The SEO Conversion Funnel, Explained
Successful marketers have a good grasp of the conversion funnel they expect SEO visitors to travel through before converting. This article outlines the concept of the SEO conversion funnel and its importance, then goes through the most common SEO conversion funnels, including the average conversion rate at each step in the funnel.
What is an SEO Conversion Funnel?
An SEO conversion funnel is a depiction of the web pages an organic searcher lands on when visiting your website. Sometimes called a click path, it’s a useful tool for evaluating the success of your website at converting web traffic into customers. Studying the path your organic search visitors travel allows you to make observations—e.g. “Lots of visitors leave when they hit the “About” page; could we make that page more enticing?”—that result in better conversion rates and ultimately more of the leads and sales that become your company’s revenue.
Here are some practical examples demonstrating the importance of understanding your website’s SEO conversion funnel:
- An electric bicycle e-commerce company frequently publishes reviews of the new electric bikes that come onto the market. Their review section makes up the lion’s share of SEO traffic to their website. From studying their SEO conversion funnel, they found that a substantive chunk of their SEO customers learned about their site when researching one particularly popular e-bike brand. (Although other brands got more traffic, this brand seemed to bring more serious visitors interested in buying.) As a result of their observation, they decided to publish a blog series targeting every keyword with reasonable search volume that contained that brand’s name. The result was a net annual increase in web sales of 27%.
- A B2B SaaS company offering task management software has landing pages that target different industries, from which they receive most of their organic traffic. After examining the performance of each of these pages, they notice that the page that targets manufacturing companies results in fewer conversions than other industry pages. Upon review, they find that while this manufacturing industry page successfully reaches production staff, it does not adequately target high-level decision makers who have the authority to trial a new process. Rewriting this page resulted in a 120% increase in manufacturing industry leads.
- An insurance startup offers 6 lines of insurance. From studying their SEO conversion funnel, they observed that one of their lines converts a surprising number of customers who type in simple, definitional searches (e.g. “what is X insurance?”) They hypothesized that the market’s confusion about that insurance line led to more sophisticated customers starting by defining the insurance itself. At the time, they only had a single page of their website dedicated to disambiguating that line. After that discussion, they experimented with adding more definitional-style pages to their content publishing calendar—an unintuitive strategy given that in most SEO campaigns, greater revenue results from visitors with a more transactional search intent.
The 5 Most Common SEO Conversion Funnels
While there are a huge variety of conversion funnels for content-rich websites (as SEO-focused websites should be), it’s usually an 80/20 situation where 80% of the time, visitors fall into one of a handful of different funnel varieties. Below, we’ve listed the 5 funnel types that are most common in well-functioning SEO campaigns. We begin by defining the typical click path of that funnel and then describe that site visitor’s behavior along the path.
Click Path: Service Landing Page > Features Landing Page > Contact Form
The most valuable conversion funnel in an SEO campaign is the one that begins with a serious prospective customer, ready to buy. They’ve typed in a transactional keyword and, depending on the length of the sales cycle, are either ready to reach out to a company in your space or are gathering names to present to other stakeholders before scheduling a meeting.
In this funnel, the average conversion rate between Service landing page and Features page is 19%; and between Features Page and the lead form is 8%.
Click Path: Blog Article > Services Page > About Page > Contact Form
In SEO campaigns, the Troubleshooter is the most common funnel. A visitor who has a specific problem they need to solve finds your blog article on Google, and realizes that your company might be able to solve that problem for them. They click over to your Services page, and then to your About page to learn more about your company. Finally, they fill out the contact form on your website so they can get in touch with you directly.
In this funnel, the average conversion rate between blog article and Service page is 9%; between Service page and About page is 21%; and between About Page and the lead form is 1.4%.
Click Path: Industry Landing Page > About Page > Services Page > Contact Form
In SEO campaigns, industry landing pages are created to receive visitors who want a firm that understands their particular industry. These visitors are typically experienced individuals who are seeking a company with knowledge of, and a successful track record in, their space. High-conversion website copy on industry landing pages describes the Veteran’s likely pain points and links to case studies in their industry. (The “About Page” step could easily be replaced by a case study.)
In this funnel, the average conversion rate between industry page and About page is 14%; between About page and Service page is 19%; and between Service page and the lead form is 5.5%.
Blog Article > White Paper > Email Form
This conversion path originates with blog articles that target more specialized keywords in technical industries (e.g. “pcb soldering temperature”). This visitor is not yet ready to make a buying decision, but if your blog article is insightful enough, it leads them to seek out more in-depth content, all the while increasing the positivity of your brand’s perception in their mind.
In this funnel, the average conversion rate between blog article and white paper is 13%; and from white paper to email form fill is 23%.
Blog Article > Blog Article > Case Study > Email Newsletter Signup
The learner is typically a person with a more junior role at their company, but who has influence on the decision maker. It’s best not to attempt to convert a person who wants to read lots of blog articles right away, but rather to push case studies and a newsletter signup CTA to them.
In this funnel, the average conversion rate between blog article and a second blog article is 12%; between blog article and case study is 28%; and between case study and newsletter signup form is 33%.
Filling and Optimizing Your SEO Conversion Funnel
The insights that come from understanding your site’s SEO conversion funnels will increase your organization’s marketing intelligence and ultimately, its decision making. But filling the funnel with targeted SEO traffic in the first place and optimizing each page’s UI & UX to increase its conversion are efforts all their own.
If you’re seeking a partner to help optimize your website’s conversion funnel, reach out. At First Page Sage, we have over a decade of experience using SEO to build automated lead generation systems for both midsize and enterprise companies.
Evan Bailyn is a bestselling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.