Traditionally, the process of generating leads through search engine optimization looks something like this: figure out what keywords your potential customers are likely to search for, make pages that are easy for Google to find, and then make some kind of offer on the page that convinces them to take the next step.
As formulas go, that's a pretty good one, and a reliable way to get your business moving in the right direction. But, the equation isn't always as straightforward as it seems, either, and when something's missing, simply looking at the numbers and percentages might not be enough to solve the puzzle.
That's where content, action, and persuasion come into play.
You see, not all visits are equal. Some potential buyers come to you because they have an urgent and specific need that they're hoping you can help them meet. Others find your pages simply because they are mildly interested, or are looking for free information and resources. How you differentiate those groups, and treat them while they're on your site, is important to your long-term success.
The reason that this differentiation is so important is that you can't generate a new business opportunity out of thin air. Or, to put it more directly, it's very difficult to convince someone who isn't serious about making a purchase (or commitment) to do so with just a page or two of text. You can only get a potential buyer to take the next step they are comfortable with and move forward with your company, not automatically convert every visitor into a loyal buyer - no matter how great your landing pages are.
With that in mind, it's important that you not only concentrate your firepower where it's going to be most effective, but also keep yourself from "over-selling" visitors who are only marginally interested by asking them to make bigger commitments than they are ready for.
As our title implies, that can require a bit of a balancing act for anyone who wants to convert search traffic into new leads. Here are a few solid pieces of advice you can use to get the maximum value from each visitor:
Think of search terms as motivations.
Instead of looking at keywords and phrases in terms of what people want to find, consider them from the perspective of what a searcher might want to get. That's a small difference, of course, but one that can lead you in the right direction when you're putting together offers, and a good mental guide when you're trying to decide what kind of contact information or further action you can reasonably expect to get in return.
Don't be afraid to take things slowly.
Just because a prospect isn't "hot" right now doesn't mean they don't have value. Even the biggest projects and investments start from a tiny shred of inspiration; your job is to cultivate that interest, inform the prospect, and get them to see why working with you is clearly their best option when they are ready to take action in the future. That could involve getting them to sign up for your newsletter or blog, for example, or interesting them in other offers down the road.
Divide your attention carefully.
A great search engine optimization and inbound marketing campaign targets a mixture of prospects who are ready to take action now, along with those who might want to move forward in the future. You might be tempted to only market to those who are ready to make a decision, but that's often a mistake. Focus too much on the short term and you'll only get the attention of prospects who are already involved in the buying cycle (and might be nearly committed to working with one of your competitors).
The more you understand about action, intent, and persuasion, the easier it is to coordinate your search engine optimization efforts with appropriate landing pages and effective lead generation. Take the time to think about what search queries really mean, and how to begin relationships at the right point. It might require more planning than simply following a traditional conversion funnel, but the process will yield much greater returns for your company over time.