Imagine that your customer buys a product or service from your website and subsequently goes to Google with a question related to the product (or service). Are you aware of this question?
Customers do not necessarily go directly to you when they have a problem. They primarily use Google. The figures below speak for themselves.
- There are 15,000 searches annually on Google on how to care for one’s shoes.
- There are 3,500 searches for “sleeping bag”.
- There are 10,000 desperate searches to find a “keyboard does not work” solution.
Then there are also 3,000 who “can not start their lawnmower” – and probably also a few who can not turn it off.
This blog post is about “support searches” on Google. It’s about how to ensure that your website answers your existing customers’ questions, but of course it’s also an opportunity to get the attention of competitors’ customers.
Here, you have a unique opportunity to position your business at a time when they need help.
I will give you a few examples of bad and good content in terms of responding to support searches, and then you will learn how to identify your customers’ support searches in seconds.
Since Google Ads is not usually displayed for “support searches” and competitors are not so active, you can achieve click-through rates (CTR), which make SEO specialists jealous.
Before I go any further with support searches from an SEO perspective, I think it is important to briefly mention something about the value of the good customer experience.
A great customer experience is worth thousands
It is 5 times cheaper to retain customers than to get new ones
According to a study from the American agency Invesp, it costs five times more to get a new customer than to retain an existing one. 44% of the companies in their analysis focused on gaining new customers, but only 18% focused on retaining them.
It is critical to point out that “support searches” are not just about SEO and the pursuit of the next click. If you have keywords with a low search volume, they are still worth going after, as these clicks come from users who have purchased a product in advance.
But more importantly, it’s about ensuring existing customers get a good, streamlined customer experience across channels. There must be no gaps in customers’ experience of your brand.
Customer experience is one of the primary drivers of future growth. Here are a few interesting studies on the importance of customer experience:
- CRM provider SuperOffice asked 1,920 managers what their companies would prioritize over the next 5 years. Customer experience came in as a clear No. 1 (ahead of Product and Price).
- This study from PWC shows that if customers get an exceptional customer experience, they are also ready to pay more for one’s product.
- According to Retail Institute Scandinavia, 80% of your customers may find themselves shopping elsewhere if they are exposed to a bad customer experience.
Let’s get back on track.
What are support searches?
Here is my definition:
Support searches are the searches on Google that a customer makes after purchasing a product (or service). The searches relate to the product. They typically seek instructions for use, will understand a possible defect and solution, or will maintain the product.
Google searches can be divided into three phases in a customer journey model:
- The symptom searches are the first searches on Google. One is not yet aware of the solution, but seeks out one’s symptoms.
- Solution searches are the product-specific searches. It starts with the untrained solution searches (incorrect naming of solution, few keywords) to the more ready-to-buy searches (price, colours, comparison).
- Support searches are the searches found on the right after the purchase of the product or service. These are questions about how to use the product, how to maintain it and other questions about warranty, return, etc.
Here are examples of support searches from different industries:
- “What happens if I use all my data?” (Typical questions in the telecommunications industry)
- “How should the mouthpiece turn?” (1,600 monthly Google searches)
- “What size is my bike?” (400 searches)
Typical keywords that are included in searches are:
- Does not work
- Does not start
- Spare part
In your industry, there are probably several typical keywords.
How to identify support searches?
We start with a quick hack in the Google Search Console.
Your Google Search Console may contain a goldmine of user data. It is obvious to identify support searches here first. However, it can be a bigger task when looking through many hundreds or thousands of queries.
So that’s why I made a formula where you can find them in seconds. Disclaimer: It is adapted for larger e-commerce sites, but you can adapt it to your industry.
Here’s what to do:
Go to the Google Search Console. Choose a longer date range (e.g. 12 months), select query – customized (regular expression) and enter this formula:
\b(maintenance|warranty|cleaning|care|treatment|washing|endure|does not work|does not start|glass plague|spare part|manual|repair|protect)[""]
Now you have a list of all the queries that are support searches. Review the list and you will probably find pages that are missing on your site today.
Another variation of the above is:
\b(clean|broken|wash off|shattered|polish|problem|treat|does not work|replace|does not start|scratch|repair|manual|fix|protect|renew|coverage|warranty)[""]
Of course, the two formulas only work if you have enough data in the Google Search Console. It may also be that other search terms are used in your industry, and then you can just replace the keywords in the formulas. Google allows 4,000 characters in a Regex formula, so there’s plenty of room for creativity.
If you do not have that much data in the Google Search Console, then you need to use third-party tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush.
A quick method is to do a Google search on a typical challenge that your customers have. You identify a search result that responds to this challenge. Then you see in one of the tools mentioned above which keywords the page ranks on. You can then create your own page from the same keywords.
“Support searches” on Google are typically an overlooked part of the customer journey. We usually focus all marketing on selling products. But it’s also a good idea to hold existing customers by the hand. We need to be present when they ask Google for help with a product that they may have purchased from you. When they are ready to repurchase, your company is well positioned if you have previously helped them.
I gave you in this blog post two methods to understand your customers’ support searches. My advice is that you spend 10 minutes on the two methods. It will quickly give you an indication of whether you are, making sure to answer your customers on Google.
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