keyword ideas “Having Same Terms”.
Step 3: You’ll now be able to see a list of keywords that directly include your target keyword. You’ll see a range of queries, but expect to find high buyer intent keywords such as:
•“keyword + tools“
•“Best keyword for x”
You'll need to filter through the results to find the most relevant queries, but you should end up with a list of keywords that your marketing team can target in your next campaign.
3. Customer Surveys
Another amazing method to find keywords that have buyer intent behind them is simply asking your customers.
If you have a web-based product or service, then during the on-boarding you should include an open-ended question.
This question could as simple as:
“What problems do you have that led you to our solution?”
Once you know your customers’ pain points in their own words, you can create useful content around those, helping guide similar potential customers to your website in the future.
If you want to target buyers when they’re actively searching for solutions to problems that you can help with, creating a strategy around buyer intent keywords is going to pay dividends.
You’ll see lower traffic than if you only targeted higher volume but lower purchase intent keywords, however, the higher conversion rates from those high purchase intent keywords will lead to more sales.
If you want to learn more about buyer intent, check out our in-depth Guide to Intent Data here.