February 8, 2021

How to Rank for Keywords with High Purchase Intent Using Buyer Guides

When you make a purchase, whether it’s for a new tool in your business, a new car, or a pair of shoes, you compare your options.

Your customers are the same.

It’s a normal part of the buying process.

If you can't get your product in front of potential buyers as they’re comparing their options, they're not going to choose your product. It’s Marketing 101.

It doesn't matter how fantastic your features are, how quickly your customer support solves customer problems, or how much more affordable you are than your competition.

Luckily, there's a super simple way to do this with SEO.

You’ll get your company front and center during the buying process, without needing to spend $$$ on Google and Facebook Ads.

So, what’s the secret?

Buyer guides.

In this context, a buyer guide boils down to a list post-show readers the best options for them.

You’ll get the chance to own a search term with high purchase intent and be able to show your future customers exactly why your product is a fit (or not) for them. 

Ready to learn how to find opportunities and create buyer guides that rank?

Let’s dive in.

Finding Your High Purchase Intent Keywords

During the buying process, people use search terms like:

  • best [CRM] software
  • [HubSpot] vs [Salesforce]
  • [CRM] for [startups]

This doesn’t just apply to B2B SaaS.

In any domain where customers know they have options, it's the same.

  • Best [climbing shoes] for [women]
  • Best [car rental service] in [Lisbon]

Replace the word in the square brackets with your product name, function, or competitors.

Chances are, you want to rank for those terms.

Now, most of the time, your potential customers scroll past the ads and end up on comparison sites like:

  • Capterra
  • G2
  • GetApp

Everyone wants to validate their decision before spending money, even if it's only for a $29/month subscription.

But, what if you could get those people onto your site instead of directories and competitor ads?

Well, you can.

Buyer guides let you.

What Do You Mean By ‘Buyer Guides’?

Buyer guides are information-focused content, usually containing lists of product/service recommendations.

For example:

  • 10 Best CRMs for SMBs
  • Best Live Chat for Shopify
  • Top 10 LinkedIn Lead Generation Tools

They're fundamentally simple, but to make one work in your favor, you need to go the extra mile.

Do These Buyer Guides Work?

Buyer guides like these are essentially just lists of tool recommendations, summarizing key features and details.

They don't sound exciting.

But, they're worth it.

Here's a real example:

Let's say you're looking for a new SEO tool.

You search for something like: "best SEO tool” or “free SEO software” in Google. You'll probably check two or three of the top results to make sure they match up.

As you can see, Ahrefs is one of the top posts.

Note: Ahrefs is a popular SEO tool that we highly recommend - we use it every day.

In this case, they're also the only SaaS company ranking there. 

Ahrefs' competitors like SEMrush and Moz are missing out on this prime real estate.

Ranking for buyer guides

But, is it worth the effort?

Well, from this one post, they're getting an estimated 19,000+ visits per month.

Generating qualified leads and traffic

It would cost them $80,000+ per month if they wanted to bid on this keyword with ads.

By creating a detailed buyers guide for people looking for SEO tools, they get in front of a huge audience of potential customers who are ready to take action.

In the article, they mention a host of great tools.

Among those?


They mention their brand 26 times in multiple sections of the article.

If you were in the process of choosing an SEO tool, it would be hard not to choose them considering they were shown in such a good light, even though they're still featuring 40+ other tools.

If they simply relied on showing up in other articles (like the two ranking above them) or on Capterra or G2, they would be leaving this key part of the buyer journey to chance.

Instead, they own it.

Now, they get free access to tens of thousands of visitors each month, all ready to jump in and try out a new tool.

They can highlight their best features and make their product the obvious choice for anyone in the market.

Can Anyone Outrank Popular Directories like G2 and Capterra?

Ahrefs are well-known with a strong domain and brand, so perhaps this isn't a fair comparison...

Surely, only existing 'big brands' can rank for these terms, right?

Well, not exactly.

In fact, you'd be surprised at how easy it is to outrank directories.

The reason?

Topical authority.

What is topical authority?

To summarize: if you're publishing content around email marketing, your site starts to become a trusted source for all things email marketing.

It's why someone like Brian Dean of Backlinko can consistently rank articles in an incredibly competitive niche (SEO). His site has such good topical authority that even his newly published content is likely to rank quickly.

On the other hand, if he published an article on "15 Amazing Health Benefits of Kale", chances are, it won’t perform as well in the same time period (but knowing how good his content usually is, I wouldn't bet against it!).

Taking Advantage of Your Topical Authority

You need to use your niche to your advantage.

By this, I mean your posts need to:

  • Be specific
  • Call out the exact use case

For example, there are hundreds of 'analytics' tools out there.

But, instead of going after 'best analytics tools', a company can get more specific.

For example, here, three SaaS companies with deep attribution features manage to outrank G2 and Capterra with their own list posts.

Ranking for keywords with purchase intent

Another example: Zapier and HubSpot are competing with SoftwareSuggest and G2 for the top spots.

Even if you don't use this exact keyword structure, you'll find the results are often the same.

Websites with topical authority outrank generic directories.

How to outrank Capterra and G2

But, these companies don't just rank because of topical authority.

You can't just throw 10 product names with a short paragraph about each into your post and hit Publish.

They also need to write a genuinely good article.

Next, I'll show you key elements to writing a good buyer's guide to help differentiate your post and drive visitors to your product.

How to Write Buyer Guide Posts That Convert

Now you need to write your post.

Here are a few rules for making sure your guide is better than the competition, will help your readers, and will boost conversions from the post.

1. Break Up Your Post into Specific Sub-Sections

If someone is on your post, you need to give them details.

For example, in this example, Onetool's article on social media management tools could have been a simple 10-point list of tools related to social media.

Instead, it's broken up into specific sections.

Break up posts to get more specific

This helps readers navigate to the best part for them, and gain more insight into what a tool specializes in.

It's a simple way to make your post more relevant than a directory who will usually have one section, titled something like 'social media software'.

2. Make Key Information Clear

One benefit of directories is that they make it simple to find information.

Make sure your post does the same thing.

Add short summaries, use sub-headings, break up paragraphs, use bullet points, and anything else that makes it easier for the reader to extract the key information they need.

For example, in this post on free project management software from ClickUp, they break the product recommendations down into multiple sections that are easy to scan.

Detailed list posts

You could spend 10 seconds scanning the section and have a good idea if the software recommendation in question is a fit for you or not.

3. Make Your Reader Know It's For Them

Directories are generic. It's not a bad thing. They cater to a lot of audiences, and do it well.

You have an opportunity to write a buyer guide that's specific to your ideal customer.

Write your list post for the person who is a perfect fit for your product.

In your post, call out specific features and benefits of the recommendations that you know your reader will care about.

Give real examples they'll know and understand.

Use the same language your customers do.

You'll build trust and show your reader why you're the authority on the topic.

4. Never Criticize - Only Differentiate

If you're writing a guide highlighting a range of software and tools similar to what your company does, there's going to be some overlap.

Some products you mention may be direct competitors.

That's okay.

While it may not make sense to mention competitors if they're truly a clone of your product, if there are key differences (feature list, who it's for, etc.), then you can safely mention them.

The key?

Making sure you're completely honest about the benefits of your competitors, and who they are best for.

Then, make sure the section on your product makes that crystal clear too.

Chances are, your products are right for different people, even if you're in a similar market.

For example, Google Analytics and Segment both do analytics, but Segment's ideal customer is different to Google Analytics'.

Call out the differences in an honest way, and customers who are a fit for your product will know to make the right decision.

Deciding on Posts to Create

A useful model to come up with content ideas is to use your customers' Jobs To Be Done.

Find the core problem you're solving for them.

For example, a marketing attribution tool could create posts on:

  • "Best Marketing Attribution Tools/Software"
  • "Best Analytics Software for Startups"
  • "Best Google Analytics Alternatives"

If you're unsure, talk to your customers.

Ask them why they use your product, and what the main problems you solve for them are.

Then, you can translate those answers into content ideas.

Do I Have to Mention and Link To Competitors?

Most people don't want to link to their competitors. After all, you don't want to give them free promotion, right?

There’s a middle ground.

You don’t want to promote competitors whose products are a clone of yours.

But, mentioning some of your competitors is a good thing. As I mentioned above, the key is to show how your product and theirs is different and make it clear who each one is for.

I’d caution against excluding all competitors.

Your guide needs to be genuinely useful to your reader if you expect people to stay on the page for long and to do that, you'll have to mention viable alternatives.

There's no need to overthink it.

If there's a close competitor you really don't want to link to, you don't have to.

Just make sure you're helping your reader make the right decision.

Wrapping Up

Buyer guides are a great way to capture traffic and leads from high-intent keywords.

Ranking above popular directories is easier than you’d expect, assuming your website isn’t brand new.

The key to writing a buyer guide that ranks and converts is to make it useful by being honest, adding relevant extra details missing from other posts, and highlighting relevant options for the reader - even if products you mention are a competitor.

Need any advice on creating high-converting buyer guides? Let’s chat!

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