The SEO Marketing Sales Funnel: Guiding People to Conversion
What exactly is the SEO conversion funnel?
Understanding the path that people take on their online shopping journey is important to knowing how to help them find their way through your site. And it’s critical to optimizing organic traffic conversions.
The SEO marketing conversion funnel helps marketers visualize the steps that potential customers take before they decide to purchase a product. The funnel like shape symbolizes customers dropping off on the way to the final stage of the funnel. It also symbolizes the paring down of options that people undertake when comparing competitors.
Although the amount of stages in the funnel will differ depending on how in depth you wish to go, the simplest conversion funnel has three main stages: awareness, evaluation, and conversion. As users get closer to the conversion stage, the funnel gets smaller.
The SEO approach to the sales funnel essentially has you optimizing content for each of these stages in order to make it easier for the user to find you and then choose to purchase your product. To help you achieve successful conversions, it is important to understand the customer at each stage of the funnel.
Stage 1. Awareness
At the top of the SEO sales funnel you have awareness which is where you would try to capture your potential customers. Customers who are at the awareness stage of the marketing funnel know that they want something and are beginning to search for a product or a solution to their query.
If you want to get leads at this stage, you need to create content that is related to the type of queries that the customer would be asking in order to find your products. Ideally answering these queries will help your pages ranking in the SERP which will bring more searchers to your website.
Building out broader, preliminary content here can bring in traffic that’s suited to shoppers who are still researching what they want.
Because search engines work for the users, it’s important that you also cater your content to the user’s search habits. If you are optimizing for the first step of the SEO conversion funnel, you should be researching different query-based keywords that users are using to find products that you sell.
Consider which keywords fit the queries, what type of content the user will be expecting and what type of content you’d like them to discover on your site.
You can start with keyword lists you have made yourself and use marketing tools like Google Trends and even Google’s auto suggest to discover how users are searching for products or information in your industry. Keyword Planner is great for finding keywords to use, however, discovering different “head keywords” and queries that customers are using at the beginning of their buying journey is important for optimizing for the sales funnel.
What are head keywords? These are generally search queries 1-2 words long that are broad, have very high average search traffic, and as a result are highly competitive.
Making use of different head keywords is important for understanding your customer’s shopping behavior and understanding user behavior is what optimizing for the conversion funnel is all about.
In some cases it’s better to capture searchers later in their shopping journey, here you can focus on long-tail keywords (queries that are 3 or more words in length, and more specific in intent). Long tail keywords are typically less competitive, easier to rank for and tend to convert better.
For example, someone who is looking for a new tent for camping might have a number of questions they have about which is the best. They might be searching for one that is durable for all weather, or one that is lightweight for hiking, or they might be searching for one based on most value for the price. Figuring out how the user is looking for your products is the first step to reaching them.
Take a look at these example keywords and consider how they might represent searchers in the “awareness” phase of their SEO conversion funnel:
Using Landing Pages to Understand How Visitors Arrive
These shoppers often find their way to businesses via “landing pages.” Google Analytics can give businesses insight on which landing pages are performing the best, and which offer more conversion value.
In Analytics go to the left-side navigation menu and go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages. Use the Organic segment to filter traffic for people who land on your site from search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. This Analytics report also offers information on valuable metrics like “new users” and “new sessions” as well as bounce-rate, goal completions, etc. A good SEO strategy will involve being able to monitor these KPIs and adjust accordingly to maximize results for site visitors that are coming to the site at the top of the SEO marketing/sales funnel.
Optimizing landing pages with accurate head-keywords or well-constructed meta-data, content, and on-page elements can improve the visibility of your landing pages.
Stage 2. Research
The middle of the funnel is dedicated to the research phase of the SEO sales funnel. At this point the user may or may not know exactly what they are going to purchase or where they will purchase from, but they are starting to get serious about purchasing something.
Often times, customers arriving on your site will research other options before purchasing which means “sessions” are a key metric.
Customers who have made it to this stage are valuable for your business because they are possibly ready to purchase something that your business offers. Your job is to find a way to get your product in front of them which means you need to rank in the SERP.
The best way to get your products to the consumer at this point is through quality content. When customers are researching the different product options that are available, they’ll have a number of questions that will help them decide which product they want to buy ranging from different specifications available, to prices. Good content for SEO goes beyond just content that’s optimized for algorithmic rankings. Focus on building out EAT content (expert, authoritative, and trustworthy) that is designed to give site visitor the information they want and to help them along their journey.
Including thorough product descriptions or even blog posts that target relevant search queries can provide valuable content for users that will not only help you rank in the SERP but can also help the user decide on one of your products.
So, if you’re trying to sell camping tents to people, it’s time to build out those descriptions with every bit of information that is important about your tent. Is it waterproof? How many people can it sleep? How much does it weigh?
An example of a detail product page.
If it is a compact lightweight tent, be sure to include information about how it is great for hiking and will fit inside your backpack. If you sell several lightweight tents, maybe you should write a blog comparing your different products available based on prices and specifications.
Again, any information that will help the user realize that your product is the one they are looking for should be included in the descriptions or in a blog. You will never be penalized for providing too much information about your products.
Also remember that whether you are writing a blog or a product description, you should always be aware of your keyword usage throughout your content and in your meta titles and descriptions.
Stage 3. Conversion
The bottom of the funnel is the end game for the SEO sales funnel. Your visitors are serious about purchasing a product they just need the extra push from you to seal the deal.
The final stage of the funnel is focused less on keywords and more on the content that will help customers make the final decision to purchase through you. If you’ve already built out your product descriptions and written blogs about your products, you should focus on providing relevant info that they weren’t already searching for.
This final stage of guiding users through the SEO marketing funnel should make sure shoppers have everything they need to convert.
This could include testimonials, case studies or reviews depending on the type of services or products you provide. Including this info is not only good for sales but it is also good for building your perceived authority and trustworthiness (as a part of EAT). When a customer sees high ratings for products with thousands of reviews, they will be more likely to make the final purchase through you than your competitor with only 100 reviews.
The same can be said for competitor analysis. Really try to go in depth comparing your product to your competitors and highlight all the reasons why yours is the one they should choose.
If you’ve sold thousands of tents to users, make sure you have reviews on your site. If your lightweight tent is lighter than your competitors without sacrificing durability, write a blog about why yours is the one to buy for their next long backpacking trip.
At the end of the day, more information will only benefit you so take the time to go the extra mile for your customers.
Tracking the shopper journey in Analytics
If you’re wondering how to track your progress at this step of the funnel it’s important that you start tracking your conversions. You can do this by setting up Ecommerce tracking or by setting up goals in Google Analytics.
Ecommerce tracking allows you to track data like the amount of sales, number of orders, billing location and more in Google Analytics. This feature is particularly important for online stores because it helps you correlate your sales data with site usage data like sessions, bounce rate and more.
If your users are leaving at the last step of the funnel, you should use this info to better optimize your landing pages for conversions.
The same can be said for goal completions. There are four different goal types you can used to track progress leading up to your conversions:
- Pages/Screens Per Session
Destination lets you treat a page view or a screen view as a conversion. Duration lets you measure user engagement by making their time spent on a page a conversion. Pages/Screens per session measures engagement as well but it treats the number of page views per session as a conversion. Finally there’s events which are user interactions like button clicks, form submissions, downloads and more.
(Google Analytics refers to any sort of goal completion here, that you define, as a “conversion.”)
Each of these different types of conversions can be indicators that users are closer to reaching the last step of the conversion funnel. Use this information to your advantage and make goals the stepping blocks toward the final conversion, a purchase.
Analyzing the SEO Marketing Funnel
Outside of targeting keywords, and improving content for conversions, it is also important to consider where users are leaving in the SEO sales funnel.
Begin by analyzing your site structure. You should question whether or not your site structure is easy to navigate. Can the user easily find what they are looking for? Do your internal links lead to other relevant pages or products on your site or are they 404s?
A great tool for analyzing your site structure is the Users Flow report in Google Analytics.
Users Flow is a visual graph representing the different paths users take to navigate through your website. Starting with the source, you can track them through the various pages they visited and where they exit your site. If your users are consistently leaving your site at the same pages, it’s a great time to ask yourself how you can better optimize your site’s flow.
Identifying where customers exit the site and making changes to improve those pages can help boost the number of visitors that remain and move you closer to a successful conversion. Another great tool for finding areas in need of improvement is the “Exit Pages” report. This report breaks down the number of exits, pageviews, the percentage of exits and more. It even includes a list of the exit pages with individual statistics for each URL (it’s essentially the opposite of the Landing Pages report).
More often than not, a site’s exit rates aren’t a marketers first priority when assessing their sites performance, but this report can be really insightful when searching for optimization opportunities.
(Please note that exit rates differ from bounce rates in that they show the site’s outflow from their last session rather than visitors that exit immediately after arriving without interacting with the site.)
When optimizing your site for a better SEO conversion funnel it’s important to consider every aspect of your site that might deter customers from purchasing through you. This includes both technical SEO, mobile usability and more.
For example, you might even have old content that still performs well in the SERP but it’s a little outdated and doesn’t lead to any new conversions. Editing your content with more up to date information and links will give it a boost when it comes to SEO and it will add more value for users.
Because Google’s freshness algorithm can effect SEO rankings, it’s a significant way of effecting perceived EAT for visitors. Outdated content is a fast way of deterring customers and disrupting your SEO conversion funnel flow. Fresh, accurate content is yet another way to ease shoppers toward the bottom of the funnel.
Remember that SEO is about more than driving traffic and ranking in the SERP. It’s about matching the user’s needs to relevant pages within your website. With SEO there’s one thing that should always come first: visitor needs.
Contact the Radd team to learn about getting professional SEO services and optimized on-page content. Our team can help you get your site set up for a more optimized SEO marketing/sales funnel.