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Do, Know, Go: How to Create Content at Each Stage of the Buying Cycle

gibbons-kevin
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Quite often it can be easy to overcomplicate content strategy and keyword research.

There’s lots of great ways you can go into detail on this, but before rushing into this, why not start off by just keeping things simple instead?

Why do People Use a Search Engine?

This is obviously starting at a basic question, but it’s one that doesn’t get asked enough.

When you’re writing content, the reason you do this is normally because you want people to read it! That means that even if you’re not thinking about SEO, you still want your content to be found and we all know search engines play a key role in that task.

The first content strategy step you should consider is what do your readers want to see?

Do. Know. Go.

Think about why people would search for you. What are they trying to achieve by visiting your site? You can split this into three key categories:

  1. Do – they want to do something
  2. Know – they want to know something
  3. Go – they want to go somewhere

Again, this is nothing more than common sense – but how many of you actually think of these key reasons for searching when you create content?

It’s very simple, but it doesn’t really need to be any more complicated – you just give readers what they want!

How can you take action with your content?

1. Do = Transactional Content

For example, “buy Cinema tickets in Leicester Square” or “book South Africa safari holiday”.

google-search-buy-christmas-presents-online

These are very high quality, end of buying cycle queries. The searcher knows what they want to find, and they have real buying intent if they can find something which closely matches their query.

In a search and content strategy, you want to make sure that these pages are prioritized in order to make increase the likelihood of generating visits via these searches.

2. Know = Informational Content

If there’s a targeted audience of potential customers who are looking to find quick and easy answers to provide knowledge, make sure you can help them.

yahoo-answers-do-midgets-have-night-vision

It might not lead to a sale, in fact it probably won’t (especially for the above question!) – but hopefully it’s enough to get their attention and maybe even capture their contact details via a newsletter mailing list or blog subscription.

That way, if you can provide something of value for them, when that time comes for them to make a relevant purchase, there’s much more chance they’ll remember you.

3. Go = Navigational Content

They’ve been to your website before. They remember your brand name and now they want to go back. So they search for it!

yahoo-search-google

It can be very easy to safely assume you’ve got all of your branded queries all wrapped up. After all it’s your brand, why would Google rank anything else above this?!

You might be right, but don’t just assume this. The example below shows the increase in traffic for a client after I optimized their site for their branded product ID queries:

analytics-optimized-branded-product-id-queries

Bear in mind, this was for their own products! So they should have been number one for all of these terms in theory. But that doesn’t stop anyone else from optimizing for these terms and collecting the traffic and any resulting revenue.

In this case the client had named their products with a space. After doing some research, we found that more people searched for the product ID without a space – which meant they were losing out on potential visits! Despite this being their own range of products, search trends saw that people were searching differently – and as a result this brand was losing traffic to the retailers and department stores who stocked their products.

A few small on-page changes later, and we saw a 121 percent improvement in traffic for their top converting keywords! Collecting them 100 percent of the revenue and cutting out the middleman’s cut.

Make it all Work Together

It’s important to capture traffic at each of these stages and to do this you need to have content which can cater to each of your users search requirements and needs.

In an ideal world, your strategy would:

  1. Capture early buying cycle, long-tail traffic via informational content.
  2. Rank highly for competitive transactional and head of tail queries which can directly generate revenue vs. competitors.
  3. Ensure that once the potential customer has decided to buy your product, it’s your website they land on to make that purchase.

When all of this is pulling together you’re helping to maximize the overall performance of your website.

Think Attribution, not Last-Click Conversion

In many cases you might think that just focusing on brand and transactional is fine – those are the highest converting search terms, so it makes sense to place your efforts toward increasing these.

That makes sense in theory – but then you’re missing out on a stage much earlier in the cycle. This stage can influence future buying decisions and may mean without this, they’ll never come back via a branded visit in the future, because they won’t know about you.

Informational Content Should Assist (Not Replace) Transactional Rankings

From a natural link acquisition perspective, it’s much easier to attract quality links to great informational content than it is to key transactional content. It’s pretty obvious why, you have more control over making it interesting and targeted toward a blogger/social audience – so that they will naturally link and share your content – without the pressure of a sales-focus message behind it.

The best scenario here would be to have great informational content which assists the rankings of your transactional content. That’s very important because you don’t want to end up in a situation where your informational, low-conversion rate content is outranking your transactional, highly-converting content.

So make sure that you pass link equity onto your key target pages when you’re being more creative with your writing. Making a clear separation between transactional vs. informational content.

Summary

There are lots of ways to create a content strategy, but in order to really make it a success you have to get to know your audience and find out what it is they want to see.

How do you approach your content and how do you get to know what your audience likes?


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