Fill your sales pipeline consistently with SEO

In the dynamic world of digital marketing, leading a steady stream of potential customers to your organization is essential. One of the most sustainable and cost-effective ways to do this is through SEO. But how do you connect SEO to your sales pipeline? Let’s dive deeper.

What is a sales pipeline?

A sales pipeline is a visual representation of where your potential customers are in the sales process. From the first contact moment to the final sale, each stage represents a step closer to conversion. It gives you a clear picture of what actions are needed to move a lead to the next stage and helps predict future sales.

The importance of consistency in lead generation

Consistency in lead generation means not just a steady flow of leads, but high-quality leads that are actually interested in what you have to offer. Inconsistency can lead to peaks and valleys in your sales, making it difficult to plan and grow. By having a steady stream of quality leads, you can forecast better, deploy your sales team more efficiently and improve your ROI.

Especially when you have used up your network and thus the pipeline dries up, SEO becomes very relevant. SEO gets you a continuous stream of MQLs who are not yet familiar with your organization.

Basics of SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a crucial part of any modern marketing strategy. But what exactly is it and why is it so important?

What is SEO and why is it important?

SEO is the process of improving your website so that it ranks higher in search engine results, specifically Google. Why is this important? Simply put, the higher you rank, the more visibility you get. And with more visibility comes more traffic, which can lead to more leads and sales. Moreover, people trust search engines. If you are at the top of the results, you are seen as an authority in your industry.

Core components of effective SEO

Effective SEO is not just about placing the right keywords. It is a combination of technical optimization, quality content, and building authority through backlinks. Here are the core components:

  • Technical SEO: This ensures that search engines can easily crawl and index your website. Think mobile optimization, fast load times and clear site architecture.
  • Content: The heart of SEO. Good content answers your target audience’s questions and positions you as an expert in your field.
  • Backlinks: These are links from other websites to yours. They act as voices of trust and authority in the eyes of search engines.

By understanding and effectively applying these components, you can take your SEO strategy to the next level and consistently fill your sales pipeline.

Choosing the right keywords

Choosing the right keywords is the backbone of an effective SEO strategy. It is not just about finding terms with high search volume, but identifying keywords that resonate with your target audience and their intentions.

Understanding search intent

Search intent is about understanding why someone performs a particular search. Is the user looking for information, do they want a specific question answered, are they planning to buy something, or are they just browsing? By understanding the intent behind search queries, you can create content that directly matches what the searcher wants, which increases the likelihood of conversion.

Tools and techniques for keyword research

There are numerous tools available that can help you with your keyword research. Some of my favorites are Google’s Keyword Planner, Ahrefs and SEMrush. These tools provide insight into search volumes, competition and related searches. But don’t forget the power of simple brainstorming sessions with your team or using Google’s autosuggest feature to discover new keyword ideas.

Long-tail keywords and their importance

Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific searches that often have lower search frequency but higher conversion rates. Why? Because they often indicate a clear intention. For example, someone searching for “red leather women’s boots size 38” has a clearer buying intent than someone simply typing in “boots.” By focusing on long-tail keywords, you can target niche segments of your market and often with less competition.

Content creation for lead generation

Content is the fuel for your SEO engine. But it’s not just about creating content for the sake of content. It’s about providing valuable, relevant information that helps your target audience and spurs them to action. Whether you’re creating blog posts, e-books, videos or infographics, make sure your content connects directly to the needs and interests of your target audience. And don’t forget to add clear call-to-actions to further guide your leads in their journey.

The importance of valuable and relevant content

The Internet is full of content, but not all of it appeals to your target audience or drives them to action. Valuable and relevant content does just that: it speaks directly to your audience’s needs, questions and pain points. When you create content that truly resonates, you build trust and position yourself as an authority in your industry. This trust is crucial to driving conversions and building long-term customer relationships.

Types of content that generate leads (e.g., blog posts, e-books, webinars)

Some forms of content are less relevant to SEO, while others are made for it (such as blogs). There are numerous forms of content you can use to generate leads, depending on your target audience and your business goals:

  • Blog Posts: Regularly updated blogs can significantly increase your website traffic and position your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
  • E-books: These in-depth content pieces are great for collecting contact information in exchange for valuable information.
  • Webinars: By offering live or pre-recorded presentations, you can showcase your expertise and communicate directly with your audience, which can boost engagement and conversions.

Tips for writing SEO-friendly content

Creating content that both appeals to your audience and performs well in search engines can be a challenge. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Do your research: Make sure you integrate keywords naturally into your content. Use tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner or Ahrefs to find relevant terms.
  • Write for your audience: While SEO is important, your content should first and foremost be valuable and engaging for your readers.
  • Use internal links: Link to other relevant content on your website. This helps not only with SEO, but also with guiding your readers through the customer journey.
  • Avoid jargon: Unless you are writing for a highly technical audience, keep your language simple and accessible.
  • Update regularly: The digital world is changing rapidly. Make sure your content stays up-to-date and relevant through regular revisions and updates.

Provide coverage of each stage of the customer journey

The customer journey is a crucial concept in marketing. It describes the journey your customers go through from initial awareness of your brand to the actual purchase moment and even beyond. By creating content that covers each stage of this journey, you ensure that you are always present at the right time with the right message.

What is relevant to the awareness phase?

In the awareness phase, your target audience first becomes aware of a particular problem or need. This is where you want to provide informative content that highlights this problem or need without directly pushing your product or service. Think blog posts, infographics or educational videos that answer general questions and provide value.

What is relevant to the interest phase?

Now that your target audience is aware of their problem, they are looking for possible solutions. This is where you want to elaborate on the specific benefits of your solution. White papers, case studies and comparative guides can be particularly effective here. You want to show your audience how your product or service stands out from the competition.

What is relevant to the desire phase?

In the desire phase, your target audience is almost ready to make a decision, but they may need that final push. This is the time to share testimonials, customer reviews and detailed product demos. Show how others have had success with your solution and how it solved their specific problems.

What is relevant to the do phase?

This is the moment of truth: your target audience is ready to take action. This is where you want to make it as easy and attractive as possible for them to make that purchase or fill out that lead form. Offer special deals, discounts or exclusive bonuses. Make sure your call-to-action is clear, eye-catching and compelling. And don’t forget to make the purchase or sign-up process as smooth and user-friendly as possible.

Measuring SEO performance and conversion

In the world of digital marketing, to measure is to know. Without insight into your performance, you cannot effectively optimize or increase your ROI. For a CMO, it is essential to have a clear picture of how SEO contributes to lead generation and conversion.

A real-life example

This is a real-life example (not a client of mine). A B2B organization within the automotive industry. For each phase of the customer journey, you can see some examples in the table below.

PhasePossible search terms
Awareness– Future of automotive technology.
– Challenges in the automotive industry.
– Innovations in vehicle technology.
– Sustainable solutions in automotive.
Interest– Dear B2B automotive suppliers.
– Automotive supply chain optimization.
– Benefits of {your product} in automotive.
– Cost savings in automotive manufacturing.
Desire– {merknaam} product reviews.
– How {specific product} improves production.
– Case studies from {productnaam}.
– Comparison of {product A} vs {product B}.
Do– How do I order {specific product}.
– {Merknaam} dealers nearby.
– Quote for {specific product/technology}.
Possible search terms by stage in the customer journey.

Tools for tracking rankings

Tracking your rankings in search engines gives you instant insight into the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. There are several tools that I use and recommend:

  • Google Search Console: A free tool from Google itself that provides insight into how your site is performing in their search results.
  • SEMrush: A comprehensive SEO tool that not only tracks your rankings, but also offers competitive analysis and keyword research.
  • Ahrefs: Another powerful tool that offers in-depth link analysis, in addition to ranking tracking and keyword research.
  • Google Analytics: GA is the right one to not only map traffic and positions in Google, but also link it to the conversions generated.

Understanding conversion rates and how to improve them

Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who perform a desired action, such as filling out a form or making a purchase. It is a direct indicator of the effectiveness of your content and offerings. To improve your conversion rate, you can:

  • Run A/B tests to see which version of a page or offer performs best.
  • Optimize the user experience on your site so that visitors can easily find what they are looking for.
  • Use clear and compelling call-to-actions that encourage visitors to take action.

Adjust and optimize based on data

Data is your best friend when it comes to improving your SEO and conversion strategy. By regularly analyzing your performance data, you can identify patterns and opportunities. You may discover that a certain type of content consistently performs well, or that a particular landing page is not producing the desired results. By constantly adjusting and optimizing based on these insights, you ensure that you are always getting the best results and using your marketing budget effectively.

My roadmap for measurability

How do I go about setting up the right measurability for such a campaign?

Setting up tracking for a Web site and making organic conversions measurable requires a combination of tools and techniques. Here is a roadmap to achieve this:

  1. Choose an Analytics Tool: The most popular choice is Google Analytics, but there are other tools such as Matomo or Adobe Analytics.
  2. Install the tracking code:
    • For Google Analytics: Create an account, set up a new property for your website and place the tracking code on every page of your website.
  3. Define and set goals:
    • In Google Analytics, you can set specific goals, such as completing a contact form or reaching a specific page (e.g., a post-purchase thank-you page).
  4. Link Google Analytics with Google Search Console:
    • This allows you to view data about your organic search performance, such as which search terms led visitors to your site.
  5. Choose a CRM system:
    • Systems such as HubSpot, Salesforce or Zoho can help you track individual user interactions and link them to conversions. This is particularly interesting because by doing so, you not only make the conversions measurable, but you can also determine the quality of the conversions. That way you can use even more data to support your choice of particular search terms.
  6. Integrate your CRM with Google Analytics:
    • Many modern CRM systems have built-in integrations or plugins for Google Analytics. This allows you to see what actions a user took on your site before converting.
  7. Use CRM to track organic conversions:
    • Set up your CRM to identify specific conversions that come from organic traffic. This can often be done by using source/medium data from Google Analytics. So eventually you really want to be able to see this at the keyword level.
  8. Privacy and GDPR:
    • Make sure your tracking methods comply with privacy laws such as the GDPR. This usually means having clear permission mechanisms for tracking users and clearly communicating how you use their data.

Conclusion

SEO is a fundamental strategy that, when implemented correctly, can have a lasting impact on your sales pipeline and the overall growth of your organization.

The long-term benefits of SEO for your sales pipeline

Investing in SEO is investing in the future of your business. Some of the long-term benefits include:

  • Lasting visibility: Unlike paid ads, where your visibility disappears as soon as you stop paying, a well-optimized website can generate traffic for years.
  • Increased credibility and trust: When you consistently appear in the top search engine results, potential customers see you as an authority in your industry.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Although SEO initially requires an investment, the long-term cost is often lower than other marketing strategies, with a higher ROI.
  • Better customer experience: SEO is not just about search engines; it is also about users. An optimized website provides a better user experience, leading to higher conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

Next steps and recommendations for businesses

If you haven’t yet fully delved into the world of SEO, it’s time to start. Here are some recommendations:

  • Conduct an SEO audit: Understand where you currently stand. Identify weaknesses and opportunities on your website.
  • Invest in quality content: Content is the core of SEO. Make sure you regularly publish valuable and relevant content that meets the needs of your target audience.
  • Keep learning: The world of SEO is constantly changing. Stay on top of the latest trends and best practices.
  • Consider external expertise: If you don’t have the internal resources or expertise, consider partnering with a specialized SEO agency that can guide you in your journey to online success.
Senior SEO-specialist

Ralf van Veen

Senior SEO-specialist
Five stars
My clients give me a 5.0 on Google out of 75 reviews

I have been working for 10 years as an independent SEO specialist for companies (in the Netherlands and abroad) that want to rank higher in Google in a sustainable manner. During this period I have consulted A-brands, set up large-scale international SEO campaigns and coached global development teams in the field of search engine optimization.

With this broad experience within SEO, I have developed the SEO course and helped hundreds of companies with improved findability in Google in a sustainable and transparent way. For this you can consult my portfolio, references and collaborations.

This article was originally published on 22 March 2024. The last update of this article was on 22 March 2024. The content of this page was written and approved by Ralf van Veen. Learn more about the creation of my articles in my editorial guidelines.