Google search is a staple of the lead generation process, but marketing isn’t static. In our latest post, we’re exploring the changing dynamics of this process.
SEO has also been reported to have a close rate of as high as 14.6%. Outbound lead activities, such as direct mail or print advertising, have close rates of only 1.7%.
It’s this sort of statistic that excites digital marketers – particularly when they are reminded that SEO is a relatively low-cost strategy in the first place.
It requires time to set up a strategy and then keep it up to date. But over time a well-implemented can deliver leads and closes with very little human input.
Not many people are arguing with its effectiveness. 59% of B2B marketers say SEO is the strategy that has the most impact on their lead generation process.
Why SEO has remained so important for marketers
In fact, from its primitive early years through to today, SEO has remained a staple of the online lead generation process.
The number 1 position in organic Google results takes 33% of the traffic from the search terms used, while number 2 gets just 18% and number 3 only 11% – and it tapers off from there.
Hitting the top 3 in organic search is, therefore, an incredibly powerful tool for exposure, as they cumulatively take around 62% of all traffic in a given search. And the best way to do this is with a good SEO strategy.
Perhaps the most important reason for SEO’s longevity is that it genuinely still works for companies. That said, the SEO landscape has changed beyond recognition since the first SEO strategies were developed.
The SEO lead generation process seeks out people who are genuinely searching for a specific product or service, rather than advertising to those who have potentially wider interests.
And up to 80% of users ignore the paid search ads anyway – making organic results all the more important as a tool to gain exposure for your company.
The early days – and now
No blog about the progress of SEO dynamics would be complete without a mention of the black hat techniques from its early days – keyword stuffing (sometimes invisible to the eye) and dodgy link building strategies were commonplace.
The problem was, those strategies were actually really effective, as search engine algorithms were less sophisticated back then. But they had the side effect of making it harder for users to find good quality content and helpful information on the products they were after.
Nowadays, things are much cleaner. The search algorithms currently employed by companies like Google will not only ignore, but also actively punish, sites that use these techniques.
For example, it explicitly says that paid-for links put into place with the sole intention of manipulating its search engine will result in a negative impact on the site’s place in its ranking.
So, don’t be tempted by what might seem like an ‘easy’ way out of building a comprehensive – and legitimate – SEO strategy. These techniques don’t work anymore, and you could end up harming your lead generation process by pushing its website out of search results entirely.
A dynamic dash to keep up with the algorithms
Google (and the smaller search engines) are constantly refining their algorithms to deliver better results for users.
As a result, professional SEO strategists must constantly revise their own techniques in order to respond to the changes.
While the exact details of the way each algorithm works is a closely guarded secret, research shows that SEO is a meaningful and measurable tool during the lead generation process.
Some factors never lose their importance. Simply being a long-established site helps to prop up indexation ratings, but no less important are the quality of external links pointing to your site, as well as the actual content your site hosts.
Flimsy, weak, unoriginal content gets punished. Strong and new content, featuring plenty of internal links to hook all the parts of your website together, gets rewarded.
Other factors come and go – particularly when considering the technical aspects of optimized pages (though the consideration of load time is unlikely to be left behind). But quality is always more important than quantity.
AdWords and adverts
The age of AdWords has brought in a far greater awareness of what people are searching for – and the specific words used matter a lot.
SEO strategies are very often put into place at the same time as a PPC campaign in order to get as much exposure in search as possible.
But to be more effective, an SEO lead generation process should not work in parallel with your PPC campaign, but be fully integrated with it.
One Fortune 500 brand found that a tightly integrated approach increased their organic traffic by 30%, saved 35% of their advertising spend and clocked up a 20% increase in quarterly profits!
As we’ve said, ads are often ignored by end users. So, it’s not good enough just to set up a PPC budget and let things roll.
You need to set up an integrated campaign for your lead generation process, which targets the same terms in both PPC and SEO.
The aim is to bring the organic results in line with the ads. This will maximize your exposure on the front page of search results, regardless if your PPC ads are ignored or not.
Mobile marketing is taking over
Smartphones are everywhere
Mobile SEO wasn’t thought about too much in the past – but now 77% of Americans own a smartphone. That’s up from 35% in 2011. Meanwhile, 51% of us own a tablet device of some kind.
In response to the increased prevalence of these devices, Google has taken steps to implement expectations specifically for mobile SEO.
Its Accelerated Mobile Page initiative promotes the creation of lightweight mobile pages that load quickly and look great.
This might seem like an inconvenience at first – who wants to develop a whole new system for mobile? But in terms of your lead generation process, it’s incredibly important.
Firstly, the initiative promotes fast-loading pages. People are not patient. If your page doesn’t load fast, they will give up. Amazon calculated that a 1-second delay would cost it around $1.6 billion in sales. You’re probably starting to see the big picture now.
Bear in mind that a heavy page will also load particularly slowly on a device that is using mobile data rather than Wi-Fi connection.
Not only are fast-loading pages better for your users, allowing them to zip through the purchase funnel towards conversion, Google is now actively rewarding mobile sites in search results which are built to AMP specification.
Tell me about it
Voice search is another feature of mobile-friendly design which has been underused up until now – but is starting to finally catch on.
Around one fifth of all searches performed on either Google’s mobile app or on Android devices are voice searches.
So, to direct people through your lead generation process, you need to think about what people are saying, as well as what they’re typing.
It’s not just wide search terms you need to consider to catch leads.
Local leads are particularly valuable for businesses where customers can walk in. 72% of consumers who search using local terms (for example, “New York” or “Philadelphia”) visit a store within 5 miles.
If they see your shop or restaurant on Google before everyone else in the neighborhood, they may well just walk through the door soon.
Google My Business listings are important too. Having an Owner Verified profile, photos and reviews has been shown to increase profile views – though note this is correlation, not causation. Though it does make sense that if you give people more to look at, they’re perhaps more likely to look.
Google My Business is free, too, so there’s really no good reason not to set one up. It’s a good chance to reach out to leads and describe what you do – plus provide them with an address and opening hours.
A customer who sees an address which is right around the corner from them is more likely to swing by – you never know who’s searching!
You need to think about what Google is showing your potential customers though. For example, your lead generation process may be harmed by negative consumer reviews, which 85% of consumers will read.
This is a good way to introduce the point that your entire online presence adds up to a whole. It’s not just your SEO results or even your site optimization that’ll make your lead generation process rev.
Nowadays, you need to accept that there are different touch points consumers may come across when using the internet. That might be display ads, search results, emails you’ve sent them or your social pages.
All of these aspects need to build up your online presence for the best results.
Let’s be social
Social and SEO go together hand-in-hand. They’re both organic, inbound strategies which aim to increase exposure of a brand. Although they focus less on direct sales, they’re a vital part of the lead generation process.
They help to bring in customers who are still in the ‘research’ stage of their purchase. A social presence gives customers the opportunity to check out the company a little. And at the same time, you can optimize the copy of each and every post so that it performs well in search.
Plus, the other main benefit of making social accounts is that you can directly advertise to people who match your target demographic on many of these platforms.
We believe Facebook is the best platform for advertising, as it has a very complex optimization process, backed by mountains of user data. In other words, it’s great at spotting people who you might quickly warm up into leads.
Don’t dismiss other platforms, of course – they have other uses too. Facebook and Twitter accounts (and the rest) are also fantastic tools for encouraging external link building.
Due to the very inclusive nature of these platforms, and the fact they’re so widely used, these links are naturally diverse. This is fantastic for your authority ranking in Google’s estimation.
Beyond the big social networks, comment fields and on-site review boxes give consumers the chance to give feedback – which other consumers find very valuable. In fact, 88% of people trust online reviews as much as they would a recommendation from a friend.
Images and words
Engaging your users is really important – as we’re sure you know. An easy way to do this is with pictures – which should be optimized for SEO results
A YouTube channel can be another aspect of your social reach, and if you’re regularly creating videos this can be a powerful asset in your lead generation process.
What you may be less aware of is the fact that video SEO is slowly becoming more important for search.
More views and a better ranking means that a video will rank higher in search. This is also affected by the number of user comments, the number of subscribers the channel has, and the keywords used in the title and the description.
It’s not rocket science – but predictions have been made that video will soon be the most consumed type of content online. So getting a firm grip on your video SEO strategy now can only be good for your lead generation process.
What’s next for the SEO lead generation process?
It’s hard to say what’s next. Emerging technologies such as smart speakers are likely to mean that voice search becomes important in the very near future.
Search engine algorithm may get even better at understanding a person’s intent, rather than just the keywords it recognizes. This might tie into voice search, in terms of the tone of voice a person is using, for example.
Google will continue to develop search engine algorithms capable of handling ever more complex search queries and returning more accurate and helpful results. And Whenever it updates its algorithm, businesses must measure the impact and adjust their own approach.
A professional hand is perhaps the most useful tool you can have. A knowledgeable expert can guide you through the ever-changing SEO landscape, to prepare you for the next change and the next challenge – and keep your lead generation process in good shape.
Call us for a consultation, and we’ll teach you how to use SEO to take your lead generation process forwards.