If you’re working in product development or eCommerce, you’re probably aware of the ‘buyer journey’.
This is often depicted as a sales funnel, where the widest part of the funnel represents the most number of potential buyers, and the funnel gets smaller as we approach the bottom.
In this post, we’ll learn how to use SEO to affect the buying process and influence users decision to purchase.
1. The Impact of SEO on the Buying Process
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a practice that ranks web pages highly on search engines.
81% of shoppers will do online research before they buy. They’re searching for all possible solutions and you want to land on their search results.
This is where good SEO comes in.
Ranking highly on Google will make the difference between getting traffic to your website or missing out on potential buyers.
SEO is usually implemented deeper in the buying process.
When the user is already aware of a problem and they’re exploring which vendor to buy from.
This is also known as the Solution Exploration stage of the purchase funnel.
Users at the solution exploration stage are potential leads. They’ve expressed their pain points and are actively looking for a solution.
But what if you could target an even wider pool of users by implementing SEO earlier in the process?
Perhaps you could target users before they even realise there’s a potential solution to their need.
This is the Need Identification stage of the buying process. Users at this stage usually start their search with generic, informational-intent search terms.
2. Start with informational keywords
Informational keywords are found at the top of the funnel.
This wider part of the funnel are about the needs and problems your target audience have. The reason behind their search. What are their motivations and search intent when googl-ing?
Let’s say you have a business selling makeup primers.
And you’re probably optimising your site for keyword searches related to “makeup primers”.
But if you think about your audience’s motivations and search intent, they are likely searching for a solution to an existing problem.
A possible reason someone would be searching for “makeup primers” could be to fix the problem of smudged makeup.
Now if you start targeting users searching for “smudged makeup when exercising”, you can shift SEO efforts higher up into top of the funnel. Thus, reaching a wider pool of users.
Before your customer realises there’s a potential solution to their problem or need.
You can create content related to that need.
You could optimise for keywords targeting women who are frustrated with smudged makeup during the day. Or you could post links in beauty forums related to exercising with makeup on.
3. Delve into search intent and get into the shoes of potential customers
I’m sure you know there are thousands if not millions of search results when you search for something on Google.
To understand search intent and what type of content users are looking for, we need to look at how Google ranks pages.
If I type “face primers” on Google, I got over 400 million search results.
But only a handful of them ranks in the top 10 results.
We need to know how and why the current top 10 pages earned their place on page #1. (Hint: there’s a good reason).
I’m going to be honest, this will be somewhat difficult. There are hundreds of ranking factors at play here.
But search intent plays a VERY important role. Think about it – Google want to rank pages most relevant to a searcher’s query.
In the long-run, Google isn’t going to rank a page that doesn’t answer a user’s query.
So the first thing to do is look for a pattern on SERPs.
For “face primers”, I see a lot of “reviews”, lists and product comparisons.
Let’s also see the “people also ask” box, as this will give us insight into the questions and related issues people have.
Now we’re getting more specific motivations people have.
It looks like people are wondering about the characteristics of primers. They are deciding which primers they should use and researching about potential benefits and harms.
Perhaps that’s why there are a lot of “reviews” and product comparisons ranking in the SERPs.
Another tip is to look at the “searches related to..” at the bottom of SERPs.
Once again, it seems that people are searching for specific characteristics of primers.
- …for oily skin
- …for over 50
- …drugstore makeup primer
From this initial scan on SERPs, I can make some basic assumptions about who might be searching for this query:
- My audience are already quite informed about the basics of what a face primer does.
- They are searching for answers to more specific skincare concerns relating to face primers.
- They are searching for potential solutions (product comparisons) which best meets their cosmetic needs.
4. Make a list of keywords to target and rank for
Now that you’ve got a sensing about the motivations and intent of people searching for your keyword, you can start making a keyword list.
- Step 1: Take notes of any long-tail keywords that seem interesting and might be worth optimising for
- Step 2: Expand your keywords and find 5-6 semantically related keywords and put them into a list
- Step 3: Get the avg. monthly search volume of your keywords and pick those with significant volume
- Step 4: (Optional) Look at the current top ranking pages and see what keywords are driving the most traffic to their site
Voila. That’s how you can use SEO to affect the buying process and reach a wider pool of prospects.