How to create search-friendly content for each stage of the consumer journey

Predicting their needs

With consumers nowadays preferring personalized content, marketers are finding success in targeted messaging: providing value to attract potential customers based on the customers’ interests and readiness to buy. It’s an important consideration for how to create search-friendly content throughout the consumer journey.

The stages a buyer goes through — from being aware of a product, to evaluating whether the product is worth buying, to finally purchasing — is all part of the consumer journey, also known as the buyer’s journey. Businesses must be aware of their target customer’s buyer’s journey in order to understand them better, and in turn, execute content strategies capable of attracting them.

Content marketing is a huge focus of modern marketing that makes it possible to attract people at every stage in the journey.

Content and SEO go hand in hand. An effective SEO strategy involves the use of relevant content in addition to all of your company’s technical SEO on- and off-page efforts. That said, effective content also incorporates SEO best practices in order to be found.

So how do you tie together content, SEO and the consumer journey? One way to do that is to consider the search intent of the user.

Consumer Journey SEO

What is search intent?

Apart from relevance, context and meaning, Google also considers search intent to help improve semantic searches. After all, understanding the intent behind a search allows Google to deliver the best possible results to users.

Search intent refers to a user’s purpose behind entering a given query.

 

Through the analysis of the way the user searches, and the specific terms the user enters, marketers are able to roughly determine which stage of the consumer journey the user is currently at. Knowing this, they can create content that is optimized based on intent.

Create search-friendly content for each stage of the consumer journey

Though every company and individual has their own definition of the consumer journey, this article recognizes them in general as such: awareness, consideration, decision, and post-purchase. With that defined, here’s how to create search-friendly content for every stage of the consumer journey.

Awareness

The first stage of the buyer’s journey is awareness, or learning about the brand. At this stage, customers might have completed some activities that demonstrate hearing about your brand. They might have seen your ads online or on social media, visited your website, followed your pages, subscribed to your newsletter — but they have not purchased anything from you yet. Since they might have already interacted with your brand in some way, it’s fair to assume that they’re interested in learning more about you.

Content goal for this stage of the consumer journey: Brand awareness.

Specifically, to rank in Google’s featured snippets (position zero), the box containing a snippet of an answer that appears when someone enters a question into the search box. Getting to the Google featured snippet shows your brand has authority on the subject, with the additional benefit of ranking at the absolute top of Google search — above all other results and even paid ads.

Keyword intent: Informational.

Of the three types of keyword intent (which you might also refer to as “micro-moments”), informational intent refers to the type of searches that seek information. To put it basically, searchers have questions they want answered.

A good indicator for the type of search intent that falls under informational intent includes the term “how to.”

According to Practical Ecommerce, optimizing for these keywords is not likely to lead to a sale right away, but represents a long-term strategy to build a relationship with potential customers.

Content strategy: Create long-form educational content, such as tutorials and how-to guides that answer questions (other content might include video, eBooks, white papers, etc.). According to research from Conductor, consumers are 131 percent more likely to buy from a brand after consuming educational content.

Improve this strategy by: Including a compelling conversion factor, such as an email signup form, to keep in touch. Or create “exclusive” content only accessible in exchange for email (also known as content upgrades/lead magnets).

Editor’s note: To bring informational content to the masses, you’ll need a blog to share your wisdom. Consider GoDaddy Managed WordPress. With its easy-to-use Quick Start Wizard, you can have a blog up and running in no time, giving you the opportunity to share what you know without messing with overly technical features.

Consideration

Consumer Journey Google

As you learn how to create search-friendly content, keep in mind that consideration refers to a stage in the middle of the sales funnel. The consideration stage is known as the “most influential” part of the consumer journey because this is where people go through the process of comparing offerings and moving forward to choose one solution.

Content goal for this stage of the consumer journey: Make the customer see that you’re the best choice and build brand affinity.

Keyword intent: Investigational.

Investigational intent falls in the fine line between informational intent and the third major type of keyword intent, transactional intent. When users do investigational searches, they might be intending to compare prices or products or are still trying to learn more about the topic.

Compared to transactional and informational intent, there are less searches for investigational intent, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t optimize for these types of search terms as well.

These words show investigational intent:

  • Review
  • Comparison
  • Best
  • Alternative

Content strategy: In this stage of the consumer journey, a user’s search query is changing from things like “how to remove weeds” to “best weed remover.”

By educating a broader market, you are also starting to speak to a potential buyer.

 

You don’t want to seem overly promotional or pushy, so the content that works well in this stage includes case studies, buying guides, data sheets and webinars. These types of content help to prove the effectiveness of the solution you’re offering.

Improve this strategy by: Adding a call-to-action after every piece of content.

Decision

The decision stage is at the bottom of the sales funnel. Here, the customer is just about ready to make a decision, so the goal is to make sure that your brand is who they decide to purchase from.

Content goal: Close the sale!

Keyword intent: Transactional.

Transactional intent keywords are keywords that signal that a customer is ready to buy. From weighing the pros and cons of each choice in the previous stage, these customers have now made up their minds and it shows through the use of keywords, such as:

  • Where to buy
  • Price
  • For sale
  • Discount
  • Coupon

Content strategy: Create/encourage content from customers, such as reviews, testimonials and pricing pages to get your prospect thinking about choosing you over your competition.

When creating content for searchers using terms with transactional intent, consider creating a specialized landing page that links to nothing but your shopping cart. This will make it easier for the customer to check out — having anything else on this page might distract the customer from making a purchase decision.

Improve this content strategy by: Including branded keywords. According to Search Engine Journal, branded keywords express direct intent for your solution. You want to take advantage of the traffic you’re receiving to close in on those customers and keep competitors from taking them.

Post-purchase

After you figure out how to create search-friendly content, don’t forget that even after the customer has purchased from you, the buyer’s journey isn’t technically over quite yet.

The next thing you want to focus on is making those customers repeat customers. It’s just good business sense — returning customers spend 67 percent more than new customers.

Create content that will keep you at the top of customers’ minds after they’ve purchased from you, such as a guide for how to use what they’ve bought, or a discount they could use to buy a related product. The key here is consistency: continuously create content that the customer will find useful so they will keep engaging with your brand.

Final thoughts

Mapping out the consumer journey is essential for marketers to create content that addresses needs at every stage. By analyzing where a person is at in the buyer’s journey, marketers and salespeople are able to determine what needs to happen to move people along to the next stage. Organize your efforts with an editorial calendar that acts as the roadmap for strategy moving forward.

With many transactions happening online, it doesn’t have to be difficult to track readiness to buy based on search terms. Armed with information about how to create search-friendly content, you have an advantage for luring searchers into your sales funnel.

Image by: Thought Catalog on Unsplash