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Pay Per Click Advertising Tip #6 - Targeting Transactional Keywords

By jameszol
Published on November 14, 2007

You should be aggressively advertising on the search engines with transactional keywords.

There are several different types of keywords: discovery, research, branded, transactional, etc.

Transactional keywords are words or phrases that you search for when you are ready to buy.


User 1 visits Google and types in “bicycle“.

User 2 visits Google and types in “cannondale rockhopper“.

The intent of User 1 isn’t very clear - it’s quite broad, actually, but we can make a few educated deductions here…

First, the term “bicycle” is not specific.

Second, the intent of the searcher is unfocused - we don’t know if the person is looking to buy a bicycle or learn about them.

Finally, we can see that Google produced relevant results and they consist of sites that have a heavy knowledge base and very little retail base. Good examples here are: Wikipedia, HowStuffWorks,, and Britannica.

Image - Bicycle Search Results (Click for a big picture)

This keyword does not appear to be very transactional.

Logically, ‘bicycle” would NOT be a great keyword to advertise on if you are on a limited budget. Advertisers you see advertising on this term are,, and other large advertisers.

The intent of User 2 is still somewhat fuzzy BUT there is a lot more clarity to what the intent of the searcher could be so the probability of it being transactional is higher…

First, this query is quite specific in nature.

Second, the intent of the searcher is very focused on a specific bicycle type and brand. We know what the individual is looking for - the fuzzy part is that we don’t know if they are in a late research phase or if they are ready to buy. Either way, this term is much more specific; therefore, it is leaning heavily towards producing a transaction.

Finally, we can see the nature of Google’s results indicate it is a very transactional term. The funny thing about this example is that the natural results are very relevant. You can see a craigslist result listing the cannondale rockhopper for sale, a bicycle shop in the UK, and a forum question regarding a purchaser’s choice between the different cannondale rockhoppers - there aren’t ANY advertisements!

Image - Cannondale Rockhopper Search Results (Click for a big picture)

This keyword appears to be transactional!

While the search volume might not be high, it could easily be worth it to advertise on this term (or any transactional term) because the chances are higher that you will get a return on your investment on a transactional keyword vs. a discovery/research keyword.

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