The Importance of SEO at Each Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
While focusing on the buyer’s journey and related strategies is a worthy endeavor, neglecting SEO principles as they relate to the buyer journey will deliver sub-standard results.
For example, ranking on page one for an informational keyword is a step toward awareness, the first step in a buyer’s journey roadmap. If buyers are arriving at a landing page geared toward a direct conversion or purchase, they are likely to pass through your website and move on to a competitor who invites them into the next stage, consideration.
Do you have an SEO problem that relates to the buyer’s journey?
Identify Keywords, Content, and Landing Pages for Each Stage
The first step in optimizing search results is to map keywords, content, and landing pages with each stage of the buyer’s journey.
The four stages of the buyer’s journey are:
Begin identifying keywords, content, and landing pages with buyer intent and persona information. Once you’ve optimized landing pages according to the buyer’s journey map, dive into Google Analytics and ensure you’re tracking details that will determine landing page creation and changes.
Awareness Keywords, Content, and Landing Pages
Some marketers overlook the importance of the awareness stage because it’s associated with information searches (non-transactional). Since information searches account for approximately 80% of all search queries, ignoring them is not a wise move.
- Identify all neutral educational keywords.
- Identify landing pages with the highest traffic and content associated with these keywords.
Once the awareness keyword list is complete, perform a content audit for each landing page. Before making changes to high-traffic landing pages, record all of the following information:
If a landing page targets the right keyword for the awareness phase of the buyer journey, has high traffic, a low bounce rate, and a below average conversion rate, revise it and optimize it for the persona.
Conversion tools for Awareness pages often fall into the resources category:
- White Papers
- Pre-recorded Webinars
Once you’ve outlined conversion tools for each landing page that matches visitor intent, be sure to implement landing page optimization best practices.
Consideration Keywords, Content, and Landing Pages
In the consideration stage, prospects are already educated; they are comparing details, overcoming objections, and reviewing options. You can find consideration keywords in your FAQ section, form submissions, and by talking to your sales team.
Optimize landing pages and search engine snippets, so they speak to your buyer’s top concerns during the consideration phase. Once a prospect in the consideration stage clicks on your landing page, they should be able to easily navigate the site and find information quickly. Include buttons and links to your FAQ page, data sheets, and assets that will help them during the consideration process.
If you haven’t set up Site Search Reporting in Google Analytics, now is the time. The search data will give you a goldmine of keywords to target during the consideration phase.
Once you’ve identified a list of consideration keywords, don’t forget about modifiers and branded searches.
Create assets that will appeal to your top-level personas in the consideration stage and quickly move them to the conversion stage:
- Comparison data sheets
- Free trials
- Video tutorials
- Access to industry statistics and data
Top brands are beginning to offer interactive content in the form of surveys, questionnaires, and interactive tools like calculators, pre-formatted spreadsheets, etc. The Consideration Stage is the time to stand out from the crowd, get creative!
Conversion Keywords, Content, and Landing Pages
Conversion keywords are probably the easiest to identify, but they are also the most competitive. If you are short on time and can’t devote maximum effort to every stage, begin with your conversion landing pages and implement every suggestion.
Capitalize on the Details
Build out persona data with the following conversion details:
- Geographic data
- Device type
Google Analytics can help you track geographic and device data, and Twilio can help you track conversion data from customers who reach out to you via phone. Use the geographic data to help you improve local SEO, and make sure these landing pages are optimized for mobile if your conversion traffic comes from mobile devices.
Prospects in the conversion stage are ready to make a decision, and your landing page should give them access to information that helps them overcome objections.
Here are a few content suggestions to help them trust your brand and move forward:
- Tags/Snippets with a call to action or question to draw them in and click on your page
- Copy that helps them assess ROI
- Copy that alerts them to free trials, customer service, client testimonials
- Social media profile links
Retention Keywords, Content, and Landing Pages
The retention stage of the buyer’s journey is often overlooked. Retention content and keywords keep your customers coming back to your website for updates, education, and new product news.
A study by the inventors of the net promoter score, Frederick Reichheld, found that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
Identifying retention keywords isn’t difficult; reviewing sales data on customers who have purchased more than one service or item on two different dates will give you answers. Email marketing campaigns will also deliver valuable insight into the type of content that attracts existing customers and keeps them coming back for more.
Retention content ideas and options:
- Free training and webinars
- Product updates and upgrade options
- Industry news
- Problem-solving tools
- Limited-time free trials for new products and services
- Customer surveys in exchange for participation rewards
Retention content is a lot like social media: It should be timely, relevant, and helpful. Blog posts and articles are an easy way to add retention content to your site and distribute it for client or customer base.
Helpful tip: Use Google Analytics tracking correctly to monitor and analyze returning website visitors.
Users vs. Sessions
Image Source: Google Analytics Support
Be aware of session expirations and new sessions. Remember, a single user can open multiple sessions.
Consider the device when creating content for buyers in the retention phase. Buyers will often save something on their phone and make a purchase or download from a desktop or laptop, but don’t assume that is always the case. Google Analytics can help you analyze mobile conversion rates. Set up accurate tracking for New & Returning Visitor reports.
SEO rankings should be a long-term goal for your content marketing initiative. The value in an organic top-of-page-one listing far outweighs the ROI on a blog post or article that was popular on social media. Taking the extra time to create and optimize SEO landing pages for every stage of the buyer’s journey will deliver much more than rankings; it will ensure that prospects connect and engage with your brand at just the right time.
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