How to SEO Your Customer Journey Map
You probably know that keeping your website’s SEO in good shape is the right idea. You probably also know that you don’t need to understand much about SEO to realize that your website isn’t generating as much business from organic traffic as you’d like it to.
A website is a network of pieces of content including articles, product information, company information, media downloads, and any number of other things. Each of those pieces should help your prospects decide to value your company and purchase your services or products over time. To increase organic traffic to your website from the people you want to visit it, and for them to find the content you want them to find, you first need to know a bit about personas, keyword research, and the buying funnel.
Don’t take the strategy of creating content lightly, after all content strategy and marketing are at the peak of the SEO pyramid. When you put some serious analysis into how customers SHOULD be accessing your website, like with a customer journey map, you can get some serious insights. While that effort takes time and research, with some simple steps and by using what you already know about your customers, you can get started.
Find Your Personas
It takes time and smarts to build personas. There are many consultants and software releases out there with different ways to help you develop good buyer personas and map their likes and dislikes. Doing persona development is one thing, but mapping out their paths to purchase is another.
Customer journey maps are a visualization of the actions customers take and interactions with your brand. The persona services you can use will not help you prioritize the content on your website for each persona. This requires a rudimentary content audit.
Ask yourself a few questions to align content to the buying cycle.
- Who are the key decision makers? What are their job titles? Try to divide them up by levels of influence and their end goal of using your website.
- Why are they looking for your services? Learn what the motivation is for becoming a customer of a company in your industry. It could be they are dissatisfied with another vendor, or they are just getting started with your category.
- What are their decision factors? What are the barriers to their decision? Think about the length of your sales cycle and the types of questions your prospects already ask you to answer these.
With the answers to these questions, you can start to identify a few core customers and think of the basic steps they each take to make a purchase. We tend to call these steps awareness, consideration, and decision.
Define Your Conversion Funnel
Your own funnel probably is much more complex than a three step model, but each page and piece of content on your site should serve one or more of the awareness, consideration, decision funnel. Here are some examples of each (remember that we are focused only on your website and not your other marketing channels).
- Home page - helps users become more familiar with your brand and value proposition
- Blog - informational content usually meant to establish credibility and attract users searching for topics related to your products or services
- Service detail pages - describes what exactly you have to offer the prospect if they become your customer
- eBooks and white papers - gives detailed explanations of an area of your expertise
- Contact page - place calls to action around your site which direct toward a same-page or contact page form where prospects give you their information to reach out
- Shopping cart - make it easy for customers to process an order from product pages
Now that you have personas and a funnel, you can categorize your existing content using a simple excel sheet.
Map Content to Your Target Audiences
Create an excel sheet with rows for every page on your site and columns for each persona. You can divide it further by adding sub columns for the steps in the buying cycle under each persona. If you have access to a web crawl tool like Screaming Frog, then it will be especially easy to list all of your pages, but if not, focus on your main website pages and blogs.
|Decision Maker - Chief Product Officer||Influencer - Procurement Manager|
At the end of the process you will be able to see if you need more content focused on a given persona’s needs. Some of your research might help you learn the amount of content that a persona needs to make a decision, so you can decide whether you need more content or if you should refocus your content efforts elsewhere.
Optimize (again, and again…)
With some of this research at the ready, you can begin to assess the gaps in your website’s ability to serve your customer’s needs through their journey. Add a layer of Google Analytics data to each page and you will start to see which pages are really performing or not.
When you start to add new content, you’ll need to consider keyword targets. Use the Google Keyword Planner, part of the AdWords service, to research a topic and find the most popular terms in your industry. When doing this exercise, remember that just because single and two-word terms like “SEO” and “marketing agency” have high volume on their own doesn’t mean that you should target them in your content strategy. The data of those terms includes all related searches using that term, so that individual term won’t necessarily be a good term to rank for.
In productive keyword research, it’s best to create a list of specific terms and compare them to variations that your customers might use instead, then choose the highest volume term that makes sense. The most important terms in the long run for your business will be extremely specific “long-tail” keywords, such as “Marketing Agency in St. Paul who does SEO”, because those keywords are searched by users who are more motivated to become a customer than those searching for the short-tail keywords and just entering the awareness phase.
You can test out these queries before you choose keywords by entering an “incognito mode” on your browser. This mode eliminates the impact of your personal search and web use history, so you get the most normalized search result that you can.
After all of this you can start to build great content to fit the keywords and buying phases that your customer needs as they move through the steps to become your customer. There isn’t a simple formula for customizing SEO for your customer’s journey, but with a little analysis of your content, you can create a better optimization plan for your website. If you stay committed to great content, your efforts will pay off in the long run. If you need it, kick-start your own SEO work with a free SEO scan from Three Deep.