Why Marketers Should Prioritize Lower Funnel Keywords to Get Better Results

Don't stop at the top. Lower funnel keywords can help attract buyers more prepared to purchase.
Article Outline

Hitting the #1 position in search results is every SEO marketer’s dream.

With higher traffic and more page views, it’s only reasonable to expect a bump in conversions and sales. However, when that doesn’t happen, it leaves you asking: What went wrong? 

The answer is simple … not all traffic is good traffic. 

We’ll give you an example. 

Act-On characters fill the sales and marketing funnel to illustrate the concept of lower funnel keywords.
Lower funnel keywords are an often neglected SEO strategy for marketers.

We have a Yahoo mail blog that has scored high-traffic keywords for almost a decade. At one point, we were in the top five search results for the term “Yahoo mail.” But here’s the question. 

What is the search intent of those visitors? 

It’s murky, isn’t it? 

One thing is for sure, though: search intent isn’t aligned with marketing automation, which is what we do here at Act-On. The challenge is that fragmented intent doesn’t deliver targeted traffic. 

And that brings us to strategically aligning keywords with the marketing funnel and, more specifically, lower funnel keywords. 

Marketing Funnels and Keyword Research 

As you probably know, there are three stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. When creating content, you want to align your content with specific stages in the customer journey and strategically choose keywords based on that. 

We’d argue that when you can sprinkle in solid bottom-of-the-funnel keywords, you’ll get more focused and profitable traffic. Here’s a quick breakdown of the stages to better understand the value of lower funnel keywords. 

Top of Funnel: Awareness

Let’s kick things off with an example. A B2B marketer is struggling to do more with less. At this stage, the marketer is learning, researching, and becoming aware of potential solutions. An example of top-of-the-funnel keywords she might search include “How to improve marketing productivity” or “How to scale a marketing department.” 

Middle of Funnel: Consideration 

Staying with the same example, the marketer decides she is interested in marketing automation. She narrows potential options by visiting provider websites, reading third-party reviews, talking with peers, and possibly attending trade shows to check out solutions in person. At this stage, she might search for “Top marketing automation solutions.” 

Bottom of Funnel: Decision

The buyer has finally reached the last stage in her journey. She has thoroughly researched solutions and is close to making a decision. At this point, she might search for lower funnel keywords such as “How to buy a marketing automation solution” or “What to look for in a marketing automation demo.” 

A man with binoculars searches for lower funnel keywords while smiling at the camera, in black and white, surrounded by rainbow outlines
Seeking out lower funnel keywords takes a little more effort, but it’s worth the reward.

SEO Funnel and Bottom-of-Funnel Keywords

Certainly, keywords at all stages of the buying cycle are important — from top funnel keywords to lower funnel keywords. But oftentimes marketers use SEO for the top and middle of the funnel, but not as much for the bottom of the funnel. And the reason we love terms at the bottom of the funnel is that prospects are very close to purchasing. With B2B sales cycles getting longer, this is a critical point. 

So, where do you start? 

First, select a “seed word.” This word is a general term that describes your topic. For the above example, we might select “marketing automation.”  

Type the term into your SEO research tool (we use SEMRush, but there are plenty of others — Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, and more). Look for long-tail keywords, which are expanded and targeted phrases. For example, “marketing automation” is a seed word, but “how to purchase marketing automation tools” is a long-tail keyword. 

Seed keywordLong-tail keyword
Marketing automationHow to purchase marketing automation tools
Email marketing platformEmail marketing platform demos 
Marketing analyticsHow to buy a marketing analytics platform 

In addition to choosing long-tail keywords, you’ll also want to look for words that signal intent to purchase. A few examples: 

  • Buy
  • Book
  • Test 
  • Hire 

Here is how those words might be used in a long-tail keyword: 

  • How to buy marketing automation tools
  • How to book a marketing automation demo
  • How to test marketing automation software
  • The best way to hire a marketing automation expert 

You get the point. But the key thing to remember is that with these keywords, the audience is signaling they’re very close to purchase. 

Intent wordLower funnel keyword phrases 
BuyHow to buy marketing automation tools
BookHow to book a marketing automation demo
TestHow to test marketing automation software
Hire The best way to hire a marketing automation expert 

Publishing Bottom-of-Funnel Content and Keyword Funnels 

When planning your content, decide where the content fits into the customer journey. Does an asset support awareness, consideration, or decision? Once you do this, you can align the content with the right keywords. 

A few bottom-of-the-funnel content examples:

  • White papers
  • Comparison/spec sheets
  • Webinars
  • Demos and free trials 

For example, let’s say you create a webinar featuring industry experts giving their insights about what to look for in a marketing automation demo. The content includes insider expertise, current research, and more. Screams bottom of the funnel, right? 

After the webinar, you repurpose the content into a blog post featuring highlights from the event, and you use those bottom-of-the-funnel keywords (e.g., “How to buy a marketing automation platform”).

It’s also worth mentioning that your bottom-of-the-funnel content should always have a strategic CTA. What do you want your audience to do? Some options for bottom-of-the-funnel CTAs include scheduling a demo or signing up for a free trial. Whatever action you choose, make sure it moves the prospect closer to the purchase finish line. 

A woman in black and white, outlined with rainbow colors, looks off into the distance at her laptop, satisfied with the lower funnel keywords she's found.
There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes when you use lower funnel keywords to attract new buyers.

Landing More Targeted Traffic with Lower Funnel Keywords

If your marketing goals include increasing website traffic and conversions, integrating bottom-of-the-funnel keywords into your content is a powerful strategy. Sure, you might pass on keywords that have the potential to bring 5,000+ visitors to your site monthly. But are they the right visitors? If not, a keyword that brings 300 targeted, bottom-of-the-funnel visitors is way more valuable, right?

And we realize that, yes, SEO can be confusing. Consider starting small, experimenting, measuring results, and pivoting if needed. You can also leverage resources like Act-On’s SEO audit tool to more effectively optimize content and improve search engine rankings. And if you need a little extra SEO guidance, check out our comprehensive guide, which helps untangle the most common marketing questions around SEO to get you on the right track to meeting your goals.

What's New?