No matter what type of product or service a consumer is looking for, they will usually start in the same place – a Google search. That is why such a huge part of online marketing has become focused on optimizing content for search engines and Google in particular. As content marketers, we have learned to provide users with answers in the hope that Google’s algorithm would pick it up as the most relevant answer to user search queries on the topic. However, online marketing is continually evolving, and as marketers, we must change with it.
In 2018, Google announced a new update which of course meant algorithm changes. This wasn’t unexpected since the algorithm changes somewhat regularly. What did come as a surprise was that this new update would completely change the way we look at searches forever. It’s no longer enough to merely provide answers, context is also taken into account as Google tries to fully understand the thought process behind the search phrases or question. Welcome to the era of search journeys!
What Are Search Journeys?
Google is implementing AI to gain more knowledge, and a better understanding of the language consumers are using in their searches. By paying attention to context, Google can provide the most relevant answer based on what point in their search journeys a user is. Google is looking at where the user has been spending time online, what they have searched for in the past, and where they are likely to go next. The result is the ability to present search results that are more relevant and personally tailored to each individual. This has a significant impact on online marketing.
Search Journeys in Action
Let’s take a look at a search journey in action to understand the concept better. As an example, we will imagine a user searching for a new hair salon in their area. The user starts their journey with a few Google searches:
- Hair Salon in Knoxville
- Hair Salons Near Me
- Best Hair Salon in Knoxville
Results appear in the form of answers based on a variety of factors including keywords, relevancy, and proximity. The user visits a few websites and decides to come back to the search later when they have more time to research it. Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, and the user performs those same searches. However, this time Google understands that they don’t want new information – they want to revisit what they were looking at before. Taking into account thing like how long the user previously spent on the sites they looked at last time Google will prioritize those results placing them back into the appropriate step in their journey.
For online marketing, we can simplify search journeys into three key steps, although there may be multiple steps relating to each of these:
- Information – Start by looking for a solution to a problem
- Decision – Weigh up the options available
- Buying – Get ready to make a purchase
What Does Search Journey Mean for Online Marketing?
The rise of search journeys means that online marketing professionals need to adopt a new approach. We need to understand not just what consumers are searching for, but also why! It is more important than ever to get to know your target market. It is essential to map keywords for each stage of their journey as a buyer.
When performing keyword research, there are three main categories to consider:
- Informational – These line up with stage one of the search journey, the buyer has a problem, and I search for a solution. Examples of informational keywords might include ‘hair salon in Knoxville’ or ‘best salon in Knoxville.’
- Navigational – This category helps users to find a specific brand or service and align with the decision phase of the journey. The user has seen some local providers and needs to choose the right one. Keyword examples include ‘Salon One Reviews’ or ‘Directions to Salon One.’
- Transactional – For the final stage of the journey we need transactional keywords to help make that conversion happen. Things like ‘Salon One Discount’ or ‘schedule appointment at Salon One.’
To Your Best Online!
Ingrid Gee, Internet Marketing Consultant. Blue Dress® Marketing, an Internet Marketing Company headquartered in Knoxville, TN. Internet Marketing Developed, Implemented and Managed to Full Circle! Organic Internet Search Engine Guru. Turn Key Internet Optimization Programs Placing You Everywhere and Anywhere You Need to Be Online®