Ecommerce marketers spend a lot of time thinking about the sales funnel. Search engine optimization plays a major role in filling that funnel at the various stages.

Search engine optimization greatly impacts the traditional AIDA sales funnel — awareness, interest, desire, action.
Search engine optimization greatly impacts the traditional AIDA sales funnel — awareness, interest, desire, action.

In aggregate, we can look at certain types of keyword searches that target content at different stages of the funnel. Some keyword types are better at awareness building for most searchers, while other keywords signal an intent to purchase.

Depending on the shopper, it’s possible that a single search for a specific phrase could trigger every stage of the funnel at once, from awareness to action. This is especially true of searches for a specific product, where the consumer has already done her homework and knows exactly what she wants to purchase, but not where. In that case, the steps of the funnel apply not to the product but to the ecommerce site.

For SEO, the key is where in that sales process you intercept a shopper as she’s searching.


Awareness is the most obvious stage of the funnel for SEO to play a role in. Searchers want something. They ask Google or another search engine to generate relevant sites. The search results are sometimes shoppers’ first exposure to your site. They may have never heard of your company before. That initial and extremely brief introduction is your first shot at seeding awareness.

It’s important to meet searchers where they are in the journey. At the awareness stage, they want information. The keywords that shoppers use to search are your entry into their awareness.

At this phase, we need to target informational, educational, or general product category keywords to make that critical first introduction to searchers.

For example, a shopper may want “gifts for men who have everything,” “how to build a retaining wall,” or “men’s shoes.” That’s a wide array of keywords. But they all are informational, educational, or related to the general product category. For any of these keywords, an ecommerce site could meet a prospect for the first time, generating awareness of its brand or product.

Awareness-building keywords can spawn other awareness keywords as the searcher swirls around the mouth of the funnel before dropping down to the next stage. For example,…