Understanding Your Target Audience – The Search Decision Funnel

The Buying Process Has Changed – The Search Decision Funnel

The subject of user behaviour research, keyword research or search profiling is a relatively broad topic, but an extremely interesting one. It’s possible, with a handful of free tools, to fetch data to tell us what search terms people use in their day to day use of search engines.

Using free tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, it’s easy to learn how many people are searching for a particular keyword. That data can be translated into a site architecture that “catches all” of the potential search terms you can think of, and in classic SEO, that’s where the journey ends. We’ll be looking at the process of keyword research later in this guide.

In the meantime, it’s important to fully understand your customer’s buyer search behaviour first.

How do people buy?

The buying patterns of our target markets have changed. There’s such as thing as a path to consideration. Your potential customers will be influenced by the results of their initial searches, and the input of factors such as social network activity.

Imagine search as a decision funnel, where organic search might present one or two touch points with a customer in a journey or 3 or 4. We call these touch points “interactions”. Some interactions assist the conversion, with the final interaction leading to completion:


As Google explains:

ASSISTING channels build awareness, consideration, and intent earlier in the customer journey or “purchase funnel.”

LAST INTERACTION channels act as the last point of contact prior to a purchase.

To make a purchase decision, a customer might ask a friend and read a review on their desired purchase before buying, so the experience for a user while considering purchasing that new laptop might look something like this:


Social media and connections with friends can often play a very strong influencing role in a customer’s decision making process. It’s vitally important to ensure that as a brand, you have a positive reputation and a strong social presence. In particular, the ability to “listen” to mentions of your brand in social networks is immensely valuable.

That’s all you need to know about the consideration process, but if you’d like some further reading, take a look at these articles:

The Customer Journey to Online Purchase – Think With Google

The consumer decision journey – McKinsey Quarterly

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“Understanding Your Target Audience – The Search Decision Funnel” from “Best Practices in Search Engine Optimization” – from the team at Builtvisible.

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