Did you know that SEO and content are one in the same? Did you know that SEO can directly impact your return on investment (ROI)? It all starts with relevancy, empathy, and acquiring leads.
For our recent Q & A with A & J webinar, we connected with Lance Beaudry, Co-Owner and Visionary of Avalanche Creative, for an in-depth discussion on the power of SEO (search engine optimization). Specifically, we covered how you can use it to acquire leads and see them through the funnel to marketing ROI. Take a look at our latest webinar to see how SEO can foster long-term growth for your business.
Resources that were Mentioned in the Webinar:
- Download: From Search to Sale Presentation Deck
- Download: Step-By-Step SEO Process Guide
- Download: Marketing Plan Pivot Template
Don’t want to watch the full webinar? Check out our webinar summary below.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization;” the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search results. If this is your first time hearing about it, the term “organic” in this context means “free,” or that the search result appeared based on relevancy to the search term, rather than paying for your website to show up as the first result.
When people mention SEO, what they are really referencing is the creation of content. Great SEO, and great content, consist of three key components:
- What process are you going to follow? How will you identify keywords relevant to your topics and customer journey?
- On-site, Off-site, and Technical Optimization
- What are you doing to maximize your SEO capabilities? Have you formed partnerships with other online authorities in your industry or product category? Are each of your pages optimized correctly for SEO?
- This usually comes in the form of website pages, blogs, landing pages, FAQs, videos, and anything else you produce to educate, inform, and persuade your audience.
SEO and Other Channels
Content is a commonality.
You need content for everything, from social media, to email, to your website, and every other distribution channel you operate in. As you create great SEO-driven content, in reality, it is intended for humans, not just for search engine ranking. When you create content with excellent SEO for your website, you are actually creating assets that you can — and should — be reusing within your emails, on your social media, for paid campaigns, and more.
Never set it and forget it.
You spent all of this time developing this content. Why would you want to spend so little time publishing it and then never looking at it again?
Instead, maximize the potential of your content by constantly updating it as you learn more about the topic or the questions your audience may have.
Also, share your content with your sales team. Get their feedback. Your sales team is in direct contact with your customers, so they’ll have a better understanding of the problems your audience is facing. As you have these conversations and break down these barriers, we advise that you set up a process for:
- Keeping track of what content you have published and when it was posted through an editorial calendar.
- Setting times to go back to your original content and make any updates/changes to it in order to keep your content as relevant as possible. We recommend using an editorial calendar, sending a calendar invite, and/or having a shared Google Drive Document to hold each other accountable.
If you are struggling with creating your own step-by-step process for attracting and converting your website traffic, check out this guide created by Avalanche Creative. This will help you determine exactly what you need to get yourself in front of your ideal customers organically.
Promote for longer than you create.
Again, if you are going to be spending several hours creating a piece of excellent SEO-driven content, don’t let that time go to waste. There is nothing wrong with sharing your content on multiple channels. Remember, the goal is to build domain authority and be as relevant to your audience as possible.
Pro tip: According to SERanking, experts predict that more than 80% of consumer traffic will come directly from video this year alone. Basically, if you can make a video for the written content you created, do it!
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) Reduction
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of content creation, you’re probably wondering, “How exactly can SEO reduce my customer acquisition cost?” The answer may be more simple than you think. Great content is evergreen.
What we mean by this is that as you create and publish content, try to reach your audience early in their customer journey. The initial customer acquisition cost may start out high, but as time goes on, your content will continue to be shared. This is what we call the compound effect; as your content is seen more and generates leads, your CAC on that content will decrease over time.
For example, this diagram published by SEMRush shows the power of PPC (pay-per-click), social media and PR, and content and SEO in relation to website traffic over time.
Social media, PPC, and PR are effective for as long as your ads are run or when you first publish a post. These paid ads can generate leads quickly, but once you stop paying for them, they lose their visibility.
On the other hand, if you can prove that it is working, the piece of content that you wrote 12 months ago can continuously build leads. It lives, and it performs.
Keep in mind, you need all three areas in play to have a proper, full marketing program. As we like to say at 1 Bold Step, “Marketing is not a switch that you can turn on and off. It’s a dial.”
SEO = Search “Empathy” Optimization
Technically, SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” but Lance and the rest of his team at Avalanche Creative prefer to call it “search empathy optimization.” Not only is it a fun play on words, but it has a deeper meaning.
When building a list of search terms and keywords, most marketers think “What can I get from this?” rather than thinking “What can I give?”
Place yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Consider what they may be searching, the questions they may be asking, the answers they may be searching for, how they got to that question, and what they will be searching next.
Also, when writing content for your website, remember to always be honest and transparent with your audience. If they are searching for “pros and cons of tea kettles,” make sure you are fully answering the question, not just trying to sell your product or service. If you do not answer their question then someone else will, so it might as well be you. By doing this your audience will begin to trust you and cause your site’s authority to rise in that particular search area.
Think of a Search Engine Results Page like “Real Estate” for Your Business to Claim
A Search Engine Results Page (SERP), is the results page that appears when a user types a term into a search engine. Lance likes to refer to SERPs as “free” real estate waiting to be claimed, so long as you create great content to get your page ranking.
You may be wondering, “How do I get my webpage to the top of a results page?”
The first step is to create a list of keywords and phrases that are relevant to what your customer is searching online.
Have you ever noticed the different recommendations that Google or another search engine generates as you type in a search term?
These recommendations are based on common searches that other people have completed and can act as a great reference for questions your audience needs answered. In fact, this is one of Lance’s favorite methods for identifying keywords and phrases.
Another great resource for identifying keywords is your sales team. They offer a lot of great insight into what your customers are interested in, what pain points they may have, and whether the content you are putting out is reaching the right people.
Run an SEO-Audit on Your Own Website
Once you have identified the “real estate” that you will be targeting, how can you check your web pages rank against the competition?
Conduct a Website Search
If you are looking for a free method, try conducting a website search through Google or another search engine. By doing this, you will be able to see if your website ranks for a specific search term. Follow the steps below to test your own website:
- Go to your preferred search engine (we recommend using Google)
- In the search bar, type “site:”, followed by your full domain name
- Example: site:https://1boldstep.com/
- After that, hit the spacebar and type in the search term you would like to look into.
- Example: site:https://1boldstep.com/ SEO
- Hit “Enter”
Hopefully, your result will come out similar to this:
This unique search method will proxy the search engine to do a scan of your website to see which web pages are most relevant to that specific search term. If nothing shows up from your website, you may need to optimize your content more. On the other hand, if you have web pages that do show up, see how they can be improved to provide a more complete answer.
For more information on conducting a website search, check out this useful blog post from HubSpot.
Results of SEO Best Practices
After you start your SEO journey, it is time to measure the impact of your efforts. The diagram below is a mock table of how Lance Beaudry recommends you measure your SEO results, with a focus on three main points:
This chart is a simplified version of what Lance would normally use for an analysis like this, but it is a great example of how you can see it through from beginning to end.
Inputs: The Investment
Anything that you have done to produce a result would be an input. This includes your investment into SEO and into your website.
Through-puts: Performance Metrics
These would be all the activities done by marketing and sales to generate the outputs. It includes the landing pages, website entrances, goal completions, conversion rates, close rates, and deal values.
- Landing Pages would be the actual page on your website that you are measuring.
- Entrances are the number of people who first entered the website on that given page.
- It is useful for measuring the visibility of your landing page for the keywords that you chose and to see which ones you will need to improve.
- Goal Completions would include any desired action that a customer takes on the landing page.
- Clicks-to-call, clicks-to-email, form completions, or anything else you would consider a marketing or sales-qualified lead.
- Conversion Rate is taken from the number of people who entered on a certain page that then completed a set goal, like submitting a contact form. This does not mean they had to complete the goal on that page. They could have bounced around on the site before completing a goal somewhere within.
- Close Rate is usually a sales-focused metric to see how many of these leads that sales have been closing out.
- Deal Value is taken from what you know about the worth of a closed deal or sale.
Output: The Bottom Line
This would be the return you generate in marketing dollars and sales, so the Revenue you generate and the Return on Investment (ROI). To find the Revenue for a given landing page on the above chart, you multiply the Goal Completions by the Close Rate by the Deal Value.
Although this chart does not and will never be able to account for each action that a person takes on your website, it is helpful for seeing the impact of your efforts from start to finish. You can see which landing pages are performing better than others, maybe call out that the sales team needs to turn up their efforts a notch, or most importantly, provide evidence for why your boss should continue to invest in SEO.
Tips for Proving ROI for SEO
If you have a CRM or marketing automation platform that can track at the deal level, use the analytics or source data to create a lead source or campaign which is trackable in your CRM. As you pull the data, tag the contact and the deal property with the source information so you have a reference point to look back on.
When it comes to reporting this information, take a look at how we visualize our opportunities and Closed Won based on Lead Sources by contact generated from SEO:
*note: you must have some type of system in place to be able to do this reporting
Now, if you do not have a CRM or way to automatically record this data, we recommend that you integrate with HubSpot. As a Certified HubSpot Partner, we specialize in helping businesses like yours get set up on HubSpot to improve your analytics and handle all of your inbound marketing needs on one platform.
On the other hand, you could also manually compare the conversion data. To do this, see when you got a conversion compared to when you received the contact in the funnel. This is a more time-consuming method, but it is super helpful for tracking conversions and proving the ROI.
Q and A’s from the Webinar
We received a lot of great questions from our guests on how they can improve their SEO practices. Below we have written out those questions, along with the paraphrased answers that we gave them during the webinar.
If you would prefer to listen to this portion, check out the rest of our webinar below starting at 30:40. To listen to the specific answers in the video, scroll down to a question you’re interested in and click the link if you’d rather jump to that section.
Q: How does a CRM play a role in tracking the opportunity through the sale? Click here to jump to this question in the recording
A: Great lead sources would be blogs and websites, either general organic search or paid search. Another recommendation is having a digital marketing or marketing operations role to manage that data, or using automation capabilities with analytical platforms to HubSpot or Google Analytics. You also need to report and tell your team how they should report on success. Is it a lead source, campaign, or the origin of metrics? Have a plan on how you will track them from a marketing perspective.
Q: It seems that the topics our industry covers have relatively low search volume. How do I align what people are searching for with what we offer to drive more people to our site organically? Click here to jump to this question in the recording
A: It depends. First, make sure you have looked at each low-volume keyword and identify how much value they carry. Second, consider who your buyer is and what journey stage they are in.
Google takes the context of who the person is that is searching to create the best possible experience for them. Put yourself in their shoes to answer questions that they might not know they have. See if there are industry sites that you could partner with so you can have them link back to your website to boost your off-page SEO. Overall, think about what your customers actions are before and after that keyword search and add context.
Q: How do we get in front of potential searchers even when they aren’t inclined to do a search? How can we get in front of them before they even do a search? Click here to jump to this question in the recording
A: Put your name out there. What do they need to know about your topic/product? How can you help educate them to guide them down that search? Educate them before the search. Think about the specifics and niche down to see where you can build authority. What problem/pain point are you solving?
Q: Are videos and video blogs a good SEO avenue? Click here to jump to this question in the recording
A: 100%, yes! Always create a really comprehensive keyword list - low to high. You can then see what videos are popping up for certain keywords. If google is auto-showing videos, you should be having some with your blog. Put key points of your blog or article into a video and mention that. Give them options. Video can do a lot if you are very strategic about it.
Q: What are the things that a new business owner should be looking for when selecting a marketing and/or SEO partner? Click here to jump to this question in the recording
A: See where your business is at from an SEO standpoint through an SEO audit/analysis. Does the work you need relate to what they’ve done? Identify what you need, your goals, etc. Look at their case studies, reviews, and client testimonials. Avoid agencies that promise results without any discovery on results or auditing. They should not try to start generating activity without first reflecting on the current situation. A good agency should help you understand if it is even worth it; it is dependent on many factors.
Q: What if you are a small business and you don’t have a marketing department or marketing budget? What are some tips and tricks that you can do? Click here to jump to this question in the recording
A: It is important to have at least a 1-year strategic plan before going to market. What are the 3 business focus areas you have? Based on that, what are the 3 marketing-specific focus areas you have? Pick out the most important things which will generate the most change according to your needs and stay focused. Play a prioritization game to see where your biggest bang-for-your-buck is. Get on Google My Business, fill out the profile, especially if you are local. Take your time growing and scaling your business.
Q: What suggestions do you have for a company looking to expand its customer awareness in a specific geographic location in a specific industry where just having a website puts you ahead about 25% of the competition? Click here to jump to this question in the recording
A: Create more specificity. For example, create landing pages or case studies with people you have worked within that area to show you have success in that location. Also, look at the keywords that are related to that location.
Q: I have a long sales cycle – should I focus on search to "first call?” Is my "sale" from the standpoint of my website really getting potential customers to become warm leads?
A: This really depends on the type of query/keyword. If the intent is transactional, it’s more likely they’ll be ready to call. If it’s informational, it’s better to get them in your email list. It’s always best to focus on high-intent to buy first and understand the language/keywords your buyer is using when they are more inclined to make a purchase. Although you have a long sales cycle, it does not guarantee your content can do the selling for you and reduce the length of that cycle over time.
Q: Is it possible for content to reduce the length of the sales cycle? Even before they become a lead?
A: Think about how you get them into the funnel, and then how you follow up with them. Yesterday we had an interesting conversation about how lead generation wasn’t the issue, it was following up with them if they weren’t warm or hot leads at the moment.
Q: I understand there are many aspects of SEO rankings. I've done a lot of competitor research but can't quite figure out what I'm missing. My organic site, depending on keywords, is most often in the top 5 minus Yelp, Hoodline, Yellow Pages etc. What can I do to increase my visibility?
A: It sounds like you are competing with a lot of directory sites, which can be difficult to do. But, the one advantage you have over all of those is that you are likely a local business. If you aren’t already on there, create a listing on Google My Business so you can get visibility on the local map pack.
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