Commercial Intent Keywords: What They Are & How to Rank
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Commercial Intent Keywords

Brian Dean

Written by Brian Dean

Keyword Commercial Intent

This is a COMPLETE guide to commercial intent.

So if you want to find buyer intent keywords, you’ll love the super actionable tips in this post.

Let’s dive right in…

What is Commercial Intent?

Commercial intent is the process of evaluating the likelihood that someone searching for a keyword becomes a lead or customer. You can evaluate commercial intent by looking at the number of people that advertise on a specific keyword in Google Adwords.

Why Is Commercial Intent Important for Keyword Research?

If you asked me to name the #1 keyword research mistake I see most often, I wouldn’t hesitate before answering: “Not spending enough time on commercial intent”.

In fact, most SEO experts agree that – when it comes to choosing keywords — commercial intent is actually MORE important than search volume.

Here’s a quick story that illustrates this point really well…

One of the first web properties I ever built received over 60,000 unique visitors per month from organic search alone.

Guess how much that site brought in every month.


How about $400?

Yes, that’s four hundred dollars.

Why didn’t the site make any money? Well, when I chose keywords for that site, I focused on search volume… and completely ignored commercial intent.

Which meant that my almost 100% of my traffic came from purely informational keywords. As you’ll learn in this chapter, visitors stemming from informational searches are tough to convert into paying customers.

But there’s good news…

Fortunately, with the right process, you can easily find keywords that buyers use to search.

And when you get your site in front of those people, turning them into leads and sales is a breeze.

Without further ado, let me show you how to find high-converting keywords for your business.

Commercial Intent: The Four Keyword Classes

When it comes to commercial intent, all of the millions of keywords out there can be placed into one of four categories:

1. Buy Now Keywords

These are keywords that people use minutes before making a purchase. People searching for Buy Now Keywords sometimes literally have their credit card in their hand.

Here are words that tend to be part of Buy Now Keywords:

  • Buy
  • Coupon
  • Discount
  • Deal
  • Shipping

Real life examples of Buy Now Keywords are “Bluehost discount”, “Buy candles online” and “Custom t-shirts free shipping”.

As you might expect, these keywords convert like crazy. They may not get great search volume, but their sky-high conversion rate makes up for it.

2. Product Keywords

Product Keywords are searches that focus on a specific product category, brand name, or service. People using Product Keywords tend to be earlier in the buying cycle than people that search for Buy Now Keywords.

In other words, they convert well… but not quite as well as Buy Now Keywords.

Product Keywords tend to words and phrases like:

  • Review
  • Best
  • Top 10
  • Specific brand name (“Nike” or “Toshiba”)
  • Specific product (“Macbook Pro” or “Samsung Galaxy”)
  • Product category (“Wordpress hosting” or “tennis shoes”)
  • Cheap
  • Affordable

Don’t be thrown off by terms like “cheap” and “affordable”. Believe it or not, keywords with the words “cheap” in them convert really well.

For example, someone searching for “cheap laptops” has already decided that they want a laptop… they’re just looking for a product in their price range.

3. Informational Keywords

The vast majority of keywords online are Informational Keywords. As you might imagine, people looking for information don’t tend to convert well.

(At least not right away)

That said, you can’t ignore Informational Keywords because they make up such a huge chunk of the keywords people search for.

Information Keywords tend to include words like:

  • How to
  • Best way to
  • Ways to
  • I need to
  • Tips
  • Strategies

The best way to take advantage of Informational Keywords is to find keywords that have high search volume and low competition. And create content around those keywords.

Then, get as much of that traffic as you can on an email list. That way, you’ll be the first business they think of when they’re actually ready to buy something.

4. Tire Kicker Keywords

Tire Kicker Keywords are searches that are VERY unlikely to convert now… or in the near future.

Here are a few examples words that tend to make up Tire Kicker Keywords:

  • Free
  • Torrent
  • Download
  • …for free

A keyword like “watch The Simpsons online free” is a classic Tire Kicker Keyword. Good luck getting that person to buy anything (or even click on an ad).

On the other hand, keywords like “Buy Simpsons TV episodes” (Buy Now Keyword), “Simpsons DVDs” (Product Keyword) or “How to watch Simpsons Episodes” (Informational Keyword) will convert much better.

How to Get Objective Information on Commercial Intent

Here’s the deal:

The Four Keyword Classes usually reflect buyer intent really well.


After all, there’s nothing worse than ranking #1 for a keyword… only to find that you can only generate a penny or two of revenue per visitor.

Here are two quick techniques you can tap into to get objective information on how valuable traffic coming from a keyword actually is.

1. Adwords Top of Page Bid

Adwords Top of Page Bid used to be known as “Average CPC” (CPC=Cost Per Click).

They quietly changed the term but kept the dollar amounts exactly the same… which leads me to think the Top of Page Bid is simply the average CPC with a new name.

Regardless, the Top of Page Bid is one of the few ways that you can see real world data about commercial intent. You KNOW that if an Adwords advertiser is paying $15 per click then that traffic must be really valuable.

And if you rank for that keyword in organic search, you’ll have no issues converting that traffic into email signups, affiliate commissions and paying customers.

Here’s how to do it:

First, login to your Google Adwords account and head to the Keyword Planner:

AdWords – Menu

Click on “Find New Keywords”:

Keyword Planner – Filter competition

Enter a single keyword (or list of keywords) into the field and click “Get Started”:

Keyword Planner – "WordPress"

Check out the bids for that keyword… and other keywords that the GKP spits out.

Keyword Planner – "wordpress" – Bids

Just look at the HUGE difference between the keywords in the list above.

The keyword “WordPress hosting” is a Product Keyword that has a top of page bid of $10.34.

Keyword Planner – "wordpress hosting"

On the other hand, “layout WordPress” is an Information Keyword.

Because someone searching for WordPress layouts is very early in the buying cycle, advertisers pay 5x less compared to someone searching for “Wordpress hosting”.

As I said, the Four Keyword Classes are a helpful set of guidelines, but nothing beats seeing what the market is willing to pay for clicks. In my experience Top of Page Bid is the single most accurate gauge of commercial intent.

2. Adwords Competition

Adwords Competition is a nice complement to the Suggested Bid. Competition is simply how many advertisers bid on that particular keyword in Adwords.

As you might expect, the more people that bid on a keyword, the more lucrative that keyword is.

You can check the competition by looking at this column in the Google Keyword Planner:

Keyword Planner – Filter competition

There are only 3 levels of competition (Low, Medium and High), so the metric isn’t very precise.

But it’s just another piece of real world data to use when figuring out commercial intent.

You can also check Adwords competition by searching for your keyword in Google and seeing how many Adwords ads show up on the page:

Google search – "wordpress hosting"

If you see a ton of Ads on the first page, then you KNOW that you’re looking at a highly-coveted keyword. In other words, it’s a keyword you probably want to target.


Commercial intent is an underrated part of the keyword research process.

In my experience, sites that get the highest ROI from SEO tend to focus almost 100% on keywords with lots of buyer intent.

And I hope this guide shows you how to do just that.

Now I’d like to hear from you.

Which tip from today’s post are you going to use first?

Are you going to look at ads in the organic results? Or maybe you want to focus on Top of Page Bid?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.


  1. Najam Anwar Avatar Najam Anwarsays:

    I will go with look for ads because it’s not required the sign up 🙂

  2. Brian great stuff as usual. I also follow you now on Youtube. Can you do similar for for service providers? Especially for sections 1 & 2? Some of it I can figure out but maybe there are differences for say fitness instructors or other service folks.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Kala. Good point: the process for services will be a little different. But the same fundamental steps still apply.

  3. Lina Avatar Linasays:

    Hi Brian, thanks for this article. I am exactly in the process of keyword research and commercial intent for an e-commerce website so as you can imagine these two helped me a great lot. However, you mentioned that the most successful sites with highest RIO focus almost 100% on the buyer’s intent keywords. Is this strategy also relevant to a brand new website? I mean in most cases these keywords are also highly competitive.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Lina, good question. If you’re starting out I would focus more on low-competition keywords.

  4. Saira Avatar Sairasays:

    Great content for KW research.

  5. Marlen Avatar Marlensays:

    Hi Brian!
    I’d like to ask you one small question…
    Which metric is better to look at, Top Page Bid Low or High Range? Should we normalize them both somehow to get a compound result?
    Or maybe we need to tight together all the three metrics (Competition, TPB L, TPB H) to get a more real picture?
    Thanks in advance for any feedback.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Marlen, exactly: it’s all about combining all of the factors together to find the best keyword of the bunch.

      1. Marlen Avatar Marlensays:

        Hi again!
        Now Google shows also “Competition (indexed value)”.
        If we normalize TPB L & TPB H for every KW (average normalization equation) and after that multiply to the related Competition Indexed Value to combine all the 3 metrics together, how do you think that would work?

        For example:

  6. Guy Avatar Guysays:

    What keyword class would you put “Product A vs. Product B”?

    Thanks Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Guy, I’d consider that a product keyword.

  7. Hey Brian, thanks for spelling this out with examples and screenshots from tools. Love your blog!

  8. Hey, Brian.
    What about Neil Patel Uber suggest tool? Effective or not?

  9. Jesse Jack Avatar Jesse Jacksays:

    Hi Brian,
    I’d love to hear about some of your strategies for building links to commercial pages.

  10. The first keyword class “Buy Now Keywords” sounds like those “micro-moments” marketing people keep mentioning. I think it’s the new buzz word. Are you familiar?

  11. One of the most useful guides on the often-forgotten part in keyword research, Brian. Many marketers, both in SEO and PPC, tend to focus on keyword search volume, competition level and forget that if the keyword has low commercial intent, what’s the point of ranking #1 on Google for that term, either organic or paid results. The number of social shares on your under-sharing post add another proof to that point 😀

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Well said, Thinh!

  12. Hey Brian,
    Great stuff! I have just started optimizing my website and I found you to be the one who provides the most comprehensive guide to his followers. I have a question though that I haven’t not been able to find the answer.

    Let’s say I have a website that targets a particular niche e.g. Rings

    Now, according to my keyword research, I shortlist 10-20 keywords to target. Now, How would I do that since all my products would be similar? Would I need to be optimizing for all keywords on the home page? Or few keywords on different product pages?

    Thanks a ton.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. It depends on the keywords. If they’re just variations of the same idea, you want to target that group with a single keyword.

  13. Esiegbue Avatar Esiegbuesays:

    Hi Brian. Great job and very insightful as usual. Any difference between ‘exact keywords’ and ‘commercial intent keywords’?

  14. tj Avatar tjsays:

    Holy crap…this was good stuff here!

  15. HI Brian,
    Just one question: If a Keyword has a high CPC eg: “wordpress hosting” (which is very competitive) and i optimize my content around “Buy Best WordPress Hosting” which does not seem to have any search on GKP (while in google search i see ads on 1st and 2nd page) does this mean that this post is not going to rank/convert even that the SEO result of Yoast/rankmath is green?

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