If you’re a managed service provider looking to grow your business, you’ve undoubtedly given some thought to how you will generate new leads. While you need to know where to look to uncover your next batch of prospects, remember that it’s a two way street. You also need to make it easy for those leads to find you with MSP marketing activities that focus on the top — or the “Attract” stage — of the marketing funnel. One powerful way to do this is by leveraging search engine optimization (SEO).
There is an abundance of data and information around the value of using SEO to make your business more visible online. Here are a few of the key elements you need to understand:
- It’s like an ad, but free — and more valuable to the prospect. As much as paid advertising helps with building awareness, it’s important to recognize the difference in how people receive a sponsored ad versus content that comes up in results based on an organic search. Search Engine Land tells us that 70 to 80 percent of users ignore the paid ads and only focus on the organic results. Because you aren’t required to invest financially in SEO, the tactic yields a high ROI.
- Higher close rates. When people actively search for topics and are able to click through to your site, they have found something they want to know more about, and have therefore qualified themselves as leads. These types of leads are more likely to engage with you, move down the sales funnel, and become a new customer. According to Search Engine Journal, SEO leads have a 14.6 percent close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7 percent close rate.
- If they aren’t finding you, they’re finding your competition. Beyond a tendency to skip paid ads, research suggests that 60 percent of all organic clicks go to the top three search results. This means that if you don’t show up in the top three organic results, your prospects are less likely to find you. An even more concerning thought is that they are probably finding your competitors instead.
SEO tips to get you started
I sat down with my colleague Sarah Duffy, the digital marketing manager at Intronis, to discuss some quick tips. Sarah was also kind enough to offer to join me for an exclusive Intronis Partner-only webinar, so she’ll be taking us on a deep dive of these tips (and more) during that exclusive session.
- Create pages specific to different solutions you offer. Of course, it’s a good idea to have one place where prospects can see all the services you offer. However, in order to show up in the organic results for a specific service that a potential customer would be searching for, you want to create separate pages where you highlight specific services and optimize for those terms. For example, creating a page specific to your cloud backup and data protection solution or a page about your compliance audit services.
- Use strategic page titles. Keep your titles brief and include the most important words at the beginning. You’ll want to make sure to include keywords in your URL string as well. And, you should use hyphens, not underscores, in your URL string.
- Leverage meta descriptions to get more click-throughs. Search engines will display the first 156 characters of the meta description. While the content here won’t impact your ranking, it will compel people to browse through based on the content, so it’s important to include an interesting and relevant description.
- Work your keywords. Use keywords to maintain a focus on the main topics throughout your page. Include the keyword or search terms at least two or three times, including variations, in the body copy on the page. If there is a high word count on a page, you might find that you are using it more often. The guideline here is to make sure that you’re copy reads naturally. Don’t overuse the keyword for the sake of having it on the page. That’s known as “keyword stuffing” and can negatively affect where the page appears in search results.
- Get your tags on! Use different heading tags (H1, H2, H3, for example). It’s important to use your keywords in your headings and content, as visitors are much more likely to stay on a page if they can easily see the terms they had searched for on it. It also makes your page much more reader-friendly. Again, make sure you’re writing for the reader, though, not for search engines.
- Take advantage of images. One way to help search engines find your site in image searches is to make sure you’re including keywords in your image titles and “alt text.” So, for example, you might want to save your image as something like “CompanyName-cloud-backup.jpg”, instead of “servers.jpg”. The same goes for the alt tag. Keep the alt tag text relevant to the image. Just try to be as accurate and descriptive as possible.
- Cater to your mobile audience. If possible, offer a responsive mobile layout. This could impact your ranking score because some search engines are starting to negatively score sites that are not mobile friendly.
These are just a few tips to get you started. Watch the webinar replay for more!
One more bonus tip
Register your site with Google or Bing webmaster tools (or both). These tools are great resources for SEO, especially with the various reports that come directly from the search engine on everything from broken pages to search penalties. You can register your website at the Google Search console and at Bing’s website owner’s toolbox.
Photo Credit: Johnny Blaze on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.