If I had a penny for every time a client asked our agency to focus only on the most searched, highest volume keywords in their industry I’d be a very rich woman by now.
It’s a common myth that the most searched terms, those with the largest volume, are the best ones to rank for. No one would complain about being #1 for a term like “best company,” but will it help you sell specific products or services? Not likely. We’ll discuss methods to research based on the funnel stage, specifically bottom-of-funnel keywords in today’s blog post.
Keyword research is an important part of search engine optimization (SEO). Understanding the words and phrases your prospective customers use when they type their searches into a search engine seems like the most basic step, but this very simple process shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. Choosing the most effective or most productive keywords involves strategy, critical thinking, and an understanding of core marketing principles.
Determining the right keywords often requires a thorough understanding of your buyer’s journey through the sales cycle. From attraction and awareness to evaluation and finally to conversion, the distinction between each phase is easy to understand but applying those stages to your research can seem tricky.
Marketing Funnels and Keyword Research
Top of Funnel: Awareness
Your buyers become aware of their needs during this phase. They might have a problem that’s getting in the way, or there may be a new opportunity they want to take advantage of. They are doing research and seeking information to find out what’s possible. Maybe they already know about you as an information source, but in this stage they are simply discovering data and sources, and making themselves aware of what’s available.
Middle of Funnel: Evaluation
A buyer moves from the awareness phase to considering potential solutions and evaluating their options. There may be many choices for the services or products they seek. In this stage, they are examining your website and your competitors’ websites; reading third party reviews, talking to peers, and perhaps visiting your booth at a trade show. At this point, they are not actually taking action to purchase or obtain anyone’s products or services.
Bottom of Funnel: Conversion
As your prospects move through the Evaluation phase they usually become ready to make a decision (although this is where the dreaded specter of “no decision” can show up). The goal at this stage is to take the relationship to a mutually satisfying closed sale.
Help the Sales Team Close
At each phase of the buyer’s journey, people use specific modifiers and common words when they search using Google, Bing, or other search engines. By focusing our research on bottom-of-funnel modifiers and terms, then the logic follows that we are likely to find words that our buyers are more likely to use when they are close to purchasing. Getting the buyer’s attention at this point is a way you can support your sales team (and so your company’s bottom line) quickly.
Word of advice: Conduct full-funnel keyword research and publish content aimed at buyers along the entire journey. A business’s bottom line is supported by continuously increasing the number of prospects in each stage of the funnel, moving closer and closer to conversion.
Long Tail & Bottom-of-Funnel Keywords
“Long tail” is a term, when applied to search engine optimization, refers to keywords and keyword phrases that are more niche, and fall farther out on a demand curve (you can also think of it as keywords with multiple words/phrases within them). Conversely, the term “short tail” is used for keywords that are used in more mainstream or general searches. For example, a search for “buy shoes” is a short-tail phrase and could include searches for Nike or Manolo Blahnik or Toms. A long-tail phrase example for shoes might be, “buy gold lace-up shoes by Pastry.”
Long-tail keywords can sometimes indicate the stage a prospect is in, in the buyer’s journey. The more specific a searcher becomes with their query regarding product, services, and certain information, usually the more they already know and the closer they are to making a final decision to purchase.
This isn’t always the case, but in general (and depending on your sales cycle) it can be a strong indicator. When possible, look for content strategies and optimization strategies to include both long tail and short tail phases in your bottom-of-funnel efforts.
Bottom-of-Funnel Keywords & Modifiers
The process of evaluating your bottom-of-funnel keywords starts first with understanding, based on your industry, what the niche terminology and core phrases are for your niche.
Then, we append bottom-of-funnel modifiers which showcase the action a user is looking to take. These can take on many forms such as;
- Purchasing related keywords e.g., “RFP” or “proposal” or “quote”
- Branded and competitor terms
- Call, request, contact keywords
- Comparisons, cost, and pricing terms
- Specific location: city/state/neighborhood/zip code
Simply use the modifiers that make the most sense for your industry. Next, upload these keywords into Google’s Adword Keyword Tool, or test out a number of other tools on the market like Wordstream, SEMRush or Keywordtool.io.
Start by examining the keyword volume for each term and the competitive nature of the word. Lastly, examine Cost-Per-Click (CPC) if you’re using a system that shares that information. A high CPC may indicate that the word itself is bid on a lot by advertisers and it might confirm that a keyword is truly bottom-of-funnel. Now, this isn’t always the case, but when you’re sifting through hundreds of keyword suggestions it can help as a metric to examine.
Next, start choosing bottom-of-funnel keywords (both those you examined and any additional suggestions by the tool) based on high search volume, low to moderate competition, and high CPC. This task can be incredibly subjective and may require you to take some chances and trust your gut. Keyword research is a fluid process that requires research, implementation, time, and testing.
As an example, let’s imagine you have a company that offers resume writing services and career coaching. As you can see in the examples below, there are several iterations of keywords available; all indicate that the user is close to conversion. Some aren’t as applicable to the specific services of resume writing or career coaching, but you get the point.
Consider building out a similar keyword modifier list for your own website and topics.
Resume & Career Coaching Keywords
|Buy +||Buy resumes online|
|Compare +||Compare resume writing services|
|Call +||Call career coach|
|Find +||Find best resumes services|
|Shop for +||Not applicable|
|Order +||Order resume online|
|+ Neighborhood/City/State||Career coaching services in Phoenix|
|Register for +||Not applicable|
|Request +||Request resume services|
|Contact +||Contact resume services|
|+ Cost||Career training cost|
|Purchase +||Purchase career training|
Now put those keywords to work in some combination of the right places: Your headlines, subheads, alt text, calls to action, meta description, URL, etc.
Publishing Bottom-of-Funnel Content
Once keyword research has commenced, the next step is to match that keyword research with the right type of content. Doing this well can help you further entice a bottom-of-funnel prospect to convert. A blog post might be a good bottom-of-funnel content piece, but for the most part they are better used in top- and middle-of- funnel activities. For bottom-of-funnel, what I recommend for my clients are demos/free trials, customer stories, comparison/spec sheets, webinars, events, and even mini-classes or workshops. Content like this can help entice a user to choose you and take the final step to conversion, especially if you’re asking them to purchase high dollar products or services. Consider how to map your keywords to:
- Customer stories
- Webinars, mini-classes
- Live demonstrations
- Evaluation and comparison sheets
- Q&A web conference
- Case studies
These strategies can be incredibly effective for both B2B or B2C. But it’s not just about finding the right keywords and matching it to content. Think carefully about what you actually want the user to do. Fill in that Contact Me Now form? Ask for a demo? Sign up for a trial? Ensuring you have the right call to action is imperative for making your content effective. How do you want them to convert? Ask yourself these questions before you hit the publish button.
Choosing the right keywords may seem time consuming and daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! With these tips and expert advice, you should be well on your way to taking the concept of bottom-of-funnel research and content marketing to the next level. Are you already implementing this strategy? Share with us, we’d love to see the examples you’re executing!