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Building an SEO-focused sales funnel

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It’s been said — albeit anonymously — that “the best place to hide a dead body is the second page of Google Search.” 

Dead bodies aside, the sentiment holds true. If you’re not optimizing your content for search, the content will rank lower on search engine page results (SERPs) and get buried under a constant influx of new, optimized content.  

Since most searchers (95%) only click-through links on the first page of SERPs, any content on page two and beyond is instantly less visible to the site visitors you’re hoping to attract.  

Because the content loses visibility, it becomes “dead” content by default. If left unchecked, unoptimized content can hurt your business in a major way — slowing traffic, hindering lead generation, reducing conversions, etc. 

But with consistent cross-channel optimization, your brand’s content can climb higher in SERP rankings and have a competitive advantage over new and existing content.  

In this guide, we’ll break down how you can leverage search engine optimization (SEO) at every stage of your sales funnel to ultimately increase conversions.  


At every stage of the sales funnel you should...

Be in sync with your audience

SEO strategies are only effective when brands know and understand who their target audience really is. Segmenting your audience and collecting voice-of-customer (VoC) data is a critical first step in this process, not only for SEO but every facet of business operations.  

The next step is keyword research.  

Keyword research tools like SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool and Moz Keyword Explorer help you find relevant keywords with high search volumes that you can then use to optimize your content.   

By including these keywords in your marketing copy, you don’t have to guess whether you’re creating content that your audience wants to see — you have the data to prove that they do.   


Optimize and test everything

While keyword research is an integral part of SEO, your work doesn’t end here. Optimization is an ongoing process, which is why it’s important to run tests to make sure that your content is as successful as it can be.  

After optimizing your content, monitor its performance. 

Use a heat map to find out what site visitors engage with most (and least) once they click-through to your webpages. Analyze metrics like page views, bounce rates, and dwell time. Run A/B tests often and on everything you can.  

It’s been recommended by SEO professionals to prune your site and remove content that is negatively impacting your website’s overall domain rating (i.e., “dead content”).  

But a word of caution here. Changing too much of your website’s design and content could actually backfire and cause more harm than good.  

If you want to take on a large-scale design overhaul and need to outsource help, we recommend working with a freelancer or developer that has experience with redesigning and redirecting websites successfully. 


How to optimize for different phases of the customer journey   

Now that we’ve established a few best practices for SEO, the final step we’ll cover is optimizing your content to match your audience’s search intent. 

Not everyone who comes across your business on Google, social media, email, or other will be eager to make a purchase. Some people are simply curious about your business or in the process of comparing their options.  

To help you meet your prospects where they’re at — and lead them down the conversion path — here are some ways that you can use SEO at different stages of the sales funnel.  


SEO at the TOF level

Top of the funnel prospects have little to no purchase intent right now.  Maybe they’re curious about a product or service and your website shows up in their search results. Or maybe they come across your social media posts organically. Whatever the case may be, prospects at the TOF level are more interested in learning about your business than taking action.  From an SEO perspective, your job is to create and optimize content that generates more brand awareness. To do this, you should find out what topics this target audience is interested in.  What keywords are they searching? How can you create more content that incorporates these targeted keywords?   Think of the TOF as a “meet cute” between your business and new prospects. This is the stage where you’re trying to “woo” prospects and put in the groundwork for a sustainable long-term relationship.


SEO at the MOF level

At the middle of the funnel, prospects are now aware and interested in your business (i.e., the meet cute was successful), and they are now in a state of limbo. 

Some prospects are on the cusp of making a purchasing decision while others are still hesitant. For many prospects at this stage, they have shifted their focus to researching more about your business but also your competitors.  

Because, if they’re going to enter a relationship with a business, they want to make sure it’s the right one for them.  

The MOF content that you create and optimize could take shape as case studies, blog posts with embedded CTAs, gated assets (i.e., free downloadable forms, for example), and competitor comparisons.  

Search YouTube for review videos that compare your business with another business and include one of these videos in a blog post and/or webpage. 

These prospects are already comparing rates, reviews, and services — so why not help them shortcut this process and tap into that search traffic at the same time? 


SEO at the BOF level

Leading prospects from the TOF to the bottom of the funnel can prove difficult for businesses. And oftentimes, it doesn’t happen on the same day within a span of 30 minutes or so.  

At any point between point A and point C, prospects could bounce from your site and go about their day. That’s why it’s so important to optimize content at the TOF and MOF levels to keep your prospects engaged.  

Once a prospect reaches the BOF stage, purchase intent is evident. To seal the deal and convince prospects that your business is the one they should work with, you could optimize your content by sharing testimonial videos and success stories, exclusive assets, and deals.  

Keep in mind that since 65% of people at the BOF stage use their phones to make purchases, you should triple check that your website is optimized for mobile as well as desktop.  

At this point in the customer journey, prospects are one step closer to converting into new customers. By putting in the SEO work from TOF to BOF, you give them reason after reason to move down your sales funnel.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Mackenzie is a copywriter at Soundstripe, a royalty free background music company that provides filmmakers, creators, and advertisers with royalty free sports music, among other genres.