The two main things that people use the major search engines for are research (finding information) and making purchases. The two concepts are driven by two distinctively different types of search phrases and mindsets.

The Keyword Search Phrase Process

The Internet is a tool that can be used to learn however, in this same concept you need to understand that there is a learning process visitors go through before making purchases online as well.

Below is an example of the learning process your average visitor will go through before making the final search to buy a product or service.

In this example we will look at websites and keyword phrases for “mailboxes”. We will put ourselves into the mind frame of the actual searcher to understand the types of keyword phrases used and what each type means.

Phase 1: The Initial Search Phrase – “Mailboxes”

Can Be Way Too General

This initial “single” word search is usually done to see what types of websites are online that provide information about mailboxes as well as potential websites that may sell mailboxes.

This search does not predict any motivation or education to make a purchase and usually returns websites that the search engines deem to be “authority” sites or leaders in this industry.

As we visit the sites available on the 1st, 2nd (and sometimes 3rd) pages of the search engine listing results we begin viewing types of mailboxes and learning the industry “jargon”, the types of terms used by the industry  leaders that describes the type of mailboxes available.

We may discover that there are key terms we should consider for us to move forward and find mailboxes that would be viable for a purchase such as “residential mailboxes” or “commercial mailboxes”.  Once we see there is a distinct difference in mailbox types, we are now ready to make a more informed search.

Avoid Targeting “Single” Word Phrases During SEO

If you are a website owner involved in a search engine optimization campaign and you sell mailboxes, your site should have the words “mailbox” and “mailboxes” naturally throughout the content already. There is no benefit in targeting these “single” word phrases in your campaign since the search engines tend to “throw out” one word phrases when reviewing keyword phrases within your content for potential rankings.

The search engines reserve these types of single word phrases for the industry leaders (the authority websites). Although you may feel you want to target these single word phrases, they will not necessarily increase your traffic or sales.

Attaining top rankings on single word phrases takes years of aggressive marketing including (but not limited to) targeted/topical inbound linking, continual topically related content creation, online networking in industry related open discussion sites, etc. The bottom line is that targeting these types of single word phrases in your organic search engine optimization campaign can be an exercise in futility.

Phase 2: “Two Word” Terms Such As “Residential Mailboxes”

Still May Not Be Specific Enough

The use of a “two word’ keyword phrase in a search indicates that the searcher is more informed and understands that there is more than one type of mailbox available.

In this case, we, as the searcher, have determined that the “commercial mailboxes” are not something that will meet our needs. What we really want are “residential mailboxes”.

For now, even this two word phrase “residential mailboxes” is still a research type of phrase (a generic information gathering phrase) that we will use to find and view the “types” of residential mailboxes available.

We can see that the websites we find in our search for “residential mailboxes” are more in line with what we need and we begin to notice the distinct differences in the types of residential mailboxes that are available.
We discover that there are many types of residential mailboxes including “recessed”, “mail slots”, “horizontal”, “wall mounted”, “curbside” and more!

We are now in a better position to refine our search and select the actual type of mailbox that fits our specific needs in order to make a purchase.

Generic “Two Word” Phrases Are Not the Best Choices for SEO

If you are a website owner involved in a search engine optimization campaign and you sell residential mailboxes, this “two word” keyword phrase may still be too general to target in your search engine optimization campaign (although it is a much better choice than a “single” word phrase).

You should however, ensure that you have this two word keyword phrase on all your pages that are actually about residential mailboxes. The search engines will increase your rankings for this phrase if your site is indeed about residential mailboxes and as they see how it is related to the other content/ pages and products that are offered on your website.  Variations of this phrase should also commonly occur throughout your website naturally.

Phase 3:  “Multiple” Word Phrases That Are Specific

Such As “Wall Mounted Residential Mailbox”

This “multiple word” keyword phrase is far more specific yet even it can have quite a few variations.
The more educated a searcher becomes in their search efforts the more adept the searcher becomes at finding the specific item that  they are looking for, which in turn brings them that much closer to making a purchasing decision.

These types of searchers are considered to be highly qualified and highly motivated traffic; the very type of visitors that website owners want to attract to their website since these types of visitors are more likely to make a purchasing decision.

The following are the types of “multiple word” keyword phrases that these types of searchers use to find what they are looking for (and the best types of keyword phrases that a website owner may want to target in their search engine optimization campaign):

  • residential wall mounted mailbox
  • wall mount mailbox
  • residential wall mount mail box
  • wall mounted mail boxes
  • wall mounted mailboxes for home use
  • private mailbox wall mount
  • private wall mount mailbox
  • wall-mounted mailbox for private residence

There are probably 10 to 20 other variations that a searcher could potentially use but the key points to remember here are:

  1. This visitor is much more informed and much closer to making a purchase now
  2. You may want to ensure that these phrases and variations of these phrases are in your content but if its sales you are going after then you’ll want to concentrate your efforts further down the search cycle.

Specific “Multiple Word” Phrases Are Good Choices for SEO

If you are a website owner involved in a search engine optimization campaign and you sell residential mailboxes, these types of “multiple word” keyword phrases should be included in your SEO campaign.
These types of keyword phrases are definitely related (and remain a key component of) residential mailboxes.

Your content/ pages and products that offer wall mounted mailboxes should be labeled as such.
Whether they are informational pages or actual product pages, the more web pages that you on this specific type of residential mailbox the better your chances that the search engines will determine how well your web pages will rank for this particular phrase.

Phase 4:  Very Specific Keyword Phrases Such As “Aluminum Residential Wall Mount Mailbox”

When a searcher is armed with the knowledge that they need a residential mailbox for their home that can be wall mounted (as opposed to a mailbox with a post or a mail slot – drop slot) and one that fits with the style of their home, their neighborhood and preferences; the searcher is are now ready to the final purchase decision about what type of residential wall mount mailbox they actually want.

They will refine their search to visit the top sites that meet their specific criteria such as:

1.    Colors-white, black, multicolored, decorative
2.    Materials-aluminum, stainless steel, brass
3.    Types-standard, horizontal, vertical
4.    Brands/Model Numbers
5.    Style-contemporary, ranch, modern, traditional
6.    Accessories-locks, newspaper holders, package holder, top drop slot, water resistant

At this point, the research portion of the search is now over. It is now all about the searcher preference and own individual style, likes and dislikes.

For website owners that sell residential mailboxes and are involved in a search engine optimization campaign, these specific keyword phrases that incorporate specific criteria used by the searcher are the types of terms you want to target with your SEO.

These types of searches are done by the searcher who knows exactly what they want; a mailbox for a residential area that can be wall mounted and preferably made out of steel (or bronze, brass etc.). The key here is that this type of visitor has educated himself (or herself) based on searches, gathering information from the sites they have visited and preparing to make a more knowledgeable, more informed final search.
Selecting keywords throughout the entire buying cycle would ensure that you receive visitors who are researching for a future purchase as well as those who are ready to purchase now.

Your keyword selection should not be based solely on the total number of visitors who search for that term but based on where that term is located within the buying cycle.