What are high intent keywords and how AI helps you to find them?
Updated: Feb 7
Research that analyzed 85 000 keywords found that 9.1% of the keywords have purchase decision intent.
“High” intent keywords produce 4-10x higher conversion than low intent keywords.
But what does “high intent” keyword actually mean? What does the consumer path to purchase look like? Which part of the path has the highest converting keywords?
To really take a deep dive into high intent keywords, we need to understand the buyer journey first.
In case you want to go straight into finding the keywords that are profitable, feel free to skip the first parts of the paper or just get them with our software Maire.
Table of contents
Consumer path to purchase
High purchase intent keywords are the search terms that have the greatest possibility to convert into a purchase.
Generally, high intent keywords fall into the final two stages of the AIDA model.
The AIDA model, which was developed more than 120 years ago, still works as a simplification of how one decides on a purchase.
However, no stage is an island, and the actual customer buying journey is considerably more complex.
Thanks to the internet, consumers are served with an abundance of information. With access to incredible amounts of information, the modern path to purchase has evolved into clutter.
Clutter that is very difficult to get a grasp on.
Google studied 310 online shopping journeys where customers were asked to research a product that they were interested in.
The first sketch derived from the report data looked like this.
Here the purchase trigger is on the top, and the final purchase on the bottom. And everything else is, well, everything else that happened online between the trigger and the purchase.
Every shopping journey is different.
From the data, Google built their path to purchase model:
A content creator who wants to be found on Google should listen to what they are saying.
We can see that the modern customer journey is complex. However, when we concentrate on average values, there is some sense to it.
Google path to purchase model explained
Google has divided its model into 6 sections:
Exposure is every interaction a consumer has with a service provider during their lifetime. Exposure can happen before or during the purchase process, and it can include website visits, online advertising, social media advertising or visits to physical stores.
Every single point of contact is part of exposure. And every point of contact affects the final decision that will be made at the moment of purchase. Exposure can also act as a purchase trigger.
Trigger is the moment the consumer transforms from passive state into active state. Trigger can be a set of different point-of-contacts, or it can be an individual recognisable event.
Imagine going through travel videos of your friend and at some point you start thinking that it could be fun to go on another holiday.
This is the trigger where you reach a more active state.
Google research shows that consumers are moving back and forth between stages of exploration and evaluation.
However, on average, searches that are considered “exploration” are farther away from the purchase, and thus, presumably have lower purchase intent and lower purchase conversion.
When placing exploration into the AIDA -model, it lies between awareness and interest.
Exploration is the stage where the consumer is looking broadly into the area of interest. It’s the stage where they are looking to holistically understand the opportunity that exists in this area of interest.
So if the trigger was going through your friends travel videos, the exploration stage could be the point when you are looking for ideas on where to travel.
You could Google stuff like:
“Best travel destinations”
“Cheapest countries to travel”
“Hipster destinations in Europe”
It’s not likely that you're making a purchase at this point.
After a considerable amount of exploration, consumers reach a point where they feel that they have a sufficient understanding of the options available.
As a consumer you feel that you know what’s out there.
At this point you, as a consumer, can start evaluating the options.
As noted before, you often move back to the exploration stage. You have probably learned something new, something that forces you to go back.
Maybe you are in the middle of a giant heat wave and you realise that the climate effect is an important factor for you.
Even though consumers often move back and forth between exploration and evaluation, in the evaluation stage the opportunity for purchase conversion is considerably higher than in the exploration stage.
This means that their purchase intent is high.
In the AIDA -model, the evaluation stage strongly corresponds with the “desire” -phase.
When a consumer is in the evaluation stage, they start to go deeper into the options they are most interested in. They might look for travel deals available, or check the reviews of a certain airline.
Or heck, if everything is as you desire, you might even move forward and complete a purchase.
The keywords in the evaluation phase could be:
“Carbon neutral travel company”
“Flights to portugal”
“Trains from Copenhagen to Paris”
Or something else!
A consumer in the evaluation phase believes they understand the market holistically, and believe that they are able to make a rational decision.
Below you can see how certain search terms were positioned in the exploration-evaluation scale in the research Google implemented:
From the words above, searches that include “reviews” or “deals” are expected to have the highest purchase intent, as they are in the evaluation side of the clutter.
On the other hand, searches that include “ideas” or “difference between” are expected to have the lowest search intent.
When the consumer feels they have a holistic view about the market and they have evaluated the options, at some point, they make a decision to buy.
This is the moment when they move onto the purchase stage.
Purchase, or high commercial intent searches are the ones with the highest conversion potential.
Study of 85 000 analyzed keywords found that 9.1% of keywords have purchase intent.
Consumers move into the purchase phase when they understand the market, have evaluated the options available, and they feel like they know enough to make an informed decision.
As we can see in the clutter above, the purchase phase of the buying process is rather straightforward. In practice it means that consumers in this phase of the funnel presumably have a very high probability to complete a purchase.
In AIDA, high purchase intent keywords fall into the “Action” -phase of the model.
In the travel example, we have gone through the first stages of the purchase path:
Trigger was going through a friend's travel videos
Exploring was looking for ideas on where to travel
Evaluation was looking for reviews or carbon neutral travel option
This is how the search terms for the fourth and final stage can look like:
“Train to Paris price”
“Travel agency near me”
“Finnair flights to Paris buy now”
High purchase intent keywords are often tied to a specific brand. In other words, in this stage, in many cases, consumers have already found a brand they can work with.
It does not mean that the consumer is 100% committed to the brand they have chosen.
This is what Google says:
“Although pre-existing brand affinity and price are undoubted drivers of purchase decisions, we have seen that purchase outcomes can also be strongly influenced by the messages, propositions, and tactics that competing brands bring into play.”
Consumers are more cultivated than ever. Options are almost endless, and everyone want the best solution available.
So which keywords are profitable?
The further the consumer is in the purchase path, the bigger the probability there is for them to convert into a buyer.
Therefore we should go for the keywords in the purchase phase.
Having said that, there aren’t too many of them in this category.
In particular, high purchase intent search terms without brand mentions are moderately rare.
Let's read what Google has to say:
“Use available data to qualify and categorize shoppers who are evaluating – data-driven algorithms should eventually make this identification possible at scale.”
That’s right. We should focus our efforts into the last two stages of the purchase path. Evaluation and purchase. In the AIDA model, these are the desire and action -phases.
This is also exactly what we do at Maire.
High intent keyword examples
“Yes, yes, cut to the chase.”
Keywords that include following phrases often have high purchase intent:
“Free” ← they still want it even though they don’t want to pay from it yet
Specific location + keyword. Example: lawyer “los angeles”
And the list goes on…
Luckily you don’t have to know all the high purchase intent keywords, as Maire finds them for you. Try for free here.
9.1% of keywords have purchase decision intent
High intent keywords produce 4-10x conversion compared to low intent keywords
Consumers that are in the late stages of the purchase path are using high intent keywords
High intent keywords can be found by using certain phrases
Maire.Ai finds the high intent keywords automatically with the help of AI