SEO Funnels – How To Develop A Roadmap of  Exceptional Content

by Toby

December 5, 2022

SEO Funnels - How To Get More Leads

What is an SEO funnel, and why do you need one?

An SEO funnel is a conversion funnel built with website content created around different keywords and topics that a customer searches for as she moves through the different funnel stages. The different stages of the funnel are Awareness (or top of the funnel), Interest and Decision (Middle of the Funnel), and finally, Action (bottom of the funnel).

You need a search funnel to capture more organic traffic, which leads to more sales and higher profit margins from your SEO efforts. Leads coming from organic search often have higher conversion rates and better ROI than any other marketing channel (related post here on the ROI of SEO) . We know the searcher is interested in our products and services because they had to type in search terms. No other marketing channel provides access to a steady stream of pre-qualified customers. Search funnels help reduce your reliance on Google Ads.

If you prefer to watch a video, click below.

Benefits of Creating a Search Funnel

With a search funnel, you create a steady stream of organic “free” traffic that is on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With SEO-optimized content created at all levels of your sales funnel, leads and sales will grow far beyond a less organized SEO content strategy. And your ROI on investing in SEO will skyrocket and likely become your most profitable marketing channel. 

Read our SEO Case Studies to learn more.

The Purpose of a Search Funnel

A search funnel guides prospects through the purchase journey, from awareness to decision. By understanding the various stages of the funnel, businesses can create targeted content and offers that speak to the unique needs of each step. And with lots of quality content, your website grows its authority with Google and its trustworthiness with consumers.

SEO funnels also help businesses track their progress and help to identify where prospects are dropping off so that they can make adjustments. But, most importantly, funnels provide a framework for consistent, repeatable sales. In other words, they turn one-time buyers into lifelong fans. 

Stages of A Traditional Sales Funnel

Sales funnel levels have distinct stages. A commonly used sales funnel in marketing is known as AIDA - awareness, interest, decision, and action. 

Funnel SEO - AIDA

Funnel SEO - AIDA

Funnel SEO - AIDA

Funnel SEO - AIDA

The AIDA model is often used in marketing and advertising to create a step-by-step path that moves potential customers from initial awareness of a product or service to taking action and becoming a paying customer.

So, Where Is SEO In the Funnel?

SEO is instrumental at all levels of a sales funnel, not just one specific area because it aligns with the customer's journey from discovery to decision. 

At the top of the funnel, SEO helps raise awareness and captures the attention of potential customers who are in the initial stages of seeking information.

In the middle of the funnel, SEO aids in consideration and evaluation by providing more detailed and comparative content that matches refined search queries. This can include product reviews, tutorials, or case studies, all optimized for relevant keywords.

Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, SEO helps drive conversion and purchase decisions by optimizing content that answers more specific, intent-driven queries. It ensures that when a customer is ready to buy, your product is easily found and favorably presented.

So, SEO isn't a one-and-done strategy; it's a holistic approach that supports the customer's journey at every stage.

In the case of SEO, however, this means creating content around the topics and questions people have at each customer journey level.

But in the world of Funnel SEO, a more effective way to categorize search terms along the customer journey is the following:

  • Informational
  • Navigational
  • Commerical
  • Transactional
SEO Funnel

SEO Funnel

SEO Funnel

SEO Funnel

Here’s a simple example that illustrates how the search words and intent change as the customer moves from top to bottom of the funnel. 

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Search Funnel Example

Let’s take the example of a customer avatar for a med spa that we’ll call Tattoo Tom, who lives in San Diego. 

When Tattoo Tom was young and in his early 20’s, he acquired numerous tattoos. But now that Tattoo Tom is in his 40s, has settled down with a family, and has an office job, he wants to remove the tattoos for various reasons. 

The Search Begins with Informational Searches

Tattoo Tom goes to Google to learn more about how to get tattoos removed. He begins his search in Google using Informational queries like “how to remove tattoos,” “tattoo removal before and after,” or “benefits of tattoo removal.” At this stage, Tattoo Tom is collecting as much information as possible to better understand his options. 

Commercial Searches - Mid-Funnel Searches

Now that he better understands how tattoo removal works, his searches shift to Commercial intent.

Tattoo Tom goes back to Google and types in “tattoo removal services near me” and “best tattoo removal in San Diego.”  At this stage, our future customer is making notes of the local med spa companies offering this service, along with checking prices and reading reviews. 

Transactional Searches - Bottom-of-the-Funell. The Final Stage To Conversion

And finally, Tattoo Tom searches using Transactional oriented keywords for specific companies he learned about higher up in the funnel. So he searches for “San Diego Laser Tattoo Removal Institute” and other similar searches and books an initial consultation. 

So as you can see it demonstrated in the above example, if you have content from top to bottom of the funnel, you can capture more search traffic and nurture prospects through to a conversion. You become the trusted guide on the customer’s journey (related post here on medical spa SEO).

How Search Volume and Competition Changes

As you go from the top to the bottom of the funnel, the search volume decreases, and the competition increases. Competition increases as you move down the funnel because the intent of the searches has more economic value. And thus, the keywords are more competitive at the bottom of the funnel and are harder to rank for. The bottom of the funnel is also where most companies spend the majority of their Google Ads (PPC) budgets.

Keyword Variations at Different Levels of the Funnel

Below are search examples for three different services at the different stages of the SEO Funnel. Notice how the searches change.

Top of the Funnel - Informational Search Examples

Night guard/dental guard company: 

  • Causes of bruxism
  • Causes of jaw pain
  • What is bruxism?

Or for a med spa that offers tattoo removal services:  

  • How to get a tattoo removed?
  • Is it dangerous to remove a tattoo?
  • How does tattoo removal work?

A personal injury law firm:

  • How to choose the right personal injury lawyer?
  • When to hire a personal injury lawyer?
  • How much to ask for in a personal injury settlement?

(Related posts on personal injury lawyer SEO)

Navigational Search Examples

Searches at this level are people looking for a specific page or website.  

Night guard/dental guard company: 

  • Night guard CVS
  • Night guard Walmart
  • Walgreens night guard

For a med spa that offers tattoo removal services:

  • Groupon Tattoo Removal
  • Atlantic laser tattoo removal
  • Removery tattoo removal and fading

A personal injury law firm:

  • San Francisco personal injury attorney Dolan law
  • Cellino law personal injury attorneys
  • Florida personal injury law team

Commercial Intent Search Examples

The intent of these searches are customers that want to learn more about brands or services.

Night guard/dental guard company: 

  • Night guard for TMJ
  • Best night guard for teeth grinding
  • Night guards for clenching

For a med spa that offers tattoo removal services:

  • Tattoo removal service
  • Tattoo laser removal
  • Best tattoo removal laser

A personal injury law firm:

  • Law firm personal injury
  • San Diego personal injury law firms
  • Top personal injury law firms

Bottom-of-the-Funnel: Transactional Search Phrases

These types of searches are from people that want to complete a conversion action or buy. Keep in mind that search phrases can also fall into multiple funnel categories. 

Night guard/dental guard company: 

  • Custom night guard
  • Soft night guard
  • Lower teeth night guard

For a med spa that offers tattoo removal services:

  • Tattoo removal near me
  • Tattoo removal near me cost
  • Groupon tattoo removal

A personal injury law firm:

  • Cellino law personal injury lawyers
  • Personal injury lawyer near me
  • Personal injury law firm near me

Hundreds of different types of searches for your industry fall into each level of the sales funnel.  And don’t forget all the various questions people ask Google daily. These questions can be used as FAQs and marked up in schema code to rank in position zero with a Google Featured Snippet (read more here about how to boost rankings with SERP features and another post on maximizing your exposure to zero-click searches). And remember that 15% of the searches Google sees in a day it has never seen before. So if you’re not producing content regularly, you will miss out on this goldmine of searchers. 

And by using internal linking between content at different levels of the funnel (read our related post on using internal linking for SEO), you boost your SEO authority, improve the rankings of pages, and capture more traffic from top to bottom of the funnel. You want to become the go-to source for as much information for your customers as possible. In addition, this strategy creates increasing mindshare and brand awareness with prospects that your competitors are missing out on.

How to create an SEO funnel for your business


Identify Your Customer Segments

Be clear about who your customers are. You have multiple customer segments. How they search and what they search for varies greatly. Your SEO research and content should reflect these nuances. 


Develop Your Content Roadmap

Content marketing drives all your traffic. Brainstorm all the keywords and topics customers search for at each funnel level. Then, create a Google Sheet with tabs for Informational, Navigational, Commercial, and Transactional queries. (This is a good read on how to choose keywords for SEO).

Paid SEO tools can help immensely with this task. Our go-to SEO workhorse tool is SEM Rush (affiliate link - this is our go-to SEO tool). SEM Rush provides everything you need to execute on and create a profitable data-driven SEO funnel.

Below is an example:

SEO Funnel - SEO Tools to Help Build Funnel

SEO Tools like SEM Rush Help Build SEO Funnels

SEO Funnel - SEO Tools to Help Build Funnel

SEO Tools like SEM Rush Help Build SEO Funnels

Above I have searched using the topic of “tattoo removal.” And then filtered for terms at the Transactional stage of the funnel. However, I could have easily filtered for Informational, Commerical, and Navigational queries to identify topics to write about at each stage. 

And then, notice that I could click on Questions and filter this list by questions only - helping to generate even more content ideas. So, again, this is an invaluable tool.

But if you’re on a tight budget, there are free tools you can use. These include Google Ads Keyword Planner, Google Trends (related post here on how to use Google Trends for market research), Google Search Console, and regular Google searches. These free tools are not as comprehensive nor as deep on actionable search insights and will take more time, but it’s possible to create a plan using them. 


Writing Your Content - Create an SEO Blueprint

Competing online is relative to the competitive environment for that particular search phrase. So understanding what the top 10 ranking pages are writing is where you must start. 

So create an SEO writing blueprint for each keyword phrase or topic you’re writing about. 

As in step 2, you can do this for free without SEO tools or with SEO tools.

Without SEO tools, you perform a Google search incognito and make notes on the top 10 pages ranking for that keyword. Here’s what to make notes of. (Read our article on Blog Post Workflow for SEO, how content marketing plus SEO skyrockets leads, and our article on WordPress category SEO).

  • Word count - what is the average among the top 10 pages? This gives you an approximate idea of how much content the ranking pages use to cover the topic. A word of caution, when you write your content, don’t go overboard with your writing either by writing too much on-page content - too much content can hurt your SEO in some cases. (read my related post about how long content affects readability and SEO).
  • Subtopics - what are the subtopics the competitors are writing about related to the primary keyword? We often refer to these as semantically related terms. However, Google understands searchers are looking for specific sub-topics related to the primary keyword. Note these and incorporate them into your outline and page content.
  • Keyword Usage - how are the ranking pages using the primary keyword? A guideline for your primary keyword is to use it once in the headline and another time in the article depending on the length. There are no hard and fast rules. But write naturally and for humans, and you should be in good shape. Avoid keyword stuffing and anything that is unnatural. 

If you have an SEO tool like SEM Rush, you can create these blueprints quickly at scale. SEO tools save you enormous amounts of time, but the good ones are not cheap. 

Here’s an example using SEM Rush (our go-to SEO tool, affiliate link)

SEO Funnel - On-Page SEO Blueprint

SEO Funnel - On-Page SEO Blueprint

SEO Funnel - On-Page SEO Blueprint

SEO Funnel - On-Page SEO Blueprint

And when you create content for your SEO funnel at all levels, you can link between articles and feed your visitors precisely what they are looking at each stage, increasing the likelihood they stay on your site and convert. Plus, you can drip out this content via emails and social media to potential customers. All your efforts in search marketing start with content - without content, you have nothing to say, no value to add. 

Tips For Optimizing Your SEO Funnel

  • Planning and research are crucial to producing a funnel SEO strategy that creates skyrocketing sales and profit that is constantly on
  • Prioritize your content in the marketing funnel by economic value, volume, and competition. Of course, the ideal situation is keywords with high value, high search volume, and low competition. However, if your industry is mature, those may be very competitive, thus putting more emphasis on Informational queries at the top of the funnel that is less expensive.
  • Leverage internal linking between related articles in the funnel
  • Amplify and promote your content via email newsletters, retargeting campaigns on Google and Facebook

Your Next Steps

  1. 1
    Schedule a no-pressure 15 min introductory call with us to find out if we're a good fit
  2. 2
    We will prepare and send you a proposal outlining our proposed scope of work and costs based on your business needs 
  3. 3
    We'll schedule a kickoff meeting and begin work on your digital strategy

About the author 

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

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