The sales funnel represents a customer’s journey from the moment the customer becomes aware of your good or service or brand, to the point when they convert into a paying customer. This is a crucial journey to understand for sales and marketing teams because it allows you to put yourself in the customers’ shoes and amend the way you communicate with them, and how you present your business to them to help them progress through the funnel.

 

Google’s Algorithms

Without going into a lengthy description of how Google is so good at what they do and why they still hold a monopoly over the search engine market, Google’s algorithms are at the heart of their dominance. Google crawls all websites and can rank them based on how closely they meet the needs of the customer and can spot the purpose of each query.

The purpose of a search is known in the digital world as the search intent and there are four main search intents: informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional. Based on the search intent, Google displays the web pages that they believe best meet the searcher’s needs.

 

Types of Search Intent

Informational search intent is about finding answers to questions, this is where the likes of Wikipedia come to the fore. Navigational search intent is when a user is searching for a specific location either a physical one (e.g. the address for a hotel) or a digital one (i.e. a specific business’ website). Commercial search intent is the research stage, a user is looking for information, reviews etc before they make a booking/purchase. The final search intent is transactional search intent, which is when the searcher is ready to buy (at the end of the sales funnel) and they have completed their research already.

 

Where does SEO fit in the Sales Funnel?

The simple answer is – everywhere! It will of course depend on the type of product you sell, your target market and what you want your SEO to achieve. Most businesses will benefit from reaching searchers at different points of their journey, therefore your SEO should be optimised for the different stages, and you will need to create different content for each stage, so you can prove to customers (and to Google) that your business is the right choice for them.

 

Top of the funnel

This is when searchers are looking at solving problems and have an informational search intent, whether it is how to fix something or what is the best way to…. etc. They are looking for solutions to their problems or more information on something they are interested in. To reach those users, your website should aim to answer these general questions and then research and optimise keywords that are most likely to be used. Blog content can be useful here to help you provide keyword rich and customer and Google friendly pages.

 

Middle of the funnel

The potential customers in this section are closer to making a purchase but are still unsure so will do more research and thus have commercial search intent. They will likely compare brands, e.g. iPhone vs Samsung, or they might look at the reviews for different products or services. These searchers are likely to still be unclear of what they want and from whom they are going to buy. On-page SEO and on-page information can help here as well as FAQ pages and informative and educational (non salesy) blog articles, optimised to the appropriate searches can really help you rank higher and also to “push” these customers nearer to the purchase.

 

Bottom of the funnel

The bottom of the funnel consists of potential customers who are almost ready to purchase/book but might also need a final push. Their intent would often be transactional but could also possibly be navigational if they were looking for your address of a physical store. At the transactional end is where you find fewer potential customers but you also find a lot of competitors vying for their business. This is where SEO can make all the difference. You should ensure that all pictures are optimised and have alt-text, as customers will want to look at the product and check that it meets their needs. You should have information on price, quality, warranties, delivery prices and times, all these features help rank your page and help to move from a prospect to an actual customer.

 

SEO Strategists

Sierra Six Media is an expert at SEO and can help clients to improve their SEO and their digital marketing efforts. Through discussion, we will find out your customer’s journey and behaviours that affect how your consumers interact with your brand. Getting this right can have immense advantages for your business, so get in touch today and we can start our own journey together.

 

Rachel Downes, Publisher, Sierra Six Media.