What Are High-Intent Keywords?

How your business can leverage high-intent keywords

High-intent keywords refer to search terms consumers use that indicate a higher likelihood to take a particular business action — typically one resulting in a transaction. The idea is that if a business can effectively reach customers who are performing searches including these keywords, they can more effectively drive conversions. Understanding these high-intent keywords is a critical element of building an intent marketing strategy, which refers to the practice of targeting individuals whose behavior dictates that they are more likely to take a certain action or make a certain purchase.

So how can businesses recognize high-intent keywords? There are a few general terms that express high intent to transact across verticals. Search terms can be:

  • Navigational: intent to reach a particular page on a business’s site
  • Informational: intent to acquire information from a business
  • Transactional: intent to buy

All of these types of searches reveal important moments in the customer journey, but transactional keywords show the highest purchase intent.

High-intent keywords are numerous and varied, but think of terms like “buy,” “visit,” “get,” and “purchase.” For example, a customer searching “buy car insurance in Maryland” is likely looking to purchase insurance in the near term, while a user searching for “what kind of car insurance do I need?” will probably need to do a bit more research before making a purchase. Terms like “buy,” “visit,” and “purchase” express a clear intent to transact — as do searches that include the phrases “near me” or “driving directions.” It’s a simple concept with a high payoff.

How should your business use high-intent keywords?

Businesses should certainly target transactional keywords within their vertical, allocating spend against terms like “buy car insurance” or “directions to urgent care near me.” But you might see an even higher return on investment by targeting high intent long-tail keywords in your organic search strategy.  

Up to 70% of all search traffic may stem from long-tail keywords. These types of keywords are incredibly specific search phrases that express exactly what a user wants. They may have a lower search volume overall, but they indicate truly high intent to transact. An example? “Beats studio3 wireless headphones price” versus “headphones price.” The first query is much more detailed and expresses an intent to purchase a highly specific item.

The benefits of targeting high-intent long-tail keywords specific to your business can be great. There will likely be less competition because you are targeting a very specific search — meaning that your business may have a better chance to rank than for a very general search like “buy headphones.”

Here’s how you can find which long-tail keywords might make the most sense for your business to target:

  1. Conduct keyword research, including using a keyword planning tool to obtain a list of seed keywords.
  2. Take advantage of search engine autocomplete features. Type each of your seed keywords into Google and see what comes up for autocomplete — enhancing your understanding of longer queries customer might be making.
  3. Look at “related search” suggestions at the bottom of Google’s (and other search engines’) search results.
  4. Use this research to build out a list of long-tail keywords you want to optimize for, and get started!

Crafting specific, marked-up content for these long-tail keywords can help customers find your business at the moment of highest intent  — leading to more traffic and conversions for you.

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