graphic of 3 phases of Google Search Engine Journey
Buyers Journey Courtesy Hubspot

This year Google changed the way search engine work.  They incorporated AI to make our searches and our lives easier.  Now it’s called Google Search Journey.

As businesses and marketers, we can use this tool to better connect with our prospects no matter where they are in their buying journey.

Quick story on how Google Search Journey works…

Yesterday, I visited my local farmer’s market and picked up a “Super Combo” of exotic mushrooms. My goal…to make Hungarian Mushroom Soup. 

When I got home, I realized I’d never cooked with several of the varieties included. Never even heard of Nameko before. 

I knew that with some mushrooms you needed to discard the stems. I needed to find out which of these mushrooms needed to be trimmed.    I went to Google and did a search.

First I Googled Nameko. I found the mushroom with lots of information about it, but not about what was edible. 

I tried one of the others, this time changing my search to include information on the edible parts. Bingo. Found that mushroom. I prepped the Buttercaps, then returned to my computer. 

This time when I put in Nameko, Google not only brought up the page I had originally searched, but it remembered I wanted information on the edible parts. Google provided search options that included the information I was looking for.

It appears that if in doubt…remove the stems. Search done, soup cooked five-star results.

Google Search Journey experience

By adding AI into their mix, google no longer just looks for answers to searches. It evaluates what have you already looked at and what might you be looking for now.  This goes beyond keyword match, location and relevancy. 

Google now takes into account where you are in your buying journey.  Frequently we do a search, find information and then decide to think about it.  A week or two later, we search again using the same terms. 

Google knows what websites we looked at and brings them back up, plus it may offer reviews, or support type content.

This ties in directly to the buying process.

  1. Look for a solution to a problem.
  2. Weigh the options.
  3. Find where to buy.

By using algorithms and our history, AI determines where we are in our journey and provides content that is the best fit.

Google collections

Whether on their smartphone, tablet or desktop, if they are using Google Chrome they can use the “collections” extension to save their searches.  This makes it much easier to reference research they have been doing.

Much broader in scope than Instagram or Pinterest, Google Collections allows them to save articles, websites and images. 

They might be wanting to know how CBD works in a beauty product or its benefits. They might want to learn about safety, source and whether its full spectrum, broad-spectrum or an isolate.

In wellness or beauty, the look, feel, and smell are all strong considerations. Likewise, what is its targeted use?  Is it designed for their specific skin type and need? What do others think of it?

When they use this saved information, Google gets even smarter with the options it provides.

They are offered more targeted, in-depth information based on what they’ve already found/read and what it anticipates the viewer might be looking for next.

By researching and understanding how Google Search Journey’s work, we can help our visitors along their buying journey.   We can employ SEO terms that focus on each buying stage.

Keywords for buying stages

Each step of our shopping journey is tied to different types of information. As sellers and marketers, we will want to include each type. We will need to include the appropriate SEO words, so Google will share our information with the customer.

Informational content

We are looking to learn about a product.  We want all the nitty-gritty to learn about whether it will solve the problem we are researching. Knowledge. We want to know, or know about something. 

Often we will read blog posts or articles to find out what will solve our problem. We might look for guides, how-tos, and lists of information. We’ll also read about specific products and relate what we learned to that item.

Navigational content

Your contact us page is an excellent example of navigational information.  It may just target your brand. Likewise, it may provide directions on where your retail outlet is located.

It’s also important to include things like type of business, niche specialty information or other commercial terms to draw in users.

The use of taglines that take the user to an optimized landing page can be very helpful navigational tools.

Weighing their options may start in the informational phase but is definitely also part of the navigations. During navigations, they may be looking for a specific brand or wanting to compare several.

Transactional content

This type of content is for the users ready to buy. Depending on the number of sales pages you have, this can be a larger or smaller category.

If your web pages are only informational, then your “where to buy” tag on every page will be important. If you are B2C, provide your location, phone number and business hours.

If you are a B2B provider using retailers, an interactive “find my retailer” page can be very helpful.  It’s discouraging to a visitor who is ready to buy to find there are no retailers in their area and no buying options. [Note: How do you solve this problem? I’d love to hear.]

If you have an ecommerce store, transactional information is highly helpful.  You might optimize a product page with terms like “buy XXX”.  “Buy XXX online” or “XXX discount coupon”. 

Using a Search Journey

When I work with clients I encourage them to remember the three buying phases as we create/evaluate content and SEO support.  You need to connect with prospects when they are:

  • Looking for information.
  • Weighing their options.
  • Ready to buy.

Each of these needs not only different information, but the search engine words to support it.  If you are only targeting question answering, you may well be missing sales conversions.