Understanding your customers’ purchase behavior is crucial to maximizing the return from your marketing efforts. What is pulling them into your conversion funnel? Where do they exit? What is the difference between a visitor and a converter?
One objective of holistic SEO is to understand your users’ path to conversion and what they need in each phase of your conversion funnel. With that understanding, your site can be optimized so that visitors in each phase have an appropriate page that meets their unique needs.
In addition to aligning your content with your searchers' needs, good SEO makes your site intuitive and easily navigable, and it creates a foundation for site visitors to interact with your site and move through your conversion funnel. Because of this, SEO not only attracts visitors at every phase in your conversion funnel, it impacts every visitor to your site, regardless of how they discovered your brand.
SEO Attracts Visitors at Every Phase in the Conversion Funnel
Search makes your site visible to the right users at the right moment, but only if you’ve created the right content. Holistic SEOs do this by studying how your searchers become converters and optimizing the content on your site for users in every stage of that path.
In the past, we have advocated that paid search advertisers should focus first on targeting visitors further down the funnel to get the most out of their ad dollars. However, targeting upper funnel searchers by prospecting in display or with owned and earned social also allows brands to smartly capture valuable traffic. Optimization for organic search is another way to effectively grab those valuable upper funnel searchers, as well as users at every phase in the conversion path with a one-time investment in content strategy and evergreen content creation.
Step 1: Awareness
Awareness of your offering is the first phase of the conversion funnel. Let’s look at an example of this with a fictitious portable storage and moving company, Storage2Go. This service is a little different than traditional moving companies. It delivers a storage unit to the customer’s house, lets them fill it at their leisure then moves it to their desired end location or stores it for them.
When Sarah, our potential customer, starts thinking about moving across the country, she needs to figure out all of the logistics of her big move. She turns to Google for suggestions and types “help moving” into the search bar. This query can be answered in a variety of ways. Rental moving trucks, professional moving services, and hourly movers could all be solutions to Sarah’s general task of finding help for her move. Storage2Go can use this general query as an opportunity to make Sarah aware of their slightly different solution.
A holistic approach to SEO would ensure Storage2Go’s site had a dedicated landing page educating those that need “help moving” about their flexible storage and moving containers. Sarah is now aware of the existence of portable self storage and moving containers. That landing page would also offer an intuitive path users can follow to learn more about storage and moving containers as visitors like Sarah move down the conversion funnel into the interest phase.
Step 2: Interest
Sarah is now aware of portable self storage and moving as one solution to her task of moving. But there are still questions about what portable self storage and moving containers would mean for her move. Sarah again turns to Google to learn more. “Moving containers” may be her query this time as she enters the interest stage in our conversion funnel. The customer is aware of the offering but wants to know more.
Holistic SEO ensures that Storage2Go’s site is optimized for searchers in this next phase of the funnel by offering information about what moving containers are and how they work. Questions like: "How much do they cost?"; "What sizes are available?"; "How long can I use them?" or "How quickly can they be transported?", could all be answered on a landing page for the interested visitor. Users in the interest phase should also have content from the next phase in your conversion funnel clearly laid out for them when they are ready to move from interest to consideration.
Step 3: Consideration
At this step, the customer wants a particular brand or product. Sarah loves the idea of portable moving containers but isn’t sure which brand will best meet her needs. “Compare portable storage containers” may be our query this time. Sarah knows portable storage containers will be her solution. She wants to find the best deal though and she’s using search engines to point her to options that she can compare as she gets close to making her purchase decision.
During this phase, your site needs to be SEO’d to communicate your unique value proposition. Are you convincing visitors through your content that your offering is the clear choice for your potential customers? When you’ve outlined the benefits of choosing your company and offering, encourage your visitor to make the final move to conversion with an intuitive path laid out for your visitor.
Step 4: Conversion
Sarah has done all of the groundwork, she’s ready to convert! Decision made, Sarah is ready to purchase but can’t remember the domain and wants to skip navigating through the site. “Storage To Go moving containers” is the query this time. She just wants to be connected with Storage2Go’s conversion page.
With holistic SEO, you’ve ensured this page exists and meets the expectations of your soon-to-be converter. It should include the information Sarah needs about her portable storage container like size, price, and transportation. It should also have a streamlined checkout process to make sure converting is as simple and intuitive as possible.
Holistic SEO Pushes Users Further Down Your Funnel
SEO doesn’t just attract people from organic search at every step in the conversion funnel, it also pushes people down it. Holistic SEO isn’t just about aligning content with queries. It’s also about optimizing the user’s experience on your site. It’s about making your site intuitive and useful so that it will drive conversion.
Users that land on your site to learn more about your general industry should find an answer to their question. They should also find why your solution meets their specific needs, why your solution is the best for them, and where they can take advantage of this great solution. Good SEO turns “awareness” into “interest” or even “conversion”.
SEO Touches Visitors from All Sources and in All Phases of Your Conversion Funnel
SEO touches all of your site visitors, regardless of the source or phase in your conversion funnel. Because of your SEO efforts, visitors that find your site through a display ad in the “consideration” phase have the perfect landing page to express your unique value proposition and move them seamlessly to the “conversion” stage.
“Interested” users that look for your brand after seeing a TV ad have content to answer their questions about your product as well as the facts about your company and the path laid out for them to move further down that conversion funnel.
Social media visitors that are just starting to learn about your industry in the “awareness” stage can find the information they need to move down to the “interest” or “consideration” phase and compare your offering to your competitors’. The content and path alignment created through holistic SEO makes purchasing easy and intuitive for ALL of your site visitors regardless of source or phase in the conversion funnel.
Most brands invest in SEO because organic search drives relevant traffic and revenue to their site. Holistic SEO does more than just improve a site’s performance in organic search. It lays the foundation for all online touches with your brand by aligning your site’s content with what your unique users are looking for. Holistic SEO also boosts the performance of your entire marketing program by optimizing content for each stage of the conversion funnel resulting in overall improved traffic, revenue and conversion rate.