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Tuesday, Apr. 26, 2011 at 9:12 am

Is a Brand Keyword the Best Way to Identify Late Stage Visitors?

By Melissa Burdon
April 26th, 2011

We recently received a comment on my colleague’s post about buying stage intent and how to bucket keywords driving traffic to your site into buying stages. The goal of an exercise such as this is to effectively segment your visitors based on their readiness to take action sooner, rather than later. The question…

“How can we expect to rank for a late stage keyword if we target a specific brand? My thinking is, if the brand name has it’s own domain and is saturated with that keyword, most of the people searching for it would be looking for that site. Do you think it would be more advantageous to target ‘cheap socksrock products’ or ‘socksrock discounts’?

…warrants a quick peek at what it was Whitney said for some additional context. In the blog post that elicited the comment, Whitney references specific examples describing how to identify the different stages of the buying process by looking at the kinds of keywords driving traffic to the site:

“For example, let’s say that you’re company’s name is ‘Socks Rock’ and you specialize in selling custom design socks. An example of an early stage keyword to your site could be ‘socks,’ a middle stage keyword could be ‘custom design socks,’ and a late stage keyword could be ‘socksrock.’”

Now, looking back at the question posed by this Grok reader, we can see that it’s really about how you can compete for branded keywords against the brand owner in cases where you also sell their product.  In other words, what if the fake company Whitney cites in her example, Socks Rock, also sells their custom design socks through other retailers, and you happen to be one of those retailers?  How will you possibly be able to gain a leg-up for late stage traffic searching for Socks Rock products if you’re going head-to-head with the maker of those products?

Let’s begin by reviewing the first few steps of our optimization process a little bit, so you you can see how this question relates to what we preach about the most effective way to make your website better. Our website conversion rate optimization service for eCommerce sites and conversion rate optimization service for lead-generation sites begin with us doing research and analysis to better understand the customers’ needs and motivations. We separate the website visitors (otherwise known as potential buyers or potential leads) into segments based on their readiness to take action today. Once we have them segmented, we analyze the late stage visitor’s buying experience.

The late stage buyers are ready to take action, and to hand over their money or contact information today. It’s up to us to identify why these visitors are not converting at the rate that they should be. We identify the data demonstrating this segment’s behavior on your website. What traffic sources are sending this segment of buyers to the website? To which landing pages are they arriving? What is happening once they get there, for example, where are they most commonly dropping out? If you’re not effectively converting this segment of visitors, it’s because you have some serious stumbling blocks that are preventing them from moving forward. By prioritizing the problems this ready-to-convert segment of visitors is faced with, we’re likely to impact your bottom line numbers the fastest.

Once you effectively optimize the site for the late stage buyer, you are ready to think about how to get more of those late stage buyers to the site with traffic-driving marketing tactics designed to attract the late stage buyer. In most cases, a late stage keyword would be a branded keyword. The examples above, particularly for the situation posed by the reader’s comment, “cheap socksrock products” or “socksrock discounts,” are absolutely late stage keywords. We may even consider the basic branded keywords such as “socksrock” to be a good enough late stage keyword to add to this segment, particularly in a case such as that described in our reader’s question.

There are other cases where we look beyond a company’s brand name for late stage keywords. Take for instance the case where a brand hasn’t had any exposure yet… it is highly unlikely that someone would be searching for the company’s brand. In these cases, the late stage keywords are more in the territory of “middle/late” because they may be identifying the name of a specific product sold. For instance, perhaps there is a site that sells perfume, and the brand of the site doesn’t get any searches, but they have good search engine rankings for the search terms that includes specific product names, such as “buy Chanel No. 5”.

Don’t think inside the box of a single set of rules when looking at your keywords and trying to bucket them into segments. Just keep in mind the definition of a late stage buyer, and try your best to put yourself in their situation: “a late stage buyer has decided exactly what solution will satisfy their needs. They are ready to buy from you, as long as you can convince them that buying from you is worth their money.”

If you don’t yet get the late stage buyers to your site, then put the latest stage segment that you do get into a bucket called “middle/late” and realize the need to attract more late stage buyers.  And if you find you still need help with this exercise, and how to use the information you get to make your website better, contact us to ask about OnTarget programs.

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Comments (15)

  1. With my vouchercode website I tend to get a high conversion rate because a lot of visitors check the website for discounts when they know what they want to buy.

  2. it is not the best way ,because buying from you is worth their money is the most important

  3. For me, i don’t like to target the brand name of another company. What i like to do is to target keywords unrelated to other brands so i can expand later. Thanks for the info

  4. A second derivative of HPK would be nice choice for new comers to compete the competition. Thats strategy work fine for me.Anyway thx u for sharing

  5. As my name suggests, I am a dog walker, and I only service a small local area. Much of what I read about seo and this article are more suited to brands or affiliate traffic which is nationwide. It would be great to hear about more articles about converting visitors for something like local search on generic terms like dog walking.

  6. I personally target whatever seems to work best through keyword research, regardless of all other facts. If you ask me, when it really comes down to it, numbers don’t lie.

    For example, my most recent website seems to be taking off quite well, and I just went by the numbers!

  7. Whatever be the keywords and resultant traffic, words like ‘DISCOUNT’ and ‘FREE’ count a lot in increasing sales.

  8. I only go after high search terms. You’ll be surprised how poor the seo is on the top ten of google. By using superior SEO and link building i easily rank of terms with over 20,000 searches per month. and that means MONEEEEYYY!

  9. Late stage visitors are likely to be swayed by the value proposition as much as brand names. it’s about expaining the risks in *not* buying

  10. If the buyer knows what they want you will get a high conversion rate. Simple as that. A brand keyword is a good way to identify people ready to BUY now.

  11. Great article. However, as a Chiropractor
    I find it difficult to identify late stage keywords when I am providing a ‘service’ rather than a product. A lot of our keyword searches are information based rather than looking to ‘buy’.

  12. Interesting article. I personaly don´t trust myself enough to go for very competetive keywords but it´s probably caused by the fact that I´m new to SEO..

  13. Thanks for the nice article however we also sell service instead of real products. no one would search for buy a online resume builder or discount on online resume builder

  14. Very informative article. I, however find that doing a SEO on a short term keyword is more profitable and you will be surprise at times on how easy it is to rank on such keywords.

  15. This tactic for converting sales is very clever. I have yet to implement such a strategy for my sites. Do you think that adding specific “late stage keywords” to a site that has a lot of traffic but low conversion, is a better option than setting up a brand new site for these keyword terms?

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

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