Edwin is a strategic content specialist. Before joining Yoast, he spent years honing his skill at The Netherlands’ leading web design magazine.
You’ll probably have heard the term user journey a lot, but what is it exactly? And what does it have to do with SEO? The user journey consists of all the steps a user takes to reach their goal. In buying something, the user journey includes steps like reading reviews, checking prices, comparing shops etc. In SEO, you can map out the user journey and place content on all the points a user comes into contact with you. Let’s take a look.
Your user journey: how do you purchase a product?
The concept of the user journey becomes instantly clear when you are looking to buy something. Let’s say you want to buy a new tv — your 15-year old 42 inch LCD tv doesn’t cut it anymore. You do research and ask yourself some questions: how big should it be? Which screen technology? What about 4k or maybe 8k for future-proofing? Do my friends have any advice? Which shops can I go to to see some screens in action? You go through a whole lot of steps before you are ready to pull the trigger on a new tv.
That proces, from the moment you realise you need a new tv to the moment you turn on the new tv in your home — and even after that fact — is called the user journey. As an eCommerce store selling tv’s you need to know how a user might get from A to Z and prepare useful content for the moments when that user might need that content.
Now, you might think that you can simply think about which steps a user might take in any given situation and put that on some kind of timeline. Well, it’s more complicated than that. If you think about it, your process of buying something might differ completely from someone else’s. You can’t force everyone to follow the same path.
In addition, the user journey is hardly ever a straight line, more often, it’s a squiggly line moving in all directions. Users go from awareness, to research, to checking prices, to research, to talking to friends about it et cetera. Eventually, the user makes a decision — some users take hours, other months.
This also goes for how people behave on websites. They hardly ever arrive neatly via the homepage only to follow the path you want them to follow. In different stages of the journey, people need different kinds of information and they will, therefore, enter your site via different pages — probably the one buried deep in your site. After that, they can move in any kind of direction. That means that every page on a site needs to consider multiple user journeys, and act as a landing page. You can’t assume that there’s a linear/predictable flow through a site.
Mapping the user journey
This article was written by Edwin Toonen and originally published on Yoast • SEO for everyone.