Close to 90% of shoppers start their buying journey on digital channels. Before they even step into a storefront — potentially before they step out of their front door — consumers are consulting search engines to find out more about what product they might need or want. And that’s obviously even more true for purchases made online.
Whether consumers are querying Siri or typing into a desktop browser, one thing is consistent: If you’re not engaging in digital marketing and ensuring your site is search-engine optimized for every stage of the buyer’s journey by creating relevant ecommerce content, you could be missing out on these opportunities.
One way to create SEO content that helps you show up for consumers online is by publishing high-quality buying guides. Plus, this content can increase user experience on your site and help persuade someone in the middle or later parts of the funnel to click and make a purchase (or visit your local store to do so). High-quality buying guides can be planted with mid-funnel search terms that draw in consumers at that stage of their journey and help set the stage for harvesting conversions later.
Read on to find out how to write engaging SEO buyers’ guides that help land you on the first page of SERPs and guide your customers through appropriate buying decisions once they discover your brand.
What Are SEO Buyers’ Guides?
An SEO buyers’ guide is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a piece of search-engine optimized content that also guides the buyer through various aspects of shopping or making a purchase.
The concept of an SEO buying guide is based on the fact that modern shoppers tend to follow a path to purchasing that aligns with the roadmap below.
- The buying journey begins with the search engine.
- The consumer clicks your link (if you’ve done the SEO work to show up).
- Your interesting, relevant content informs the consumer’s decision.
- At this point, the consumer makes a purchase decision or continues to ponder and research, depending on where they are in the funnel. A good buying guide informs that next action, whatever it might be.
Top of the funnel: An introductory buying guide provides high-level options and helps the consumer see the brand as an expert. This increases the chance the consumer will return to the site or brand once they’re ready to take the next step.
Middle of the funnel: Typically, this is where buying guides shine the brightest. The consumer is aware of their need and may know what type of solution they want. The buying guide sets the brand or its products up as a high-quality solution, prompting the consumer to click through, sign up or call to find out more.
Bottom of the funnel: The consumer is ready to make a purchase now or nearly immediately. Some buying guides concentrate more on specific products to help the consumer make a final decision between items. But it’s important to realize that buying guides should work in conjunction with your other content. For example, product descriptions are usually the bottom of the funnel content that ultimately drives the conversion, so using your buying guides to push site visitors toward those pages is a good idea.
Need help with product copy? Connect with a skilled product description writer.
What Are the Benefits of Publishing SEO Buying Guides?
Buying guides provide a number of simultaneous benefits, including:
- Increasing on-page SEO and rankings for valuable middle of the funnel keywords
- Providing high-quality, comprehensive content that helps increase the E-A-T value of your pages
- Delivering something of value to the consumer to increase brand loyalty, trust, and authority
- Creating a potential path via which a consumer finds the product or service they need and helps nudge them toward a purchase decision
- Providing valuable long-form content for your site
All those benefits combine to help your page perform better in SERPs and increase your conversion rate and revenue.
Josh Bluman, Co-founder of JJ Suspenders, notes that buying guides “make your site an authority on a subject, which is also good for SEO and can improve your overall website’s ranking.” That’s because buying guides are an example of comprehensive content. They naturally provide complete coverage of a topic, answering a lot of questions searchers have about products or types or solutions and incorporating a wide range of semantic keywords.
“We recently started adding a bunch of buying guides on our off-site blog MajestyCoffeeSchool.com,” says Nunzio Ross, the co-owner and ops manager of Majesty Coffee. “The results have been fantastic. We’ve noticed a pretty substantial increase in traffic and sales since we started doing it…It’s pretty safe to say our sales have increased by about 1/4 since the buyer’s guides started getting traffic.”
Common Types of Buying Guides
Buying guides actually come in a wide range of content types, and how you create yours depends on factors such as best practices for your industry, the needs and wants of your audience, and which part of the sales funnel you’re targeting. If you’re not sure where to start, consider five common types of buying guides below.
As you can see, a lot of these types of buying guides can overlap. You can have an introductory shopping guide or a technical comparison guide, for example. It’s up to you to mix and match these elements to create content that resonates with your audience.
Top Tips for Creating Compelling Buying Guides
Put some of the tips below to work to create buyers’ guide content that sets you apart from others both in the search engines and with your readers.
1. Conduct research before you write.
Don’t assume that because you’re an expert on your products that you’re also an expert on what people want to know. Ross says the entire point of a buying guide is to answer the questions customers might be asking. Do keyword research to find out what people are turning to search engines to find out, then answer those queries in your buying guides.
Why? Keyword research aligns your content with what’s performing in search results, increasing your chance of landing a top spot. Content that answers specific consumer queries gets more engagement and keeps people coming back to your page.
2. Use conversational language that aligns with your audience.
Write as if you’re an expert speaking to a friend about the topic—but think about how you communicate with different subsets of friends. A gamer who is explaining his computer choice to a non-gaming friend uses different language than he would when explaining to another gamer. Use the right communication style for your target audience.
Why? People turn to buyers’ guides for help making a purchasing decision, but no one wants to be talked down to (or talked over).
3. Pay attention to formatting.
“Huge blocks of text,” says Ross, “are a no-no.” Break up your content with plenty of headers, bulleted lists, tables and other scannable content. Don’t skimp on design. Buying guides are typically long-form content, but the best examples are visually appealing and draw the reader in with more than a wall of text.
Why? It helps the reader digest the information and makes content easier to glance through when seeking fast answers to a specific question.
4. Always ensure content is optimized for mobile.
Use responsive designs and write shorter paragraphs that won’t create a wall of text on mobile devices whenever possible.
Why? A huge portion of people who start their buying journey on digital channels do so via mobile devices. And users don’t just conduct research from a single device; 60% or more move from device to device as they go through the buyer journey.
5. Write with authority.
Bluman says brands should ask, “Does this content help us become an authority on the subject and build our brand?” You shouldn’t publish buying guides for the sake of taking up more pages on your website. They should come from a desire to truly assist consumers and share what you know about the products you create or sell.
Ask yourself: What will make my guide the most comprehensive content for this subject, and how do I make sure the search engines agree?
Why? First, it’s more authentic. Pages and pages of buying guides that simply try to hit an SEO keyword are lackluster, boring and, in some cases, seen as inauthentic. A few high-quality buying guides that provide expert advice and answers are valuable to your readers, which increases the value of your brand in their eyes. Second, it’s good for SEO. Google likes expert, authoritative pages readers can trust.
6. Include images and other media.
Break your buying guide text up with pictures, videos and other media.
Why? People want to see the products you’re recommending, including how to use them. Images and video also make it more likely someone will share your content on social media.
7. Include links and calls to action.
Don’t turn your informative buyers’ guide into a sales free-for-all, but do include relevant product links, buy buttons or CTAs to get a quote or schedule an appointment.
Why? Ultimately, at the end of the day, conversion is what you’re after. The best way to foster that in high-quality content is to provide specific and helpful next steps.
Where Should Buyers’ Guides Go on Your Site?
No one rule exists for the best on-site location for your buyers’ guides. You may need to test various locations to find what works for you. However, here are some starting guidelines that work for many sites.
- Buying guides aren’t landing pages. Don’t use them in place of presell, sales and landing pages to try to make conversions after funneling interested readers via ads.
- Buying guides are definitely not home page copy.
- You might publish product buying guides on category pages. Category pages list all of a similar type of product (such as women’s jeans or coffee makers), and a relevant buying guide on the bottom of the page can support SEO.
- You might publish buying guides on your blog, using those pages to drive organic traffic and link into your eCommerce pages.
- You can create a specific area of your site for consumer resources, placing buying guides there and linking to them from relevant category, brand and product pages.
What Types of Keywords Should Your Buying Guides Target?
Short version? The types of keywords that people are searching for. Do your research with tools such as SEMrush to find out what phrases consumers are using to find this type of information.
Slightly longer version? Since most buying guides are mid-funnel content, they should incorporate mid-funnel keywords. Typically, these keywords indicate the consumer is headed toward a decision but they still need a bit of guidance. Examples of mid-funnel keywords include:
- What’s the most cost-effective phone?
- Best smart TVs
- How to choose roman blinds for my window
- Reviews for plumbers in Austin
Buying guides might also incorporate some keywords with commercial intent. These are often targeted with product descriptions, but it makes sense to pepper a few in buying guides to better support the bridge that allows mid-funnel visitors to convert to bottom-funnel customers as they engage with your content.
Commercial intent keywords are those that indicate the person has a serious plan to make a purchase immediately or soon. Phrases that include words such as buy, deal, discount, price, cost, coupon, free shipping, affordable, best, comparison and review all indicate potential commercial intent.
Get Help Creating Buying Guides That Perform
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