3 Ways to Optimize Your Search Campaigns For Qualified Leads & Revenue, Not Rankings

Garrett Mehrguth HeadshotEditor’s Note: This is a guest post by Garrett Mehrguth. Garrett is the CEO of Directive Consulting and Founder of Freshly Salted. He is a contributor to sites like Marketing Land, Salesforce, Search Engine Land, Moz, CrazyEgg, PPCHero, Ahref, Convince and Convert, and more. Garrett has spoken at SMX West, Digital Summit, Share16, 3XE Digital, State of Search, Big Digital, MozCon Ignite, General Assembly, and others.

If you prove the value of your SEO work by reporting on keyword rankings, you are doing yourself a horrible disservice.

I know; I used to do this myself. In fact, every day I fight my SEO instincts to log in into my ranking tracking software and view my rankings as if there’s a direct correlation between ranking and revenue.

Guess what…there’s not.

I wish there was. It would make life easy. We could simply send automated rankings reports to management, and in turn, they would increase our retainers or salaries. But if you’ve ever sent these reports in pure joy, then you know the response is never what you hope for.

Here’s why.

Reporting on keyword rankings instead of qualified leads or revenue is like reporting on meetings set as a sales rep instead of revenue closed. While increasing your meetings set can be a good indicator of growth, it definitely doesn’t mean that you are making more money.

When doing SEO within the context of account-based marketing (ABM) — or any B2B marketing program — it is excruciatingly obvious that you are misaligned with the company’s goals if you are talking about rankings instead of qualified leads or accounts.

Now, you might be thinking, “Yes, Garrett. I get it and I agree, but what do I do about it?”

Keep reading. I have some very specific ways you can reposition the value of SEO.

1. Recognize That Search Result CTRs Are Poor

Beyond the fact that reporting on rankings instead of leads misaligns you with the rest of your organization, those rankings often aren’t even driving that much traffic. Take a look at the average click-through rate (CTR) of a search engine results page (SERP) today:

CTR of search engine results page chart

If you are a B2B marketer reporting on rankings, this should worry you. Even at the #1 ranking, you are only capturing 23% of the market.

In other words, you are missing 67% of your opportunities with a legacy approach to SEO.

Furthermore, if you are thinking that simply launching search ads will be enough to solve your problems, you are also wrong. Here’s why.

Google AdWords industry benchmarks graph

Click-through rates for B2B search ads average around 2.55%.

In other words, even if you are doing both “traditional” SEO and search ads, you are still missing 64% of the market.

Holy cow.

[Tweet “You miss 64% of the market when you only focus on traditional #SEO.”]

The game has changed, and if you keep playing the same way you always have, you are going to lose. But there is a solution…

2. Focus on Share of SERP

Share of SERP is an approach to search marketing that focuses on increasing your marketshare for your most profitable keywords.

The first step here is to determine which keywords from your paid search efforts are actually driving leads from target accounts. You can do this by diving into your search term report. From here, you can see all the queries that are profitable for your B2B company.

Next, simply search those keywords. For example, let’s say you work in the “account-based marketing software” space. You will want to ask yourself how you can increase marketshare around this keyword that you know drives qualified leads. With a simple analysis of the SERP, you can see that three of the top five organic search results are either paid or editorial lists.

Account-based marketing ABM search results on Google

It’s critical that your brand is a part of these lists. By focusing on the entire search engine results page and every potential result, you will be able to increase your marketshare. By being on third party sites, you can leverage the power of social proof.

If you get creative, you can find other ways to inject your brand into the conversation throughout the entire SERP and improve lead volume from qualified accounts.

One way to do this is to find every website ranking for your keywords that use Google AdSense on their sites. Once identified, you can target these sites using Google’s Display Network via managed placements.

Account-based marketing managed placements

In the example above, we could put our ads on this post for Forbes that we know is ranking #1 for a keyword that we are targeting.

If you want to get away from reporting on rankings, then you have to come up with creative ways to start driving more leads from search engines. It’s time to rethink B2B SEO.

3. Change Your Reporting

It’s not all your fault if you default to reporting on rankings. There frankly isn’t that great of a software option on the market that helps tie organic performance to qualified leads.

But that cannot be an excuse for us not coming up with a better way to report on the value we B2B marketers create.

Here are some metrics that you can track if you don’t have access to revenue/sales data and want to get away from keyword reporting:

  • Links built
  • Quality organic traffic — calculated using the formula traffic – (bounce rate * traffic)
  • New content created
  • Share of SERP
  • Inbound phone calls from target accounts
  • Form fills from target accounts
  • Chats started with target accounts
  • Email subscribers from target accounts

All of these metrics can be tracked in Google Analytics and definitely should be if you want to get serious about your search engine optimization.

To help get you started, we have built a custom KPI spreadsheet that you can copy!

SEO KPI graphs from Directive Consulting

Simply update the existing dummy data, and you can instantly change your whole company’s perspective on what you do and the value you create from SEO. You see, it’s not that what we do isn’t impactful; it’s that our way of communicating value hasn’t yet evolved from keyword rankings and pivoted into business goals.

This strategy is essential if you’re doing account-based marketing.

Tools like Terminus will allow you to then measure how your organic efforts are impacting target accounts. The end goal is that we do more than just generate any leads. Instead, the goal needs to be generating leads from qualified target accounts that we know are going to impact our bottom line. With Terminus’ new Visitor ID feature, you can ensure people from the right companies are visiting key pages on your website thanks to your SEO efforts.

Wrapping It All Up

To learn more about generating leads from qualified accounts using SEO, download the Complete Guide to B2B Marketing & Demand Generation e-book.

Complete guide to B2B marketing & demand generation e-book