“I want to appear on page one of Google”.
When businesses have that first conversation with their SEO agency, this is typically what they say when asked about their goals. But there is zero growth in ranking on page one of Google unless that organic traffic converts into paying customers.
Unfortunately, most SEO hot shots dust off their hands once their client’s keywords are ranking; they simply continue to add blogs to the website, make occasional optimizations to webpage content, and do nothing when it comes to conversion optimization.
Today’s SEO services must go beyond their classic textbook definition in order to increase sales. The best digital marketing agencies focused on growth-driven SEO use a number of strategies backed with the intention to attract organic clicks, nurture traffic, and convert them into buyers; they borrow from the inbound marketing methodology and apply certain strands of the service to not only convert organic traffic, but rank the right content for the right searchers.
Most SEO services don’t extend their tasks to nurture traffic and convert visitors into buyers. This is a mistake on their part simply from a retention standpoint (clients will eventually bounce if their revenue doesn’t go up), and businesses need to wake up and ask themselves if their SEO strategy is truly designed to convert.
This article is intended to help organizations locate SEO services that will actually help them hit their revenue goals, as opposed to ranking content to the moon. SEO can nurture web visitors into customers, so long as the approach and strategies are aligned to achieve this goal. Here’s a way to do it.
A Revenue-Generating SEO Strategy Must Be Rooted in Understanding Buyers
Ask any self-proclaimed organic search expert the steps they take to create an SEO strategy, and the first or second step will likely be researching keyword search volume in order to build a blueprint around high volume words.
Before you even look at keywords, there are a number of steps that should be taken that allow marketers to truly understand their consumer audience, its many segments, and the pain points that fuel searches by people looking for solutions. There are many reasons why SEO fails to generate revenue, but creating a strategy with zero to little working knowledge of your target buyers is a sure way to hemorrhage money into a pointless strategy.
Inbound marketing strategies begin with the creation of buyer personas, and so too must an SEO strategy if it is expected to accommodate growth. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of actual buyers. They reveal the various segments of your consumer audience, each niche group’s pain points, and gives insight into how these people engage with content relevant to your industry. Buyer personas will vary based on the products, services and industry at hand. However, there are some common buyer persona points found across industries that include:
- Industry employed in
- Job title
- Job role
- How success is measured in their job
- Where they seek news / information to stay current in their job
- Biggest challenges faced in performing their job
- Family status
In order to create buyer personas, you will need to engage in some research. Here are some great starting points:
- Interview the sales team to discover why people buy, why they don’t buy, and what their common objections, pain points and delight points are.
- Go through the email database and segment lists. Then explore those emails looking for commonalities.
- Send surveys and questionnaires to current customers and failed leads.
- Explore social media to see what your target buyers talk about, the content they favor / share, and see who they follow.
Once you have crafted your buyer personas, you will want to uncover how these people engage the brand and its products through each of the three buyer journey stages. These include:
- Awareness Stage
- Consideration Stage
- Decision Stage
Knowing who your desired buyers are, what makes them tick, and what ultimately delights them or turns them off will set the groundwork for crafting an SEO strategy that unites the right buyers with the right content. This will also help search marketers uncover the right keywords, search phrases and the context to use.
Use Keywords that Reflect Buyers, Not Search Volume
Sure, ranking for keywords with high search volume garners more clicks. But what ultimately counts is if those clicks resonate with the content.
Most keywords with high search volume are also broad keywords that don’t touch on buyers. Some SEO strategists think that padding broad keywords in content with relative context is enough, and while this is something that should be done, using longtail keywords and search phrases in that context that touch on direct buyer needs is crucial to ranking content that converts.
For example, let’s say a dance school is trying to attract organic traffic with the goal to convert visitors to paying students. Some of the big-volume keywords they are building their SEO strategy around include:
- Dance schools
- Dance lessons
- Learn to dance
- Dancing schools
- Dancing lessons
The dance school finally ranks for these keywords, but the content is far too general to spark any emotional connection or present a solution to the searcher’s needs.
On the other hand, creating internal landing pages for niche groups that link out to a pillar page that rank for specific needs will garner greater engagement and conversions. Some of these keyword examples include:
- Beginner street dancing lessons
- Advanced ballroom dancing classes
- Freestyle dance classes for teens
- Tango lessons for couples
- Learn to dance for your wedding
These keywords may have lower search volume, but when they rank they will convert better, and as these optimized pages get increasingly more engagement, Google will award the entire site as a high-quality solution to mixed needs.
High-Conversion SEO Strategies Call for Content Cluster Models
Once you have studied your sales cycle, seasonality, and trends, it’s time to craft content that speaks to these things, in context to each persona and the stage in their buyer’s journey, in the form of a blog.
Yes, blogs still matter. Not only do they provide an opportunity to delight your customers, but fresh, consistent content helps improve rankings and your site’s domain authority. Also, if written for people with some SEO considerations firmly in place, blogs can function as high-ranking landing pages that attract top of funnel organic traffic. So long as you have a CTA that leads the person to the next stage in the buyer’s journey (or to a shopping cart / form submit page).
You will want to plan your blogs within the framework of a content cluster model. This is when you write a number of blogs that each have unique topics that speak to your buyer’s needs, and that link to one another through supportive anchor texts that have textual relevance to the target page. Each blog will also need to link to a pillar page. Pillar pages are typically the home page or primary product / service page.
Cluster models allow for SEO juice to circulate through blogs while feeding the pillar pages for ultimate rank improvement, and so long as the content speaks directly to the buyers, your blogs can play a pivotal role in converting organic traffic to paying customers by leading readers through a content-powered funnel. Google’s algorithm also loves the cluster model because it is highly structured and therefore easier to crawl.
Make Social Media a Part of Your SEO Strategy
A high-conversion SEO strategy utilizes the power of social media. Considering the fact that content must rank to be found by the right buyers, and lead them through a content-fueled nurturing process, social media can assist here in numerous ways.
You will want to start by identifying where your buyers exist on various social media platforms. For example, Facebook and LinkedIn both have groups dedicated to industries and needs that your organization can provide solutions for. Create a buyer persona profile and join these groups. Learn about the popular topics they talk about, and the type of blogs they share and engage with the most. Knowing this will help you with your audience targeting when writing content.
When you share your blogs with these groups, powerful social signals are sent back to your article and the website itself each time they “like” it, comment, and share. In addition to generating social signals to help improve organic ranking, social media is helpful because it allows you to share relevant, high-value content with the right buyers most likely to make a purchase.
Feel Inspired to Up Your SEO Service?
If you found value in these tips, know there is much more to learn as we only touched the tip of the iceberg here. Please download our FREE guide on the WEBITMD modern approach to SEO that actually converts organic traffic into sales. If your approach makes sense for your business, give us a call, and together let’s explore how this level of SEO can help you hit your growth goals!