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Pre-Purchase vs. Post-Purchase SEO – the Great Divide of the Customer Journey

search engine optimization marketing

Sometimes, there’s not a lot of space between Patently Obvious and Over Your Head—especially when you’re talking about a whole audience of people. This is one of those times.

We have to start in Obvious territory and say something you either (A) know in your bones or (B) can understand pretty readily. Ready?

Content should be tailored for different parts of the customer journey. In other words: marketers need to produce content which answers the needs of ALL of your prospects and customers, the full range from those who’ve never heard of you all the way to your diehard loyalists who just need occasional customer support (and the dates of your next promo). Another angle on the same idea: whichever piece of content you’re producing, you need to know specifically which part of the journey it’s meant to serve.

Still in Obvious territory, if not so deeply, so we’ll downgrade to italics for the next point: the type and amount of information people will want depends upon their stage in the customer journey. People who are just learning about you will probably want some wide-angle info: a little bit of everything, but not going deep into detail yet. By contrast, people who are much closer to buying (whether before or after the buy) will be digging deep into specs, customer reviews, FAQs, user guides, and the like.

But see, this is why we take you through Obvious territory: we arrive safely at the point, which has already started forming in the sentences above. It can be incredibly useful, for SEO purposes, to split your efforts into Pre-Purchase and Post-Purchase SEO. Because the needs can differ so much between these two groups, the smartest solutions are forced to differ as well.

For full details, we’ll refer you to Search Engine Land. But as a quick primer, here are some sharp and practical questions which come into focus once you’ve split your SEO this way.


  • Is there any way we can land a Google snippet/direct answer, generated at the top of the SERP, which automatically lends us authority?
  • Have we optimized our PDF documents to be parsable by search? A lot of people haven’t.
  • Have we passed internal linking and formatting recommendations from our SEO pros to our content pros? Has it been implemented?
  • Did we set up our campaign monitoring and A/B tests correctly, in the one chance we get before things go live?


  • What can we learn from the key phrases in customer reactions and reviews?
  • How can we upconvert our happy customers into the best possible brand ambassadors?
  • How could we upsell the enthusiastic customers on more stuff, sooner?
  • Have we made sure that key user-generated content (like reviews) are placed prominently on any and all key pages?