Next Generation SEO – The New Customer Journey

By Keela Greenlee

This is the third in a series of blogs on the next generation of search engine optimization. You can catch up on previous posts: Next Generation Search Engine Optimization and Next Generation SEO – Content Power.

Throw away your funnel.

No one would argue that the Internet hasn’t revolutionized the way customers discover businesses and consider products and services. However, many fail to recognize that the Internet also broke the tried-and-true purchase funnel theory. Consumers no longer move from awareness to consideration to conversion, rather they progress through an always-on journey of exploration and contemplation, fueled largely by self-sought investigation online. For more on the evolving consumer conversion process, check out the Conversion Theory.

Present every step of the way.

With an endless sea of information available online, search engines serve as a critical starting point and road map for navigating throughout the consumer journey. There is no one-size-fits-all definition for how consumers utilize search, except that they use it every step of their journey. They discover your brand and products with higher level search terms (such as category or segment). They inform and validate their interests with social and review site results, and they convert (or facilitate their conversion) with direct links to purchase, call, or visit.

It’s not enough to focus on any one point of the journey—as tempting as it may be. If your goal is the drive leads and form-fills, you may put all of your effort in keywords and PPC that supports conversions. This strategy is short-sided, as it leaves the opportunity to connect with consumers and move them further along their conversion path on the table. For example, developing content will not only support keywords and drive PPC success, it will also build brand awareness while providing consumers with valuable information.

Take three steps back.

To make the most of your search presence, stop thinking about search. Really.

Step One: Understand how your customers utilize search to facilitate and augment their decisions. Consider building out buyer personas, where you can work through your customers’ needs, desires, values, and habits.

Step Two: Build a robust digital presence that provides adequate information and opportunity for both your prospective consumers and your most loyal customers to engage with your business and brand. The development of content will satisfy two needs: those of your customers as well as those search engines value most.

Step Three: Start thinking more about search engine optimization: regularly scheduled content releases, cross-channel management, social media, and more. Focusing on customer journey will outrank others in search results, creating ever more customers, and it is why next-generation search engine optimization delivers such a powerful competitive edge.

“Whoa! I’m overwhelmed.”

The greatest irony of search is, despite its simple interface and ubiquity, it is arguably the most complex medium. If you are struggling to understand your customer’s journey and the importance of search within it, we can help. Contact us online or call 888.573.4773.


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