When developing a marketing strategy for your business it is important to review your sales funnel; understanding your potential customer’s journey and the different stages that bring them one step closer to your product. But how many of us are applying this way of thinking to our marketing plans? How many of us know where our SEO (search engine optimisation) keyword strategy fits alongside our sales funnel and customer’s journey?
It is common for clients to want us to target only the highest-ranking keywords. For example, if you are a hotelier in Edinburgh that runs a 5-star hotel, why wouldn’t you want to rank top of the Google search for ‘Edinburgh hotels’? This is a strong keyword. It would bring a great volume of traffic and it is important to include it in your website copy. However, it also applies to ALL types of hotel. This traffic would include people looking for cheap hotels and hotels of all shapes and sizes. It is important to invest time into understanding how your potential customers are using search engines to find a product exactly like yours. This requires research into longer tail keywords that drive highly targeted traffic, which is therefore more likely to convert into a sale. For example, ‘Luxury Hotels in Edinburgh with Parking’.
It is also worth noting that with high-volume keywords such as ‘Edinburgh Hotels’, comes fierce competition. Competition from well-established, search-engine-trusted sites. For a small/new domain, ranking for large traffic keywords against these big sites can be tricky.
Your keyword strategy should include both high-ranking keywords AND low-ranking keywords that have less competition, are easier to target and drive genuine customer engagement. This way, you can capture customers through every stage of the funnel.
Nowadays, almost all our customers start their purchase process using search engines. What is the first thing you do when you want to learn more or find solutions to a problem? You Google it! For a lot of brands, by the time a potential client reaches out to you, they have already made that journey down the sales funnel and have done a bit of research.
Keyword search conversion funnel
Below, we break the sales funnel down into 3 stages, highlighting search engine behaviours:
Top of the Sales Funnel Keywords – Defining and Learning
The top of the sales funnel is a great place to capture a new audience and to nurture them through to the bottom. Building trust is a key strategy for brand engagement and return custom. Creating reliable, informative content is an excellent way to begin shaping this. Potential customers in this group are searching for broad terms with few specifics. For example, the customer is somebody considering a short break. They know they want to go somewhere in Scotland, but they are open to suggestion and on the lookout for recommendations and inspiration. At this stage, a lot of the keywords your potential customer is using won’t consider location, costs or accommodation type:
• Scotland break
• Scotland holiday
It is worth noting that, although these short-tail keywords have a wide reach, it’s often difficult to compete for a top search engine spot with them. Terms such as “Scotland hotel”, “Luxury hotel”, and “Weekend breaks” are often dominated by tourism boards and OTA’s (online travel agencies). These sites have built years of trust and referrals with search engines and can be difficult (but not impossible) to out-rank.
Middle of the Sales Funnel Keywords – Reviewing Options
Potential customers at the middle of the sales funnel are extremely important because they have most likely decided they need a service or product. At this stage, they are just trying to decide which one.
A lot of content marketers overlook this middle level and fail to capitalise on its potential. Opportunities here include people who have already travelled through from the top of the funnel, alongside potential repeat clients. It is a critical point for targeting keywords and content that strengthen the user’s understanding of your brand. Middle of the funnel users will be comparing price brackets, general location, facilities that hotels are offering.
For example, the customer searching for a short break in Scotland has decided they want to visit Edinburgh. Their research at the top of the funnel has also confirmed that they are interested in luxury hotels. Their search terms are becoming longer and more specific:
• Luxury Hotel Edinburgh
• Edinburgh boutique hotel
• 5 Star accommodation Edinburgh
The middle of the funnel should be a place where you target the more specific needs of the customer, so they can evaluate your ability to cater for them. There could be ten or so hotels that meet their basic needs and, here, they are sifting through information to decide which one is right for them.
Bottom of the Sales Funnel Keywords – Specialised Solutions
At the bottom of the sales funnel, your potential customer has usually confirmed what they are looking for and are shopping for the finer details: discounts, availability, location vs key tourist attractions, specific brands, etc. This is the place to make your final sell! Your long-tail keywords will drive traffic at this stage. These search terms home in on the finer points that the client may be looking for. E.g. The customer has confirmed they want to stay in a Luxury hotel in the centre of Edinburgh. The break is for a special occasion and they want special comforts as standard:
• Edinburgh hotel with hot tub in room
• Edinburgh boutique hotel with parking
• Edinburgh historic hotel with castle views
Keywords like this tend to receive less traffic but come with a higher conversion rate. Those clicking through to your site from these searches have found you because you meet very specifics needs. The final decision making here comes down to factors like specific dates, reviews, seasonal discounts and those little extra perks. As yourself, “What would make ME choose one location over another?” Breakfast included? 3 nights for the price of 2? A complimentary spa treatment? This is the place to promote these extra features and secure a purchase!
So which keyword funnel stage is most important? The answer is, “All of them”. Different people will be at different stages of your sales funnel, so it’s important to ensure you consider ways to target each of them. All stages of the funnel push potential customers in the next stage; its our job to identify where you have opportunity to grow.
If you’d like help or want to discuss your keywords strategy further, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org