If your website is like most others, there is probably a mismatch between the material you offer and what your potential customers search for on Google.
This post will help you understand your target consumers and their interactions with Google to present them with the finest content. The concept came to me while watching internal user experience teams at our agency, and I hope it inspires you as an SEO to abandon your spreadsheets and start working with sticky notes for a while (yeah, sticky notes).
As an illustration of the method, I will show you later in the essay how a Danish insurance firm managed to appear out of nowhere and dominate the discourse for a strategically vital insurance product.
What exactly is a customer journey?
The customer journey is a model that illustrates the steps a prospective customer takes to convert to your offering. It allows us as marketers to understand the problems that a user faces during their trip. When we understand it, we can choose how our marketing activities should appear at each step.
There are other customer journey models available, but I favour the classic AIDA model with the Loyalty stage at the conclusion.
Here's a breakdown of the five steps, along with examples of normal Google queries:
Prospects become aware that they have an issue or need and actively begin looking on Google. For example, people may think to themselves, "Hey, I'm coughing. What should I do to get rid of it? " and look up "How to Stop Coughing? ” (40K monthly enquiries in the US) (40K monthly queries in the US).
Prospects begin looking for simple solution concerns out of curiosity. "Cough medication" is an example (59K monthly queries). At this point, they will also hunt for alternatives (for example, "honey ginger tea").
Prospects become more knowledgeable and narrow their search to locate the best solution for them. They look for product qualities such as segments ("infant cough medicine") and types ("nondrowsy cough medicine"). This is also the stage in the customer journey where customers enter the buying mode with best/cheapest/discount queries (e.g., "best coughing treatment for dry cough"). They also start looking for brands. Typical Google keywords include "Delsym cough medicine" (5.2K monthly queries) and comparative queries such as "Delsym versus Robitussin" (1.6K monthly queries).
Prospects have made their decision and are ready to take action. A common query would be "Delsym near me" (90 monthly queries).
Loyalty: Prospects have become clients, and they may have questions regarding the recently purchased goods. "Delsym side effects" is a common example.
What is Google Customer Journey Mapping?
When dealing with user experience (UX), a common activity is customer journey mapping, which attempts to illustrate the normal touchpoints for a user and thus understand how to build a frictionless experience.
I got a light bulb moment when observing our UX teams, as I indicated in the introduction. Why couldn't SEOs follow suit and plan out the client journey using Google data? Whereas UX teams rely on qualitative interviews, eye tracking, client feedback, and gut instinct, Google data is the missing hard data.
The concept of mapping consumer journeys on Google was born.
We have the information right at our fingertips. SEOs may map out a substantial portion of the customer journey using Google's own data sources (e.g., Google Search Console) and third-party tools (e.g., Moz Keyword Explorer).
Just check your Google Analytics user data to see how dominating Google is. According to a GrowthBadger analysis, Google accounted for 50-90% of all traffic across industries. While social media is an excellent activation channel in 2022, prospects still use Google to educate themselves before contacting you.
We can learn more about the consumer journey by mapping it on Google.
What are the most popular Google searches for potential clients?
What is the search intent driving potential clients' conversations with Google that might match our USPs?
Where are the "peak endpoints," or the most significant Google conversation touchpoints that can win or lose a potential customer?
What is the search intent timeframe so that we can prioritise content development?
Why should you use Google Customer Journey Mapping?
There are three primary reasons to use customer journey mapping.
1) Keyword targeting is out of date. Instead, we should concentrate on owning user intent.
They comprehend searches better than ever before, especially when Google introduced BERT in September 2019. And with their MUM update, the search experience will be even better. This also means that we, as SEOs, must adjust to these changes, focusing less on specific keywords and more on user intent.
To illustrate, all of the keywords below have the same intent and should be treated as one:
washing a sleeping bag
Clean the sleeping bag
How to Care for Sleeping Bags
How to Wash Sleeping Bags
If you offer sleeping bags, the total monthly search volume for this search intent is 4,000 monthly searches in the United States, therefore this is an important touchpoint to include in your content.
2) We must quickly communicate SEO analytics findings with marketing teams.
Breaking out of the SEO silo and ensuring that SEO supports marketing strategy and activities should be our goal.
People in your marketing department may be unaware of the existence of Google Search Console, and even fewer may have access, therefore SEOs must communicate the insights from this treasure of data.
SEO silo study can take weeks, but when it comes to aligning with the rest of the firm, time is of the essence. Marketing decisions are made regularly, so SEOs must be ready to give data rapidly. A customer journey map can be developed in a matter of hours and is an excellent method to depict data in ways that non-SEOs can comprehend.
3) Topic clustering does not provide a complete picture.
Are you already familiar with topic clustering and believe that customer journey mapping is similar? It isn't.
A typical topic cluster addresses solely the Interest/Desire stages of the client journey. A subject cluster is made up of the main page (the money page), which ranks for the most significant keyword (for example, "car insurance"), and several supporting pages (pillar pages), which rank for secondary keywords (for example, "car insurance for adolescents" and "car insurance calculator").
Customer journey mapping encompasses the entire customer journey, from the beginning of the funnel through the post-sales stage. These two stages must be attended to be viewed as a relevant authority by Google and, of course, to assist your prospective customer throughout their entire trip.
According to studies, assisting a user early in the process makes them remember you later on. Because the prospect is unaware of the answer at this point in the trip, they will conduct symptom enquiry. This type of query is more difficult to detect, but it also means that your competitors are likely losing out on them. This can be a fantastic opportunity for more traffic.
To conduct symptom research, you must think like your prospect. What would they look for if they weren't sure what they were looking for? To see if the symptom questions are relevant for you, look at the "Related searches" section at the bottom of page one on Google and see if any solution enquiries are included. It indicates whether or not the enquiry is relevant.
Another critical part is educating the prospect so that they do not select the incorrect solution. In my previous Moz Blog piece about SEO sprints, I used the analogy of prospects looking for yellow-tinted spectacles for night driving. This is the incorrect solution because opposing vehicles have blue lights. This is critical content to share with your audience to steer prospects in the proper route. What is a common misperception in your field?
The post-sale queries are extremely significant because they are sent by actual customers. This is a critical touchpoint not just to address their actual problem, but also to warm them up for their next convert.
If you want to quickly discover post-sale questions, use the following regex formula in Google Search Console:
\b(clean|broken|wash off|shattered|polish|problem|treat|doesn’t work|replace|doesn’t start|scratch|repair|manual|fix|protect|renew|coverage|warranty)[” “]
If you don't score well for the searches that appear, you probably have a content gap.
Not every bit of your content will convert directly. Some content is better suited to micro conversions than others (see a video, read another piece of content, download pdf). When using customer journey mapping, you are required to order the search intent. This will assist you in understanding how to structure your content and what each piece of material should accomplish.
Creating a Customer Journey Map using Google Data
Allow me to lead you through the steps.
Step 1: Identify your identity and your goal.
What are our goals, and who are our personas? This crucial first step guarantees that we build the mapping scope.
Step 2: Gather the information and map out the intents.
The following step is to map out the user intent. I'll start with the client's Google Search Console.
I'll search through 12 months of data for a specific term. I'll then go over my keyword list. I'm making a map for "Natural playgrounds" in this example. "Natural playground equipment" is one goal. I've highlighted three questions with the same objective below: Natural playground equipment, Nature playground equipment, and Nature play equipment.
This is one identified intent. I usually jot down the intent on a sticky note along with the search volume and average ranking. Below is an example from a session.
When I can't locate any more intents in Google Search Console, I'll use data from third-party tools like Moz Explorer. I typed "Natural playground" into the suggestion box, and a list of relevant keywords appeared.
Step 3: Map the post-its in a funnel
I then create a sales funnel on a whiteboard using sticky notes. I'll rearrange them and cluster them where it makes sense. If I notice gaps in the funnel, I will return to my tools to collect more data. This should be a simple procedure.
After completing this activity, I will have a thorough grasp of the prospects' dialogue with Google. The intents will then be inserted into PowerPoint and presented to the client. Here's an illustration. The traffic lights indicate how the site performs (Green = Google Rank 1-3, Yellow = Rest of Page 1, Red = Page 2 or worse). The size of the bubbles represents the volume of searches.
When a map like this is provided, it naturally draws attention to how we can change all of the intents to green.
How a Danish insurance company used customer journey mapping to gain new customers
Købstaedernes Forsikring, founded in 1731, is one of Denmark's oldest insurance companies. Because they had not previously concentrated on SEO, they had very little non-branded presence on Google when I began assisting them.
Step 1 - We aim to dominate the Google search for "salary insurance."
"Salary insurance" is a product offered by all insurance companies. If you lose your job, this insurance will cover 90% of your salary. This is a strategically essential product for Kbstaedernes, and Google is a significant touchpoint in the customer journey of their prospects.
Step 2: Gather data for "salary insurance" and design a customer journey map.
We designed the customer journey map below to better understand possible consumer search intent. Each bubble reflects a different search intent. The size of the bubble indicates the proportional search volume, and the colour indicates their average ranking. To illustrate this, I utilise traffic light colours (Green: ranks in the top 3, Yellow: Ranks 4-10, and Red: Outside page 1 on Google).
I used Google Search Console data and third-party tools such as Moz Keyword Explorer to map out the conversation with Google. Furthermore, I had an interview with the product team to understand the potential customer profiles better, so I could identify the initial symptom searches.
Since the marketing team at Købstaedernes is not SEO aware, then a customer journey map was an excellent method to illustrate that we were not part of the dialogue at all. They quickly understood our starting point and could assist us by identifying intriguing topics in which we should participate. Furthermore, they might use the conversation insights into the rest of their marketing mix.
Step 3: Put the customer journey map findings into action.
After the marketing team approved the journey map, we moved on to the second phase, which was to determine what content to create, repurpose, and optimise. To match subjects between prospects' Google conversations and website content, we needed to optimise 10 pages and establish five new ones.
As with most organisations, Købstaedernes does not have boundless resources. As a result, the customer journey map was a valuable asset in understanding how to prioritise their efforts. Lower funnel content should be created initially.
My tiny team completed these duties for two months. While not the subject of this article, I would want to point out that a project management platform such as Asana, Monday.com, Trello, or another is required to ensure an efficient workflow. When using a spreadsheet (Excel, Google Sheets, or another), it is easy to lose sight of chores. A project management application allows you to assign tasks, create deadlines, describe tasks and subtasks, include tags, and so on. I've noticed that when important staff leaves, SEO projects are placed on hold. As a result, I strongly advise you to utilise one of these tools to avoid brain drain and focus.
Because Google is by far the most important touchpoint in most customer journeys across sectors, hard data from Google Search Console and third-party tools like Moz Keyword Explorer can help us comprehend user intent. Customer journey mapping on Google is a model for visualising data to ensure that the entire marketing team understands the prospects' conversation with Google.
Simultaneously, it provides a clear perspective of content priority, which is vital because most teams have limited resources.
Let me close with a few tips concerning customer journey maps:
Make sure your consumer journey has a defined aim. If there is more than one goal, separate the customer journey into numerous different customer journey maps.
Understand your USPs so that you can focus on relevant search intent. To obtain a better picture, divide the larger user intents into smaller ones on the underlying customer journey maps.
WeI hope this blog post about customer journey mapping has motivated you to consider how you may better understand your prospects' interactions with Google.