SEO Strategy:
Sales Prospect Perceives a Need

By James Atkinson, LLB and Sarah Jamieson

When do sales prospects perceive a need that eventually results in a purchase of products? The question is important because your SEO Strategy should be underpinned by the idea that search engines are used to solve problems or satisfy particular needs. The need always has a 'starting point' and an end point > the sale - and everything in-between is part of a search continuum.

You find the starting point > search continuum > and sales points through market segmentation research. Many search engine companies simply provide a 'technical' service when they do SEO - that is, they do keyword research and website structure but omit market segmentation. You can do SEO without market segmentation but the end result is not as effective as a SALES tool.

The prospect's desire must of its nature occur in the prospect’s MIND – so influences on the mind must have both external (environmental) and internal (psychological) factors. For more - see: Consumer Psychology and in particular "The Buyer's Mind".

The initial perception may not immediately translate to the desire for a product. In the beginning, it’s simply a desire, need, or problem that has to be solved. Humans being humans – the prospect, upon perceiving a need or problem, immediately sets out to SOLVE the problem or perceived need. It’s in our very nature to do so.

Knowing the prospects’ internal and external influences is important because you must persuade buyers at the psychological level before they’ll ever buy anything. What I am trying to say is that SEO is really made easier when you understand the search continuum of your market. I discuss the search continuum in the next article of this series.

External Influences on the Buyer’s Mind

I outline these external influences on the buyers mind because I believe it’s important to initially analyze your online market from the broadest perspective.

Clearly in any market, external influences play an important part in how a buyer thinks and feels about products and about buying in general:

SEO Strategy - External Influences

The image shows how external influences surround the buyer.

The Overarching Environment

This is the environment within which online buyers work & live and within which ALL internet players interact. For example, if you are marketing a financial product you certainly need to be mindful of the current global financial situation which would exert a powerful influence upon a buyer’s mind.

See also SEO Copywriting and in particular "Trust and Web Copywriting".

Online Communities

These are the online social communities which buyers join. The urge for people to belong & participate in "like minded" communities is strong.

Online Stakeholders

There are many stakeholders who compete for the buyer's mental "space": These include: your competition, service providers, search engines, PPC engines, directories, internet access & broadband providers, affiliates, keyword service providers, article directories, ad providers, list marketers, and so on.

Your eBusiness

Of course you own eBusiness and your various strategies to engage your market to buy particular products should be an important influence on buyers in your market.

Broadly then, it’s your job to show the prospect that your product/s SOLVE the problem or need. And to do so, you need to be aware of the various influences that occupy your buyer’s mental space.

Together with these external factors there are of course a number of internal, or psychological, factors that influence the online buyer.

Psychological Influences on the Buyer’s Mind

These internal influences are generated in the buyer’s OWN mind and include personal thoughts and feelings. Of course there are many factors that influence a person’s mind and I illustrate a few in the images above:

In other words, the analysis of your market should take into account buyers’ emotions, attitudes, their perception of where they FIT into a market (segmentation), and their self-concepts.

To assess the buyer’s emotions and the buyer’s attitude please refer to the above image - and in relation to perception and the buyer’s perceptions in the market and self-concept see: Consumer Psychology

One of the most important psychological inputs you’ll encounter as a marketer is the prospect’s SELF-CONCEPT. Buyers buy products because they want to feel good about themselves in a particular way.

This is the prospect’s way of solving a perceived problem or need. The product CONTRIBUTES to a prospect's positive sense of self-esteem or self-concept.

After the prospect perceives a need or desire he or she begins to search for a solution. The solution may be found online, offline, in a magazine ad, an article, in a newspaper – anywhere really. As an internet business of course you place your solutions for the prospect to find online.

How then do you find out the buyer mindset? To find out you must survey your market, conduct keyword research.

SEO Strategy > Prospects Perceive a Need > The Search Continuum >