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The SEO Sales Funnel: Discovery, Research, and Decision Content

Contrary to what many people believe, not all search engine optimization (SEO) content serves the same purpose. It’s easy to think that online content has one goal—to bring in traffic—but that’s only a small part of how you can use it to benefit your business.

Different types of content should be used at different points in your sales funnel. After all, a user who is just learning about your product or service won’t necessarily be interested in the same information as someone who has already made a purchase.

This is especially important to consider when building a solid content strategy. Putting the right content in the right place has the potential to significantly affect your bounce rate and conversion rate.

But, how do you even start to organize content and determine what should go where? Let’s take a look.

What are the different types of content in an SEO sales funnel?

Although they’re often referred to by different names across the internet, most digital content creators agree that there are three types of sales funnel content: discovery, research, and decision.

We’re not talking about the different ways you can write a post (like a listicle or an FAQ), but rather how a reader interacts with the content as part of your sales funnel. This involves making content for the user based on where they are in the funnel and what you expect their behavior to be.

From buying a car to booking a trip, most people start with general research then move to more specific questions as they learn more.

What is the discovery phase in SEO?

The discovery phase in content marketing is when a user discovers your brand, product, or service for the first time based on a broad search query.

Discovery content often answers basic, general questions.   

So, for example, let’s say you sell unicorns. If you want people who are just discovering unicorns to come to your site for information, you need content that answers their questions.

A great place to start would be to create content that answers queries such as:

  • What is a unicorn?
  • Are unicorns real?
  • Are unicorns horses?

This content should introduce a concept, product, or service to a user at a high-level. It works well for microblogs and link building articles.

The discovery phase is best used to plant a seed in a user’s mind. Although they may not make an immediate purchase, it’s an opportunity for you to introduce your brand and build a relationship with them as a trusted resource by providing accurate answers to their questions.

What is the research phase in SEO?

The research phase is when a user already has knowledge about a given topic but wants to learn even more.

Research content should answer more specific, detailed questions.

For example, if we continue with our unicorn example, some research-focused questions users might ask are:

  • Can you own a unicorn?
  • Do unicorns need a barn?
  • Can unicorns live in your house?
  • How much is a unicorn?

If you compare these questions to the examples in the discovery section above, you can see that they are much more specific. The users asking these questions are researching information that will help them to decide whether they want to commit to a purchase or not.

This content should help a user to understand what the product or service is and whether it’s what they’re looking for. This content can work well in onsite articles or guides.

The research phase can be used to nurture the discovery phase. So, if your discovery content planted the seed, your research phase is what waters it.

What is the decision phase in SEO?

The decision phase is when a user knows exactly what they want and are ready to make a purchase.

Someone in the decision phase of purchasing a unicorn may search things like:

  • Supplies for pet unicorn
  • Buy a unicorn
  • Unicorn breeders in my city

These queries don’t necessarily have to be questions. In fact, they’re often a specific business or product name that a user learned about when they were in the discovery or research phase of the funnel.

This content should be used to drive users straight to an actionable landing page on your website. Keep it clean, uncluttered, and obvious. These users know what they want and are ready to commit. This can be a great opportunity to make your SEO, paid, and direct search efforts come together.

Where SEO content is great for introducing your brand and hitting all kinds of search queries users may have, paid search ads are perfect for taking a user straight to a landing page when they’re ready to buy.

However you get here, this is the phase where you get to harvest the seed that you planted and nurtured throughout your SEO content sales funnel.

Creating a content marketing sales funnel

Your content marketing sales funnel should work like an inverted pyramid—start with high-level general questions and work your way down to targeted, detailed content.

It may seem like a lot of work to build and optimize a great content sales funnel, and it is. But, when done right, that work can pay off in so many different ways. From building your reputation as a quality educational resource, to bringing in higher quality and more focused traffic, a good content marketing sales funnel will pay for itself many times over.