Search is one of the most important channels a modern marketer has at their disposal.
In 2022 it feels like every marketer, founder, or c-suite executive is trying to become an influential figure on social media, making this channel oversaturated.
Like a stock, the more who play in that arena, the higher the cost and the lower the returns. With so many bright folks shining on social media, it’s become harder and harder to stand out.
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Google indexes billions of pages every day, making it seem like an insurmountable rat race but there’s still a huge opportunity there.
In this blog we’ll discuss:
Let’s get started.
SEO is a vital arm of any marketing strategy because, when done well, it can be leveraged to drive large volumes of demand to your website in the way of web traffic, leading directly to lead generation and sales.
While it requires significant investment in terms of time to plan, write and execute (not to mention costs of writers), it’s not a pay to play space. So, if you put in the time and effort on a consistent basis, you can go up against major players.
Plus, it will continue to bring you money without you having to invest larger budgets.
Search engine optimization is also completely free (if you exclude labour costs), so it can be a much more fruitful investment than paid media or other marketing channels.
When talking about SEO, the general consensus is that there are two main overarching strategies. The first is to follow some SEO checklists, like updating meta tags, load speed, and filling keywords in.
The second is to generate a ton of articles to show Google how engrained you are in your keywords and make a mad dash land-grab of search traffic.
In 2020, Google reported that they discovered an average of 40 billion pages of spam every day (which is an increase of 60% from 2019). It turns out, there’s a lot of trash on Google, some have argued that 30% of what Google discovers is garbage.
So, while it’s not easy to break in on every chosen keyword, there will be opportunities for you.
SEO can complement your lead generation efforts by providing brand awareness traffic to your website. Many businesses only use SEO as their lead generation strategy.
Think of your full customer journey in stages. Users don’t always land on your website and convert right away. But using SEO, you can drive meaningful engagement at each stage of the funnel.
And in some cases, on the right intent, you can create conversions first time.
They move through the awareness, consideration and decision stages of the funnel. At each stage, they’ll be searching for information that can help them make their purchase decision.
You could actually use SEO at every stage of the journey to be found based on your user intent.
By implementing a strong SEO strategy, you can drive more leads through the top of the funnel for your sales team to convert.
In order to start driving more leads through SEO, you need to analyse your strategy.
Here are some key tips for boosting your lead generation through SEO.
The way to stand out in a mass-produced landscape is to come up with well-researched, engaging, and deeply piercing articles written by subject matter experts.
When you produce content that not only gets readers to click but keeps them on the page, as well as clicking through to other posts on your site, you tell search engines that you are producing something of value to its users.
Google, being a profit-generating machine, wants to ensure users have a good experience each time they use their product.
Finding what they’re looking for is classified as a good experience. So, your page is then promoted on Google, and the flywheel begins.
When your articles are high-value, it also makes it easier to engage in link building, which has dramatic effects on your search rankings. This can be completed by producing authoritative works that others link back to or by reaching out personally and pitching your articles. This process is drastically easier with well-written work.
Search tactics aside, by producing this type of content, you’re engaging your potential customers, building trust, and likely collecting their information (through product demonstrations, newsletter sign-ups, or gated content downloads). You put yourself in a position of authority which makes the future sale far easier. And, if the content is interesting enough, these readers share it with their colleagues, further extending your brand’s reach.
How do you produce high-quality content? By either becoming deeply engrained in a subject matter that you write about or by partnering with subject matter experts.
Easier said than done, but marketers should be on the hunt for new ideas and emerging topics. When you find them, wrap your arms around them and produce as much content as you can, so long as they produce results on your site.
It can be hard to find your niche as a marketer or business, there are a few reasons why.
The first is because no matter what industry you’re in, you are likely up against a big competitor with an even bigger budget. You won’t compete in a meaningful way by covering basic articles. You will benefit from writing about topics the competitors haven’t covered however.
The second is because it can be hard to ignore the big opportunity keywords. When you compare a keyword that has a monthly volume of 5,000 compared to 100, it’s almost instinct to opt for the first.
But those small, long-tail keywords can provide you with low-hanging fruit.
When you write about new topics you’ll be able to rank higher, faster, and with less effort, because these topics haven’t been covered by the industry leader or its followers. So long as the topic has a critical mass of searchers, you will benefit from them.
And remember, if you cover relatively untouched topics, you become an expert on them and you tie your brand to the idea. It’s far easier to become known as an expert in a new aspect of a category, where there is no defunct leader. The current reigning champ is known for being the defacto authority on a certain subject, and, as Reis and Trout remark in their book positioning, it’s easier to create a new category and dominate that than change people’s minds about who is the leader in an existing category.
Now you have ranking content, you need to start turning up link-building. Creating links from high domain sites will in turn build your traffic and potentially create new leads for you.
One great way to do this is to create stats using your own data that you can get ranking organically. There are two ways you can do this.
The first is by using your own internal data. So, for businesses that have an app for example, they could use their user interactions to create data.
Related: How we improved our domain rating
The second is by sourcing external data. Sources like HARO are a great resource to ask leaders in your industry key questions. You can use these insights to create a whole portfolio of statistics.
Use these statistics to create SEO-friendly resources. Other marketers and writers will find these when researching on their own and potentially link to you as a source of authority on that topic.
You can also manually reach out to relevant sites that already have posts on their blog on similar topics to you.
Often, the best way to secure links is to offer an exchange but remember, a site with a domain rating of 80 is probably not going to want to exchange links if your site only has a DR of 40.
By creating high-value content, you’re already in good stead to get more backlinks as you’re providing a new perspective or further detail.
Your blog is important for driving top of the funnel traffic, but what about your landing pages? They should be optimised for SEO too.
Ideally, your landing pages would rank for more intent-based search terms. If they’re not already ranking, then look at how you can improve them.
By optimising your landing pages for SEO, you could end up driving more traffic that is more ready to convert.
Remember, not everyone landing on your site will be at the start of their customer journey. You need your prospective customers to find you at the right time, and you need to serve them the right content.
One great way to improve your SEO is to ramp up your internal linking.
Every time you write a blog about Topic A, link that keyword to your landing page on Topic A. It’ll send the right signals to the Google bots that you’re a trusted authority on that subject.
Internal linking can also be used to drive users down the funnel.
Say you sell car insurance and write a blog on the difference between comprehensive and third-party cover.
Within that blog, you should use your internal links to guide users through their customer journey.
You could share links to guides or reviews. Or you could even offer them some kind of incentive to check out your own insurance deals.
Having a view of this customer journey is key to ensuring you’re driving leads through your organic content.
I wanted to end this article with a quick story about how I rigorously applied these two strategies and what they did for me. I feel like there are too many marketing pieces that sound great but feel impossible to execute.
At my day job Rally I wanted to pursue a search, but I barely had enough time to dedicate to it, I didn’t have the human resources, and just nearly had enough budget. On top of that, we had a huge competitor who we couldn’t afford to compete with head-to-head.
My way in, I figured was to ride the coattails of new and exciting topics, to write interestingly, and to produce only content I thought our readers would deeply enjoy. If we were to compete on the basic keywords, we’d be dead in the water: we would see little to no results and I’d lose support from my boss.
I wrote a few of the earlier pieces about marketing and law, which garnered a fair amount of interest, but wasn’t closely enough related to our business to create meaningful results. Then, I found an insanely creative, subject matter expert, writer (shout out to William Peacock) who agreed to work with us. That’s when the real magic happened.
We started covering topics that others weren’t and were seeing huge results. He wrote in a fantastic, exciting way that no other company blog did. With a small cadence of one post a month (again, tiny budget) we started seeing a huge return on our investment.
On Google’s Search Console, we saw that in a short period of time we 10X’d our clicks and 20X’d our impressions. We used Ruler to keep track of where leads were coming from; we could see which pages drove leads and then invest in creating more of that type of content.
Pretty soon we were making sales from people who read the blog and I was hearing from prospects about how those posts cemented that we were the right choice for them because we “got it”.
Within a few months this channel went from being a small part of our lead source, kept growing, and is now a pillar in our advertising strategy. We’ve also ranked for competitive keywords because our content’s unique approach drives visitors.
The craziest part is that the bulk of our results came from only 5 blog posts.
What do they all have in common?
They’re all very different from what the industry had put out in the past and the majority covered emerging trends.
Our blog also acted as pillar content that generated far more as a result.
We would use posts to create ads, social media posts, newsletters, email copy, engagement for existing clients, and we even wrote an ebook spun off from a post (which yielded even more results)
We saw a road that had been well travelled but found a new way to navigate it. We tried something different and thanks to a bit of luck, we earned substantial output with minimal input.
We’ve grown the business from it and proven out a new channel that we’re now growing. It’s also helped us build our brand image.
And, I don’t think this is unique to my own company’s situation.
I think the market is saturated with low-value content. I think in just about every industry new ideas and a bold take will go a long way. Because of that, I think search is an undervalued asset right now.