SEO and lead generation are arguably two of the most important parts of a successful digital marketing strategy for any business: you can’t grow your business if you can’t generate enough leads, and at the same time SEO remains the most powerful way to generate more traffic–and by getting more traffic, you can generate more potential leads.
In this guide, we will discuss how we can boost our lead generation efforts by implementing SEO, and by the end of this guide, you’ll be able to create a comprehensive strategy to optimize your SEO and generate more leads in the process.
How SEO can Help Lead Generation
First, it’s important to understand that although they are connected to each other, lead generation and SEO are not one and the same:
- SEO is about improving your website’s presence on Google and other search engines, generating more organic traffic in the process
- Lead generation is the effort of increasing the number of prospects for your business. This can include, but not limited to SEO and other efforts of generating organic traffic.
So, SEO can be considered as a part of the lead generation strategy, and can actually help improve the whole lead generation campaign by properly implementing SEO.
Let’s use an example to illustrate how SEO can help lead generation.
Let’s say a company has recently been breached by a DDoS attack and has lost a significant amount of money in the process. The IT manager is tasked by the board to find a solution to this issue and prevent a similar attack in the process. So, this IT manager does a Google search on queries like “preventing DDoS attack” and “anti-DDoS services”, etc.
Then, he stumbles upon a blog titled “How to Effectively Prevent DDoS Attack” posted by a company selling bot-management software.
So, this IT manager then clicks on the blog and finds out a section about how a bot management service can help prevent a DDoS attack, and now is interested in the product the blog owner is selling. In this case, the IT manager has entered the marketing funnel, and due to his interest, he signed up for the blog’s email newsletter – effectively converting him as a lead.
As we can see, the bot management company successfully generates a lead by ranking on a relevant keyword, thanks to the company’s previous SEO campaigns.
Understanding Your Target Leads: The Foundation of SEO Lead Generation
The secret to generating leads with SEO is about understanding your target prospects/leads. By understanding your target leads, their behaviors, their needs, and pain points, you can start developing content while implementing SEO best practices to address these pain points.
So, there are four key considerations to have before we can start our SEO lead generation strategy:
- Who Are Your Target Leads?
The first and arguably the most important step here is to identify your ideal prospects. The more specific you can figure out your target prospects/leads, the better you can execute your SEO strategy.
Ideally, you should develop a buyer persona in this step so you can really identify your target audience. Try to figure out as many details as possible: age, gender, what they do for a living, their hobbies and interests, and so on.
- How You Will Provide Value for These Target Leads?
Contrary to popular beliefs, SEO is not solely about cheating the search engine algorithm, but it’s now more about ensuring your content is relevant and valuable for your target audience. This is done by performing keyword research for this target audience.
As you figure out more details about your target audience, you can start identifying the target keywords to attract this audience. We will discuss keyword research in more detail further below.
Remember that above all, SaaS SEO is about creating high-quality content: by providing value through content, we can establish our value and credibility, converting random strangers who stumbled upon our content into valuable leads.
- How Will You Keep Your Leads on Your Site?
You’ve provided great content and you’ve attracted your target audience by letting this content rank on Google’s first page.
Yet, if after reading your content they leave your site immediately, you won’t get too much value in lead generation.
So, what can you do to keep them for as long as possible on your site? There are various methods you can do but essentially it’s about engaging your audience with meaningful interactions. You can, for example, use chatbots to allow valuable conversations and provide your visitors with answers, optimizing your social media presence, and so on.
However, a very important way to engage your audience via SEO is the consistency of your content. If you, for example, have 10 really good blog posts on your site, after they’ve finished reading one content you can attract them to read the next. You can also offer gated/downloadable content like ebooks or white paper in exchange for their email address (more on this later).
- How Will You Convert Visitors Into Lead?
As discussed, one of the most effective ways to convert your visitors into leads is by using a gated content you offer for free, in exchange for their contact information. They are other types of offers you can provide, like free-trial signups, discounts, and others, but the principle remains the same: hook them with your content, then offer something valuable for free.
However, to do this effectively you have to really identify how your audience perceives value. They will only be willing to part with their contact information if you are really offering something they perceive as valuable. Again, it’s very important to understand your audience’s needs, behaviors, and pain points.
SEO For Lead Generation: Step-by-Step
Now that we’ve figured out every important detail about your target leads, we can start developing our SEO for lead generation strategy. We’ll divide this strategy into five important steps that we will discuss below:
- Step 1: Auditing your website
- Step 2: Keyword research
- Step 3: Competitive analysis
- Step 4: Planning a content strategy
- Step 5: Link building
Step 1: Auditing Your Website
Before we can successfully implement SEO, a key step to take is to assess the current state of your website so we can fix what’s missing and optimize what’s already working.
A very common mistake for many SEO practitioners is to avoid performing the SEO audit because it is often perceived as too technical. However, an SEO audit isn’t actually that difficult/time consuming to perform, and you can check out a step-by-step guide on how to perform an SEO audit with ease.
In essence, however, SEO audit covers five different phases:
- Auditing your site for major and/or obvious issues
- Page speed
- Indexing issues
- Canonicity issues (check whether Google indexes the right version of your site)
- Find 404 pages
- Fix redirects
- Identify issues that are relatively easy/fast to fix and fix them
- Analyzing your organic search traffic performance and find low-hanging fruit opportunities (i.e. keyword gap, content that is already on the 2nd page of Google SERP, etc.)
- Link profile analysis, especially backlink analysis
- Content audit, finding content pieces you can upgrade and those that might need a rework/should be eliminated altogether
There are various tools, some of which are free, that can assist you in your SEO audit process, so make the most of them to your advantage.
Use the results of your SEO audit as the foundation for the next steps.
Step 2: Keyword Research
A huge aspect of keyword research is understanding your target audience and especially their needs–which we have discussed above.
Once you’ve figured out all the important details about your target audience, you can use various available keyword research tools to find your target keywords based on three core principles:
- The target keyword should be relevant and valuable for your target audience. This is mainly signified by a high monthly search volume.
- The target keyword should be relevant for your business, especially your lead generation objectives. That is, not all keywords that are popular with your target audience are going to be relevant for your business.
- Based on your available budget and timeline, the competition for your target keywords should be manageable. Obviously, popular keywords are saturated with competition, and it might not be worth it to pursue the top keywords.
Make a list of your target keywords, and before anything else, you should check whether there are any/some of these keywords your site already ranked for (i.e. on the 2nd page of Google SERP). These can be considered low-hanging opportunities, and you might want to prioritize them in the next steps.
Step 3: Competitive Analysis
Remember that SEO is essentially a competition: you are trying to rank higher than competing websites. So, it would only make sense to perform a competitive analysis to:
- Identify your competitors (it’s possible your SEO competitions aren’t the same as your business competitors)
- Check their approaches to SEO (what kinds of optimizations are they making) and what kinds of content they are making
- Check their backlink profile. Chances are, their backlink sources can also be yours.
The simplest way to perform the competitive analysis is to Google your target keywords and then check the top-ranking pages for these keywords. Ideally, you should check all the pages ranked on the first page of the SERP, but at least thoroughly analyze the top three pages. You can use the information you get from this step in creating your content strategy in the next.
Step 4: Developing a Content Strategy
As discussed, you can (and should) use the information you’ve gathered on your competitive analysis to develop your SaaS content strategy.
How? By analyzing their content pieces that are already ranking high on the SERPs on your target keywords. Their content might give you some ideas on how you should develop yours, but remember that our objective is to rank higher than these content pieces by either:
- Publishing something significantly better than this content: longer, more in-depth, more optimized (both technical and keyword-wise), and so on.
- Publishing something unique by covering the keyword/topic from a different angle. If you can offer unique or brand new stories/information on your content, there’s a chance that Google may recommend it over your competition.
Remember that your option isn’t only creating an essentially similar but updated content, as your competition can simply update their own content and beat yours again. Instead, you can try to be creative.
Once you’ve figured out how you are going to approach each keyword and what kinds of topics you’re going to cover for each keyword, you should develop a content calendar listing:
- The topic/working title of the content piece
- The target keyword (so it’s easier to track SEO performance)
- Who’s responsible for creating the content, and who’s responsible for publication and promotion
- The current status of the content (on progress, published, revised, etc.)
- The date the content is going to be published
- Where the channel is going to be published (which channel)
- How you are going to promote your content to get backlinks (more on this on the next step)
Try to come up with a year worth of editorial calendar, but you can start with a 6-month calendar to kick-off your project.
Step 5: Link Building Strategy
Getting more backlinks to your pages remains the most important ranking factor for your website.
It’s important, however, to note that nowadays Google doesn’t only take account of the number of your backlinks, but the quality of the backlink source is actually just as, if not even more important. You have to get links from reputable sites that are also relevant to your website.
For example, if you are a basketball site but you are getting a backlink from a site focusing on maternity, it won’t bring your site any value, SEO-wise, even if this maternity site is at the top of its niche.
Obviously getting links from high-quality and relevant sites can be easier said than done, but above anything else, the secret lies in your content itself. If your content is valuable, sooner or later you’ll get those links as long as the content is promoted well. Yet, to amplify this, you should make sure to include a link hook in your content.
A link hook is, in a nutshell, a reason for people to link your content, and they can be:
- A new, unique insight regarding a certain topic (i.e. a totally new idea about something)
- A piece of unique information/data, for example, a research report, white paper, data round-up, etc.
- An interesting story worth sharing (i.e. how your company was founded, if it’s interesting)
- Aesthetically pleasing assets (i.e. images, photos, infographics)
Once you’ve made sure your content is high-quality and has included the right hook, you can start pursuing more SaaS link building opportunities by:
- Outreach: reaching out and building relationships with relevant websites and influencers in your niche.
- PR-based: for example, guest-posting, being a guest in a webinar/podcast, etc. so you can promote your content and get a backlink
- Paid: advertising your content via various paid channels not only to get more traffic but also backlinks.
Evaluation and Monitoring
Now that you’ve got your SEO lead generation strategy in place, it’s also important to regularly track your progress and make the necessary adjustments.
It’s important to remember that SEO in most cases is a long-term game and you shouldn’t expect quick results. It can take at least 6 months or even a year before your content can climb on the first page of Google and start generating more leads. So, monitoring your progress throughout these months is very important.
You should monitor:
- SEO performance of the content (ranking).
- The number of traffic generated to the content. Your organic traffic should grow steadily as your ranking climbs.
- The number of inbound links/backlinks to the content
- Social shares of the content (can use tools like BuzzSumo for this purpose)
The idea here is to check which pieces of content/pages have performed well so you can reuse what’s working, and make the necessary adjustment for pages that haven’t performed as desired.
You should also monitor your competitors’ performances. Remember that like you, they are also not static and might have published new content.
In this stage, you might also identify new content/keyword gaps, for example when your competitors are ranking for a new keyword that you haven’t targeted but you may benefit from this keyword. Analyze your competitor’s tactics, and you can certainly imitate their approaches to improve your content whenever possible. There’s no shame in doing so.
Above, we’ve discussed how we can use SEO to assist our lead generation strategy by generating more organic traffic (potential leads).
As we can see, the most important thing in implementing SEO is how well we’ve understood our target audience: their needs, behaviors, and problems; so that we can publish content that can provide effective solutions and deliver value for this target audience. The better you understand your audience, the better your SEO performance will be. You can also check out B2B SEO and Startups SEO services if you need help with your SEO strategy and execution.