I started The Content Factory with $500, some SEO skills and a strategy for “hacking” Craigslist to find remote work. When I launched TCF’s website, my goal was to have our SEO lead generation techniques drive 100% of our sales.
And you know what? I nailed it. It took me about two years, and it's been going strong ever since (almost a decade later).
I didn't even have to use a shady private blog network to make it happen!
In order to achieve my SEO goals, I had to create content that targeted search terms I knew business owners and marketing managers would be searching for. At the same time, I couldn’t just write content: I’d need to get backlinks, too.
My strategy was simple: I knew quite a bit about SEO lead generation techniques from my freelancing days, so I figured I’d just use what I knew to build out an agency website. I’d write content, then I’d use HARO (more on that in a bit) to snag backlinks for the articles I’d written.
Fast forward several years later, and now The Content Factory’s website ranks for over $1 MILLION worth of targeted organic keywords each year (meaning if we were to drive this traffic to our site via PPC campaigns, we’d have to spend that much for the content we get for free now).
We have clients ranging from national brands to enterprise-level SaaS companies — and just about everything else in between. This is a huge part of the reason I've been named one of the top women in SEO.
We’ve never had a sales team. We don’t pay anyone to bring in leads. We don’t pitch businesses. All of our clients approach us first — with the large majority of them finding us through our website’s targeted content that ranks well in the SERPs.
That’s the power of SEO lead generation techniques.
Additionally, I’ve been featured in Fast Company five times in the last year or so. Thrive named me a “limit-breaking female founder,” and NBC News referred to me as a CEO who “takes job perks to the max.” My team and I regularly share our expertise in outlets like Forbes, Inc. and a variety of industry outlets.
That’s the power of PR (which, by the way, you need for SEO).
Here’s the thing: the SEO lead generation techniques I used then still work today. In fact, I STILL work them today – it’s why we update our blog so frequently. In this post, I’ll outline the process you can follow to generate similar results for your business.
Trust me, there’s no secret sauce here. These techniques are highly replicable, and there’s absolutely nothing preventing you from using them to generate leads for your business. You can do this! Here’s how:
80% of SEO Lead Generation is Creating EXCELLENT Content
If your goal is to attract business, you have to be strategic. Every piece of content we write at The Content Factory (even this blog post) is meticulously planned out. We don’t just want traffic: we want traffic that converts. Traffic that doesn’t convert is like an email subscriber who never opens the emails you send – totally useless.
I’m running a business here, so I’m very money motivated – if you’re a business owner, you know what I’m talking about. I want leads from potential new clients. I want email subscribers to remarket to. I want to sell our Rise & Convert SEO online training course.
In order to get what I want, I have to provide unparalleled value with TCF’s content. There’s no point in having somebody on my team write a guide, unless it’s going to be the best one on the internet.
Otherwise, it won’t rank, won’t generate organic traffic, and won’t convert. Essentially, it’ll be a waste of time and money.
The bar is high, but once you know how to meet it you can really write your own ticket – and paycheck.
Creating the best content on the internet isn’t as difficult as it sounds – the trick is in picking your battles correctly. When you choose the right enemy, victory in the SERPs is inevitable.
Good news: I can teach you how to pick the right battles, and create content that wins you more money.
Effective SEO lead generation starts with keyword research.
We start by looking through as many keywords as we can. What’s working for our competitors? What’s working for us? What services are we offering now? What about the future?
All of this data gets folded into our research, which helps us narrow down our search to a few unique keywords.
As our goal is conversion, we aren’t necessarily looking for high-volume keywords. Sometimes, we target hyper-specific niches (and you should be willing to do the same).
These keywords may not have as many people searching for them — but our goal isn’t to have hundreds of thousands of people visit our site: it’s to have an extremely targeted audience visit it.
For example, we wouldn’t be very interested in ranking for “press release.” We’d be interested in ranking for “press release distribution.” The first keyword gets much more search volume than the second, but people searching for the second keyword are much more likely to want our services — or, at the very least, be persuaded that they need them.
If we rank for “cost to write press release”, there’s a much greater chance those visitors are actually looking for the services we offer. When we capture the user in the research phase, educate them and demonstrate our expertise along the way, they convert at a very high rate.
What it boils down to is search intent: what’s the intention of the keyword search? Is it to hire an agency like TCF for digital marketing services?
This same concept applies to every industry. Keyword research isn’t just about the numbers. It’s about strategy. You don’t want clicks. You want leads, sales and subscribers.
Remember: this is about using SEO lead generation techniques that work. We’re trying to convert business. We aren’t trying to just throw traffic at the wall — if you wanted to, you could just target low competition, high-volume keywords in your industry and pull in a ton of traffic.
But would it convert? No? Then why waste your time when you could be implementing a more effective strategy?
Keyword strategy is crucial — and it’s something that you can’t ignore. Of course, it would be impossible to cover all of the details in this blog post, so I’m not going to try to do that. Instead, if you don’t feel your keyword strategy chops are up to par (and for most people, this is the case!), you need to check out our comprehensive SEO online training course.
Trust me on this one: you NEED to know how to target the right keywords if you want to be successful at SEO lead generation.
Create Killer Content to Generate Leads from SEO
Once you’ve got your keywords, it’s now time to write the actual content. Something that gets thrown around in the SEO industry all the time is that you should aim for your content to be ten times better than what’s currently ranking #1. So, what does that mean?
In a word: value.
When someone clicks on your post, what is it that the reader is getting? Are you offering up something special that they can’t find anywhere else? Do you have industry-specific expertise? Do you just have flat out more information than anyone else?
What makes your content different?
Whatever it is, you need a lot of it — because the only way that people are going to go to your site over the competition is if you’re bringing them extra value. Likewise, Google is only going to give you an SEO boost if your content is actually good.
As a baseline, this generally means writing a 2,000+ word blog post — and when we say 2,000+ words, we mean 2,000+ words of fantastic content. Not filler. Not promotional material.
A visitor should come away from your page feeling like they got something out of it. If you can’t accomplish that, then you need to pick a different search term.
(Once again — if you’re lost, and you don’t know how to go about writing a blog post, we’ve a video guide for that!)
Your content should also be enjoyable to browse through. For a great example of what we mean, check out the TCF website. Our website is clean, and our blog posts are formatted with proper headers, images and a handful of visual odds-and-ends to keep your eye interested.
Utilizing headers (specifically H2s) isn’t just about making your site nice to look at, either.
You can use H2 headers to target answer box questions that are relevant to your particular keyword. So, for example, with our “cost of social media marketing” post, we’ve broken up the post into individual sections talking about the cost of certain services.
Not only does that make it easier to browse, it also makes it easier for Google to parse — which means that you’re more likely to earn an answer box placement. This is highly coveted real estate, and can substantially increase your organic traffic for a particular search term.
Backlinks: The Most Important Key to SEO Lead Generation
Of course, good SEO isn’t just about keywords and meta tags. It’s also about backlinks.
An easy way to earn backlinks is to bake a bit of content marketing right into your blog post. When you’re writing it, consider putting out a HARO query asking for expertise on whatever topic you’re writing about.
While you shouldn’t quote competitors, you’ll often find people that are adjacent to your industry who can speak with a certain amount of gravitas. This will give your article some weight — plus, it bakes in an influencer who can share your article as soon as it’s shared.
Pro tip: keep track of all the people you’re quoting and tag them on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn when it goes live, and as you repromote the content.
Keep Your Marketing Funnel Going
Here’s a little secret: we often don’t convert people on their first visit to our site.
Let’s face it — we have a big website. We have over 100 articles on everything from Twitter lists to effective HARO pitching to the advantages of working from home (or wherever). A visitor getting to our page from Google isn’t going to digest all of that in one day.
And once they leave the site — even if they like it! — there’s a chance they’re never coming back.
We can’t let that happen, and that’s why we don’t stop our marketing funnel once someone clicks on our site.
In order to keep the chain going, we put downloadable assets on many of our blog posts. Usually there will be a call to action (CTA) linking to them — or they’ll be the very subject of the blog post itself.
To get those assets, though, you need to hand over your email address. Now you're in my funnel, and will get my emails full of GIFs, value and the occasional sales pitch.
These are typically things that we know people want: our editorial calendar template, our keyword research template, a few longer (free!) guides, white papers — whatever. It doesn’t quite matter what the asset is, as long as it’s valuable enough that someone is willing to trade their email address for it.
Once we’ve got their email address, we’ll send them our newsletter — keeping them in our marketing funnel. This way, even if we aren’t making a sale on day one, we might make one later (and we often do).
Don’t Just Rely on Your SEO Results For Lead Generation
If you have a successful website that’s generating a lot of organic traffic, there’s no reason you should just use it for leads — you should figure out ways to monetize your traffic as much as possible (without, of course, hurting the overall user experience).
For TCF, an affiliate program with SEMrush is a great fit. Before we had an affiliate relationship with them, we were already brand advocates for their software. That’s great, as it meant that we could easily slot in affiliate links on our site without feeling like we were selling out or deceiving our users.
And the readers who click the affiliate link? They score a free week of SEMrush's service, with no obligation.
You should be trying to do the same: don’t just cover your page in affiliate links for things you don’t really use — instead, look at the pieces of software (or gadgets, or whatever tool is relevant to you) that you use everyday and see if any have an affiliate program.
Another favorite of mine? BetterHelp – I love my internet therapist, and whenever somebody clicks this link for online therapy through BetterHelp, they get a week for free and I get a payout if they stay on past the trial.
Those will be the easiest for you to write about and incorporate on your website — which will also mean that it’ll be easier for you to get people to click on them.
Promote Your Website to Keep Your Leads Coming In
You can’t just write content and then throw it out into the world expecting it to be successful. There are a lot of blog posts out there that are stuffed with information that just languish in obscurity forever.
If you want people to see your content, you need to gather as many backlinks as you can.
There are many ways to do that (we go into a few in our SEO training series), but we’ve had the most real-world success with HARO – and by far. Last year, we scored $1.2 million worth of earned media coverage via HARO alone!
HARO (or Help a Reporter Out) is a service that’s designed to help reporters gather expert sources about whatever it is they’re writing an article about. Writers send their questions to HARO, HARO then sends out a newsletter three times a day to subscribers, and then subscribers can respond to the queries in the newsletter — and it’s completely free for both parties.
While you can get a complete guide on using HARO here, the gist of it is this: you scan for relevant queries from reporters and you reply to as many as you possibly can.
We’ve used HARO to great success in the past. HARO is how I got featured everywhere from Forbes to Success Magazine — not to mention the numerous other publications I’ve been featured in.
There’s no doubt it’ll happen again this year, too. HARO is reliable — we’ve been using it for years, both for our own website and for our clients, and it always pays off.
But HARO isn’t the only way to promote your post.
Never Stop Hunting For New Backlinks
You need to look for as many opportunities as you can to take advantage of. Did another site link to you organically? Reach out and thank them.
Did someone mention you on social media? Make sure you thank them, too.
Pitch other websites in your niche — see if they’ll feature your post. After all, it’s better than everything else, right? (This method is referred to as the skyscraper technique — and while it’s tedious, it does work for some industries.)
Additionally, be on the lookout for guest post opportunities. With guest posts, you’re essentially getting a backlink in exchange for writing someone free content. It’s not a bad deal, especially when you’re just starting out.
Most of all, though, never stop promoting your content. You should be putting in at least as much time promoting it as you wrote it — and that’s at an absolute minimum.
Likewise, once it starts to take off, you can’t stop. You aren’t the only one out there that is aware of SEO lead generation — which means you’ve got to be on your toes to keep your content climbing. Don't forget to shoot some internal links to your new content, and link to older content from your newer posts.
I’ve never taken a day off when it comes to promoting TCF’s content. That’s why so many of my pages rank well — even years after they’ve reached the top of the SERPs.
While this is hard work, anyone can do it — it just takes time. Once you get in a groove of researching, writing, and promoting, though, it gets a lot easier — and faster. You just need to stick with it.
Do SEO Lead Generation Techniques ACTUALLY Work?
Do our SEO lead generation techniques work? Judge for yourself.
Our page, How Much Does Social Media Marketing Cost? receives over 2,000 unique hits every month. It ranks for “how much does social media marketing cost,” as well as a whole slew of related keywords, like “cost of social media marketing.”
That post is targeted a query we know business owners are looking for. Those business owners are thinking of outsourcing social media (hence the query). Not only do we answer that question for them, but we can also make a compelling case for our own services — and our value.
The end result? This page pulls in leads that directly lead to business.
This post cost me nothing to write. Seriously. I just sat down one afternoon and put it together. What it’s worth, though? That’s something else entirely.
This single post has earned me over a million dollars in business over the years. And that’s ONE post.
But it’s not just that blog post.
Another post, Why You Don’t Need a Press Release Distribution Service, doesn’t pull in as much traffic (only around 400 every month), but it does pull in leads like crazy. Without fail, 6 or 7 new clients ping us every month based on this one post alone.
The post cost exactly zero dollars. We didn’t pay anyone to promote it. We did it all ourselves.
And here’s the thing: there’s nothing preventing you from doing the same thing. There’s no magic formula, or $1,000-per-month tool.
You don’t need advanced AI. You don’t need ten years of experience. You just need to know how to do the basics.
Once you have them down, it’s just a matter of finding out what works for you.
That’s what I did — and with the right strategy you can, too.
Want to learn the in-depth details? We have an in-depth video series that goes into all the details, from doing keyword research to writing blog posts to how to secure backlinks. You can get it here.
And if you want something more personally tailored to you or your business, we can do that, too. We offer SEO, PR, and social media training to individuals and businesses — and we also manage it all, too.
Want to kick things off, without doing all the work yourself? Contact us and we'll take care of it for you.