The search is changing. Users no longer enter a search query in Google to find a simple answer. With the latest core update from March 2019, Google changed its strategy and algorithms and is now trying to better understand the “user intent” and the phase of the buyer journey. In other words, what are users actually looking for and what is their end goal? These concepts both tie in with Google’s improved search paths. Here’s what you need to know about changing your SEO strategy to accommodate these new changes.
A summary of the buyer’s journey
Before we go any further, let’s freshen up. You’ve likely heard about the marketing buyer’s journey, especially if you’re a business owner or marketing firm looking to attract customers. There are three phases: awareness, reflection and decision. It’s a spectrum.
Your potential customer researches in the awareness phase. Thanks to the internet and helpful business content, people are better informed. But in the first phase of the journey, potential customers look for their problem. You may not know that there are solutions. They are going to be looking for a problem they need to see what the google gods are delivering. The parts of the awareness level should describe a customer’s potential problem and help them find the answer (one of which could of course be your product or service). Write content along these lines to capture potential buyers at the beginning of their journey, which is very important to convince people that you are a very trustworthy and worthwhile company. After all, you are very helpful for free and that customer could easily buy from a competitor once they have gathered your important answers, but this is where you can convince them that you are better than your competitors. On to level two!
The second stage is the viewing phase. The customer realized they had a problem. They know that your product or service can solve this problem but still want to be sure that they are getting the best product, deal, competitive item, value for money, etc. Here you might want to write content based on product or service comparisons. The customer has a problem and three products can solve it. For example, how do these three products compare? Write content along these lines and get buyers on the second stage of their journey. Now you come to the final phase: convince yourself that you are the right person.
In the final phase, the decision-making phase, the customer knows you are the right person and is ready to buy. The content at this point should be brand specific and cover things like free trials, case studies, testimonials, detailed comparison tables, and so on. You assure the customer that they have made the right decision by choosing your product. For example, it might be a little more expensive than the competition, but it’s worth it because of x, y, and z, and it works better and has a money-back guarantee, etc. This content is about closing.
So when potential customers enter keywords on Google, Google wants to understand context this search and where they are on the buyer’s journey. Would you like to see level 2 content or are you ready to sign up for this free trial? Google looks at their search history: where they’ve been to predict what they’re likely to do next.
What to do? Context- and intention-based results mean for my SEO strategy?
For SEO, this means that it is no longer good enough just to rank for certain keywords. You may have been at the top of Google for six months, but now you may stop showing up if your content is inconsistent with the user’s intent and context. Your content may have been at the decision-making stage when most seekers are looking for the awareness stage and you have missed the mark.
It is precisely because of these changes that it is important to stay up to date on new changes at Google. Google as a concept is like this computer-adaptive standardized test or an AI robot. It’s getting smarter; it learns; it shifts. And that requires new strategies. Old marketing techniques and tactics quickly become obsolete and only those who keep their figurative pulse will not fall by the wayside.
How does the search work now?
Google’s search results used to be simply a way of giving the “best” answer to the query based on keyword matches, local SEO, relevance, and other factors.
Let us assume that a searcher types “endocrinologist near me” for the first time. You will see some results. You have a specific condition and keep researching. You look at the websites of three specialists but decide to think about it.
Now the user enters the same search terms a week later. Google knows how long that user spent on each website and knows that the user wants to get the same results as last time, prioritizing the websites visited, especially the longest visited.
In addition, the content that appears includes information about how to contact this specialist and possibly how to get your insurance for these providers. All of this information is stored in Google and tracked to tailor future searches.
What is a search trip?
Now let’s take this concept a step further. Google now maps searches like a “knowledge graph” (an older technology that examined connections between people, places, things, and facts). Google added AI to better understand these connections and how they grow over time. So as you search for terms and learn about a topic, your search results change and grow with you. This knowledge is stored in Google’s activity cards and collections, which you can access later.
Activity cards and Google collections
These search paths map your search queries to activity cards and remember articles and web pages you have visited on a topic. They contain information such as B. How long you have visited the website and which related websites you have visited.
Users can also save information in their “Collections”. Think of it as a large-scale Pinterest. You can save links, images, and articles, then name your collection, edit, delete certain articles that you no longer need, and share the collection with a simple link.
Once that picture of your search history, knowledge base, and interests emerges, Google will tailor all of your searches based on your collections and activity maps, all of which add to your overall search journey.
How to fix your SEO strategy
For companies, this means that a lot of content has to rethink. Many companies have content that only relates to the decision-making phase (contact now, buy now) and ignore the other phases of the buyer journey, which can be problematic. Watch your metrics.
Before your results sink, however, the first thing you should do is understand what stage of the buyer journey your content covers. Are there any gaps? What topics do you need to write about to create a complete trip? How many parts do you need?
Additionally, you should categorize your keywords by type: informative, navigational, transactional (we wrote an article about them here if you want to learn more). Again, create more content around these keyword categories to capture more stages of the buyer journey.
Again, make sure that you are not purely commercial or purely informative. It’s best to keep track of all stages of the journey to make sure your website is what users want, regardless of the buying stage.
Do you need help updating your SEO strategy?
Contact us today for a free consultation on your SEO strategy. From search trips to intentional keyword strategies, conversion rate optimization, technical fixes, and more, we can help you.