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Reconsidering Your Buyers Journey – Tyson Stockton // Searchmetrics

Episode Overview: The key to adapting to changes in the buyer’s journey requires understanding how user behavioral shifts impact different variables in the journey. Join host Ben as he continues New Buyer’s Journey Week with Searchmetrics’ Director of Services Tyson Stockton talking about how SEOs can best adapt to changes in the buyer’s journey and effectively address user intent.

Summary

  • Staying ahead of lead time in content production requires examining search behavior, and understanding how demand shifts in hot and cold categories.
  • As user behavior trends toward informational content, it’s important SEOs place additional focus on generating top of funnel content.
  • Although top of funnel content currently requires more focus, it’s important to plan for related bottom of funnel content later to seize traffic at the right moment.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                  Welcome to New Buyer’s Journey Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day discussing what you need to know to adjust your content strategy in a post-COVID outbreak world. Joining us for New Buyer’s Journey Week is Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ director of services. Searchmetrics is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise-scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. And outside of shepherding Searchmetrics’ most strategic SEO clients to SEO success, Tyson is stepping in for a sick member of his team to talk to us about the new buyer’s journey. So far this week, Tyson and I have talked about how the Coronavirus outbreak has affected consumer behavior. Yesterday we talked about what industries were impacted the most, and today we’re going to talk about what you need to do to reconsider your buyer’s journey.

Ben:                  Okay. Here’s the third installment of New Buyer’s Journey Week with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ head of services. Tyson, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Tyson:            Thank you, Ben. This is where it gets a little more interesting. It’s less negative and more into “What can we do about it?”

Ben:                 Look, we talked about the impact of the Coronavirus and how it’s impacting the buyer’s journey, SEO in general. Obviously consumers are at the heart of that. Let’s talk a little bit about what SEOs can do to make sure that they are doing their best and putting their best foot forward in the eyes of Google and their consumers. All right, so the Coronavirus happened, I work in X industry, and I need to figure out what to do to make sure that I’m addressing consumer behaviors, consumer demand. Where do I start looking for what has changed for my industry specifically?

Tyson:             Yeah, I think the first piece of that is to really take an honest look at what’s been going on. So I think everyone’s industry is going to be a little different. The search behavior, how search demands have shifted and stuff’s going to be a little different. So I think step one, really get a pulse of what your search demand or what your category search demands are. Like if you’re in ecommerce, you’re going to see some hot and cold categories. So understanding those, and then that’s going to give you a line of sight of, “Okay, this is more of an opportunity.” I think also looking out into the future. I think we’ve touched on this before, as far as what’s the holiday going to look like around Black Friday time. And so I think looking into the future and anticipating the position that we’re going to be in and getting in front of that, especially from a content production, you always need that lead time of developing the material.

Tyson:              I think if I was going down prioritization, I think first I would look at with, say I’m in ecommerce, I’d look at the hot categories and then I would do first, I’d look at the more critical stage of the buying journey. So that’s going to be your product and category pages. So someone’s already decided what they want to purchase, making sure, like we mentioned on the last episode, that you have that pertinent information on availability of products, curbside pickup, those just quick one-offs which are easy to implement.

Ben:                  So the first thing that you’re doing is you’re looking at your existing site performance, right? You’re benchmarking against historical performance and understanding the changes that have happened. And we’ve got enough data now, what, it’s been five months since the shelter in place, at least here in California, that you should be able to understand the difference between the pre-COVID world and the post-COVID world. You’re going to have some categories that are up and some that are down. I think the question for me is understanding the big change for user intent. Is there a scenario where people are expecting or Google is expecting different things from your existing content? Let’s say you’re in travel, for example. The intent might be, you’re researching your future trip, and you’re not ready to buy right now because very few people are traveling. In ecommerce it might be that someone is interested in curbside pickup, not coming into the store to check for inventory in person. How do you figure out the changes of intent?

Tyson:               I guess I would caveat that is, in most cases it’s not the keyword intent that’s changing, but it’s more of the demand of the other intents. So you’re getting a higher demand of informational and …

Ben:                   I’m going to push back on you. If I’m looking for Hawaii, my intent is, I’m dreaming, right? Hawaii is not a great example. The islands in Greece. I’m not going to Greece right now. I want to go to Greece, I can’t. There is change in intent with that keyword, right? It becomes informational as opposed to, it used to be transactional. I think that is happening a fair amount, where people are doing more research and so keywords are changing. I am sitting here looking at vacation properties or rental properties or real estate. I’m not buying anything. The economy is insane right now.

Tyson:             Which is fair, but I guess my point is, I would say that you take the, “I want to go to the Greek islands,” the volume or the demand of keywords that are more informational in nature, which are informational today but they were also informational before, those are the queries that you’re seeing a more sharper increase. But to that point, you do have what’s called more window shoppers, in the sense of maybe people are being like, “Hey, what are prices, ticket prices to Greece?” And it would still be classified as a transactional query, but it has some of that informational aspect in the way of, “Hey, I’m not actually going to buy a ticket to Greece right now, but I just want to see where the prices were at.” And so I think those are the cases where then you’re adding in that information of, what are the travel restrictions? What are the limitations that maybe says, “Oh, I can make this trip or I can’t make this trip.”

Tyson:             So I think there are tweaks and elements to the content that need to be added there, but I think it’s also, it’s those just really top of funnel queries that’s like, what are the best beaches? What are the best Greek islands to visit? And that’s where we’re seeing a lot of drastic change in behavior, is that type of, “Where do I go if I’m interested in Greece? Is it Naxos, is it Santorini? What island should I visit?” And that is still going to be in this informational vein.

Ben:                It’s Santorini.

Tyson:           Which it’s a beautiful spot.

Ben:               It’s great. I went there on my honeymoon.

Tyson:          Were you following Jordan, or was that the same trip?

Ben:               Trying to escape Jordan. All right. So you’re doing a historical look back to see what has been impacted with your site traffic, looking at a category level, trying to figure out if there is an intent change. What else are you doing to try to understand your buyer’s journey in the new era?

Tyson:           I think one of the early pieces is it’s looking at changing keyword search volume. So that could be on a micro level of individual keywords. It could be in a clustering or grouping, and that’s something that we do quite a bit at Searchmetrics. It’s also looking at, and all of those are being labeled. So within our research cloud and in project section of, what is the intent of those keywords? So I think it’s monitoring those attributes along the keywords, but then it’s also looking at some historical comparisons, how and where visitors are going to the site, where are you gaining more traffic from this year compared to a non-COVID year, last year and back further? And so I think that’s giving you the fundamental information to then target or hone in. I’d say looking at a general … We’ve repeated this a couple of times, but really I think with this increased browsing and user behavior, really having that additional focus on the top of funnel content is helpful. Too often do websites and marketers focus on the bottom of the funnel, of where the conversion is taking place.

Tyson:           And as we’re seeing this stretch out longer and longer and the buying frames, that’s where then you have that need for the informational content. So I’d say this year compared to what we’ve seen in the past is, the value of that top of funnel becomes a little more important. And then also the requirement and need to revisit and add more relevant information that didn’t exist in the past on those later stage or lower funnel sections is what’s going to have a positive impact.

Ben:              All right, well, so Tyson, help me summarize here. When we’re thinking about how to reconsider your buyer’s journey, first you have to understand how your site was impacted. Think about the user’s journey, making sure that you’re adjusting your existing content to address the user experience that needs to change when everyone is sheltering in place. So tomorrow we’re going to come back, and we’re going to continue this conversation talking about what you shouldn’t be doing in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak that impacts your new buyer’s journey.

Ben:              So that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, the head of services at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Tyson, you can find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter, his handle is @Tyson_Stockton, or you could visit his company’s website, which is searchmetrics.com. Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast.

Ben:             Of course, you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is @VoicesOfSearch on Twitter, and my personal handle is @BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning. All right, that’s it for today. But until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.