The synergy of customer journey mapping and ecommerce SEO


Online shopping is a dynamic experience for customers, sparked by the awareness of a specific need or desire.

As explored in “Mapping the customer journey for SEO and marketing success,” understanding your customers’ purchase path is vital. 

This article explores the intricate relationship between customer journey mapping and SEO’s role in optimizing strategies for ecommerce.

From B2B to ecommerce: Navigating the customer journey

The customer’s buying journey begins with recognizing a gap in the customer’s daily experience, such as a missing item, a lifestyle upgrade, or a solution to a workplace challenge.

In my previous article, “B2B SaaS SEO: Mapping your keywords to the customer journey,” I discussed strategically influencing B2B SaaS customer journeys through keyword analysis and content tagging.

Ecommerce might seem different, but it’s often quite similar, especially when buyers are thinking about expensive items like furniture or home decor.

The ecommerce customer journey encompasses the complete end-to-end experience, starting from the first interaction with a brand’s online store and culminating in the final purchase. 

Understanding the five stages – Awareness, Consideration, Solution Selection, Conversion, Service, and Loyalty – is crucial. It highlights that the customer journey goes beyond the purchase, with service and loyalty being essential components.

What is a customer journey map for ecommerce?

An ecommerce customer journey map is a visual guide showing a customer’s entire experience with an online store, from the first interaction to the final purchase and beyond. It helps businesses understand and improve the different touchpoints and interactions customers have during their buying journey. 

Creating this map provides insights into customer behavior, preferences, and challenges. This information enables businesses to customize their marketing, products, and support to enhance the customer experience.

SEO within the 5 stages of the ecommerce funnel

In ecommerce, understanding the intricacies of the buyer’s journey is paramount, and SEO plays a pivotal role in each conversion funnel stage.

Let’s delve into how SEO strategically aligns with the five stages to enhance the online shopping experience and boost sales.

1. Awareness of need

  • The funnel starts with the awareness stage, where potential customers first encounter your brand or products. SEO practices can be used to captivate potential customers. 
  • These strategies elevate visibility through search engines, social media, and referrals, laying a robust foundation for a successful buyer’s journey.

2. Consideration

  • SEO enters the spotlight during consideration as consumers actively research and evaluate various products or services. 
  • Tactics include optimizing product pages and enhancing the overall user experience. 

3. Conversion

  • The conversion stage, where a visitor takes a desired action, is crucial in the funnel.
  • User-friendly checkout processes and persuasive product descriptions significantly contribute to conversion success.

4. Solution selection

  • Users seeking validation from friends or significant others look for content justifying their spending, emphasizing pricing and overall value. 
  • Some decide quickly, but high-priced stuff or unclear product pages can slow down the process.
  • Your content here is like a supportive friend, giving reassurance just like when someone says, “That dress looks great on you” while shopping. 
  • User reviews, reports, or influencer videos replace the friend’s feedback, helping them decide.

5. Retention

  • Post-purchase, the focus shifts to customer retention, an essential aspect for long-term success and brand loyalty. 
  • Consider maintaining communication, providing excellent customer service, and potentially offering incentives for repeat business. 
  • These tactics fortify the relationship between the customer and the brand, fostering loyalty and sustained engagement.

Bonus: Advocacy

  • In the advocacy stage, satisfied customers transform into brand advocates. 
  • You can harness positive experiences through reviews, testimonials, and word-of-mouth referrals. 
  • SEO-driven advocacy strategies contribute to new customer acquisition and fuel your ecommerce business’s overall growth.

Dig deeper: Ecommerce SEO & UX: 4 simple tips to boost traffic and sales


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Tagging keywords in the ecommerce customer journey

Understanding your customer’s journey is crucial as you embark on the process of tagging keywords for your ecommerce platform. 

Following the step-by-step guide in keyword tagging for B2B, here’s how to tag your keywords for an ecommerce site that sells sneakers using Google Sheets.  

Product keywords

Creating a ‘Journey stages’ tab with data validation

  • Introduce a tab outlining the customer journey stages and use it as a data validation drop-down for easy selection. 
  • This aids collaboration with different teams, ensuring a shared understanding of the process and guidance for each stage.

Customer journey stages

Utilizing the ‘Stages’ tab for keyword tagging

  • Make the “Stages” tab a data validation drop-down in your spreadsheet for efficient keyword tagging. This ensures that each keyword is associated with a specific stage in the customer journey. 
  • In my example, I focus on the stages leading up to the purchase decision:
    • Awareness of need
    • Consideration
    • Solution selection
    • Conversion

Keyword tagging

With the setup complete, it’s time to start tagging your ecommerce keywords. Despite the potentially overwhelming task, the process becomes smoother as you identify words or phrases aligning with distinct stages.

For example, in an ecommerce scenario, offering various terms like “best,” or “reviews,” may belong to the “Consideration” stage, and keywords that include brand names with the product name indicate a commitment to purchase.

Once you have followed the first few steps in keyword tagging, you should have a tab for “Stages” and the column next to “Volume” to start tagging. 

Here’s where ecommerce keyword tagging can go quicker than tagging for B2B. You can simply create a formula to figure out your tagging for you.

Set up a “Filter” in your spreadsheet, sort by common words, and tag keywords accordingly. 

For example, I created a tag in my Google Sheet for a word count since most searches with one word will be a broad or “awareness of need” stage search. Using the formula:

=LEN(A2)-LEN(SUBSTITUTE((A2), " ", ""))+1    

(Note: Substitute “A2” for the keyword cell.) 

For each word in a separate column, I can then use an “IF” formula saying that any keyword with one word equals “1 – Awareness of Need” and any keyword with two words equals “2 – Consideration.”

But we still have those brand/product-specific searches, which ultimately mean the user is ready to purchase. 

So in my “IF” formula, I include that any mention from the list of brands equals “4 – Conversion”, with the remaining keywords being in the “3 – Solution Selection” stage. 

Thus, the formula should look like this:

=IF(ARRAYFORMULA(PROPER(IFNA(REGEXEXTRACT(LOWER(A4), LOWER(TEXTJOIN("|", 1, Brands))))))<>"",Stage!$A$5,IF(D4=1,Stage!$A$2,IF(D4=2,Stage!$A$3,Stage!$A$4)))

Ecommerce keyword tagging - sneakersEcommerce keyword tagging - sneakers

You can access the Google Sheet I created, make a copy (please don’t request access), and play around with the data as needed. 

Once you have a handle on the keywords and their stage, you can use the data to start making smart marketing decisions and content that speaks to your audience. 

The part of understanding your buyer’s journey for ecommerce as opposed to B2B goes beyond tagging and the stages themselves. 

Users need more support from your website in an ecommerce environment. Meanwhile, B2B users get support from the sales team they interact with. 

That means there should be much more consideration of the content being created for ecommerce than for B2B. 

Actionable tips for each stage of the ecommerce customer journey 

Mastering the ecommerce customer journey involves navigating the entire online purchasing process. Touchpoints span from initial awareness to eventual retention, encompassing social media ads, website interactions, and product searches. 

Because there’s no direct interaction with a salesperson, your content must convincingly guide them, assuring them of a smart purchase decision and the trustworthiness of your website.

Improve customer delight

How it relates to SEO: Enhancing customer delight positively impacts website engagement metrics, a crucial factor in SEO algorithms. Engaging content and positive user experiences contribute to higher rankings.

  • Offer unique rewards, events, and surprises to create memorable experiences.
  • Foster a sense of community around your brand.

Create FOMO

How it relates to SEO: Urgency created through “fear of missing out” (FOMO) tactics can boost click-through rates and time spent on your site, signaling relevance to search engines.

  • Highlight limited product quantities and showcase customer activity.
  • Utilize timers for sales and emphasize scarcity to drive urgency.

Conduct surveys

How it relates to SEO: Understanding user preferences through surveys aids in tailoring content, potentially increasing organic traffic as your site becomes more aligned with user intent.

  • Collect feedback through online and in-person surveys for personalized improvements

Raise social proof

How it relates to SEO: Positive customer reviews and testimonials contribute to a positive online reputation, a factor that search engines consider in rankings.

  • Showcase customer testimonials and encourage user-generated content on social media.

Personalize every touchpoint

How it relates to SEO: Personalization enhances user experience, contributing to lower bounce rates and higher session durations, positively influencing SEO.

  • Tailor offerings based on customer data and deploy exit pop-ups for personalized interactions.

Dig deeper: How to make your ecommerce content more helpful

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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