There are several elements that go into creating a successful marketing plan for our digital era—with two important tactics being lead generation and SEO.
Lead generation is the process of cultivating an interest in your business to build an ongoing list of potential clients (or ‘leads’). As I mentioned in a previous article on B2C and B2B lead generation—all businesses need a steady stream of leads to grow and survive.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of refining web pages to ultimately improve their ranking on search engine results pages. The goal here is to have search engines (like Google) return links to your website when a user types in a relevant question or query. The higher your website ranks, the higher the likelihood that users will click, which not only increases the organic traffic to your website but your company’s online visibility.
At this point, you may be wondering what the connection is between these two strategies. First, it’s important to clarify that SEO and lead generation are not one and the same. SEO is focused on increasing web traffic. Lead generation is focused on increasing the number of clients/potential clients for your business. However, SEO can complement lead gen efforts by driving awareness for your company via organic traffic to the site.
In this guide, we’ll cover the ways in which you can effectively utilize SEO to help with your lead generation efforts, as listed below:
- Audit Your Website
- Perform Keyword Research
- Update Existing On-page Content
- Benchmark Your Competitors Performance
- Create An Ongoing Content Strategy
- Create a Backlink Strategy
Audit Your Website
Auditing your website is necessary to know which web pages are performing well and which need improvement. Which is why we suggest crawling your site as the first step. Luckily, there are various tools available to help with this.
For instance, Screaming Frog is a UK based search marketing agency that offers a free version of its website crawler. This tool can crawl your website and find broken links (404 errors), titles and meta descriptions that are over the recommended character limit (or even worse: missing), duplicate content, and so on—so you can fix these issues that are negatively impact ranking.
Check for Speed
Fast-loading pages aren’t just important for the user experience. Slow load times on desktop and mobile devices can negatively impact a site’s ranking as well, and contribute to high bounce/exit rates.
Try using Google’s PageSpeed test to analyze specific web pages on your site for speed. It’s a free tool that also offers suggestions on how to improve the performance of those pages—a win-win.
Perform Keyword Research
As mentioned above, a central element of SEO is having your content surface for relevant keywords. Which is why keyword research is so important for steering SEO strategy and understanding topics of interest for your target audience.
Don’t create content based on assumptions or abstract terminology that people aren’t searching for—it’s a shot in the dark that more often than not, won’t work.
Identify the main keyword(s) for your business and build out a list of related terms and queries from there. These keywords should be the building blocks for an SEO content strategy. SEMRush Magic Keyword finder is a great tool, or there are free options like UberSuggest that analyze keywords and generate similar terms to help with this.
The relevant keyword for an article or blog post should be one of the first (if not the first) word in the titles and meta-description of your content so it’s recognized by search engine crawlers.
Update Existing On-Page Content
People want to read content that’s useful, engaging, and accessible. While SEO helps drive people to your website, it’s the quality of the content and the user experience that will get people to stay.
So, take a look at the existing content on your website. Is the language clear and concise? Does it offer insight or value to readers? A few SEO tips for website content: organize sections with headers and focus on a healthy blend of context and scannability (bullet points, numbered lists, etc.) and include images with alt descriptions, which will help search engines crawling.
Also, analyze page performance with your analytics tool (e.g. Google Analytics) and identify areas of your site that have high bounce rates (anything over 60%). These are the areas that should be prioritized when refining existing content.
Benchmark Your Competitors Performance
It may seem like a rather complicated task—analyzing your competitors’ performance with SEO lead generation—but it doesn’t have to be.
Keep a record of your competitor’s positions in search for the same or similar queries and analyze how well that page performs. If a competitor is performing better than you for the same search terms, dig into why this may be. Consider the structure of their posts, how they’re written, backlinks, and so on in this evaluation.
Understanding how similar content performs will help you parse out effective strategies for your own efforts—and can highlight aspects of your current strategy that may be dated and need updating, or even technical issues that are hindering your ranking.
Create an Ongoing Content Strategy
A steady stream of content that provides value to your target audience is key for lead generation. Once visitors realize that your insight can be of use to them in their day-to-day, they’ll be more willing to sign up for regular newsletters or fill out forms to access gated content.
This is why it’s important to create a content calendar to help your team stay organized and on a regular publishing schedule. Organize articles and topics by theme based on your keyword research. This will make sure you’re putting out content that people are looking for, which means a larger, more engaged audience.
An ongoing content strategy, combined with keyword research, will significantly assist any SEO lead generation campaign as creating content people are looking for will increase brand presence in search and bring in those all-important leads.
Create a Backlink Strategy
Backlinks are created when different websites link to one another. These links are crucial in improving ranking, as it’s seen as a vote of credibility for your content by search engines. However, not all backlinks are ranked the same. These inbound links need to make sense (not just linking to a random, unrelated piece of content). Getting a backlink from a trustworthy site with a high domain authority is key.
Also, for a backlink to have a positive impact on your web page ranking, it needs to have the tag ‘rel=follow.’ This essentially is a signal to site crawlers that they should follow this link to the corresponding website. No follow links (that have the tag ‘rel=nofollow’) tell search engine crawlers the opposite, and prevent the link equity from being passed through.
While backlinks are a huge component of SEO, building these inbound links can be tougher than it sounds. Remember that Google is highly suspicious of any artificial linking activities and will penalize sites that have backlinks that don’t appear to be organic or link to irrelevant content—we do not recommend buying links or resorting to shady strategies when it comes to inbound links. More likely than not, it will backfire and hurt your ranking.
Instead, look at your website’s current backlink profile and see if there are any broken links that need to be fixed—this is an easy way to improve SEO while you work on getting high domain authority backlinks from other sites. On that end, consider existing relationships your brand has and if there are any opportunities for there to gain a backlink—perhaps with a guest post or if you spot an article of theirs that could benefit from linking to one of your site’s articles (to provide additional context to the topic).
Creating an SEO lead generation campaign is not only going to ensure your ongoing marketing efforts stand a great chance of succeeding in an oversaturated market, but it will also help future-proof your web content by maximizing the opportunities to gain new leads with a strong online presence and a great user experience.