Keyword Research: Determining the Commercial Intent of a Keyword

Posted on Apr 20 2015 - 5:02am by admin

keyword buy
Ok, so here’s the deal. You’ve found some good potential niche markets that are popular in our how to find a profitable niche to make money online from.

Now you need to check to see if you can make money in those niches.

That is, will people coming to your website if you rank on the front page of google for that term make you money in some way.

In other words, we need to determine the searchers’ commercial intent.

There are a couple things we can look at, once we pick out some niches, to tell if there’s some commercial intent behind the traffic.

Commercial Intent is a word you might hear tossed around on SEO and marketing blogs. It sounds scary, but it’s rather simple.

Commercial Intent simply means ‘how likely are you to make money from your readers‘. That is, will your visitors clicks on an ad, buy a product, or in some way commit to an action that pays you something.

Getting traffic to a website is one thing, but making money from that traffic is another thing entirely. There is quantity of traffic and there is the quality of traffic — these are not the same, not by a long shot.

I’ve ranked websites that have garnered thousands of visitors per day only to find I made a couple dollars from the traffic. I’ve ranked websites that have only received less than a hundred people a day and made $50 dollars a day ore more from those sites.

So the quality of the visitor (the commercial intent) is of utmost importance. There is no worse feeling when you spend months working on a website only to find you simply can’t make money with it because your searchers don’t covert.

How to Find A Keyword’s Commercial Intent

There are a couple solid means of finding out a keyword’s commercial intent. As rules of  thumb go, these are good enough to reasonably predict how good a keyword will be for making money with.

You can never be absolutely certain, but if you follow these indicators as your rule of thumb, it’s unlikely that you won’t make money IF you rank your website for those keyword terms.

The 4 Major Keyword Types

There are four types of keywords. You can shove nearly every type of keyword into one of these four broad keyword category types. These make a world of difference to how well the visitors typing them who end up on your website will convert (and make you money).

1. Buying Keywords (THE BEST Keywords to target)

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These are keyword phrases that indicate the searcher is looking to buy something (some marketeering circles call these ‘Transactional keywords.’

When people type these phrases into the search engine, these searchers already have their hands on their credit cards. The keyword signifies the searcher has already decided to buy the product/item/offer.

It follows that BUYING keywords are HIGHLY valuable keywords to rank for. Ranking for them pretty much guarantees you will make money — and if you are not, you are doing something wrong.

However, this also means these keywords tend to be very competitive to rank for because everyone and their mother’s step-brother is trying to rank for them usually. You’ll find online that the more money there’s in a niche, the more competition you will face.

Examples of ‘Buying Keywords’:

  • BUY
  • DEAL(S)

If you are targeting a keyword phrase with any of the above keywords in, you can make money.  Some examples of these keywords would be:

  • ‘buy running shoes’
  • ‘godaddy host coupon’
  • ‘wordpress plugins for sale’
  • cheap art paintings

I had a number of ‘Buying’ keyword websites at one point and they converted VERY well for the product/service they ranked for. I can personally tell you from first hand experience, you do want to rank for these terms — if you see a set of niche keywords that get a decent amount of searches with BUY, CHEAP, or FOR SALE keyword terms, it’s a sign the niche keyword term may be a pretty good one.

In my experience, you can make decent money with only a little (called trickle traffic) search traffic finding your site through BUYING keywords. 

2. Product Keywords

These are keywords that contain the name of a specific product, brand, or service. While not as good as the ‘buying’ keywords listed above, they can still convert pretty well.

I used to make small mini sites based around product keywords and some of them (but not all) converted very well with adsense and amazon.

People who type in product keywords are typically very interested in finding out about a product. They may not yet be ready to buy, but they are certainly pretty close.

Examples of Product Keywords:

  • Review
  • Best
  • Top
  • Cheapest
  • Affordable
  • Compared
  • Comparison
  • Branded searches (brand name goods)
  • Specific products (“iPhone 6”, ‘Samsung Note 4’, etc.)
  • Product categories (“winter coats”, “ant killer”, “hiking accessories” etc.)

Some examples:

  • Nike Shoes Reviews
  • Best Samsung Android Phones of 2015
  • WordPress Thesis Theme Review
  • Top Iphone 6 Cases
  • WordPress Plugins Compared
  • Best Toys for Kids

Product Keywords can be a  virtual goldmine. While they are (usually) not as good as BUYING Keywords, the searcher usually has nearly decided on making a purchase. They just need to be convinced — and this is where the quality of your content and landing page can turn the potential buyer into a buyer. They tend to convert now rather than later.

There’s also a difference between the keywords.

Product and brand product keywords tend to convert very well and sooner with less hesitation on the part of the searcher, but expect some cut-throat competition for these terms.

Note, some of the very best money making keywords happen when you take a BUYING keyword and combine it with a branded or product search. So something like BUY nikes shoes (a buying branded product search) or BUY hiking books (a buying product category search)

They Review, Best, Top, and Comparison PRODUCT keywords may initially not be as good as BUYING keywords or the brand search keywords or product search keywords, but they indicate the searcher is seriously considering making a purchase IF you can convince them. Again, this is where your content and landing page can convert those searchers into a buyer.

Personally, ‘best’ and ‘review’ and ‘top’ are some of my favorite keywords to target. They often have less competition then the other Product Keyword types because they don’t convert as well without serious work on your part. But if you really put the time into creating quality content around those keywords, you can kill it.

3. Informational / Question Keywords

These are keywords based around information — specifically, the searcher is looking for information.  They do not convert nearly as well as Buying or Product keywords, but given the right offers and information, may occasionally convert if you persuade the reader to bases on the content of your landing page and the type of offers/ads presented to the searcher and the niche.


There are different levels of informational keywords with some being better than others.

In my experience, you typically need a decent amount of traffic to make OK money from informational keywords.

Some examples of Information / Question keywords:

  • How To
  • What Is
  • Why is
  • Ways To
  • Learn To
  • Why Does

Some examples of these type of keywords:

  • How to Get Rid of Pimples
  • How to Make Coffee
  • Ways to Get Rich
  • What is a Loan

Now, some of the best HIDDEN niches are found in the Informational keywords. Why?  Because while many of these may not convert well compared to the Buying or Product keywords, some of them convert exceptionally well. And since most marketers go after the BUY and the PRODUCT keywords, leaving the Informational keywords/niches alone, it can mean it’s far easier to rank a website in these niches, depending on the type of niche.

Keep in mind the type of informational keywords and how much money you can make from them are HIGHLY dependent on the TYPE of niche. If the niche is one where there is not a problem that needs to be solved (and some sort of product / commercial solution out there that can help with that) or desperation on the part of the searcher, then it’s hard to make money.

4. Freebie Keywords

These are typically keyword phrases that people type in the search to get something they do not expect to pay for. Generally, this is a very bad thing for you. If you get a lot of traffic from these types of keywords, kiss any chance of making money goodbye.

Some examples:

  • FREE

For example, something like ‘free wordpress plugins’ won’t convert very well, while a keyword phrase like ‘buy wordpress plugins’ or ‘cheap wordpress plugins’ or ‘wordpress plugin reviews’ will convert.

5. Navigational Keywords

This is another category. For the sake of completion I mention it here but it’s not relevant to our discussion.

These are search terms that are concerned with finding a specific website. Think when you type a brand name into a website or part of a URL — you are trying to find the website associated with that brand.

If you get these searches and YOU are the BRAND, congratulations — you’ve done a good job marketing and you can make money from those searchers (but you won’t know what they are looking for specifically).

If you are NOT the BRAND, forget about this traffic.

 ‘A Desperate Niche Problem’

Commercial Intent is important — it can help you look at a keyword niche and determine what specific KEYWORDS in that niche to choose. However, you still have to choose the RIGHT keyword niche first.

If you choose a niche where there’s really not a problem or solution that people are looking to solve — and there are no commercial opportunities available that will offer a solution, you just are not going to make a lot of money no matter what you do. At best, you may end up forced to use something like adsense and just getting random clicks rather than targeted clicks.

Now, you’ll find that good niches will tend to have BUYING keywords and PRODUCT keywords with a decent number of searches associated with them. This is one way you can tell that people are looking to solve a problem. And the more desperate they are to solve that problem, the higher the number of those BUYING and PRODUCT keywords there will be — bother in variation and in search traffic.

So this is something you want to keep an eye out.

It’s my experience that niches where people are really looking for a solution and desperate for it are the best ones, like:

  • skin care
  • health issues
  • financial problems (loans, bad credit, etc)
  • career
  • education
  • every day product  accessories
  • phone stuff
  • niche software

If you target a niche like ‘history books’ or ‘movies’ or ‘video games’ and pick out some BUYER or PRODUCT keywords (assuming they have some searches) like

‘BUY lord of the rings movie’ or ‘lord of the rings movie review

you may find that if your website / page ranks for these terms, they don’t nearly convert as well as some other niches like:

ponds acne treatment  or BUY ponds acne treatment

will convert so much better.

This also works for more general niche terms like:

  • what are best acne treatments
  • how to get rid of acne

or something where people have a problem and need it solved:

  • how to fix bad credit
  • how to get a payday loan

You can bet your arm off that those search terms above will make a HELL of a lot more money then a search term in a niche where there is NOT a lot of desperation and need. Say the book niche.

  • what are the best history books
  • how to read a book

So to wrap this up you want keywords with commercial intent behind them, but you also want to find keyword niches that have people looking for a solution and desperately. The more desperate they need a solution, the more they will convert.

Here’s a very unscientific formula that I’ve found works for me:

Conversions = [# of people looking for a solution] x [desperation level]

To get some conversions and make money, you need people searching for some solution — trying to find something, looking for some information, trying to solve a problem, looking for a product, trying to find the best product out of a bunch or products, etc. However, the more desperate the need is, the more likely those people looking for that solution are likely to convert.

This means more desperation level  means you can make money with LESS traffic because the conversions will be higher.

Make Sense?

Finding the Commercial Intent of Niche Keywords

Now that you know the four category of keywords that most of the millions and millions of keywords can be placed in AND you know that niches where people are looking for a solution with some amount of desperation are better than ones that are not, you can put this information together to guestimate if a niche will be worth your time.

In the last article, we gave a general overview of how to find profitable niches. Now I’m going to show you how to tell if those niches will convert.

Important: use these tests to look at a niche not just a single keyword. That means if you are looking at one specific keyword, look at other similar keywords as well. When you create website, you want to rank for multiple terms, not just a single term (though you can, initially, target one term). So it’s a good idea to look at the keyword niche (all the keywords in that niche), not just a single keyword.

Test 1: Look at the Suggested Bid in Google Keyword Planer

Ok, the first tool (and a tool that you just can’t get away from if you are going to do any sort of online marketing involving Google search) we use to help us determine the commercial intent of a keyword is the Google Keyword Planner.

Remember that tool we talked about in our last post?

So you want to log into your google account (sign up for a free account if you don’t have one). Then type your keyword in:

google keyword planner finding commercial intent


Then go to the Keyword Ideas Tab. You’ll see a list of related keyword ideas. Now you’ll notice a ‘Suggested Bid’ column. This tells you HOW much the average adword bid for that keyword is.

This is basically what advertisers are willing to pay (or have paid) per ad click for that term.



Now I can sort this by Suggested Bid to find the keywords in this niche that have the highest:

keyword tool finding commerical intent for niches


You’ll note there is a large range of suggested bids between the keywords.

Why is there a big variation between the keywords? We have some that are about $1 and the top one having a suggested bid of $15.

The answer is simple: advertisers are willing to pay far more for clicks because people are clicking on ads and buying something (converting) for the advertiser. This is why they are willing to pay larger dollars per ad click.

So for any term you want to look, you want to pick out the keywords with higher suggested bids. Avoid terms that have very low suggested bids. Keywords that have high ($8+) to very high ($15-$50) are typically very good indications that that keyword has searchers willing to convert.

You also want to look at the NUMBER of searchers who type that term in. You may find a very high suggested bid for that keyword, but there could be only a few hundred searches. Now those searches could convert, but I personally like to go after terms that have a decent amount of traffic (2000+ searches a month).

What’s the Best Suggested Bid for Determining a Niche is Good?

As long as it’s not zero. The reason why I’m not giving you a fixed number is it’s possible to do well with keywords that have a low suggested bid and with keywords that have a high suggested bid.

I have a website that makes at least 2000 USD a month in Amazon sales and around 1000 a month in direct advertising that only has a suggested bid of less than .30 cents! Mind you, I get search traffic from thousands of long tails in the niche, not just the main head keyword, but as a whole it’s niche with suggested bids of less of under a dollar.

Another niche I had that made about 4,000 to 6,000 USD a month was built around a PRODUCT keyword (remember that category) with a suggested bid of $1.20.

So, don’t get too caught up in the exact suggested bid. Higher is better, but you can certainly do surprisingly well in low suggested bid niches too. If you want a rule of thumb, I would aim for niches with at least $1 per bid, but preferably about $3 suggested bid with at least 2000 searches a month. 

Test 2: Look at the Competition column  in Google Keyword Planer


Another measurement you can use is the Competition column in the Google Keyword Planner. In the section above, we looked at the Suggested Bid column, which gives some real world (i.e. advertisers have paid this amount in the past) insight into how much money might be associated with a keyword term.

You can also look at the Competition column to see how competitive that  keyword is. This refers to how many advertisers are bidding on that keyword.

Now there are only three categories shown: High, Medium, and Low, but it’s enough you can guestimate. You want keywords that are HIGH. This tells you a lot of advertisers are actively bidding for that keyword, which means there’s probably people spending money after clicking on those ads shown for those keyword terms.

This means the commercial intention is likely pretty high — which means you can make money on that traffic.

Look at the image below. You can see part of the keywords have LOW competition while some have HIGH competition. The HIGH competition just mean there are more advertisers actively bidding — a good thing for you.




Remember, this is just a tool to use to HELP you determine the overall suitability of a niche. You can still make money if a niche keyword has LOW competition in the column.

Test 3: Check Google Ads in Search

Another method you can use is to type the keyword phrase in google search and see how many ads pop up. If there are no ads, it may be a sign there are no active bidders for adwords for those ads (not a good thing, this means there may not be much money to be made from that term).

If there are a some ads or a lot of ads, this is a very good sign there are some serious commercial intentions shown by the searchers typing those keywords.

Here’s an example. I typed ‘Buy Galaxy S5’ into google search and spotted adwords ads for at the bottom (sometimes they appear at the top of the search too):



This ‘find google ads’ test is the least accurate in my opinion. If you spot ads, it’s a good sign, but it’s not a make or break for me — just helps seal the deal.

Putting It All Together

Assuming (as I showed you how in my how to find a niche article) you’ve come up with some good keyword niches to target. You need to find the commercial intent to see if those niches can make you money.

A recap on How to Test a Keyword or Keyword Niche Commercial Intent

1. To find the commercial intent of a keyword or keyword niche (the entire niche consisting of keyword variations), you first look at what type of keyword you are targeting. If it’s a BUY or PRODUCT keyword, it’s a good sign.

But to really make sure, you need to actually SEE how people who type those keywords actual are behaving. This is where you use Google’s tools.

2. You then open up the Google Keyword Planner, type the keyword in, and go to the Keyword Ideas tab.

3. First look at the Suggested Bid Column. If you see the keyword or the keyword niche has high suggested bids (again, the higher the better.  If the entire series of keywords is very high (8+ dollars for many different keyword is a VERY good sign),  then it’s a sign the niche can make you money.

4. Next look at the Competition column. If the keyword or many keywords in the niche have HIGH competition, it’s a sign there’s a lot of advertiser activity for those keywords which indicates there is a lot of commercial intent.

5. The final test is to type the keyword/s into google and look for Google Ads. If there are ads present, then you know people are currently bidding on it.

Before you actually commit to making a website in the niche, you should look at Suggested Bid. Ask yourself if a number of different keywords in the general niche (the Body and Tail keywords) have suggested bids of at least a few dollars. If a lot of those have very high numbers, that’s avery good sign. You also want to see if a number (the more the better) of those keywords have HIGH competition in the Competition sign. And finally, you want to look at the actual ads shown on google search. If these tests show good signs, then it’s a positive signal for you to move on to the NEXT stage of the keyword research process.

This is Finding the Keyword Competition of a Niche. If you know a niche or keyword shows all the signs that it can make you money, the next check you need to do is to see how competitive it will be to rank a website in a niche.  There is no real benefit to finding a great niche that can make you money (there are many of these), but are simply too difficult to rank a new website in a reasonably amount of time.

Now, I believe you can rank for any keyword or niche, given enough creativity and effort on your part. But why spend 1 or 3 years trying to rank for a keyword when you can do the same thing in 3 months and make just as much money? Or why choose a niche that it’s simply too difficult to rank for?

This is why it’s critical to find a niche that is NOT too competitive.

Interested in finding out how to do this? Then go to our NEXT article in the series: Keyword Research: Analyzing the Keyword Competition