Explore the three types of bottom-of-funnel keywords and why you need to have these high-converting keywords to do more for you than the ones above.
The concept of search intent and the suggestion that marketers pay close attention to it when targeting organic keywords is well established in SEO.
But while many SEO articles describe search intent (for example, these two excellent SEJ articles focus on creating content that satisfies search intent and understanding how people search), most stop short of clearly defining how brands prioritize keywords. .
In particular, most discussions of search purpose describe the fact that search queries are informational (people want to learn about a topic), comparative (people compare their solutions to a problem), transactional (people want to buy) and what they are accessing.
This is often viewed as a marketing funnel.
But when it comes to recommendations on how to use search intent to your advantage in SEO, the most common advice is to make sure you have a variety of content to “cover” the full scope of search intent. Some are informational, some are medium, and some are transactional content.
We don’t agree.
In particular, over the years of working with dozens of brands to create SEO-focused content, we’ve found that the majority of businesses shouldn’t create an even spread of content across the funnel, but rather prioritize bottom-of-the-funnel content. Give and do its work gradually. Way up.
Why? Because SEO resources are limited and bottom-of-funnel content (e.g., search queries with a “transactional” search intent) generates a much higher return on investment (ROI) than your SEO spend.
SEO resources are limited: You can’t target all keywords well
The general proposition of “making sure you have content for all stages of the conversion funnel” (aka all search objectives) is that if businesses have unlimited SEO resources – i.e. an unlimited number of writers to produce content, then SEO strategies Unlimited keyword selection and SERP analysis required and unlimited budget for link building.
But there is no brand name for it.
Even the idea of AI-assisted writing doesn’t negate the fact that it’s easy to mass produce content.
Sure, AI tools can generate thousands of leads in a fraction of the time it takes a human, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all segment or influence and convert leads, so it will be good enough.
If a group of sites are creating the same AI-powered content to target the same keywords, Google will have to somehow differentiate which site to rank for – and the two safe bets for making that decision are quality of content and backlinks.
Depending on the quality of the content, the best pieces for a given keyword are very likely to have the greatest authenticity and specific personal experience, traits that Google has clearly stated it deserves. It prioritizes and requires human input.
Backlinks have been a well-known ranking factor in SEO forever. In a world where many sites produce similar AI-generated articles targeting the same keywords, it’s safe to assume that this will be just as important, if not more so.
So, no matter how you produce content, SEO resources are limited for everyone. There are a limited number of staff hours, a limited number of writing budgets (regardless of whether authors use AI), and a limited budget for link building.
This means that you have to prioritize which keywords you will target.
The most logical way to prioritize is to focus your SEO efforts on whatever will generate the highest ROI (i.e. leads and sales attributable to SEO).
In our experience, it’s the bottom of the funnel, transactions, and keywords.
Keywords at the bottom of the funnel change significantly more than anything else
To conclude, as we mentioned, that bottom-of-funnel content converts significantly more than any other type of content, the first step is to actually measure and track SEO conversions.
It seems obvious, but the truth is that most SEO and content teams don’t do it. They simply realize that the more traffic, the better, and their entire strategy is focused on increasing traffic.
You can measure conversion from SEO in different ways using different analytical tools, but in general, the process will require the following steps.
- Explanation of conversion. This is usually a lead form filling or trial start-up for SaaS or sales-based businesses, or an actual transaction for e-commerce businesses.
- Create a goal in your analytics platform to measure this conversion event.
- Create reports on the number of conversions generated by landing pages on your site. Depending on the analytics platform, this can be done through different attribution models such as first or last click, but here any data is better than no data.
When you do, you’ll inevitably find what we’ve found over 5 years, dozens of brands, and hundreds of SEO articles.
Specifically, pages on your site that rank for keywords at the bottom of the funnel convert at high single-digit percentages (1% – 5%), while pages that rank at the top of the funnel . To rank, informational keywords are typically converted to a fraction of a percent (0.01% -). 0.5%).
In other words, the difference in conversion rate between keywords at the bottom and top of the funnel isn’t 10%, 20%, or even 50% – it’s multiple.
This is exemplified by this data from over 60 pieces of content for one of our software clients, where the average content rating for bottom-of-funnel queries was 25 times higher than articles that were at the top of the funnel queries. Aim from the middle to the top.
Bottom of the funnel posts had a conversion rate of 4.78% versus 0.19% for top of the funnel posts. Based on 60+ customer reviews.
Even with the top of the funnel getting more traffic, initial conversions from just 20 bottom-of-funnel segments were three times higher than 40 top-of-funnel segments:
The 20 posts at the bottom of the funnel generated 1,348 conversions while the top 40 posts in the funnel generated 397 conversions.
To emphasize this point, the 1350 BOTF conversions above are from only 22 parts, while the 400 TOF conversions are from 42 parts.
We should also mention that the subjects we described as “top” in this study still had some purchase intent. We only chased most of the keywords at the bottom of the funnel and chose keywords strategically to make sure they still had some conversion potential.
In this regard, it is also appropriate to call it “mid-funnel”. For many businesses, most of their content and SEO efforts focus exclusively on funnel keywords that will convert to leads or sales at or below conversion rates.
This is a tragic waste of SEO efforts in our minds.
Why do informational and conversion keywords convert so little?
The rationale for chasing keywords at the top of the funnel is usually that they have high search volume.
So, as the story goes, you can expose your brand to a large number of people who, at some point in the future, will need a product or service similar to yours.
But as the data above shows, and our collective experience confirms, getting to the top of traffic to conversions requires many steps that lead to lower conversion rates.
Specifically, the journey from someone searching on Google for an information query at the top of the funnel to becoming a customer is:
- They Google the question.
- They click on your results.
- Read the article.
- Some of these users return to your site on pure memory or provide their email to download a whitepaper or gated resource.
- A small portion of these users then open subsequent drip emails.
- Then at some point, a portion of those customers will need your product or service and reach out to you.
Each of these stages has a small rate of change, so the entire journey has a very small rate of change.
So much so that according to the above data, the higher search volume for these top funnel queries likely does not compensate for the lower conversion rates compared to transactional queries.
Funnel keywords are more important than you think
So, if you understand the idea that targeting keywords at the bottom of the funnel is a better use of limited SEO resources than spreading your SEO content evenly across your search target, the next important thing to address is the question: “What keywords?” How many conversions occur, and how many occur at the bottom of the funnel?
We’ve noticed that many SEO professionals and marketers have limited visibility into which keywords are at the bottom of the funnel – meaning a certain level of transaction or purchase intent.
In our experience, there are three common groups of bottom-of-funnel keywords, of which only the first group is considered bottom-of-funnel.
1. Category keywords
If we use a hypothetical business we’re all familiar with, which is SEO software, the obvious transactional keywords are things like “SEO software” or “best SEO tools.”
Yes, these are the high-converting funnel keywords or transactional keywords that any brand should target for their SEO programs.
In our BOTF SEO framework, called Pain Point SEO, we call these “category keywords” because they involve users literally searching on Google for the name of the product or service category.
Most SEO and marketing teams are familiar with these keywords and target them, usually through the homepage or one or two landing pages.
But what we’ve found is that many teams consider it the bottom of the funnel or transactional keyword. They target a few category keywords and spend the rest of their time creating blog content to rank at the top of the funnel search terms.
But there are actually many other high-converting search terms that we see that most brands don’t think about and ignore in favor of creating content that goes beyond keywords in the funnel.
2. Comparable keywords
In particular, there is another category of very high-converting keywords that we call comparative keywords.
These keywords indicate that the searcher is comparing multiple options, such as “Salesforce vs. Pipe Drive” or “adidas vs. Nike women’s running shoes.”
Many discussions of research intent classify this question as a midstream question because, as they say, the searcher may not be ready to make a transaction but is simply conducting product research.
But in our measurement of hundreds of PageRank conversion rates for similar keywords, they often convert at as high a rate as the category keywords discussed above.
As a result, in my view, businesses looking to increase their SEO ROI should aggressively target similar keywords.
They should identify every comparable keyword generated by their top competitors that has similar search volume and make sure they have a specific page on their site to rank for each one.
3. Keywords to work with
The last of the three keyword categories that can generate conversions from SEO are functional keywords.
It’s the largest of the three categories with high intent keywords, which means there’s usually a lot more keyword activity than category or comparison.
This category is often overlooked or de-prioritized by brands because they are conversion generators, as they are queries where the consumer is not overtly researching or comparing product options, but rather indicating that they have a problem that your product can solve.
In our example of an SEO program, this would include questions like “how to research competitive keywords,” “how to find out keyword search volume,” or “how to track which keywords a site holds.”
If you have an SEO software product with features that allow people to do this, in our experience, ranking for keywords like these will increase conversions.
These keywords usually have slightly lower conversion rates than similar category or keywords. However, they are still much better than top funnel queries like “SEO strategy,” “best SEO tips,” or even “digital marketing strategies,” which are keywords used by businesses. She works but has little intention of buying.