The Importance of SEO in the Customer Journey

For all businesses, the customer journey is an essential process to consider, but are you utilising your website SEO to optimise this journey?  We continue our series of blogs from industry experts with the wonderful Jas Sheridan from ShortTech to discuss the importance of SEO in the customer journey. Jas is a website consultant and technology specialist, predominantly working with sole traders and small businesses who need support with digital marketing and online technologies that help grow businesses. 

What is the importance of SEO in the customer journey?

SEO isn’t just about finding new customers… There’s SO much more to it than that. 

What is a customer journey?

Let’s start by clarifying what exactly is ‘the customer journey’?  It might not be as clear cut as you think.

Your customer journey is “every interaction someone has with your brand, whether or not they become a customer”.  These interactions affect whether they become a customer and, arguably more importantly, whether they go on to become a loyal customer. These interactions may be very brief or may go on over many years or a lifetime.  

A short or quick client interaction might be where someone sees a product recommended by a trusted source (the MrsHinch effect) and this influence creates an instant purchase.  

A long term client interaction might be a brand of car you choose to buy or aspire to own. There could be influence from family and friends, professional influencers and personal experience.  Businesses should be aware of these interactions and use them as an opportunity to exert their own influence.  Small business SEO, we will discuss, is an opportunity to achieve such influence.

Do you ‘really’ understand your customer journey?

Most business owners will consider and understand their customer journey at the point of the transaction.  Typically a ‘bricks and mortar’ store owner knows their store has to look good, be clean and tidy with friendly staff and excellent customer service.   Online this translates to a good looking, easy to use website, with excellent product imagery and descriptions, followed up with polite, well written transaction related emails. But there’s so much more to it than this. 

It’s important to consider that often people can start on the ‘customer journey’ with your business BEFORE they even become customers and ONGOING after they may have made a purchase.

Having read this far, I’m sure you will agree that businesses are naive to ignore the importance of the customer journey, and in fact, should be mapping this out and reviewing it on a regular basis.  The more detailed the customer journey map the better. This video, by Kerry Bodine, from the moz.com blog,  is a great resource to help you create your own customer journey map.


Customer Journey Maps, by Kerry Bodine

When you have your customer journey mapped out, you should remember to review it regularly.  Where possible ask for input from real customers to ensure you are as accurate as possible.

OK, so you’ve mapped your customer journey, how does SEO fit in?

Once you have your customer journey map, then you can consider all elements of the journey which might involve online search.  For example:-

product research > competitor analysis > price check > delivery options > customer service

Your small business SEO strategy should map to every possible touch point of your customer journey map and be thought of as an opportunity to influence. To help you visualise this you can refer to ShortTech’s infographic.

Let’s break down some specific examples to help clarify how SEO can influence the customer journey.

Awareness Stage 

Customer awareness will involve marketing your brand using keywords.  For example, “most reliable cars”, or a longtail keyword might be “most reliable car for new drivers”.

SEO can have the biggest impact prior to sale or conversion. This is the phase where you are building awareness of your product or brand.  A potential customer may have heard about your product from a friend or through social media.  This might result in a Google search where you should hope to appear in the SERPS (search engine results pages) to show as a supplier / provider / key knowledge base article about said product.

Consideration Stage

Organic search, where customers are using the search box is often the first touch point your business may have with potential customers.  They are looking for a solution to their problem via search engines or other online resources such as youtube or social media.

During this consideration stage, it is important to answer questions your customers may have.  You may do this via an FAQ page on your website or within an article or blog post which could even include persuasive content about how your service or product is better than the competition.

Intent

Including content specific to purchase intent to catch those searches.  For example:- delivery to UK for [insert your product / service] or lowest price [insert your product / service].

Evaluation

Reviews can have a huge impact in converting potential customers   Google also confirms that google reviews can affect SEO rankings.  Read their article here

Post Purchase

Ask for those reviews that could impact during the evaluation phase above.  Always respond to reviews.  In particular negative reviews.  Don’t get into the nitty-gritty of a negative review, but respond professionally and confirm that you have heard what their problem was and that you are responding to them personally.

Having spent many years working in retail customer service management, Jas says one of her biggest takeaways was that a negative review with a positive outcome can be more persuasive than just positive reviews – so try not to get too disheartened by a negative review.  See them all as an opportunity to influence future customer journey interactions.

How do you know if your Customer Journey small business SEO strategy is successful?

Well, as with all areas of your business, you should be tracking and monitoring your performance.  You ask for client reviews to ensure you’re providing good customer service.  

Monitor your small business SEO performance by using analytical tools such as google analytics and search console to see how your keywords are ranking and how long visitors spend on your website pages. Don’t forget to map performance over time to ensure you’re always moving in a positive direction!

I hope this article has helped you to understand the importance of SEO in your customer journey and has motivated you to get mapping, planning, researching and monitoring your performance. Good luck!

Get in contact with Jas here if you’d like to find out more.

Are you looking for help with your small business SEO?

ShortTech specialises in working with small business owners and sole traders.  

Can YOU relate to this? 

SEO – You know you NEED it !

SEO – You know you WANT it !

SEO – You think you can do it.. but eurgh you’re not sure

SEO – You’d like to outsource it.. but it’s expensive

Does SEO make your brain 🤯

If only there was something that would just show up each month and tell YOU exactly what to do for YOUR business AND show you how you’re doing.

Would you like this?

✅ Simple list of monthly tasks to complete and check off

✅ Keyword research – build your strategy

✅ Tells you exactly what changes to make on your website to optimise for keywords

✅ See how you rank now and watch it grow over time

✅ See what keywords your competitors are ranking for

✅ Local SEO optimisation (GoogleMyBusiness)

ShortTech understands that small business owners don’t have any problem appreciating the value of good customer service and understanding their customer needs and the positive impact this will have on their business.   However, they seem equally happy to bury their heads in the sand where SEO is concerned as if it’s just TOO hard or TOO much work and if they ignore it they hope it will go away.   Well, we all know that is not a good strategy!

If you want to chat about how you can help yourself with a DIY SEO Dashboard, specifically there for small businesses, who don’t have the budget to outsource their SEO to an external agency, then get in touch and I can tell you all about this service.  It’s cheaper than you might think 😊.

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