The PPC Marketer’s Guide to Search Intent

PPC stats on laptop
PPC stats on laptop

If you have any experience with content marketing or other SEO-related efforts, you probably already know who your audience is and where they hang around online. You probably also know how important it is that your emails, blog posts, and case studies speak to that audience. 

Search intent also matters a ton when it comes to PPC. After all, you can’t drive conversions without getting in front of the right people. And without a deep understanding of keywords, you stand to waste an awful lot of ad spend. 

In this article, we’ll go over some key things to know about search intent and why you shouldn’t skip over this piece of the puzzle. 

Free Download: 5 Intent Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

Why Search Intent Matters in PPC

Intent matters whether you’re creating SEO content, PPC ads, or putting together your cross-channel social strategy. But if we’re looking specifically at PPC, you’ll need to create and optimize ads that line up with their potential search intent keywords. 

One of the best things about Google Ads is that it’s an opportunity to get your products in front of high-intent searchers. 

When you’re advertising on social media, you’re connecting with users who are doing something other than researching products they might buy. On Google search, people type in specific terms that trigger results.

As such, it’s important to understand how to identify different types of intent and when to use them in your ad strategy. 

  • Navigational—This kind of input is used to help the searcher reach a particular site. For example, someone might Google “facebook” to get to the site. 
  • Informational—In this case the intent is to find a specific piece of information. For example, you might look up how to tie a tie or make a chocolate cake. Or you might use it to answer questions like, “What should I look for in a CRM?”
  • Commercial—Commercial intent search queries usually contain words such as “best,” “vs,” “review,” “top,” or “comparison.” It also refers to branded or category terms people use to find specific products.

Let’s Dive Deeper into Commercial Intent

Since we’re operating in the realm of e-commerce PPC, we’ll go into a bit more detail regarding commercial intent. The definition of high intent searches varies based on what you’re selling, but in any case, commercial intent keywords can be broken up into two main categories: “buy now” keywords and “product” keywords. 

“Buy Now” keywords include terms like “buy,” “discount,” “coupon,” or “free shipping.” These terms are usually entered by searchers who have already decided they’re ready to make a purchase—all they need is an extra little incentive to take action ASAP. Searchers might type in something like “Nike running shoes discount” to see if any online retailers are offering the shoes they want at a lower price. 

“Product” keywords also indicate prospects’ willingness to make a purchase, but they relate specifically to the products on your site. This includes branded search terms, product categories, and specific products, as well as evaluative terms like “review,” “best,” or “top.”

The key difference between these two categories is that product keywords are designed to help users find the type of item they’re looking to purchase, while “buy now” keywords help people find the best deal on an item after they’ve already figured out what specific product they want. 

Keep in mind that while you might make a point of focusing on commercial intent terms, you’ll still need to match the offer to the audience. 

Search intent

Custom Intent Audiences

As of April 2019, Google introduced a new feature to Google Ads called custom audiences. This tool allows you to reach audiences actively searching for your products or services, and it’s important to keep in mind when you apply keywords, URLs, apps, or even YouTube content to your Display campaigns. This means you can stack these RSLA campaigns, or market to your competitors’ buyers by adding competitive URLs to your ad. 

To get a better sense of your audience, Google recommends adding about 15 keywords or URLs to each ad. They also recommend sticking to a theme, as adding an eclectic mix of links and terms will likely render this feature useless. 

Search intent

Use Numbers and Stats to Make Your Points

For whatever reason, people love numbers and statistics; they add a sense of legitimacy to the ad and put expectations upfront. Numbers can also be an effective way to advertise specific offers, such as a certain percentage off or an introductory discount (e.g. “save $20 on your first order”).

Make Sure You Focus on Keeping Things Relevant

When people search for information, they scan the search results for signs that something on the page might meet their needs. 

If searchers can’t tell what your ad is about, they won’t click it. If they think your ad is referencing something else, they won’t convert. The closer your ad copy is to the searcher’s original query, the more likely they are to click. The key here is to mention a specific location, service, product, or feature, and present it as a solution to a problem.

Remember, match type plays a role here, too. Exact match terms bring in fewer, more qualified leads while broad match terms allow you to cast a wide net. 

Search intent

Tailor Ad Copy to the Audience

Remember, different audiences use different language to signify commercial intent. Where restaurants strike gold with “near me” or city-related terms, e-commerce brands drive profit with terms like “on sale” and “buy now,” or branded keywords. 

Tap into your high-intent traffic by reviewing your store’s top-performing products, and then creating campaigns that combine brand names, descriptions, and category terms with “buy now” terms like “free shipping” or “20% off.”

As you optimize for clicks and conversions, make sure you’re not spending too much on advertising low-ROI products. Otherwise, you run the risk of what Klient Boost dubs the “Mob effect,” a term that refers to when too much of your budget goes toward products that won’t bring in much money.

As you optimize for clicks and conversions, make sure you’re not spending too much on advertising low-ROI products. Click To Tweet
Search intent

Don’t Forget Negative Search Terms

As you consider how intent plays out in your PPC campaigns, don’t forget to go negative. 

Your negative search terms are those terms you don’t want to trigger your ads, as they eat up your budget and attract the wrong audience. 

For example, if you sell designer clothing on your website and prefer to keep that affluent, aspirational quality, terms like “free” or “coupon” could be added to your negative search terms list to prevent ads from showing to people looking for a deal. 

The positives of going negative also extend beyond the Search network. Adding negative terms to Display campaigns prevents impressions on similar, but irrelevant terms. 

Wrapping Up

To sum everything up, the link between campaign copy, landing pages, and search intent is the key to higher conversions and happier visitors. 

If you’re targeting informational keywords, then make sure that whatever’s on the other side of the click answers the searcher’s question in a clear, detailed manner. In this case, you might offer ebooks, blog posts, or something that aligns with the searcher’s stage in the buyer’s journey.

If you’re aiming to get people to buy a specific product, then your primary goal is to show users why the product is right for them and make it easy to buy. 

You’ll run into trouble if you’re promoting blog content to users searching for a good sale on basketball shoes, or promoting your cookware products to someone looking for a fried chicken recipe. 

If you want to ensure that your campaigns are set up right, consider outsourcing your PPC efforts. Key PPC works exclusively with e-commerce brands and understands the drivers behind shopper intent. Contact us today and let’s talk strategy.

Free Download: 5 Intent Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making