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The 3 search phases that turn visitors into customers

Users go through three search phases before they buy a product or contact you to book a service. If you want to turn visitors into customers, it’s important to be aware of these three search phases.

We have already discussed the different search intentions of searchers under the article Keyword Types. So we now distinguish between the search intentions under:

  • Navigation
  • Information
  • Transaction

We find these search intentions in the long tail keywords. For example, if I want to sell something on the Internet via an online store, I have to target transactional keywords (keywords with an intention to buy). If these transactional keywords are not enough to attract enough traffic and therefore customers, I can do content marketing and try to rank for informational keywords. With these keywords I generate more traffic, but the visitors who come via these keywords are not yet ready to buy something.


The three search phases

In the search intentions one can also recognize in which search stage the searcher is. Normally, one speaks here of three stages or search phases:

The first search phase

The searcher first wants to obtain general information about a subject area that has to do with the selected product. Let’s say I’m looking for a new TV: the first thing I might do is find out about the different types of TVs on the Internet.

The second search phase

After my research about TVs, I decided that I want to buy an OLED TV. Now I’m researching what products are available here. So I am not yet committed to a provider or a brand. During my product research, I come across the TV “Samsung X3 XY”, for example. Now I decide on this TV and, in the third stage, research which providers could supply me with this product.

The third search phase

I now have a concrete product in mind and search for “buy Samsung X3 XY”, for example. At this stage I already have a purchase intention and whoever ranks well here only needs to siphon off the traffic, which for the most part consists of potential customers.


The conclusion of the search phases

With these three stages in mind, you should think about the strategy of your website and the goal of your website. At this point, it is important to prepare a good SEO concept that matches the content of the website. Because to reach visitors from the first and second stage, I must provide relevant content. This should inform the users, in the first stage generally, in the second stage then more concretely. This is where content marketing plays an important role. Because I will only rank well for my content if it matches the keywords.

However, one should never forget the user. Because with all the search engine optimization you also optimize a bit for the search engine, but we want to provide the user with an optimal result. He must feel comfortable and understood on the website. An “over-optimized” page quickly looks unserious to the user. Therefore, it is important to always keep the balance between optimization for the search engine and optimization for the user.


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