November 22, 2014

Search Funnels for the Cayman Islands

When doing research using a Search Engine a user will search using multiple keyword searches, not just one.  The research starts with a broad range keyword and ends with a more long-tailed and defined key phrase.

Example of a search funnel:  A woman looking for a bag.

Research will start with:  "bags"  ---> "luxury bags" ---> "black luxury bags" ---> "black luxury bag louis vuitton"  ---> "black luxury bag louis vuitton 2012 model"

The search funnel ends with "black luxury bag louis vuitton 2012 model"  and thats the conversion keyword. But that doesn't mean the other keywords in the funnel were useless.  On the contrary there are always opportunities along the search funnel.

Search Funnels determine what keywords were used in finding a service or product; which keyword was first used and which keyword was ultimately used in converting that User into a Customer. Understanding the hierarchy of the keyword funnel is an important part of the online buying process and online visibility in general.

If you are a Tourism based business in the Cayman Islands, this will be particularly helpful in understanding online user behavior.


EXAMPLE: FIRST KEYWORDS IN SEARCH FUNNEL

So there are a lot of scenarios for search funnels and this is just one example. 

First search term: "best caribbean"  

So the User was searching for "best caribbean" and before they could complete it, Google autocompletes and provides suggestions:
"best caribbean beaches"
"best caribbean hotels"
"best caribbean island"
"best caribbean resorts"
"best caribbean cruises"
"best caribbean vacations"
Side Note:  Did you know that "best caribbean island" gets an average of 5,400 searches per month and that the competition for paid ads is so low it only costs $0.80 to run a Paid Ad for this keyword?  

If anyone from the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (CIDOT) OR the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) ever reads this, here are some important keywords for PAID Ads (for Short Term Marketing Goals) and if for your long term marketing goals, I would recommend creating landing pages that target organic traffic for these keywords: 

  • "best caribbean beaches"  1,900 searches per month and only $2.18 per bid for top three placement
  • "best beaches in the caribbean" 1,300 searches per month and only $1.20 per bid for top three placement
  • "best caribbean island" 5,400 searches per month and only $0.80 per bid for top three placement
  • "best caribbean islands" 2,900 searches per month and only $0.78 per bid for top three placement
  • "best islands in the caribbean" 590 searches per month and only $0.42 per bid for top three placement
  • "best island in the caribbean" 480 searches per month and only $0.18 per bid for top three placements

Lets say for example that the User clicks on Google's suggestion for "best caribbean island" 

Image 1. Search Results 
Here is what Users from the US East Coast normally sees:  (Top 3 paid, Top 3 Organic) See Image on the left, Image 1.
  
Question:  As a tourism based business, should I be on this first keyword funnel?  

Answer: No, its too early for a User to even want to book a room because they are still deciding on a destination.  But CIDOT should  be on this funnel because it will provide new users searching for "best of the caribbean" an early introduction to the Cayman Islands.

The first organic listing gets the most clicks in this funnel.  Users  like clicking on organic listings more than they do paid ads but when they see a recognizable brand, the clicks are substantially higher.

Since the first organic listing is Tripadvisor.com --  100% of the searches are going to click on it because 1) its a trusted brand 2) its on the most visible position 

The TripAdvisor landing page is the 2014 Top 10 Islands of the Caribbean 

First click is 1. Turks and Caicos
Second click is 2. US Virgin Islands
Third click is 3. Cayman Islands 
And so on...4. Puerto Rico
(The rest of the list: 5. Bonaire 6. British Virgin Islands 7. Anguilla 8. Barbados 9. St. Lucia 10. Antigua) 

If by chance the User browses the listing of Cayman Islands here is what they see: Image 2.  

Image 2. Cayman's Tripadvisor landing page (3 clicks)
This Cayman Islands landing page is within 3 clicks of the main landing page.  This landing page has one attraction and two local businesses.  These two local businesses probably get more traffic than any other local tourism-based business in the Cayman Islands. Based on this search funnel of a new user with no prior visits and no prior knowledge of Cayman.   

If the User decides to check out the Cayman Islands and they were divers, there is a good chance they would use Living the Dream Divers, the top rated Dive Company by TripAdvisor.  Or if the User enjoyed riding horses then they would be using Spirit of the West.  

Now, since Sting Ray City (notice the difference in spelling) is an attraction, if the User decided to research this, they would probably type on Google, "Sting Ray City" first.   What blows my mind about this keyword is that fact that the first listing is "Stingray City Antigua"  WTH?   The good news here is that two local companies, 1. Sail Cayman 2.) Moby Dick Tours are both on paid ads for this keyword.  Good job Guys or whoever purchased the keyword, "sting ray city" for you. 

Question:  Should I purposely miss-spell Stingray City to show up for "sting ray city" 

Answer: No.  Lets not dumb down our spelling just because of one keyword search.  And, Tripadvisor.com should know better.  

CONVERSION KEYWORDS IN SEARCH FUNNEL

Based on keyword data from Google's Keyword Plannner, it is easy to assume that some of the keyword funnels (or most of them) have these searches...

Scenario 1: Search funnel below is of a User with no prior visits to the Cayman Islands and likes the beach.  Included in the search funnel are keyword which are conversion keywords. 

Research will start with: "cayman islands" ---> "grand cayman" --->  cayman vacations" ---> "cayman beaches"  ---> "seven mile beach cayman"  ---> "condo rentals on seven mile beach" (big possibility that this is a conversion keyword for accommodations) ---> "grand cayman flights" (conversion keyword for airline companies) --- "best time to visit cayman" ---> "cayman attractions" (this could also be a conversion keyword) ---> "cayman things to do" (another conversion keyword)

Conversion keywords are what Users are using to "buy" a product or service and not what they are using for "research" only purposes.   It is much more advantageous to appear in "buying" keywords but its also important to be present in the "research" phase because you are building trust with the user.

If you want to know what your keyword funnels for your industry.  Please contact Fevi for a consultation.  The first one is always free.  Please note that you will need to provide your google analytics and adwords account for this purpose. 

I write the way I speak and if you see any grammatical / spelling errors, thank you for letting me know!  I appreciate it. 

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