What Are Intercept Keywords, and How Can They Help?

Darrell Williams

Dec 01, 20224 min read
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You might be forgiven for thinking that driving traffic via Google is all about targeting high-volume keywords that are low in competition. 

Sure, that can be part of making search engine marketing work for your business, but what if low-volume keywords that are high in competition could work for you, too? 

While a successful SEO strategy looks different for every business, this way of thinking has been proven to increase organic traffic via what are known as intercept keywords. Let’s find out more:

Targeting Hidden High-Competition Keywords 

Even if you know which keywords your competitors are targeting, there can be some high-volume opportunities hidden in plain sight. Knowing how to look for the right opportunities in Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool is the trick.

If you were to look at the following data, what initially stands out as an opportunity? There are multiple opportunities, of course, but one is more attainable than the others: 

An example of bulk keyword analysis using Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool

If you picked the keyword “evergreen webinar,” you are onto something. Despite the fact it carries only 480 searches per month, the keyword has potential to generate sales for the right business with the right approach. 

The keyword difficulty (KD) is only 37, so there’s a chance you can start to rank for it, but this number will rise as more competitors realize its potential and start to target it themselves if your content is successful. Remember, the focus is on hidden high-competition keywords, so you’re looking to unearth the opportunities your competitors haven’t found yet. 

The Potential ROI of Low-Volume Keywords

Let’s look at an example to illustrate this opportunity. WebinarJam, one of several webinar companies, could place a value of $1,404 on this one keyword, despite the fact that it produces only 480 searches per month. How could that be? WebinarJam charges $39 per month and requires a user to pay annually, which equates to $468 ($39 x 12 months) for the year. 

It is simple to quantify the impact of targeting this keyword. Let's say, hypothetically, your competitors are targeting higher-volume keywords and you start ranking for “evergreen webinar” in position one. 

In this position, your click-through rate will be high; let’s say it’s 28.5%. This translates to 137 users (480 SV x 28.5%) landing on your site with, in all likelihood, a higher propensity to convert than they would if you were targeting the generic keyword “webinar.” 

You can expect, on average, an industry benchmark of 2% for your conversion rate, which quantifiably (and still hypothetically) means three users (137 users x 2% CVR) will convert to customers, equating to $1,404 (3 users x $468). Thus, it could prove to be a low-volume keyword with significant opportunity for revenue growth. 

This is a good example of an intercept keyword. Let’s take a look at this concept in more detail:

What Is an Intercept Keyword, and How Can It Help SEO? 

An intercept keyword is a keyword that can capture traffic from competitors using variations of common searches. Intercept keywords can increase the propensity for users to convert if they are used at the right moments in your buyer journeys.

Intercept keywords are made by placing qualifying keywords before or after a generic keyword or before and after a generic keyword target.

How to Find Intercept Keywords

To find intercept keywords, consider a unique buyer's journey for your product or service. 

Place yourself in their shoes. What questions would your ideal customer ask before they decide they would like to buy? 

The most common buyer journey queries include:

________ alternatives 

_________ cost

______ vs. _______ 

Best __________

Our target keyword in this instance (“evergreen webinars”) is more targeted toward a specific user segment. The searchers are interested in a specific type of webinar, so you can start to generate more intercept keywords based on this segment.

For example, “EverWebinar alternatives” is an excellent intercept keyword that could be included in a post alongside our main target keyword (EverWebinar, for the record, is a competitor to WebinarJam). 

Exploring the intercept keyword “EverWebinar alternatives” in Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool

You could also use the following keywords in similar scenarios: 

  • Zoom meeting vs. webinar
  • Zoom vs. GoTo Meeting 

If you were to target “Zoom vs. GoTo Meeting,” you would need to mention how WebinarJam specifically offers evergreen webinars, since that is the differentiating service offering. 

Essentially, you’re looking for keywords that indicate the following:

  • A customer has a specific use case for a particular product or service 
  • A customer already knows about the product or service offered; for example, the keyword includes the name of your product or service or the name of your competitor
  • A customer is on the fence about making a purchase 

Examples of on-the-fence keywords:

  • cheaper
  • better
  • faster 

You can use Keyword Magic Tool to quickly and easily find intercept keywords for your business. Start by typing a few intercept-qualifying keywords for your brand and gauge the search volume and the difficulty score.

Additionally, you can use Keyword Gap to identify keywords you’re not ranking for but your competitors are; some of these could be good candidates for intercept keywords. 

Once you have identified your intercept keywords, create relevant pages targeting specific customer concerns. For example, look at the following content writing service, which uses “best blog content writing services” as a long-tail intercept keyword to funnel traffic to the organization's services: 

Source: https://www.write-right.in/best-20-blog-content-writing-services-in-the-world

A word of advice when targeting intercept keywords, particularly when you use comparison-focused keywords: be truthful about differentiating aspects of your service or product—try to avoid being biased. 

Use pros and cons to break down differences, and include question-based intercept keywords so you can potentially appear in People Also Ask (PAA) results and increase your odds of converting users.

PAA results for the query “what is the best webinar service”

How to Use Striking Distance to Aid Your SEO Efforts 

You can also look into the Semrush Position Tracking tool to discover which of your ranking keywords may be intercept keyword targets within striking distance.

What Is Striking Distance? 

Striking distance keywords are those for which you are ranking close to page one within search results; keywords within striking distance rank beyond 11th position. 

If you notice that a keyword ranking 12th, for instance, could generate a significant amount of visitors, conduct your keyword analysis on the search term and consider prioritizing it to push the keyword to the first page and drive more traffic. 

Time to Think Like Your Customers 

If you are looking for a way to get into your customers’ minds and identify intercept keywords, it’s time to start thinking like them during the search process. Learn how to anticipate and strategize a way to capture market share by being vigilant when opportunities arise.

Explore the current gaps in your content and start filling them according to the opportunities you’ve uncovered in your intercept keyword research. This way, you can start capturing users in the funnel and positioning the right messages to increase your odds of success. Best of luck!

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Darrell Williams is the founder of growthhackguides.com, which teaches people how to create and grow online businesses fast, like a startup.