Do Your Keywords Account for Every Stage of the Customer Buying Cycle?

At the end of the day, the main goal of most SEO campaigns is to drive more targeted, organic, non-branded traffic from the SERPs to your website. The keywords you target on your site and with your content marketing efforts have a significant impact on the kinds of searches your website will rank for. Not everyone is going to search for the same thing in the same way, and depending on where searchers are in their buying cycle, they might be looking for different kinds of information. That’s why your keywords have to cover every stage of the customer buying cycle and include both informational and commercial keywords.

Informational Keywords

Informational keywords tend to have the highest amount of search volume because they are being used by searchers at the very beginning of their buying cycle and can lead searchers down many paths. Since these keywords have more search volume, they are “worth” a lot more to the companies targeting them with their SEO, since even 10% of 20,000 searches from one keyword would be a nice bump in organic traffic. This increase in competition makes it that much harder to rank well in the SERPs for these informational keywords, simply because so many other sites are fighting for top billing.

Let’s say I am an inventor and I need to hire a patent attorney. I have no idea how much I should pay for their services, how to tell if a patent attorney is trustworthy, and so forth. So my searches for “patent attorney” are going to involve more informational and broad keywords at the beginning as I’m looking to gather as much information as I can before making a final decision.  As I learn more, I might search for things like “patenting my idea,” “how to patent my invention,” “invention patent,” and more.

Broader keywords don’t usually convert as well as long-tail keywords because, as I mentioned before, they can take so many directions based on user intent. For instance, when I did a quick search for “patent attorney” the 4th site I saw in the SERPs (after all the local listings) was about how someone can become a patent attorney. As an inventor, that doesn’t help me very much. However, an actual patent attorney isn’t going to avoid targeting “patent attorney” as a keyword simply because some of the searchers might be looking for a new career path. This informational keyword could drive a lot of potential business to their site early on in the buying cycle, giving them more time to educate, inform, and build a rapport with those visitors. As the inventor, I might not pick up the phone and call the first result I click on, but maybe I scope out their services, read some of the blog, download a white paper about filing patents, and file that particular attorney away in the back of my mind. As I continue my searching and move further along my buying cycle, if I see that site again I might be more inclined to click back over.

Informational keywords are an important part of your SEO program because they can help introduce your website to a wider audience and help turn your company into a resource for those customers as they move through their buying cycle.

Commercial Keywords

Commercial keywords tend to be used by searchers who are further along in their buying cycle and are getting ready to pull the trigger. Obviously words like “buy,” “download,” “order,” and so forth are strong indicators that someone is looking to convert soon, but not every commercial keyword has to include a purchasing word like those. For example, let’s say I was interested in starting a vegetable garden in my backyard. My informational searches might be things like “planting a vegetable garden, “easy vegetables to grow,” “first time gardening tips,” and so forth. I’m not necessarily looking to buy anything just yet; I’m just trying to get a better understanding of what I’m getting myself into. However, as I move through my buying cycle and am getting ready to actually start planting, my searches might evolve to included things like “vegetable garden starter kit,” “vegetable garden soil mix,” or “raised vegetable garden bed.”  I don’t specifically say I want to buy something in my search phrase, but what I am searching for indicates I’m looking for a specific thing as opposed to general information.

Commercial keywords are an important part of your SEO campaign because these are the keywords that tend to make the money. While the conversion rate might be higher, more long-tail and specific keywords also tend to have a smaller search volume, meaning a smaller pie for you to drive traffic from. For instance, “vegetable gardening” might drive 3,000 visitors to a particular site while “organic vegetable garden pesticides” may only send 50 in the same time frame. However, someone using the more commercial keyword knows what they are looking for specifically and might be more inclined to buy sooner rather than later.

When it comes to SEO, you have to make certain that your keywords cover all stages of the buying cycle—all the way from the initial information gathering phase right up until the point where they pull out their credit card. Depending on what you are selling and how much it costs, the buying cycle might take several months to complete. Imagine if you had to lay down $10,000 for a product—you would probably take your time, right? Or your customer’s buying cycle could be relatively short if it’s a relatively straightforward purchase. But a good SEO campaign seeks to target both informational and commercial keywords because it helps your website appear in the SERPs for the broadest possible audience.

About the Author

Nick Stamoulis is the President of Boston SEO solutions company Brick Marketing ( With over 13 years of industry experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his SEO knowledge by writing in the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO newsletter, read by over 120,000 opt-in subscribers.

Contact Nick Stamoulis at 781-999-1222 or

Get Your Logo in the Google Graph: What You Need to Know to Take Advantage of Visible Branding in Search Results

By Serena Peterson, Sr. SEO Strategist for Covario

On May 15th, 2013, Google announced their support of special markup for organizations to utilize that indicates to the search engine what logo is the preferred version to include alongside search results.  For those not familiar with schema markup, it is a set of extensible schemas or tags that enables webmasters to embed structured data on their web pages for use by search engines and other applications. Much like HTML and CSS is utilized to style web design elements, extensible markup is a way to structure standardized data.

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This article will highlight the steps you can take to prepare in advance for visible branding opportunities ahead of full-scale Google roll out of this special markup.  As mentioned on Google Webmaster Central Blog: “… we’re launching support for the markup for organization logos, a way to connect your site with an iconic image. We want you to be able to specify which image we use as your logo in Google search results.”

Easy to Implement for Visible Logos

Adding markup to the HTML source of your brand’s homepage is a simple update that can be done in the time it takes for a coffee break — provided that the right conditions are in place. The first step is identifying if you have a visible logo on the homepage that is linked to your site’s web address.

How to Identify if Your Logo is Visible and the Right Type for This Markup

  1. 1. The logo is JPEG, GIF or PNG format
  2. 2. The logo type is set to transparent and can be placed on a white background without loss, pixilation, etc.
  3. 3. The logo is visible and is not set as a background image using CSS
  4. 4. The logo is not animated
  5. 5. The logo is not a part of a large banner image (typically seen in WordPress blog designs)
  6. 6. The logo is linked to your company’s official homepage

If your logo meets the above guidelines, this simple markup is all that is needed:

“For example, a business whose homepage is can add the following markup using visible on-page elements on their homepage.

<div itemscope itemtype="">
  <a itemprop="url" href="">Home</a>
  <img itemprop="logo" src="" />

This example indicates to Google that this image is designated as the organization’s logo image for the homepage also included in the markup, and, where possible, may be used in Google search results.”

If you discover that your logo does not meet the above criteria, there is no reason to fret. Get in touch with your graphic designer to place a visible logo on your homepage that can scale to 151pixels, is set to transparent, will display properly on any background color and meets your brand’s quality guidelines and standards. Also note this logo will need to link to your primary brand web site address.

Why Does Google Really Want My Logo?

In the future, Google is hedging its bet that search and social will converge and become an integrated and daily inclination you’ll want to participate in at It’s investment in the Knowledge Graph and the Google+ social media platform are coupled to provide the best search experience and preference for discovery whether it be shopping, local search, information retrieval or for human connection.

In addition, official brands help add authority and authenticity, especially when added to the social sphere of Google+. If Google can become the repository for all of the online brand knowledge for companies, they certainly stand a better chance at leasing out screen real estate and display ads to brands in the future.

For a glimpse at what this future search and social union may look like, take the example of search giant Yandex and its iron grip on Russian Internet (RUNET) usage. Yandex is not just the top Russian search engine, but a daily portal that is favored for its robust utilities such as email, video, photo hosting payments, news, image search, maps and traffic.

Mixed Results

Let’s look at a few examples of companies with and without a Google+ profile and how Google presents the results.

Google+ Sample: A search for the popular social media blog Mashable presents the company’s active and fresh Google+ profile results. The Mashable logo is pulled in directly from the Google+ profile and no additional markup is required to fuel this result.

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Non-Google+ Sample: Now that so many brands have jumped on the Google+ bandwagon, it is hard to find a company without a profile, but one can see an example in a search for “Southwest”.  Google does not have a fall back Google+ profile to present for the popular airlines of the same name so it reaches into the Knowledge Graph for details and returns results for the Southwest Airlines Wikipedia article and some information related to the Southwestern United States.

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So where does the logo come from? Google pulls it from the Southwest Airlines Wikipedia article.

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What would further the brand identity of Southwest Airlines would be the adoption of a Google+ profile in addition to adding the markup to their source code. Remember in the above search, the query was simply “Southwest”. A branded search for “Southwest Airlines” returns no additional graph results because Southwest Airlines has not claimed its territory (see below).

image 5

No matter what branded results your company holds in the right rail of Google, implementing Schema markup for logos before full-scale rollout occurs can only positively impact brand search visibility and click-through rates in the future.

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