We’ve been talking about how to plan your 2014 marketing budget for several weeks. We know your annual budget is on your mind, whether it’s “ready for the spotlight” or not. You may be second-guessing an established budget or panicking about an outline in its infancy.
Regardless of where you are in your 2014 budget roadmap, make sure not to miss the landmark of SEO and the impact on demand generation. We're big Ricky Bobby fans here at The Starr Conspiracy, and like in the world of Nascar, when it comes to SEO for demand generation, "If you're not first, you're last."
To start, let’s get serious about what demand generation is. It’s not the same as lead generation, although B2B marketers often use the terms interchangeably. Demand generation includes all marketing programs that impact both interest and awareness about your products and services.
If you’re wondering whether you should invest in SEO as part of your strategy for 2014 — either in optimizing your website or implementing a thoughtful content strategy to impact your search rankings and audience engagement — here are three key considerations for the impact of SEO on demand generation:
Provide unique content for each stage in the buying process
A lot of B2B marketers lived through the “SEO content” phase where a bunch of nonsensical drivel had “meaningful keywords” sprinkled in as anchor text linking to barely-passably-relatable pages within a company’s website.
A lot of B2B marketers knew it was weird and wrong at the time, but joined in anyway in the name of the great and powerful SEO. Developing a strategic content marketing program just for the SEO benefits is just as outdated of a practice.
An SEO-minded marketer can use analytics to inform their content strategy for different stages of the buying process by tracking inbound links, effective keywords, and overall conversion data.
Dynamic content was a big buzzword in 2013 but B2B marketers still have a lot to learn about offering tailored content for each stage in the buying process for their unique buyer personas — we can rest assured dynamic content will remain a hot topic for 2014.
Impact the initial research phase through search engines
Forrester and Silverpop discovered in a recent study that today’s buyers are anywhere from ⅔ to 90 percent of the way through their buying journey before they reach out to a vendor. And a recent study by Pardot discovered that 72 percent of product research for a future business purchase begins on Google.
Arguably the clearest impact of SEO on demand generation is the effect on 1st page ranking or keyword dominance, allowing buyers to find your company, products, and services in the first research phase.
Fuel your social media strategy with killer content
One of the simplest connections of social media and SEO is the connection between Google+ and Google Authorship, allowing relevant results from a buyer’s network to be recommended much higher than their organic search ranking with a visible image and social “proof” in search results.
If you’re in the majority of B2B marketers leveraging social media as part of your marketing strategy (87 percent in 2013, 88 percent predicted in 2014), you are likely using social media to drive referral traffic to your website or impact brand awareness. With valuable content developed with conversational SEO (not plug and play keywords) in mind, you can direct potential buyers to your thought leadership or marketing assets through social media, impacting SEO through social signals like sharing as well as overall traffic.
Start out your year with an SEO audit and see how you’re doing. Because while Ricky Bobby’s misunderstood words of wisdom — ”If you’re not first, you’re last” — don’t totally apply to SEO, check out how your current ranking for relevant keywords might be impacting demand generation:
A no. 1 position in Google’s results receives 18.2 percent of all click-through traffic
The no. 2 position receives 10.1%
The no. 3 position receives 7.2 percent
The no. 4 position 4.8%
All others receive less than 2 percent of click-through traffic
Get a hold of that search gold … SEO belongs in your list of considerations for 2014.