Anyone who has previously worked in a sales capacity knows the meaning of "buying signals". For those of you who aren't familiar with the term, it means the little signals people give when they're ready to make a purchase, and knowing so helps a good salesperson know when to go for the "Close". An example would be a person looking at a car saying, "does it come in red"? This little question (and a buying signal) is a strong indication that if the car is in fact available in red, the individual would be very interested in purchasing it.

Buying signals help to identify the very serious from those who are more tire kickers, or at least are much earlier in the buying process. The reality is, the later in the buying process we can get our message in front of someone, the more likely they are to ultimately purchase from you. So imagine now that we use this "buying signal" logic to determine which keywords to write content for, and in what order. Powerful huh? We make sure we've got content for those interested in purchasing sooner rather than later first, then work on longer term content (middle of the funnel and top of the funnel) after the fact. This is even more important now that Google Penguin has put an end to manipulating rankings through link building.

Types Of Buying Signals In Keywords:

1. Branded Keywords: eg. company name. This is priority number 1! Not everyone searching for a brand is looking to purchase right away, but some are, so companies need to rank for their own brand names.

2. Intent Keyword Phrases: keywords indicating the searchers intent to take a desired action eg. purchase, buy, acquire, rent, lease, order, contact, get a quote, phone number. Intent keywords such as "download" would be a top of the funnel buying signal, and is therefore not considered in this post.

3. Price Keyword Phrases: keyword queries that mention "prices", "costs", "Rates" in the search query eg. 2013 Nissan XTerra prices. In this case, the searcher is often very late in the purchase process, and is just trying to secure the best price for their purchase, or at least, try to make sure they are not paying far too much.

4. Urgency Keyword Phrases: queries that convey a sense of urgency. These queries often contains terms such as 24 hour, emergency, 24/7, rush eg. emergency plumber toronto. These are not search terms sought for fun, but rather when an individual is in a situation that requires a quick solution. These individuals are very late in the purchase process, and are perhaps the least price sensitive of all types of queries.

5. Specific Product Keyword Phrases: Queries for specific product models eg. Blackberry Curve 9350. IN this situation, the searcher already appears to know what product they want, they're just trying to determine which company to purchase it from. Companies should have a page for each and every product line they carry.

6. Risk Reduction Keyword Phrases: Queries for these types of terms (Reviews, ratings, complaints, scams, problems, testimonials, clients) generally come very late in the purchase process. In fact, often these queries surface once the decision has been made to use a particular company, and the searcher is just looking for reasons not to use the company in question. Content should therefore be created to rank for these terms, bumping out any negative articles, and to portray the company in the best possible light.

7. Location Keyword Phrases: Queries for specific locations are a good indication that a searcher is serious and later in the buying cycle also, and the more specific the location, the better eg. waterloo computer repair. Also, the more specific the location, the less competition there is fighting for the client.

8. Feature Keyword Phrases: Queries containing product/service mentions, combined with the desire to find specific features such as a black phone with keypad, or painters with satisfaction guarantees are also indications that the searcher is late in the buying process.

9. Comparison Keyword Phrases: Queries containing keywords such as "compare", "vs", "versus". Often when people are later in the purchase process, they'll want to compare amongst some of the available options to see the strengths and weaknesses of each side by side. This is a good cue that they will be ready to make a decision soon.

10. Business Type Keyword Phrases: These keywords are generally nested in amongst the rest of the query, but generally take the form of one word that indicates they are looking to contact a specific type of business (eg. "office" as in law office toronto, or "clinic" as in cosmetic surgery clinic). Their presence in the keyword phrase is more powerful than you would think, as generally is an indication of imminent intent.

Prioritizing The Keyword Buying Signals:

Obviously, not all buying signals are created equal. Some are stronger than others, and combinations are generally stronger than one in isolation. At the same time, its much more likely to secure rankings for some terms than others too. So, here's how I like to prioritize amongst the buying signals, assuming that search volumes amongst terms are equal:

1. Queries that contain the brand in addition to any of the other points, become more important than points 1-8 alone, and therefore will be there top priority to create content around. These are also easier to rank for than terms not relating specifically to your brand, and often will just require that existing content be amended slightly, and new content is not necessarily needed. Begin by selecting those search queries with the highest search volumes first.

2. Queries that contain the brand itself, will be the next most important. It means the searcher is already aware of the brand, and is likely wholly (or at least partially) sold on the brand.

3. Next will be queries that contain two or more of the signals from points 2-8, and the more signals they contain, the higher priority they become. Its important to consider the level of competition for the term in this situation (is it likely that you can rank for it) and the search volumes associated with the query in question?

4. The least important, and last to create content around, will be the queries that contain only one signal from points 2-8. Once again, consider the likelihood of ranking and the search volumes of the terms


Blogs are often the first tactic many companies resort to when they "buy into" the concept of content being important. The reality is however, blogs take longer to produce dividends typically. This framework should help you identify terms to create content around, that will produce real results much quicker than blogging will. To clarify, I'm not saying "don't blog", I'm just saying maybe you should spend time initially making sure you're optimized for lower hanging fruit first.

What has your experience been? Are you aware of any other types of buying signals in keyword queries? If so, what are they?