Successful SEO programs require content that supports the entire buy cycle

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Every SEO has heard these four words: “I need more traffic!”

It seems that websites are becoming less focused on top-of-funnel content (general informational and educational materials) and more focused on bottom-of-funnel lead generation offers. In my opinion, this is a short-sighted strategy, and one that will not drive a high volume of qualified traffic. Successful SEO programs require website content designed to reach prospects across the entire buy cycle.

seo-wheel-ss-1920Excuses, excuses

When bringing up the idea of having more informational content on a website to better support the SEO program, I often hear:

  • We won’t be able to rank for these general topics and high-volume keywords.
  • This traffic won’t convert.

It seems the fear of “not ranking” trumps the “let’s give it a shot” mentality. This way of thinking can crush SEOs’ creativity and limit your results. By developing top-of-funnel content and providing helpful, educational information, you will be able to rank for specific derivatives of high-volume keywords.

You can also take advantage of current events. For example, recently there was a DDoS attack across many networks, and search volume on this topic skyrocketed. This is a perfect time for a network security company to provide general information on the subject of DDoS attacks (a high-volume, competitive keyword that is difficult to rank for).

The idea that traffic for higher-level content won’t convert tends to come primarily from a lead-gen perspective. Many companies look at their paid search results and see that broader topic keywords don’t generate many conversions/leads. What they don’t understand is that SEO works differently from paid search — and that the customer journey can often have many stops on the way to a conversion.

This anti-top-of-funnel mentality hinders the full potential of website content and its ability to help users throughout their entire discovery and decision-making process.

Websites are created to serve customers, not your sales team

Remember, one important purpose of search engines is to guide people with questions to websites with answers; and many of these searchers may eventually end up becoming your customers.

Great websites are designed to help prospects and customers (versus focusing solely on enabling sales teams). Make sure you are providing unique, compelling, helpful information for prospects as they move through their research and buying process. This means providing content that is designed to raise awareness and educate visitors, as well as information that is appropriate for prospects who are ready to engage and take action.

For example, many B2B websites offer free trials, demos and custom price quotes, and these options typically require registration. These calls to action are great for lead-gen purposes and might resonate with prospects who are ready to test and buy. But what about all those website visitors who are not ready to offer their contact information and are not ready to engage with a sales person?

By focusing only on lead-gen content, the site may be missing a huge opportunity to provide helpful information designed to drive interest, increase awareness and educate prospects. Non-gated assets, general information and educational content help these top-of-funnel visitors. These people now know your brand and your website, and they are likely to return as they continue their journey.

Furthermore, general content is required to support a robust SEO program — a program that reaches prospects across all phases of their research and buying process.

Widen your website net

If your website is solely focused on lead generation, you are casting too small a net. You are missing the marketing opportunity search engines provide to increase brand awareness, educate people and start to engage with new prospects.

Examples of B2B content that supports early buy phase visitors, enables top-of-funnel SEO programs and helps move prospects through their buying journey include market research, get-started guides and industry overviews.

Don’t be solely lead-gen-focused. Make sure your website enables your SEO strategy and supports all your business goals. Help prospects throughout their entire research and buying process. Ensure that your website it aligned with customer needs, not sales team quotas.

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