When it comes to driving relevant traffic to your site that converts into real revenue, SEO is still the most effective online marketing tactic. SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, as opposed to outbound leads which have a 1.7% close rate (Search Engine Journal). When it comes to SEO there are many different views and opinions. There are a few core elements that you need to have in place in order to successfully rank and drive traffic. In this post, we will outline 6 proven and essential pieces your strategy must have in order to generate more SEO leads.
Table of Contents
1: Content: Fact and Fiction
One of the biggest misconceptions about SEO is that if you create a lot of content; you will rank for more terms. While having good content is important, content alone won’t magically give you the ranking you so desperately want and need. If fact, just creating “quality” content won’t do it either. The main reason is the word “quality” is extremely subjective and if no one reads, interacts with, or shares that content then Google and the other search engines assume it’s irrelevant. So many site owners, including myself, have spent hours and hours blogging and developing content only to see minimal gains in traffic.
So what’s the deal? Does content even matter?
Of course, it does, but maybe not in the way that many on the web are thinking. Long-form, 1500+ words, targeted content that is created with the purpose and intent to share is the key to ranking for highly competitive terms.
SerpIQ conducted a study in 2012 involving more than 20,000 keywords. Their results showed that the average content length of each of the top 10 results was more than 2,000 words. Why marketers and site owners need to pay attention to this study is that it backs up what Google themselves are saying. This idea that long-form content benefits search engine optimization (SEO) stemmed from a hint that’s been dropped on the Google Webmasters Central Blog. Pandu Nayak, creator of the Panda algorithm update, posted the following:
“Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today we’re introducing new search results to help users find in-depth articles.”
Google understands its user’s wants and needs. Their goal is to deliver the most relevant and in-depth content so that the searchers get exactly what they need in as few searches as possible.
In order to rank for the terms that will drive traffic, long-form content, that engages the reader and promotes sharing is a must.
2. The Power of Keyword Research
There are a number of those in the online marketing world that believe “keyword research” is no longer relevant. Once again, the belief is that if you just focus on writing and publishing a ton of content, you will get more traffic. While you may get some more traffic by publishing more content, the real question is will you get the right traffic? This is why keyword research is so important.
I wish I could count the number of times a client has asked to rank for a certain term that we’ve uncovered has little or no traffic. While the easy thing would be to say sure, the right thing to do is show the client that the terms they think their users are searching for and the terms their users are actually searching for are very different. In order to uncover the right keywords, you have to do your research.
The first step in effective keyword research that will drive SEO leads to your site, is determining the business goal or purpose of the website. This could be to generate sales, promote your brand, or lead generation. This is important to understand because it will help you find SEO opportunities.
When doing keyword research, linking the purpose of your site with the user’s intent is a must. This will not only help when researching terms but also in the conversion of site visitors. When breaking down keywords, group them into categories. Then you can decide which terms are most relevant in accomplishing your SEO goals. Here are 4 categories to help you get started.
- Navigational: These are terms that are linked to people just browsing. They are generally broad and generic. They are most usually used on sites that provide a ton of information with the goal of being a content provider.
- Informational: Here we go a little deeper. Targeting more niche terms will help you target more specific and qualified traffic. Informational keywords are purpose-driven and their focus is on the searcher who needs more information on a specific service or product.
- Commercial: This type of keyword is focused on the user who is getting close to making a purchase. These terms are focused on a specific product or brand and tend to be very narrow. The goal here is to help convert those looking to make a purchase.
- Transactional: These terms are focused on searchers who are looking to buy. They are extremely specific and purpose-driven. Think of them as “calls to action.” These are the narrowest keywords in your list but also the most profitable.
Remember the purpose of your site will determine the extent to which you use each group of keywords. A blog about aquatic life will have fewer transactional terms than an e-commerce site. Once you’ve created your lists it’s time to research those terms and focus on the higher traffic terms with the lowest competition. For an in-depth, step-by-step walkthrough on how to use Google Adwords for keyword research check out this post.
3. On-Page Website Optimization
Having clean code and an optimized site is a must when it comes to achieving your SEO goals. Everything counts in a highly competitive online marketing world, so taking the extra time to ensure your website is healthy, functioning properly, and is optimized appropriately may give you that extra boost you need to out-rank the competition.
Delivering your content to users fast, effectively, and safely will help score you some points with the search engines. A study done on the Moz blog uncovered these interesting findings:
The back-end performance of a website directly impacts search engine ranking. The back-end includes the web servers, their network connections, the use of CDNs, and the back-end application and database servers. Website owners should explore ways to improve their TTFB. This includes using CDNs, optimizing your application code, optimizing database queries, and ensuring you have fast and responsive web servers. ~ Zoompf
Google and the other search engines take security seriously and if your site is unsafe and slow you can’t expect to rank and drive SEO leads. The goal of search engines is to provide the best answer to the searcher’s question in the fastest time possible. It’s about the end user and their goal. Site speed and load time are important and must be accounted for when creating an SEO strategy.
Optimizing your site in a traditional sense is also very important. Again this has a dual purpose. First, any chance you have to tell the search engines more about your site, you should take it. This means adding keywords into metadata, your content, images, and schema markup. While many of these ranking signals are not as strong as they once were, they are still very important.
The second reason is that they help the users know what your site is about and can help improve your conversions. Having transactional keywords in your title and meta description can help convert searchers. Adding alt and title tags to your images not only helps their ranking in image searches but also provides those who are handicapped to understand your site better.
Having a website that is optimized and cleanly built will not only help you rank better but drive more focused and targeted traffic.
4. The Power of Promotion
If you are spending the time to develop content for the purpose of building your organic traffic, promoting that content is a must. Just posting content on a regular basis will do little to get you the traffic you want. There are a number of channels available to get your content into the hands of not just your buyers but also those who will cite, share and link to your content. It’s the second group that is the most powerful in helping you get the traffic you so desperately are looking for.
Promotion includes any outreach efforts made on your part to connect your content to those who want it. A great place to start is social media and not just posting your content to your followers. Using social media prospecting can help you find industry and thought leaders. After connecting with them, politely and creatively ask them to check out your post or offer and ask for feedback. Don’t be annoying, that’s a great way to push them away and don’t get discouraged if they don’t reply or say no. Just move on and keep connecting.
Get Your Free Social Media Prospecting Workbook and Learn How to Connect with Industry Thought Leaders and Prospects.
Another way to promote is by using email. There are tons of great tools out there that can help you find email addresses of people who may be able to link to it or help you promote your content. Again, don’t overdo it, and make sure that your content adds value to the individual. Aero Leads is a fantastic tool that can help you find the emails of people who may want to promote your content. Here is a great email template you can use to help you connect without sounding pushy. (Email template based on Brian Deans Skyscraper Technique)
I was searching for some articles about [Your Topic] today and I came across this page: [URL]
I noticed you linked to one of my favorite articles ~ [Article Title]
Just wanted to give you a heads-up that I created a very similar piece of content here [Your URL] and thought it might be worth a mention on your page or social account.
Either way, keep up the awesome work!
The key is to be authentic and helpful. Again, you want to add value when promoting. Make sure you actually read that person’s post before sending them a promotion or link request. Make it easy for them to say yes!
Another great avenue for the promotion of your content is sites like Medium, Blogger, or any other multi-user content site. Now, don’t just copy and paste your content over to these sites. Create a summary of your post or additional information about the topic you are covering and then link to your larger article.
Lastly, using social bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon can help get your content in front of people who will not just read it, but link to it and share it. When using these sites, don’t go overboard, and don’t forget to share the love. You can’t expect people to promote your content if you’re not willing to promote theirs.
5. Links Still Matter
When it comes to ranking for high-traffic terms that generate tons of SEO leads, link building is a must. The truth is links are still the most important ranking signal search engines use when determining the authority of a page. But as many site owners who got crushed by Google Penguin updates found out, not all links are created equal.
In the last section, we talked about promoting content to others in our industry who may link back to our content. This is a great strategy to earn relevant links. Google wants to see links that make sense. This means if you’re in the medical field, having a link from a preschool blog is probably going to look spammy. The key is to earn links from industry and thought leaders as well as build links from relevant and trustworthy sources inside your niche.
So how do you do this?
Great questions. There are a number of ways to build links the right way. I recommend reading some of Brian Dean’s stuff over at Backlinko and Investing in Link Moses Private from Eric Ward if you are serious about this stuff. Eric Ward has been in the link building business since 1994. Both of these guys understand how to build links the right way. White hat SEO is the only way to go if you want to see sustainable, long-term SEO success.
For those of you who don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands to devote to link building there are a few tools that can really help you out.
Link Prospector from Citation Labs is a great tool to help you find a variety of new outreach opportunities. Using this tool, you can to get your content the relevant amplification it needs to earn links and shares.
Whitespark is a great tool to help your local SEO lead generation. This tool will help you find relevant sites to add your business’ citations. Why is this important? For local SEO your citation is just as good as a backlink. (If often includes your URL as well.) If you don’t have time to do this on your own, Whitespark has a dedicated team that can do the citation building for you, the right way.
Lastly, if you need good, high-quality white hat links but have neither the time nor the expertise, there is only one company we recommend. The Hoth is a multifaceted, long-term link building service that allows you to focus on more important things, instead of wasting time and energy building links. They are backed by data from 1000s of SEO campaigns. No matter the industry or competition, The HOTH works. When it comes to outsourcing your link building, you need to have someone you can trust to do it the right way and that is exactly what The Hoth does.
6. Breaking down the metrics
To wrap things up I want to briefly discuss the importance of tracking your campaign. So many site owners want their site to work for them but so many ignore the analytics and ranking data. You can’t drive SEO leads by blindly trying new tactics. You have to know where you are in order to strategize for where you want to go next.
Looking at trends in your data and how users are engaging with your site is a must if you want to continue to grow your online presence. Google Analytics is a great free tool that gives you a ton of data about your site traffic as well as information on the people who are visiting your site. We did a detailed breakdown of how to understand SEO metrics in this post here: Understanding SEO Metrics ~ Rank Tracking, Organic Search and more.
One thing to note is that Google does withhold a ton of information, so in order to get a clearer picture of what is actually going on, some other tools may be needed. We use SEMrush for keyword data, Wincher for keyword rankings, and Hubspot as our go-to reports tool. What’s great about Hubspot is that it links all of our marketing efforts together. This allows us to see the impact search is having on the rest of our online marketing efforts and what we need to tweak to improve our campaigns.
While most of the time we look at the organic search when it comes to determining how our SEO is doing, an experiment done by the SEO team at Groupon showed that up to 60% of “Direct” traffic can actually be from organic search. The cause comes from incorrect referral data sent from browsers. Read the whole article here.
The main reason I brought that up is that ALL data matters and if you have to pay attention to what your data is telling you!
SEO is still one of the most important aspects of any online marketing campaign. In order to drive targeted traffic and increase SEO leads you have to focus on creating content that urges people to share and link to it, have thorough and targeted keyword research, make sure your site is lean and mean, promote your content, build relevant links, and track your progress. Having a clear focus and putting these principles into practice will help you not just generate more SEO leads, but revenue as well.