How to Use SEO for Lead Generation
A recent study found SEO to be the highest-ROI online lead generation strategy available to marketers in 20211. The reason SEO is so effective at lead generation is that Google is among the most trusted brands in the world. The invisibility of its business model, where searchers’ data feeds an online ad program that most people are habituated to, contributes to the view that Google is a free resource, similar to Wikipedia.
The other reason people trust Google is that the product is fantastic. A search for nearly anything yields a satisfying response. That, in a nutshell, is what makes a good search engine.
The opportunity for marketers is in a deep involvement with the Google search results — earning a favored status with Google such that searchers see Google recommending your website over and over by dint of its high rankings.
In this piece, we’ll explain how to use SEO as a lead generation tool, covering two main aspects of the process:
- How SEO generates leads directly by connecting prospective customers looking for exactly what you sell to your website
- How SEO generates leads indirectly by synergizing with other marketing channels
Direct Lead Generation through SEO
At a basic level, the goal of SEO is to use Google to drive new visitors to your website so that the content on your website can convert them to leads. To do that you need to both:
- Reach the right audience by targeting transactional keywords, and
- Regularly publish high quality thought leadership content for that audience by understanding search intent.
Search Intent and Transactional Keywords
The first part of this is a relatively simple concept: you need your website’s visitors to be potential customers or clients. The way you do so is by targeting transactional keywords, or in other words, the keywords that indicate that a searcher is interested in spending money on your product or service. These keywords range in degree of transactionality from fully transactional—words like “buy” or “services”—to more research oriented (such as “benefits” or “costs”). The most valuable searchers are those closer to the buying end of the scale and it’s the job of your website SEO content to pull them through the process.
For instance, say you’re in the business of selling cars. If someone types in “Ford,” that searcher might be in the market for a new car but many searchers will not be. “Ford prices”, on the other hand, shows some transactional interest; indicating the searcher is at least weighing their options. Best, however, would be “best place to buy a Ford”, indicating a strong intent to purchase. While you may have a little interest in the customer who is searching for prices, you are really interested in the one who wants to buy.
Once you’ve mastered transactional keywords, you’re ready to move on to another key to bringing in customers directly from SEO: regularly publishing high quality content for those keywords by understanding search intent.
Understanding and Satisfying Search Intent
Search intent is the cornerstone of SEO because it results in higher trust both with Google, leading to higher search rankings and more visitors to your site, and lets you create high quality content for those pages. The high quality content then conveys your authority to the visitors themselves, converting those visitors into leads.
First, let’s look at Google’s trust of your site, in other words, your website’s domain authority. Google’s main goal is to connect their users with the best page for their search phrase. This is what keeps searchers using Google and not another search engine. To do this, Google measures both the number of high quality links your website has (because high quality content tends to attract links from other reputable websites) and how long a visitor spends on your site. This second factor—visitor engagement—is where search intent comes in. When you satisfy a visitor’s search intent, they remain on your page for longer, which tells Google that they’ve found what they want and your site should, in turn, be shown to more people.
The way you satisfy a visitor’s search intent is simple: create the best piece of content that responds to their search query, in other words thought leadership content. Thought leadership should do three things:
- Take care of the reader by responding to their question quickly and concisely
- Stimulate the reader’s mind with every paragraph including a genuinely new idea, engaging graphic, or novel piece of data
- Conclude with practical next steps, helping the reader put those ideas into action
Creating content that meets all three of these criteria will not only make sure that your visitors are immediately engaged, but also establish yourself as a helpful resource. And when those visitors are already in your market—as they are when you’ve targeted transactional keywords—this leads them to convert into new leads.
The Impact of Regular Publishing on Lead Generation and Revenue
Publishing new content on a regular basis works not just because each new piece of content is another opportunity to use important keywords in the title; but because doing so twice a week for four to six months gains the publisher a “bonus” in authority. This is what we call the News Website Bonus, and it is so named because Google sees you as acting analogously to an industry news site or similarly authoritative publication. Our internal data shows average organic revenue increases of $385,000 in the first year, $1.2 million in the second year, and $3.3 million in the third year.
Organic Revenue Increases in an SEO Campaign
Indirect Lead Generation using SEO Content
In addition to directly attracting customers, SEO is an excellent way to generate leads indirectly, by using the content created for the SEO campaign on other marketing channels. This content can position your company as a thought leader in its industry while creating more brand impressions by appearing in prospects’ e-mail inbox or social media feed.
Below is a breakdown of how SEO synergizes with other marketing channels:
|Marketing Channel||Synergy with SEO|
|Email Marketing||SEO helps you build your mailing list when you include a sign-up box alongside high quality content; and provides interesting materials to include in your e-mail drip campaigns.|
|Social Media||When accompanied by an insightful status update, content created for an SEO campaign can be impactful on a social media channel like LinkedIn or Twitter.|
|Webinars||To the degree that your SEO content includes quantitative data or creative organization of concepts your customers would find interesting, it can easily be repackaged as slide content within a webinar. Some blog articles can themselves translate into an entire webinar.|
|Public Speaking||SEO can be used to attract speaking opportunities by targeting keywords that include “speaker” and “expert”; and can act as fodder for your presentations just as it can for webinars.|
|Trade Shows||At its best, an SEO campaign increases your status within your industry; and name recognition encourages customer interaction with your booth. Content can also be repurposed for brochures.|
The Best Way to Use SEO for Lead Generation
Using SEO for lead generation is simple in concept: publish original, insightful content that targets transactional keywords at least twice a week and enjoy a steady stream of new leads. Executing it is much more difficult. You need a team of experts—writers, editors, web developers, an SEO strategist, and a graphic designer—to actually choose those keywords, analyze their search intent, and create high quality content for each one.
You can also outsource the process. First Page Sage has been the SEO partner of 100+ companies in a variety of industries for over a decade. We believe in true collaboration and transparency, and measure our success by actual leads generated. If you’d like to have a conversation, you can reach out to us here.