The buyers’ journey in our current business climate shouldn’t shock you. For 71% of B2B buyers it starts online as anonymous research for the first three months. In fact, the first three resources for research are a general web search, a specific vendor’s website and internet review sites (2020 B2B Buyer Behavior Study).
For those of you who have your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts running smoothly, you are in a great position to attract your active buyers’ interest. But what if you don’t? What if the active buyers you’re targeting can’t find you? To reach them, you have to be visible with effective SEO that places you in front of those anonymous searchers in your target market to pull them to your website and add you to their short list of possible solution providers.
Lead Generation Strategies
SEO is a foundational digital marketing tactic you must include as a part of your overall B2B lead generation efforts. Your goal with SEO is to outrank the competition. Whatever information your active buyer is searching for, you want your company to show up on the first page of search results to be considered a valuable solution.
Think about how lead generation works:
1. You create a plan to establish a relationship with your target market.
You plan an approach using a variety of lead generation strategies: email campaigns, Google AdWords, social campaigns, cold calling, SEO and more to provide information showcasing your knowledge, products, services and solutions.
2. You reach out to connect, engage and inform with them using different lead generation strategies.
Many times, you are an unknown name. In some cases, your prospect has been introduced to your brand but often forgets who you are or what you provide.
3. Active buyers conduct an online search as their need arises.
If you’re present when they search, they remember you, click and call. If you’re not present, they may or may not remember to contact you. You’re dependent upon them remembering you from your other lead generation activities. You’re planning that an email campaign will reach their inbox on the exact day they are searching. You’re relying on them to see your latest LinkedIn post and remember you could help.
While you need email and social campaigns as part of your complete lead generation strategy, you want to improve the odds that you’ll be remembered and found with peak performing SEO.
When an active buyer is searching for answers and can’t find you, you have diminished the effectiveness of all those lead generation activities. Even if you are the company that introduced a solution to a prospect, when they begin their own online research in earnest and you don’t appear, you can be certain another company will materialize. When your searching prospect finds a dozen other options, it’s easy for them to dive into those other websites looking for a solution that isn’t yours.
Research shows that B2B investigators do twelve searches before clicking through to engage with a specific company’s site. If you aren’t on page one of the results for those twelve searches, your lead generation efforts get much harder. In our experience at KLA Group, prospects open your email campaigns, read your blogs, download assets from your website, attend your webinars and still conduct online searches. Active buyers may or may not reply to an email campaign. That’s why we pass so many marketing qualified leads to salespeople to call.
Without effective SEO, your sales team must be very skilled at converting marketing qualified leads to first appointments to fill your sales funnel. Unfortunately, that’s a refined skill we see lacking in the majority of salespeople, and we frequently teach it as part of prospecting training.
What is Bad SEO?
Now that you know how important SEO is as a lead generation strategy, consider how you determine if your SEO is good or bad, because frankly, bad SEO is as good as a phonebook: worthless for leads.
There are over 200 search triggers that fall into two categories that Google looks at when deciding who to rank in a search and in which position. The two categories are On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO.
Inside this category lies all the technical components of your website. Everything from the html code that runs the site, to your site speed, to your use of keywords and content are considered factors in search engine optimization.
Bad On-Page SEO comes from ignoring the technical errors and warnings that arise in the natural running of any website. Broken links, missing ALT tags, meta descriptions that are too long, and duplicate meta descriptions are all examples of technical problems your website could be experiencing.
Bad SEO also stems from having too little content on a page. Google is moving toward user experience (UX) as a bigger search trigger than ever. That means you need lots of great content, in-depth solutions, and deep dives into the answers your searchers seek. Gone are the 150-word pages. Think detailed and informational as you plan your web page content.
This category of SEO revolves around the things that take place off your website. Directory listings, links to your site from other sites, and social media signals are examples of off-page SEO triggers.
Bad Off-Page SEO comes from having incorrect information across your digital footprint, few links to your site from other sites, and a weak presence on social media channels.
While your social channels may not be generating inbound leads, they are signaling to Google how active you are. If you’ve been thinking of dropping your social because of the level of effort, call us to manage it for you and keep it up. Frequent, consistent social posts help your SEO.
SEO Activities to Add to Your Lead Generation Strategy
Our new normal business environment has fewer networking opportunities, no live events, and reduced referral potential. Prospecting for new opportunities is harder than ever. Some companies have extended their buy cycles while others have frozen budgets. Your success entering into 2021 depends on your actions today.
Build these SEO activities into your lead generation strategy to position yourself for that success.
1. Assess your current SEO status.
Get a current report on the status of both your on-page and off-page metrics.
2. Analyze your website.
Do a deep-dive analysis of your website including visitor behavior, traffic sources, content length and backlinks.
3. Build an SEO timeline.
SEO activities can seem overwhelming. Create a timeline to tackle each area in a systematic fashion. Fix errors, create new content and add keywords where appropriate.
4. Maintain your SEO.
SEO is not something you can set and forget. It requires constant minding. The rules are continually changing, impacting how well you are showing up when active buyers search. Plan to monitor it regularly and make continual adjustments.
Don’t let bad SEO negatively affect the lead generation efforts you’ve worked so hard on.