The 6 Steps of SEO-Based Lead Generation
Watching your website visitors graph grow feels good, but traffic by itself is useless. If it’s not contributing to your main business KPIs, it’s just a vanity metric.
That's one trap we fell into when we started content marketing here at Userlike back in 2014. Over the years, we've sharpened our content marketing towards the purpose of creating high-value leads, and currently SEO-based lead generation is at the heart of our marketing strategy.
Compared to "paid" channels, this strategy takes time until you start seeing results. But once it starts kicking in, it’s like a gift that keeps on giving. And as I'll explain below, it allows you to cast a much wider net than if you’d rely on paid channels.
But how do you do it? In this article, I've condensed what we've learned over the years. While we come from the specific market of B2B software applications, the principles stay the same for any business for whom lead generation is an import area.
- Why SEO lead generation gets you accelerated results
- Main principles of SEO lead generation
- Six steps for successful SEO lead generation
- Capturing and nurturing leads
1Why SEO lead generation gets you accelerated results
Both SEO and lead generation are things most modern businesses spend time and effort on. As individual elements they are both important parts of a marketing strategy.
But when used together strategically, they become greater than the sum of their parts. That’s because SEO done correctly doesn’t just help with lead generation. It accelerates it.
Let me explain.
SEO is a fundamental part of inbound marketing . This means that instead of putting your message in front of people who haven’t asked for it, you get your potential customers to come to you first. This allows you to become a trusted resource on a topic and opens people up to hearing more from you.
Sure, inbound methods like SEO might take a little longer to reach potential leads than paid advertising. But the audience you do attract is usually much warmer . This usually speeds up the process of converting site visitors into leads and leads into customers.
In addition, SEO is great for lead generation because it’s constantly working . Social media and paid advertising have their place, of course, and can be integral parts of a lead generation strategy. But SEO doesn’t run into the problems these strategies do.
Both are like harpoons that require you to constantly reload. Google ads "burn" money, while social media posts have a short “shelf life.” SEO-based lead generation is more like throwing out fish traps. Besides the occasional maintenance, what ranks in search engines pretty much runs on its own.
What's more, SEO lead generation allows you to cast a much wider net than paid channels . In principle, you could bid on the same keywords that you aim to rank for through SEO. But in practice, it's impossible to track the return of this investment due to the long cycles that people actually go through until making a purchase.
If you start ranking, the cost per visit is so low that you can afford to cover topics much higher up the funnel. Instead of targeting, say, "website chat" , you can target much broader topics like how to optimize your website for lead generation .
SEO and lead generation shouldn’t be approached as two separate entities. Rather, they are two foundational pillars that work together to help your audience and deepen your relationship with them as a business. If search engines are the doors to your leads, a well-rounded SEO strategy is the key.
That said, it’s essential to know a few main principles of SEO lead generation before we cover specific strategies.
2Main principles of SEO lead generation
First, SEO lead generation is all about content. This is the first thing you need to understand. And not just any content, but “10X content” that is consistent and focuses fully on providing helpful, educational and relevant value to your target audience.
A great content strategy establishes your business as an authority in your space. Over time, this strategy allows you to become a trusted resource on a topic through the value that you provide. This in turn increases the likelihood that people who find you become a lead and eventually a customer.
Don’t forget: it’s easier to sell ideas than products. SEO content allows you to educate people about the problems they have, and then offer products that connect seamlessly to that idea.
Second, it’s essential with SEO lead generation to understand user intent . As search engine algorithms have become increasingly advanced, they have gotten better at understanding what people are actually searching for. This means a Google search for your keyword is usually accurate in showing you the type of content users want to see.
There is certainly value in thinking about content ideas before looking at search results. As just one example, it forces you to be creative. That said, understanding user intent is essential in creating content in line with what people actually want.
Lastly, as I said before, simply driving traffic to your site is not enough . Effective SEO lead generation focuses on traffic that actually has the potential to become leads.
This is a mistake that we personally made at Userlike. When we started with keyword research, we only considered volume and difficulty of ranking. We have since added a “productability” tag for keywords. This shows us how prominently we can feature Userlike content and allows us to effectively prioritize certain keywords over others.
Now that you understand both the effectiveness and main principles of SEO lead generation, let’s move onto the steos.
3Six steps for successful SEO lead generation
Before we begin with our six SEO lead generation steps, it’s important to note that there are different types of SEO. While you should know about all of them for a well-rounded approach, the one we will be focusing on here is “on page SEO.” This basically includes the most important elements of a great content plan.
Let’s take a look at them now:
1Pick and organize your topics strategically
It’s important from the beginning to clarify the topics you will cover with your content. This allows you to focus your content creation efforts and target a topic from many different angles. This is essential – you want readers to encounter you repeatedly about the same subject. This positions yourself as an authoritative source.
Remember how I said that thinking about a topic before researching it is a good way to be creative? Before you write a word, envision what sort of content people will need at each stage of the funnel. Think about what would be helpful for them. This will set you up for the next two steps.
At Userlike, for example, two of the main content topics we cover are chatbots and digital customer service. Customer service is not only a priority of all businesses, but one of the main tasks that the Userlike product helps with. Chatbots, on the other hand, is a topic that many businesses are interested in learning more about.
Picking these topics is no accident. By aligning our content strategy with topics of specific interest to our audience and that connect to our product, we not only help our readers with their problems but position Userlike as a potential solution.
Organizing your content topics is also essential. We here at Userlike use the “hub and spoke” model . This makes it easier for search engines to understand the layout of your content and helps you rank highly. It also improves the user experience for website visitors which makes it more likely they will turn into leads.
2Do extensive keyword research
This is where all content creation should start. Keyword research ensures that you are creating content that is in high demand and valuable to your audience. This builds trust, belief in your company and a higher willingness to become a lead.
Keyword research also shows you how difficult it is to rank for specific keywords and phrases. It’s then more likely that you are creating content you have a realistic chance to rank for and drive visitors to - an essential component of SEO lead generation.
3Create helpful content for each stage of the funnel
Time for content creation. Let’s face it: different site visitors want different things. That’s why pairing your content type with the funnel stage is so important. It treats each site visitor as an individual, provides the value that they need and positions you as somebody they can trust to solve their problems.
What does this look like in practice? Well, first time site visitors are probably just looking for information. Informative blog posts would be a good choice here. People closer to a purchasing decision, meanwhile, might be better served with a whitepaper regarding your product features. This personalized approach to content builds your relationship with each visitor and gradually convinces them to become a lead.
4Talk to your customers for content ideas
While keyword research will help you fill out your content schedule, asking your customers directly is never a bad idea. These are conversations that show you what kind of topics your leads care about and allows you to empathize with the problems they’re having. It’s then easier to make targeted content for your audience, which makes it more likely to turn them into a buyer. This is a wonderful feedback loop for your content creation.
There are several ways to talk to your customers, from surveys of your email list to questions posed on social media platforms. In our experience, however, there is no substitute for direct conversations, e.g. over the phone. We've set up a customer interview process, which you can read about in our article on "How to Get Started with Customer Interviews."
5Conduct a content audit
All benefits aside, SEO-based lead generation is a lot of work. Thankfully, a content audit is one of the best and quickest ways to optimize your SEO lead generation.
You probably already have a fair amount of content. This might include blog posts, product descriptions, landing pages, sales letters… really anything on your website. With an audit, you simply go in and update that content .
You make it more relevant, more current, and more in line with the search results of the keyword you’re targeting. You might also try to fix high bounce rates. This strategy is especially valuable as the majority of your traffic often comes from old content .
While gathering backlinks from high authority sites is actually an “off page” strategy, it’s too important to SEO lead generation to leave out. Backlinks to your website (or “votes of confidence”) get you ranked higher in search results and drive more traffic to your site.
This not only gives you more chances for capturing and nurturing leads, but raises your domain authority over time. This makes it progressively easier over time to rank highly for every piece of content you publish.
There are a variety of ways to gain backlinks. At Userlike, for example, we reach out to mentioned resources, boost our content on social media, and send out newsletters to our email list. These all increase the likelihood that people link back to us, thus driving more traffic to our site and making lead generation easier.
Check out this guide for more information on effectively building backlinks to your site.
4Capturing and nurturing leads
Following the six steps above will dramatically improve your SEO lead generation. It might not happen immediately, as SEO takes time to work, but you will certainly start to see results.
Now it’s time to actually capture your leads. While there are several ways to do this, the most common is with an email signup form. These kinds of leads are “top of the funnel.” This usually means that they’re not looking to buy and are better served with education. You can provide this education in exchange for their email address with a lead magnet . Check out our post on how to optimize your website for lead generation for more ideas.
Once you’ve captured leads, the next step is to nurture them. This stage is essential, as leads take an average of five interactions with you before thinking about buying. Of course, with enough nurturing, you will naturally move prospects closer to a purchase. These leads are then considered “bottom of the funnel”: they’re interested in your product but have questions before buying.
One of the best ways to answer these questions (and to avoid cluttering your website with text) is to open a direct communication channel with them through a website chat solution like Userlike . This is easy for your leads and allows you to guide them towards a purchase with helpful communication.
Our product lets your leads ask you questions directly. It also enables you to give quick, professional and helpful answers. These conversations not only build trust with your audience, but give you valuable insight into common questions they have (as well as content you might create to fill that gap).
If you're interested in strengthening customer relations through direct conversation, just sign up for a free Userlike trial here .
*Meta mode on*: You see what I did there? The topic of lead generation lends itself to naturally include the solution that we are offering as a business. And I have no issues with switching into "selling mode," because Userlike actually does help many businesses with generating leads. All our customers from the automotive industry, for example, really just implement Userlike on their websites with the purpose of capturing more leads.
Your products or services also solve one or more specific problems. Your customers "hire" whatever you offer for a certain "job to be done." If you create helpful content around these problems or jobs, capturing the leads that you attract with that will be relatively easy. They will be like, "shut up and take my money!"
SEO lead generation - the gift that keeps on giving
SEO lead generation, when done right, builds a solid foundation for your business’s future success. Good SEO constantly brings people to your website. These people, with the strategies laid out above combined with lead capturing, become leads. Lead nurturing moves them down the funnel, and when done correctly, results in a sale.
SEO and lead generation truly are a match made in heaven!