Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial aspect of any modern business. Almost every step of improvement taken by any website owner is geared towards enhancing the site’s ranking position in a search engine’s results list. In the past, SEO was quite simple because the factors involved weren’t as complicated. That’s understandable because, one or two decades ago, the number of businesses that had realized the online market was still quite few.
In this day and age, however, that number has skyrocketed as more people continue to embrace the recent digital shift. But one thing that many companies are still struggling with is the integration of their SEO strategies with the buyer’s journey.
Fortunately, there are several experienced service providers, like Digital Sisco, who are willing to help you get on your feet, enabling you to compete with the best in the market. By improving the state of your website and the customer’s experience, these experts can significantly increase your brand’s organic traffic.
But how are SEO and the buyer’s journey related? For someone who’s new in the field, all these phrases could sound foreign to them. This article aims to discuss all the nits and grits involved in SEO and the buying journey, and how the latter relies on the former.
What is search engine optimization?
Search engine optimization refers to tasks and strategies aimed at improving the appearance of a website and its positioning in organic search results. For your site to appear among the top results on the first page, Google’s search algorithms, for example, need to be convinced that the content you’re offering isn’t only relevant but also helpful to users. (2) As such, the information you share and how you do it is one of the main factors that’ll determine your position in the search engine results.
Other important things to consider are the speed of the hosting server, the domain name, the appearance of your website, and the overall user experience.
What is the buyer’s journey?
The buying or buyer’s journey, on the other hand, simply refers to the path taken by any potential customer before they can actually purchase your products or services. No one wakes up one day and decides to spend their money on something out of nowhere, not even impulse buyers. On the contrary, they have to go through a number of steps, whether consciously or subconsciously, before they can finally decide to go ahead with the purchase. (1)
The main stages of a buyer’s journey include awareness, consideration, decision-making, and delight. As a business owner, it’s imperative that you understand these stages, various pain points, and factors that may influence the customer’s thinking. By doing so, you can reposition your products and services to fit the needs of each potential buyer.
Of course, as you consider these readjustments, you must also keep in mind the significance of various SEO principles. For instance, the awareness phase, which involves social media and other marketing techniques, should match what comes next in the process. In other words, what you offer at the end of the day must be in sync with what you preach in the awareness stage. Otherwise, you might end up losing a lot of potential customers.
SEO and the main stages of the buyer’s journey
Apart from the meaning, another thing you also need to know about the buyer’s journey are the stages covered. As mentioned earlier, these phases include awareness, consideration, decision-making, and delight. But what do these steps involve, and how does SEO come into play?
The first step in a buyer’s journey towards purchasing products or services from you is the discovery stage. Unfortunately, many marketers overlook this step in their strategies because it’s a non-transactional phase, and they’re more concerned about those times when customers start interacting with the actual products.
However, that’s a huge mistake because over three-quarters of search queries are geared towards understanding the items and services offered by a company. Apart from providing the customer with the necessary information, it also helps enhance inbound ranking signals that may, in the long run, improve the SEO performance of your entire website.
So, can search engine optimization help improve the awareness stage? First, you need to look for the right keyword list, which includes anything that the audience is likely to use in the search process. All high-traffic pages should have relevant keywords for this phase of the buying journey. Similarly, it’s recommended that every important keyword should also have a landing page that corresponds to the purpose. If you haven’t done this optimization, you should consider making the necessary changes to fit the target persona.
It’s worth mentioning that guest articles, blog posts, free templates and tools, as well as infographics are some of the most effective content formats in this stage. The common thing about all of them is the fact that they provide the readers with the information they need before deciding whether to continue with the process. Therefore, the Call-to-Action (CTA) phrases used here should be those that urge someone to move to the next stage rather than trying to convince them to make the purchase. So, go with word sets like ‘read on for more information’ rather than ‘contact us.’
By the time a prospect gets to this stage, they’ve already gathered enough information to make comparisons. As such, all they’re doing now is to compare details, review their options, and overcome any objections they had earlier. The keywords that rightly fit this stage are those in the FAQ section, information shared by the sales team, and form submissions.
Once you have the right set of keywords, make sure the search engine snippets and landing pages are optimized. In other words, they should cover all possible buyer’s concerns that might arise at this stage. Site navigation and ease of finding information at this point and time are also crucial because any impatient prospect can easily move to your competitors and start over again. Therefore, make sure you include buttons that link the current content to data sheets, FAQ pages, and other sources of information.
- Conversion or decision-making
The keywords for this stage are the easiest to identify, but that also makes them quite competitive. Since this is the phase that’ll determine whether you make the sales, it’s always recommended that you focus on it, especially if you don’t have enough time to cover all the stages. Some of the important details to keep in mind include device type and geographic data.
Use this information to optimize your website content for the type of device used by most prospects. The geographic data will also help you improve your local SEO and make your content more relevant to your target audience, which is crucial in their decision-making process.
Keep in mind that the customer here may have a lot of objections, and the information provided in the conversion phase should be geared towards helping them overcome the negative thoughts. This will make it easier for them to make decisions that favor your brand. The best way to achieve this is by building trust, which can be done through Call-to-Action tags, free trials, and any relevant graphics that tout any trust indicators. (3)
Another stage of the buyer’s that’s often overlooked by companies is the retention phase. Sharing retention content can help keep the current customers engaged, which can increase your profits by up to 95% depending on many things. So, what are some of the SEO factors to consider in this stage?
There are many options you could consider, but one of the most common ones is email marketing. Build an email list based on your previous customers and send them regular promotions depending on what they purchased from you. Free webinars and training, industry news, product updates, and problem-solving tools are other retention techniques you can try.
Integrate departments for better results
The final thing you should know as a marketer or business owner is that all departments play a crucial role in the customer’s buying journey. So, don’t isolate digital marketing from the rest of the business because this can be detrimental to the overall performance. Make sure the revenue and user experience (UX) teams should work closely with the SEO department to ensure that the needs of every prospective customer are met. A company that’s organized in this manner has higher chances of convincing the buyer to go through all the steps in the process.
SEO and the buyer’s journey are two very crucial factors of any modern business. Every stage of the customer’s purchasing process is important, and the content in every phase should be optimized. As such, you should perform keyword research to find the right phrases for each step and make sure all the landing pages are designed to meet what the prospects are looking for. Unfortunately, though, many people overlook the awareness (first) and retention (last) stages, which could’ve, otherwise, increased their success by a significant margin.