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Leveraging SEO for Lead Generation: Creating Qualified Organic Leads

by | Oct 7, 2022

68% of online experiences begin with one thing — a search engine.1 Search engines have become the primary gateway to discover new brands and embark on new customer journeys. So, it is no surprise that 63% of purchases2 are now attributed to an online experience. How many leads could your business generate if your digital marketing targeted that first touchpoint, the search engine? 

Search engine marketing, specifically search engine optimization (SEO), has redefined how potential customers can find and interact with a business. An astounding 70% of online marketers3 claim organic SEO is better than paid ads for generating qualified leads; not to mention, leads driven through SEO are notoriously less expensive than leads obtained through paid media. 

Below we’ll explain how to leverage SEO for lead generation to drive qualified leads. 

What is SEO Lead Generation?

SEO lead generation is the process of increasing awareness for a business by driving more organic traffic to the brand’s website through search engine results pages (SERPs) so more potential customers can find and interact with website content to become qualified leads.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an all-encompassing term that refers to any organic marketing activity that helps to achieve higher visibility for your website and its online content. SEO lead generation includes link building and page formatting, embedding relevant keywords, and optimizing headings and page titles to drive potential customers to a website. 

The reason SEO lead generation is so relevant to marketers today is two-fold. For one, search engines like Google are among the most trusted websites in the world. As a result, consumers view brands that can appear highly on SERPs as both reputable and safe for their business. Secondly, higher placement on SERPs guarantees higher discoverability to enhance brand awareness.

The more your website content appears on the first page of search results, the easier it is for your target audience to discover and interact with your business solutions. With an average organic click-through rate (CTR) of 94.95%4, the top page in a Google search can earn dozens of organic leads daily. Here’s how to capture those leads with SEO for lead gen. 

How to Create an SEO Lead Generation Strategy

An SEO lead generation strategy must drive organic traffic to your website, where relevant optimizations can then guide new web visitors to pages with the highest propensity to convert — such as a page with a contact form — to produce qualified organic leads. Follow these five steps to develop a lead generation SEO campaign that can drive fresh organic leads for your business. 

1. Define Target Audience and Goals

Defining your goals is the first step in an SEO lead generation strategy. Though the main objective of your SEO strategy may be to generate leads, aiming for a very general goal like that will be incredibly difficult to maintain and optimize over time. So instead, it’s essential to be as specific as possible with your goals and the particular key performance indicators (KPIs) you plan to track. 

KPIs to target when conducting SEO for lead generation include:

  • Organic Conversions (Leads)
  • Non-branded Clicks
  • Non-branded Impressions
  • Total Organic Traffic 
  • Organic Bounce Rate
  • Organic Conversion Rate
  • Average Position

Head to Google Search Console to monitor search impressions over time. Next, establish your Google Analytics to maintain total visibility over total traffic, new users, acquisition channels, and bounce rate. Set up conversion goals within Google Analytics to define how you will quantify a new organic lead, such as contact information captured via a web form. 

Once you’ve developed your goals for SEO for lead gen, it’s time to define your audience. A thorough understanding of your customer profile or buyer persona — especially their shared pain points, everyday needs, and type of marketing materials they value — will help you shape content that resonates. Remember, content should appeal to leads ready to purchase, not just any web user. 

2. Conduct an Organic Content Audit

With goals and an audience in mind, you can move along to an organic content audit. A content audit is a systematic analysis of all content on your website. An audit aims to better understand the present strengths and weaknesses in your organic strategy and content development, so you can craft relevant material that speaks to your audience’s shared pain points.

Start your organic content audit by reviewing your Google Analytics and Search Console data. How many organic users do you drive to your website? Which pages are the most popular and have driven conversions? These are the pages you’ll want to leverage in your SEO campaign.

With an organic content audit, you’ll especially want to evaluate the relevance of your content. To determine what topics appear to be the most important to your audience, analyze behavior metrics like bounce rates and session durations. For example, where are users navigating to on your site, and where are they staying the longest? What about the shortest amount of time and fewest visitors?

Don’t forget to address elements of on-page and technical SEO to learn why some pieces of content outperform others. An on-page content audit should reveal if each page has:

  • One H1 tag that includes a target keyword and is under 70 characters
  • Meta title that is 55 to 60 characters long and includes the target keyword(s)
  • Meta description that is 150 to 155 characters and consists of a call-to-action (CTA)
  • URLs that contain the target keyword(s)
  • Relevant Schema 

Take note of all pages that fail to meet the above criteria, as well as any page on your site with an unusually high bounce rate or the shortest time on page. These pages from your organic content audit should be the first to receive relevant content optimizations to assist your SEO strategy. 

3. Keyword Research & Search Intent

The next step in SEO for lead gen is keyword research. Keywords serve as the basis of all SEO efforts. As you become more familiar with your target market, you’ll uncover which search queries enable new users to find your website and the types of keywords that can make your content more relevant. Keyword research will also reveal what topics already bring traffic to your website.

There are several ways to conduct keyword research. For the most robust organic content strategy, you’ll want to invest in keyword mapping, a process that matches valuable search queries with relevant pages on your website. Select relevant primary keywords, long-tail keywords, and the related keywords you want your website to rank for and assign them to current site pages.

As you select relevant keywords, be sure also to consider the user intent behind each query. User intent, often referred to as search intent when speaking about SEO, is the purpose behind a search query. It refers to how a user plans to use the information they uncover. There are four types of search intent that can be attached to a specific keyword: 

  • Informational intent implies a user has a certain question or wants to know more about a specific topic.
  • Navigational intent implies a user wants to visit a particular brand’s website. 
  • Commercial intent implies that a user knows they want to purchase something but would prefer to do more research (commercial investigation). 
  • Transactional intent implies a user is prepared to purchase a specific product. 

Certain keywords like ‘Nike Air Max One reviews’ naturally have a more commercial intent, whereas a primary keyword like just ‘Nike’ is more navigational. Pairing more descriptive pages, such as product pages and knowledge libraries, with commercial and informational keywords is vital. Pair more transactional keywords with conversion-focused pages. The more keywords align with intent, the fewer users will bounce once they reach the page. 

4. Analyze Competitors’ Keywords and Traffic 

After you’ve compiled and mapped your keywords, now is the opportunity to analyze your competitors’. Competitor rankings impact SEO for lead generation, as only one website can secure the coveted ranking for a valuable keyword. Use a keyword analysis tool to evaluate the pages and topics that your competitors have developed to drive traffic. 

From here, conduct a keyword gap analysis or research the keywords that drive traffic to competitor websites but not yours. For example, what subjects are your competitors hitting on that you are not? Is it worth it for you to pursue these subjects? Remember, keywords should match user intent and be highly relevant to the solutions you provide and the problems you solve.

Next, use your competitor research to determine your strengths. What subjects are you hitting on that your competition is not? How can you develop your strengths further to stay ahead of the competition? Once combined with your organic content audit, keyword research and competitor analysis will reveal the type of content you need to produce to begin to rank higher on SERPs. 

5. Develop Content Pillars

Now that you’ve secured your primary goals, target audience, and relevant keyword optimizations, you can begin to develop content pillars. Also referred to as content buckets or content clusters, content pillars are the foundation of successful organic content. They encompass three to five highly relevant topics your brand will discuss, create content for, and amplify in your website content.  

Content pillars are especially helpful when crafting SEO for lead gen, as they help ensure your SEO efforts are spread evenly from brand awareness through lead generation to ultimate conversion. Without content pillars, your SEO for lead generation will likely lack an overall direction, which can impact potential rankings, decrease potential reach, and negate possible brand recognition. 

It is often helpful to return to your keyword research to discover the topics already bringing users to your website. Such topics make for strong content pillars, as they’ve already shown success. For instance, if you’re a kitchen accessories retailer that’s currently ranking for several recipe pages, recipes can become your first content pillar to craft additional new content around. 

Likewise, consider the four different types of search intent and ensure you create pillars that speak to every kind of search. For example, all of your content cannot be transactional, as you’ll need informative or commercial content on your website to encourage a conversion. Similarly, consider producing an array of ‘gated content,’ or content that’s only accessible after filling out a lead contact form.

Creating Organic Content That Drives Leads

Remember when we mentioned that the goal of ‘generating leads’ was too broad? Well, something similar can be said of the term ‘leads.’ At face value, ‘lead’ is a generic term that does little to explain where an individual is on their customer journey — are they looking for more information, or are they prepared to make a purchase? Are they qualified leads?

Fortunately, the SEO lead gen funnel can help with that. Also known as a full marketing funnel, an SEO lead gen funnel visualizes the sales process. It separates the leads who just discovered your website from the highly qualified leads who are ready to buy. To drive SEO leads, you must create different types of content to appeal to buyers at each sales funnel stage. 

The SEO Lead Gen Funnel

An inbound marketing funnel is arranged in three tiers: the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. The widest part of the funnel, the top, represents potential buyers at various points of the awareness stage. The more the funnel narrows, the further along the customer journey it represents. The narrowest part of the funnel, the bottom, tapers only to include those contemplating a conversion. 

Top-of-funnel content intends to capture as many potential organic leads as possible. As buyers progress into the middle of the funnel, SEO efforts become more focused. In this way, marketers can craft specific campaigns for each funnel stage, including variations in messaging and creative, to directly target the most qualified leads with the highest propensity to convert.

When it comes to the SEO lead gen funnel, it’s helpful to pair funnel stages with search intent:

  • SEO leads with informational intent are at the top of the funnel.
  • SEO leads with commercial intent are in the middle of the funnel.
  • SEO leads with transactional intent are at the bottom of the funnel

Here’s an example of how certain keywords apply to content within the SEO lead gen funnel:

  • The query language translation is informational. So, for example, top-of-funnel content like blogs and informational papers pop up when users search for this.
  • The query website translation indicates that a user has tailored their search to become more commercial. As a result, they have begun to shift into the middle of the funnel and will receive more detailed blog posts and gated content than in the previous search.
  • The query website translation service is now more transactional. This search will populate bottom-of-funnel content, like service pages that have a clear focus on capturing user information.

Each of the above queries — although closely related — requires different content. In total, two blogs and one service page must be created to take advantage of this traffic. To get a better idea of leveraging the SEO lead gen funnel, let’s dive deeper into each funnel stage. 

Top-of-Funnel Content

The top of the funnel is for potential buyers who are conducting research and building awareness. These individuals have just recognized a need or recently begun searching for a particular product or service. The search intent behind top-of-funnel queries is mainly informational. 

Therefore, organic top-of-funnel content takes the shape of more informative pieces, such as optimized blogs and long-form content. In addition, top-of-funnel content must be optimized to fulfill the broader queries associated with new SEO leads and help users decide if your brand is right for them.

Since the pool of buyers at the top of the funnel is much larger, the more general search terms associated with them also have a more extensive search volume. Continuing with the above example, the query ‘language translation’ has a monthly search volume of 618,000.

Middle-of-Funnel Content

The middle of the funnel is for potential buyers who have discovered your products or services but have yet to make a purchase decision. The search intent behind middle-of-funnel queries ranges between navigational to investigate specific brands and commercial to compare various vendors. 

Organic middle-of-funnel content typically includes optimized service pages, frequently asked question (FAQ) pages, and comparison tables. Such pages help prospects narrow down what they need and begin to build trust in your company as a provider of relevant solutions. Middle-of-funnel content can also consist of gated content to collect contact information for more focus targeting. 

The leads in the middle of the funnel are more qualified but often less than the number of leads in the broader top-of-funnel. As a result, middle-of-funnel queries have decent volume but higher engagement and conversion potential. For example, ‘website translation’ has a search volume of 97,000 compared to the previous top-of-funnel query with 618,000 searches. 

Bottom-of-Funnel Content

The bottom of the funnel is for prospects who are ready to purchase but have not yet committed. These are the most qualified leads in the SEO lead generation funnel. Their search intent is mainly transactional, as they seek relevant content to encourage a conversion. 

At the narrowest part of the funnel, bottom-of-funnel content consists more of testimonials, case studies, and content mediums that can leverage a unique selling proposition, such as video demos. 

This content should give prospects the confidence they need to press purchase finally.

Bottom-of-funnel queries have lower search volume than the upper funnel but are highly focused. For instance, ‘website translation service’ has a volume of 1,200 and ‘website translation cost’ has a volume of just 50, but both search terms have apparent transactional intent on which to capitalize. 

10 Tips for Leveraging SEO for Lead Generation

A whopping 75% of people5 never scroll past the first search engine results page. With most organic traffic driven to brands that dominate SERPs, it’s never been more critical to leverage the power of SEO for lead gen. Here are 10 SEO lead generation techniques to help start. 

1. Leverage Content Across Multiple Channels

The best part of creating optimized organic content is the ability to repurpose it across a variety of channels. For example, SEO-optimized content created for each stage of the marketing funnel can be sprinkled throughout social media for top-of-funnel audiences, email marketing and webinars for middle-of-funnel audiences, and tradeshows for bottom-of-funnel audiences. 

2. Know How and When to Convert

It is essential to understand that you will have lower conversion rates at the top of the funnel than at the bottom. That’s because leads at the top of the funnel are looking for information, not a service or product. However, there are methods to improve the conversion rate.

For instance, never propose a product demo or promotion in top-of-funnel content. Prospects in the top-of-funnel are not ready to think about paying for anything just yet; they are still discovering their options. So instead, offer prospects in this stage a comprehensive guide to a product or a long-form blog post that describes the types of pain points your business solutions solve.

Later in the funnel is the optimal time to offer promotions, deals, and demos. Leads in this stage have already warmed to your brand and are substantially more qualified to make a sale. Therefore, it’s always wiser to push a conversion in organic content tailored to the bottom of the funnel. 

3. Take Advantage of Local SEO Opportunities

Customers needing a local business will head straight to Google for a local search. However, local SEO enables businesses to organically promote their products and services to nearby customers directly while searching for them. Fortunately, it’s easy to take advantage of local SEO services through Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business) and Google Map Pack. 

Google Map Pack refers to a boxed area on the top of SERPs for a local Google search, like ‘Italian restaurant’ or ‘office chairs.’ The Map Pack only features the top three local business listings deemed the most relevant for the search, where SEO initiatives genuinely shine. Optimized service or product pages for local search can receive 40% of user clicks.6

4. Retarget Your Website Visitors

Retargeting is the process of directly marketing to web visitors who have shown previous interest in your brand but have yet to complete a conversion or move further down the sales funnel. Retargeting campaigns help build visibility for your brand and keep your product or service top of mind for the leads who weren’t ready to purchase when they first visited your site.

Retargeting enables marketers to display relevant text or visual ads on other websites to users who have visited particular brand pages. Regarding SEO for lead generation, retargeting ads are often run through Google Ads, Facebook retargeting, and other advertising platforms like LinkedIn. 

These ads help to encourage leads through the funnel by providing additional touchpoints. In digital marketing, particularly SEO and social media marketing, touchpoints refer to customer interaction points for your brand. Given that it takes an average of eight touchpoints7 to trigger just one conversion, retargeting creates a myriad of additional touchpoints to encourage a final sale. 

5. A/B Test CTAs and Gated Content

While SEO can push your brand front and center, your call-to-action (CTA) and gated content will turn a user into a qualified lead. Continuously A/B test different CTAs, using audience pain points and your brand’s value to shape relevant phrases that compel users to take action. Likewise, be sure to consider the wants and needs of your audience when crafting gated content. The quality and relevancy of gated content convince users to provide contact information willingly. 

6. Consider Off-Page and Technical Optimizations

Though you will have already implemented on-page SEO elements during your initial organic content audit, you cannot ignore other off-page and technical SEO elements. Even a well-optimized, keyword-driven page cannot rank if certain off-page and technical SEO elements have not been met. As a general rule of thumb, consider these SEO elements of a website audit

  • Improve internal linking 
  • Analyze your backlink profile
  • Address broken links (404 errors)
  • Conduct link building via outreach, guest blogging, and local citations
  • Update your local citation and directory profiles
  • Analyze the formatting of the robots.txt file 
  • Assess if your website is mobile-friendly
  • Eliminate duplicate content
  • Enhance general site speed

7. Weave in Testimonials and Case Studies

Though testimonials and case studies are mainly considered bottom-of-funnel content, weaving these elements into upper funnel content often benefits—these pages drive significant organic traffic. So begin to incorporate relevant testimonials into your top-of-funnel and middle-of-funnel content to instantly describe to prospects why your brand is the best choice. 

8. Ensure Internal Links Push to Conversion Pages 

You must leverage internal links — or links that point to another page on your website — to connect your web pages. Internal linking helps search engines understand how your content is organized and helps crawlers easily navigate your site. Internal links help users further explore your site by providing a clear direction on which pages to visit next. Just be sure that the pages you send users have a high conversion potential, such as a contact form. 

9. Nurture Your Leads and Prospects

To support your SEO effort for lead generation, learning how to nurture your prospects is essential. Lead nurturing refers to developing and reinforcing relationships with prospects at each sales funnel stage. It’s an important process to learn more about the needs of your leads, and then provide the information they need to build trust and maintain a connection until they convert.

Nurturing techniques in SEO for lead generation include: 

  • Retargeting campaigns
  • Product and service updates
  • Member-exclusive newsletters
  • Direct outreach personalization
  • Cross-channel communications, such as social media

10. Poll Your Customers to Uncover Valuable Opportunities

Polls are a time-tested method to uncover valuable insights about your leads. Polls can reveal how they found you, what information they were seeking before finding you, and what information they desire most. These data insights can dictate beneficial opportunities for organic content creation, optimization for CTAs and gated content, and nurturing opportunities to help earn their trust. 

Drive Qualified Organic Leads with Trusted SEO Services

SEO has become a preferred technique among marketers who want to enhance brand awareness, engage potential customers, and drive qualified organic leads. However, it can be a significant undertaking — just ask a professional SEO agency known for its lead generation services. Fortunately, the experts at Bullseye Strategy are always ready to help. Contact us today to learn more. 



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