The Three Phases of Search Marketing and Lead Generation

Organic search can be a good lead generation technique if you plan it out right. This means you need to understand the three phases of the buying cycle and how your landing pages can address them.

Also, when your marketing is focused on a tight geographic region, such as Phoenix, you’ll need to tailor your techniques for the local market.

Phase 1: Research

When someone has first decided they need a particular type of product or service, they will most likely do some online research. The keywords they use will be general and education focused.

Depending on the type of product or service, this part of the search may or may not include locally focused keywords. That said, you should still include location tags, such as Phoenix, Scottsdale, etc., in your targeted keyword list.

When you target keywords from the first phase of the buying cycle, your landing pages must address the information-seeking needs of these prospects. Landing pages for the first phase of the buying cycle should:

Initiate a relationship with the prospect by offering them something educational to help them with their research.


Ask for a minimum of information in exchange, no more than the email address and name.


Avoid asking for the sale … focus on helping the prospect with their educational research. Be seen as a good resource of information.


Phase 2: Comparison Shopping

At this point in the buying cycle, the prospect has decided on the particular product or service needed and probably has identified a select number of companies that offer that product or service. The keywords they use often focus on features and benefits. Also, if the product or service can be tied to a location, neighborhood keywords will strongly factor into the search parameters.

Therefore, when you target these keywords, your landing pages must offer reasons to choose your products or services. These types of landing pages will feature awards, testimonials and any influential media reviews. This is the point in the cycle where you showcase the successes that your clients have gained from working with you.

Landing pages for the second phase of the buying cycle should:

Showcase local residents that have benefited from using your products or services. Shine the light on how what you have to offer helped them reach their goals in buying from you.


As with the first stage, initiate a relationship by offering something in exchange for their email address and name. However, this time, your opt-in bonus can be more focused on what you have to offer.


You can ask for the sale, but don’t make it a condition of getting your offer. Be more relaxed and subtle … remember, the prospect hasn’t decided to go with your product or service yet and are still in comparison mode.


Phase 3: Ready To Buy

In the final stage of the buying cycle, the prospect knows exactly what they want and are now deciding who they want to purchase it from. Their search terms will be very specific, such as an exact product name (“iPad WiFi”) or a more detailed description (“holistic dentist in Paradise Valley”).

At this point, search terms indicate that prospects are ready to buy. They are telling you with the keywords they are using exactly what they want to buy. Therefore, your landing pages that target these keywords need to be tightly focused.

Landing pages for the final phase of the buying cycle should:

Focus on a specific product or service.


Sell that product or service in no uncertain terms.


Illustrate the value and benefits of that product or service and why it should be purchased from you.