The buyer’s journey used to be a simple circular route from Awareness to Consideration to Purchase and (hopefully) back around again. Digital has transformed it into a complex maze of multiple touchpoints and potential for crossed wires.
With 3.6 billion people using the internet, the buyer’s journey now begins and, for many industries, ends in the digital landscape. 71% of consumers begin the Discovery stage and 74% start Exploration stage with an online search. By focusing your attention on how your brand appears in search results, you can reduce the overwhelming nature of the modern buyer’s journey, and make sure you are targeting the right content to the right audience at each moment in their journey.
Yet even a simple Google search has become complicated. Buyers no longer get the same results with the same search terms. Instead, each individual’s result is personalized based on the type of intent, device, location, time of day and any other past search history.
The layout of the search engine results page (SERP) is also up for grabs. There are now 50 different SERP elements and an infinite number of combinations where Google is understanding the intent of each search to present the most relevant and helpful information. For example, if the user asks a question, Google might prioritize a Quick Answer, the highlighted section that appears at the top of the SERP whenever a user asks an information seeking question, like “How to…” or “What is…”. Or when a location seems like the most appropriate result, the buyer will see a Local 3-Pack view showing nearby businesses who offer what they’re looking for.
The expectant buyer
All this has transformed the buyer. They now expect to see only the most relevant search results linking to dynamic content that reflects where they are in their journey. If your brand is still reciting the same stock answers, you’re missing out, especially as millennials – now “the world’s most powerful consumers” – are more loyal to brands that provide a personalized approach.
When the majority of every customer journey starts with search, you need to ensure buyers see signs for your brand on that first results page. Here are three ways to ensure you earn their attention.
Establish what people are actually searching for
New York sports center Aviator Sports created a new webpage to promote its figure skating rink and classes. When it didn’t generate the anticipated traffic, the company used BrightEdge’s deep learning SEO technology to analyze the relevant keyword landscape. This revealed that while “figure skating” is the widely-accepted term in the sports world, regular people typically search for “ice skating.” By optimizing this term on their webpage, Aviator boosted its potential search volume by more than five times.
Don’t assume that buyers use the same language as you. It’s critical to establish which relevant terms people actually search for the most. You should also explore which terms your competitors are ranking for and find out if there are any important categories where your brand does not rank.
Using the BrightEdge Data Cube, you can easily discover the relevant terms where your brand ranks in search and what language is used. You can also quickly compare your domain to any competitor to see what terms they rank for in the first page of search results that you are not.
Create content for different search types
When cosmetics brand Kiehl’s noticed that lots of people were searching for advice on using skincare products, it produced content to specifically answer the most common questions. As a result, the brand saw a 30% increase in its Quick Answer ranking.
Words used in a search are often an indicator of where a buyer is on their journey and you need to create relevant content for each type:
- “How”/“What” – The buyer starts their journey by searching for information about a category. This is your opportunity to become a Quick Answer and produce interesting category content.
- “Reviews”/“Best” – The buyer is interested and now considering their options. Help them by creating brand comparison content and promoting your good reviews and case studies.
- “Buy”/“Order”/“Download”/brand term – The buyer is ready to make a purchase. Close the deal by showing them product pages and ensuring your brand features on Google Images and in the Local 3-Pack.
Using BrightEdge Keyword Reporting, you can easily organize and strategize on all of the terms where your brand is ranking on informational, consideration, or purchase terms. Keyword Reporting will also help you identify which terms have universal rankings, such as a Local 3-pack or Quick Answer, to help you optimize your pages for the right intent to secure those prized search spots.
Optimize your place in the results
Digital Media Publisher targeting athletes Stack.com discovered 120 keywords initially and narrowed down their target list to focus only on terms with the highest organic potential. The brand then created targeted content for this subset, which increased site visits by 61%.
Once you understand the intent of each targeted keyword, you can maximize your organic effort by grouping keywords into three categories:
- Defend – terms whose high ranking you need to maintain
- Optimize – terms where you can achieve a higher ranking with some minor tweaks
- Create – terms you are not ranking for and need to boost with new content
Leveraging BrightEdge’s Visual Parser, the Intent Signal dashboard template will automatically do this analysis and categorization for you. Or consult Insights, which automatically scans your site for pages with errors that affect ranking or those where additional content like an image or Quick Answer might boost results.
Keep pace with technology
The world’s leading search engine never sits still, therefore the buyer’s journey will continue to change. Using a leading industry technology like BrightEdge will give you the ability to automate these processes and it is how the best SEO marketers keep pace. With all the tools you need to stay on the same path as your buyers, BrightEdge will keep you two steps ahead.