Generating marketing qualified leads (MQLs) from a search engine optimization program remains a top challenge for B2B marketers. As illustrated in a report earlier this year from Ascend2, the ability to increase the number of leads generated or converted, and improve prospect or customer engagement, rank 2 and 3 as critical challenges, just behind traffic acquisition overall.
While content marketing fuels SEO performance, the Walker Sands “Future of Content 2019” report further showed that B2B companies’ top goal when producing content is boosting sales/converting customers (29 percent).
The importance of getting the most out of the traffic acquired from successful SEO tactics cannot be understated. After all, as uncovered in a recent traffic study from GrowthBadger using data from SimilarWeb, “search is the single largest traffic source for every niche, and in most industries it drives the majority of the web traffic.”
So how do B2B marketers generate a greater number of MQLs from their SEO programs? Here are a series of tactics and illustrations KoMarketing has deployed to accomplish this objective.
Capabilities Page Conversion Optimization
It’s not surprising that a B2B organization’s important web pages that illustrate capabilities, solutions, and/or products can be further optimized for lead generation specifically. Oftentimes, we focus so much on the copy and design that communicates offerings that we ignore how effectively or easily visitors can get in touch to learn more about them.
Here is a possible example from a B2B technology company’s solution page template:
While this organization has a link to a PDF of important architecture information and a sliding menu of contact options on the far right-hand side (both highlighted in green), is there an opportunity to add a more pronounced call to action where the graphic highlighted in red is located? Something to consider.
Even KoMarketing’s capabilities pages could be optimized more effectively.
As highlighted in the screenshot below and in red, while we have a clear call-to-action leading to our contact form we could be doing more with the right-hand space as well. This space currently has a representative graphic only and could be used to highlight content marketing assets or other lead generation offerings.
Testing conversion actions in real estate towards the top of the page, often designated for lead graphics and media designed to catch the visitor’s eye, may lead to more form submissions for sales or at least a greater number of inquiries over time.
Content Marketing Asset Cross-Linking
Another area of opportunity is to cross-reference related capabilities and solutions as supporting call-to-actions on the landing pages used for paid and organic lead nurturing campaigns. Here is a screenshot of another B2B technology vendor’s Ebook landing page.
While this vendor does a good job with page layout emphasizing form submissions, they are relying on visitors to use a navigational breadcrumb trail or the footer navigation to get back to the vendor’s capability pages.
Instead, this vendor could consider offering clear secondary call-to-actions for visitors to access related capabilities and solutions pages immediately below the copy used to describe the content marketing asset.
Blog Post Cross Promotion
Blog posts are excellent opportunities for B2B marketers to generate visibility for SEO keyword targets, organically acquire inbound links, and cross-link to related web pages directly in the copy. But don’t stop there when considering lead generation goals.
High-trafficked blog posts can also integrate call-to-actions to lead nurturing assets through banner advertisements or supporting cross-links or navigational elements.
Below is an example of a blog post that includes both a cross-link to related content as well as a banner promoting a related webinar accessible via lead nurturing form.
Brand-Related Page Optimization
SEOs may forget that brand-related pages, such as company about pages and executive bios, require optimization, but B2B marketers know that form submissions generated from brand-based searches are some of the highest converting leads.
With this in mind, on-page optimization of brand-related web pages is critical. Areas of focus include the following:
- SEO tagging of web pages including optimized HTML titles and meta descriptions.
- Cross-link primary capabilities and solutions pages on company pages where appropriate.
- Emphasize options for communication such as contact forms, chatbots, and social media assets.
- For executive bios: cross-linking applicable content marketing assets meant for lead nurturing development, alongside clear points of contact and social media assets if applicable.
Call-to-Actions in Video Assets
As my colleague Anastasia Warren detailed in a recent blog post, video is a social media marketing trend that cannot be ignored. Research suggests that 59% of B2B executives prefer to watch a video than read text.
If videos can provide better engagement and visibility for social media distribution, the likelihood that these campaigns either organically acquire inbound links or support keyword-specific cross-linking also improves.
Don’t forget to add clear call-to-actions in videos, either within context via captions and certainly at the end. Call-to-actions and cross-links to related content marketing assets should also be integrated into website landing pages and video descriptions in platforms like YouTube and Vimeo.
Here is an example from Anastasia’s post, where Dell showcases a piece of small business advice that incorporates a clear call-to-action at the end.
Social Media Cross-Linking Optimization
Inbound links from social media sites, including organizational links in company profiles and references within social media updates, almost always include a variable called “rel=nofollow” in the HTML code. Originally, this was a means to combat SEO linking spam and a recommended method for flagging advertising-related or sponsored links.
Google has now officially announced that rel=nofollow and new variables (rel=ugc and rel=sponsored) will be treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search.
We have always recommended creating comprehensive and appropriate company information on social media pages and profiles. This includes cross-links to relevant company web pages and content marketing assets. The rationale is that B2B marketers want to provide the most relevant information possible to potential audiences, regardless of direct SEO linking benefit.
With Google’s latest announcement there is no reason B2B marketers should not take advantage of the opportunity to incorporate links to lead generation assets or lead nurturing campaigns when appropriate.
Lead Generation Form Optimization
Perhaps your organization is leveraging all of these tactics and more but still not generating the lead volume necessary? Form optimization itself is important not just for B2B SEO programs, but digital marketing campaigns in general.
My colleague Joe Vivolo wrote a post discussing the optimization of B2B lead generation forms earlier this year. In addition to testing the number of fields visible or required in form submissions, consider the following optimization tactics as well.
- Two-step forms.
- Forms within interactive content.
- Forms with progressive profiling.
- Decisioning whether to use forms, no forms, and optional forms based on content marketing objectives.
The key to form optimization and any conversion optimization plan is to test ideas and evaluate and compare conversion rates to determine the best combinations for final implementation.
There is no excuse for a B2B SEO program to be successful at acquiring traffic and keyword visibility but fail to deliver in generating marketing qualified leads. The fact that organic search engine traffic likely accounts for the most significant percentage of traffic, not directly funded through advertising, increases the pressure.
The good news is that simply refocusing tactics to emphasize lead generation, conversion optimization, and SEO keyword strategy can often lead to significant wins in generating more MQLs for the broader marketing program.
How has your organization tackled MQL generation in association with search engine optimization? I’d love to read your feedback on Twitter or LinkedIn to collaborate and learn more.
Hi Derek, you touched on a global problem, Lead Generation, this is not a problem – this is a headache, now there is a very high level of competition in any sector, in any market, and the struggle is not for the client – but for clicking on the link, or for switching to the site. Clients have become more scrupulous in choosing a product or service, and business is going to come up with new strategies.