Part Two: Understanding Search Intent and How to Drive More People to Your Business Using a Sales Funnel

By Hâfi Martinsdóttir

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes | 1183 words

This article part TWO of an 8-part course titled “How to get your hospitality business found locally online”


Search Intent – what someone types into the search bar when looking for results, ie. “coffee shop near me” or “how to make the best coffee”
SERPSearch Engine Results Page, the results that show up when you type something into the search bar

In the second part of our series: How to Get Your Hospitality Business Found Locally Online we will dive a little deeper into search intent and cover how to drive more traffic to your business using a sales funnel.

Understanding the search engine results page (SERP)

It’s important to research the variety of search intents that might relate to your business offering. For example, someone typing “how to make coffee” into Google might hope to see relevant video tutorials at the top of the search results (SERP).

"How to make coffee" search query & the SERP results. Top ranking: video

But if you type in “coffee filter” you are more likely to see a row of coffee filter products for sale.

"Coffee filters" search query & the SERP results. Top ranking: products

And if you type in a more general search such as “coffee” then chances are you’ll be presented with a list of local coffee shops.

"Coffee" search query & the SERP results. Top ranking: locations

It’s important that we can understand what a person is looking for when searching for your business. Depending on what your services are, should you be aiming to show up in video search results, product and shopping results, or local destination results?

What are people typing into Google when looking for businesses like yours?

Understanding Search Intent

There are three different ways to define search intent, Informational, Transactional and Navigational. So, using the previous example, the “how to make coffee” search would be an Informational search intent. Meaning the person searching for answers had the intent to find information.

The “coffee filter” was a Transactional search intent and was aimed at finding a product to purchase.

Finally, the “coffee” search was a Navigational search intent in order to find the nearest coffee shop with the help of a map.

If your business is a hotel then chances are that you’ll want to show up in the Navigational search query via a map. But if you teach a particular skill you may want to focus on producing more video content to boost your chances of being ranked higher as often, you’ll see that it’s video content that performs best for Informational search queries.

89% of purchases start with a search query, meaning that your target market is already researching all of their options online before they take the next step and interact with your brand. At this stage they will likely be asking Google lots of questions to try to define what it is that they need to solve their problem, to find out what is available to them. We need to think like them and understand what it is they are typing into the search engines in order to find our business.

Sales Funnel

The sales funnel starts when someone enters a query into a search engine (when someone Google’s something) and ends when they “purchase”. The purchase moment/result can be when someone has fulfilled an action thanks to the sales funnel guiding them to do so. This could be placing a phone call, purchasing a product or booking a room at a particular hotel.

The Sales Funnel from initial search through to purchase

When designing your sales funnel it’s important to consider each step along the funnel from which questions are being asked at the beginning to which end result do you desire the person searching to take. What might your target market’s journey through your sales funnel look like? What sort of questions might they be asking? What sort of phrases might come up?

At the beginning (top of the sales funnel), when people start searching a particular query they are generally trying to understand how to define their problem, through asking questions. They likely won’t be using advanced technical terminology or branded terminology. More commonly they will be asking questions such as “how do I do this?”, “what is this?” or “why is this?”.

Towards the middle of the funnel we are more likely to see people researching different solutions and comparing “this versus that” with regards to pricing, quality, locality etc. to find the best path forward. This is when technological terminology might appear as they grow more confident in what exactly they are looking for.

As we approach the bottom end of the sales funnel we are more likely to see branded terminology as the field narrows down to individual business level and might include them comparing businesses to see which meets their criteria.

It’s important to remember that competition increases the further down the sales funnel we get. The closer people get to the “purchase” stage, there is generally an increase in adverts and your competition will be displayed alongside your business. This is where your keywords will have the most competition, which is why it’s important to try to rank for keywords that might appear at various stages of the funnel.

Informational search intent tends to be at the top of the search funnel as people learn more about what they need. Transactional search intent tends to be more at the middle and end of the sales funnel as people consider a purchase. Navigational search intent is most likely to be at the bottom of the funnel as people are more likely to take action when looking for a business’ location, website or contact information

The different stages of search intent: Informational, Transactional & Navigational

Navigational search intent leans heavily towards a direct action being taken by the people searching at this end of the sales funnel. A particular study by Yext’s Location Lounge showed that 76% of location searches resulted in a same-day store visit.

To do list:

  • Do a few Google searches as if you were someone looking for your services, what kind of results come up? Video, products, a map? This should dictate the type of content you focus on putting out as it is the most popular and most likely to rank higher in the search results.
  • Write down the various questions and phrases that someone might type into Google to find your services. Remember that at the beginning of the search phase (at the top of your funnel) they likely won’t be using technological or branded terminology.
  • What sort of queries might a user type into Google if they are in the middle of your funnel? This might start to include some technological terminology.
  • Towards the bottom of your funnel, it’s likely that the person searching is more confident of what they are looking for and will be using technological and branded terminology. What sort of phrases might they be searching for now when looking for your business?
  • Of the three lists you have written, what are the keywords and phrases that keep appearing? Perhaps they change as you move down the funnel. Make a note of these words and phrases. Optimise your Google My Business listing bio by using these words within it naturally (avoid keyword stuffing at all costs) and use them to guide the keyword strategy for your website’s content.

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In part three...

… we will cover the common issues you might face when improving your local SEO and optimising your Google My Business listing.

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