SEO + The Moment of Intent = Customers

Woman searching online for solutionsMost people think of SEO as a technical, geeky, and a necessary evil at best. Many folks even wonder why SEO matters to their business. However, I like to think of it as SEO marketing and consider it to be one of the fundamental components of an overall marketing and customer acquisition strategy. I came up with a formula sums up why I believe SEO should be considered a marketing activity.

SEO + The Moment of Intent = Customers

Why? Because when people turn to Google, they are searching with intent. At their “moment of intent,”  people are evaluating solutions and providers and they rely on finding the right answer with a few simple searches. Consumers who click through an organic link are highly qualified, wallet ready, and convert at a higher rate than traditional marketing methods.

While I was doing some research for a couple of upcoming workshops, it dawned on me that there are about a billion blog posts, articles, slide shows, and videos that promote the benefits of SEO, but there’s very little information or reference to one of the most exciting reasons businesses should invest in search engine optimization.

Most of the information written (including your’s truly) generically describes how SEO (marketing) will:
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  • Increase visibility on search engine results pages
  • Drive more traffic to your website
  • Improve sales
  • Generate Leads


What’s missing from the list is one of the most important eCommerce metrics – conversion rate. doh’!

Leads that are acquired through SEO, or in other words from a natural link on a search engine results page convert to customers at a 15% rate, leads acquired through traditional outbound marketing methods convert at 2%. See why I think of it as SEO marketing and not as a technical necessary evil?

The only other type of traffic that converts at a double digit rate is direct to site traffic. This makes total sense; if someone goes directly to a website via their URL, they’re already considering making a purchase from a trusted resource.


SEO Leads Convert at 15 Percent_Lead to Conversion Chart

Why do SEO leads convert at a higher rate than traditional outbound marketing methods?

People type a keyword phrase into the search box because they’re looking for solutions to problems, more specifically they’re looking for resources that will help them make an informed decision and select the product or service that best meets their needs. At each stage of the purchase or decision making process they require different kinds of information to help them decide which solution best fits their need.
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  • Problem identification
  • Information research
  • Comparing alternatives
  • Purchase


At each stage of the purchase cycle they also become more “wallet ready.”

It’s rare that a piece of marketing collateral or cold call “interrupts” someone at the time of need. When was the last time you received a telemarketing call or piece of direct mail at the exact moment you were thinking about replacing your windows or needed your air conditioning repaired?

There is one caveat to the formula SEO + The Moment of Intent = Customers. In order for it to work, your SEO marketing strategy must be customer focused not search engine focused. That means paying attention to the cornerstones of a successful search engine optimization strategy.
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  • A website that’s easy for visitors to navigate (and easy for search engines to find and crawl)
  • Content that’s relevant to your products/services and is interesting and provides value to the visitor
  • The right kind of links within your own site and from referring websites
  • A comprehensive strategy that includes a social networking component


Is SEO marketing part of your customer acquisition strategy?