What the heck does keyphrase research have to do with the buying cycle?

Looking back on some of my SEO gigs, it occurred to me that a majority of folks don’t take advantage of what I think is a major factor in the overall SEO success. And that’s making sure you’re speaking (or writing) to people in all 5 phases of the sales cycle. But there’s more to it than simply writing content for all 5 phases. When you’re writing pages for different audience mentalities, it stands to reason that you’ll need to research keyphrases differently, too. So what are the 5 phases of the buying cycle? And what do they have to do with keyphrase research?

Attention Grabbing

This is the very first opportunity you have to reel the prospect in with tantalizing titles and benefit statements. You’ll likely use generic keyphrases here, which will bring them into the home page. When a potential customer is searching the entire Web looking for, let’s say a new camera — you need to lure them into the site before you can start selling them anything. Depending on what the site is selling, generic keyphrases might look something like this: “digital cameras” or “digital video camera.”

Information Seeking

At this phase, the prospect wants  quick and easy infomation at their fingertips. If a site doesn’t give them what they want and need right off the bat, you’ll lose ‘em to the competition.You really only have about 5 seconds to hook the reader, so make it good. If the prospect is gathering information about digital cameras, they’ll probably be looking at FAQ pages, articles or customer comparisons and reviews. These types of pages will use different keyphrases, like: “compare digital camera prices” or “digital or non-digital cameras” or “digital cam FAQ.”

Confidence

When a soon-to-be customer has a pretty good idea of what they want to buy, it’s a matter of deciding who they’ll buy from. They want to find the best deal, and make sure they’ll get a fair warranty, and reliable customer service. So what kinds of keyphrases are geared toward buyers in this phase? Maybe: “information about Nikon cameras” or “digital camera warranties” or “Sony vs Nikon cameras.”

Desire

Almost there! The consumer has done their homework, they know what they want and they know who they’re going to buy it from (and if you’ve optimized for the right keyphrases, it should be you!). At this stage, they’re looking for categories and product specific pages, so you need to use category and product specific keyphrases like: “3.1 pixel digital cameras” or “compact SLR cameras.”

Closing

Everyone loves this phase ;-) When you want to attract folks who are ready to open their wallets, you want to bring them into a page that allows (in fact, encourages) them to buy right away. They know precisely which camera they want, so you bring them in with keyphrases using makes and models, something like this: “Nikon 3.1 pixel digital cameral” or “Canon 5D digital SLR.”Next time you’re doing keyphrase research stop and think, “What’s the purpose of the page?” Is it to give basic information for people in the second phase of the sales cycle (FAQ page for instance), or to close the deal (like a product page), or somewhere in between? Research keyphrases then create pages geared toward prospects in all 5 phases.