The more you can align keywords, ads, and messages to the phases of the Buyer’s Journey, the more likely your messages and offers will be in the right context. Each type of business has a different name for their stages, but most fall into these common four:

 The Learn Stage

Many visitors start out needing to learn more about what you sell before they consider a purchase, and they often use informational search keywords to do so.  These are words such as “digital cameras,” which comprise a broad category phrase, telling you that the person is early in the buying cycle and just learning about products.  It is nearly impossible to convert users in this phase.  You need to make sure you educate them as soon as possible and move them into the shop stage.

There are few effective modifiers for keywords in this phase.  Rather, you want to make sure you are explaining what you offer in the simplest terms as possible.

The Shop Stage

Not all visitors start at the Learn step. Some know precisely what kind of product they want to buy, but need to compare different brands or models. They are still entering informational keywords, but they are more specific now than in the Learn step. Learners search for computer, whereas shoppers look for laptop computer.  As you design your site, you must ensure that you have product category pages, not just model pages. For example, create a page that lists of all of your DVD players with an explanation of how they work. That way, you capture search traffic for shoppers entering the dvd players keyword, not just buyers using keywords that name particular brands or models. Use the three-second rule from direct marketing: Can the customer tell what you are selling in three seconds? If not, simplify your copy.

The Buy Stage

This is the money stage and has the most valuable searchers–the ones searching with phrases that indicate they are ready to buy.  Even if they did not visit your site to learn or shop, if you can capture them here, you can still make the sale. When searchers want to buy your product, they enter specific transactional keywords, such as Absolut Citron 750ml where to buy or dell inspiron 1545 battery price.  These are often the easiest words to rank for because they are your products.

The Use Stage

For some products, especially technology products, the majority of website visitors need help while trying to use the product. A few years ago, customers needing help were more likely to come directly to your site to solve their problem, but more and more they now head to Google to search for their answer.   You should try to optimize for error codes, how-to guides, and any other phrase that a current user might use, keeping in mind that some searchers need help to upgrade or to add accessories.

If you have a competing product, you can exploit the weaknesses of a competitor to try to capture their customers. For example, if your software product exposes flaws in a competing product, then you can write an article (or better yet, do a video) showing how your product is easier to use–and offer a free trial.  Many times this simple connection converts users to a new product.