If you’ve started looking into online marketing, you’ve probably heard about search engine optimization (SEO). If you haven’t, a quick way to see your site’s SEO status is to enter your URL here. While reading through articles about what SEO is and how it works, you’ve no doubt seen page after page emphasizing the importance of keywords and good web design for SEO.
But through all this, have you found yourself wondering about the endgame — about what the ultimate goal of SEO even is? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll discuss the purpose of SEO overall and at each level of the marketing funnel.
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What is the goal of SEO?
The basic goal of SEO is to boost your presence in relevant online search results, so you can earn more leads, sales, and revenue. In other words, the endgame of SEO is to grow your business online.
And it allows you to accomplish that goal by helping you reach more qualified leads — people interested in your products and services.
What is SEO and how does SEO work?
SEO works by optimizing pages on your website to rank at the top of search engine results for keywords related to your business. For example, if you sell hard drives, you want your business to appear at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) when people search for keywords related to your products.
If someone searches “how to mount a hard drive on mac” and sees an article from your website called “How to Mount a Hard Drive Using Disk Utility on Mac,” they’re very likely to click. With SEO strategies like creating custom content and targeting keywords on your site, you can ensure your website content ranks in relevant search results. Ranking at the top of search results helps more people find your business, learn about your offerings, and contact you or purchase.
That’s the ultimate goal of SEO — boosting your online leads, sales, and revenue.
3 SEO goals for every step of the funnel
Okay, so we’ve covered the purpose of SEO in broad terms. Now let’s get a little more specific. SEO allows you to target qualified leads with relevant content.
That’s fine as a broad statement, but it doesn’t help you understand what you should actually do. Why? Because both your leads and your SEO content will look different depending on where users are in the marketing funnel.
If you’ve read content about SEO before, you may have run across a few mentions of the marketing funnel. The funnel is a representation of the users who read your content and visit your site. Imagine a funnel filled with liquid — there’s a lot at the top, but less in the middle, and once you reach the bottom there’s only a thin stream.
That’s your user base. You’ll have a lot of people reading content with surface-level information, but only a handful will stay with you all the way to the point of making a purchase. So, depending on where a given user is in the funnel, you’ll have different SEO goals for how to target them — and move them to the next phase of the funnel.
Here are three goals for each level of the funnel.
Top-of-funnel (TOFU) searchers often know little to nothing about your business, and quite possibly nothing about your industry either. A TOFU searcher isn’t going to look up something like “how to run a malware check on a portable hard drive” — they just want to figure out what a portable hard drive is. Here are three goals to keep in mind when creating TOFU SEO content:
- Boost rankings to raise awareness of your business: The broadest goal of SEO for the top of the funnel is simply to make people aware that your business exists by boosting rankings for keywords related to your business. After all, no one will buy from you if they don’t know you exist.
- Target informational keywords: At this stage of the funnel, target informational keywords that answer searchers’ questions and help them learn more about your products and services. For example, you could write an article explaining, “What Are Portable Hard Drives?” to answer searchers’ questions and get them familiar with your brand.
- Focus on adding value for searchers: Don’t worry about making your TOFU SEO content overly salesy — you’re just introducing your products and services. Aim to provide valuable, informative content, explain everything in simple terms, and avoid confusing business jargon.
Middle-of-funnel (MOFU) searchers may have some familiarity with your brand, and they’ll certainly have a decent amount of familiarity with what you do, but they won’t be at all committed to you yet. They’re still not positive that they want or need your services. MOFU visitors are researchers.
They’re delving into information that will tell them whether they want to make a purchase, and what they want to look for in that purchase. Your goal is to be honest and informative while still suggesting that the things they want are what you offer. The three best goals to be aware of for MOFU SEO content are:
- Establish authority in search results: Now that users know who you are, it’s time to convince them that you’re the expert in your industry by maintaining a presence in search results and consistently sharing valuable content. Make sure your SEO content is reliable, honest, helpful, and authoritative.
- Share helpful, in-depth SEO content: As you move closer to getting users to make a purchase, you can start using much more in-depth information that matches search intent for MOFU keywords and phrases like, “best hard drive for long-term storage.”
- Point users toward purchasing: Be sure to weave unique selling points into MOFU SEO content to show readers why your brand is the best option. You can also use creative calls to action (CTAs) to point users toward the next step of partnering with your business.
Bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) searchers are usually the most valuable. These are the users who’ve met your brand, done the research, and decided that they want to look directly into purchasing your products or services. The goals of BOFU SEO content include:
- Target transactional keywords: Where TOFU content focuses on basic questions about your industry, avoiding outright salesy topics, BOFU content should do the opposite. Target keywords like “hard drive deals” to draw in the people who are ready to buy.
- Promote your business: Your BOFU content should essentially be a direct advertisement. Share SEO-optimized content about your services, product features, and special promotions. Tell users why you’re the best, and make it easy for them to convert.
- Drive purchases: The primary goal of BOFU content is to convert qualified leads into customers. Get people to take the final step and buy your products or services. BOFU SEO content exists to convince them to do that.
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