There’s nothing wrong with paid traffic. It’s the best, hyper-targeted traffic you can get online. The trouble is it’s so easy to get wrong, and expensive to experiment with when you don’t know if your funnel works, or worse – you don’t know who your ideal clients are.
But there are other ways of filling your funnel with warm leads. Remember search engines? Lots of people love search engines. Why? Because they’ll keep your secrets. You can ask them all kinds of personal things like “Does my neighbor fancy me or is he a stalker?” and no one else will ever know that you asked.
If you do a search for 30 days blogging challenge, I’m the first organic results in the search engines and second for just blogging challenge. This is actually the sales page for my tripwire (or product expansion) and I sell 10 of these every day with zero paid traffic. Search engine traffic to fill your funnels is a long-term strategy and one that works really well. I have clients that have funnels where over half their leads come from their websites, search and organic traffic and others that have 90% of funnels filled this way.
One of my clients is on the front page of the search engines for a phrase related to her ideal client. It takes the searcher to a quiz. The quiz quickly filters out the ones not suited to working with her, and the rest enter her funnel to be nurtured and become clients. No ads required.
Using SEO to Fill Your Funnel
If I had a dollar for every person that refused to do keyword research, I’d be a very wealthy woman. In fact, this article would be around getting a dollar when someone didn’t want to do something rather than filling your funnel without paid traffic!
Do not skip keyword research. It's vital to understand the terms your prospects are using to search for the information they’re seeking. When you know what prospects are looking for and why they’re looking for it, you can adapt your content to meet their needs. Use some intent-based keywords to target more qualified prospects. For example, if a person were to search for the term "child car seats", there are several ways you could attract them:
- Offer information about styles and features of car seats
- Offer images of car seats
- Compare the top 10 car seats on the market today
- Sell them a car seat
- Tell you where to buy a car seat in their city
If the person were simply looking for information on styles of car seats, you wouldn't want to send them, via your keywords, to your shop or sales page. Instead, you'd want to send them to a blog post that gives them the details they are looking for… and then leads them through the process of learning more, choosing the right car seat for their needs and purchasing options.
Keywords and types of intent:
- Navigation intent is used to reach a specific site or page. I.E. when people enter Amazon in the search to go to the Amazon.com site.
- Transactional intent is used when people are looking to buy something. I.E. when people search for "homes for sale in [location]". These keywords might include words like a discount, buy, sale, shipping, best price etc.
- Informational intent is when searchers are looking for information on a topic. They have a question they need answered. I.E. "immunization schedule for 0-5 years old"
- Investigational intent (sometimes lumped in with informational) is what people do prior to buying. They may search for which cars have the best safety ratings or which company offers the best selection of a product.
Choose primary and secondary keywords that share intent and then create content around it.
How to choose intent-based keywords:
Google search results are your friend. Search your main keyword:
- Look at the elements of ads shown on page one of the search results. Are they selling you something, showing you options, information?
- Mouse over the 'sponsored' icon on the ad and see what Google has to say about the intent.
- Check the organic listings shown on the results page. Are they trying to sell or teach you something?
Consider using Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. These are words or terms related to your main keyword. LSI Graph can help you discover some good LSI terms.
Other ways to come up with keywords
- During your Google search look at the keywords being used on ads and organic listings.
- Look at the related searches at the bottom of the search page.
Make a list of all the keywords you like the look of. I keep mine in a spreadsheet and highlight the ones with that I can create content around.
With your spreadsheet decide on what content you’ll create for what keywords. Some keywords lend nicely to product demos like Top Car Seat for Toddlers. Others will scream infographic or blog post.
Then create the content or outsource it.
It’s normal to have a few hiccups getting this right, it just costs you a few hours of your time rather than $300 in ads.
Prepare your website for traffic
Make sure your site is responsive, meaning the information and elements on your page automatically resize based on the device accessing it. Ensure everything on your site (with the exception of those you purposely want to be hidden) is accessible to search engines. It does no good to optimize for search engines if their bots cannot crawl your site. To make sure your site can be crawled, use Google Search Console and look for crawl errors.
Reduce the time it takes to load your website. Google has a mobile speed tool that you can use. If you have a high-load time, you will need to adjust some things on your site including compressing large image files, reducing pop-ups or at least making them mobile-friendly.
Ensure your site is optimized for mobile SEO. If you've been using Google Analytics for a while, you can check your account to see which pages are optimized for mobile and which are not. You can also tell what percentage of your traffic comes from mobile devices. If you haven't used Analytics, you can use Google's mobile-friendly test to see whether or not your page is mobile friendly.
Optimize for questions. Mobile users are using voice to search so when creating your content, optimize for those questions as well. You can do this by including questions in your headings, format bulleted lists properly, and include the questions and answers in the page content.
Add your keywords to:
- Page titles
- Header tags
- Meta descriptions
- On-site and out-going links
- Page content
- Image alt tags
- Other content such as video & audio titles, tags, and descriptions.
Create content that specifically matches searcher intent. Create some that relate to the LSI keywords. And create some that use other keywords you have selected and also variations of the keywords or phrases you've chosen.
Post a variety of content formats including some short pieces of 400-500 words and longer pieces with 2,000-3,000 words. Link to other related pieces of content. This has a really positive impact on your site being found, and so few people do it! Give yourself a headstart over your competition by linking to the related keyword pieces on your site.
Optimize everything you do off-site including your social media account profiles, inbound links, videos, audios, signatures, directory listings, and review sites. Of course, you can also comment on other high-traffic blogs in your industry or where your audience is in order to links back to your site.
Is your website ready to fill your funnel? Let’s move onto your blog
Using Your Blog to Fill Your Funnel
There are many things you can do with your blog to fill your funnel and the first one is simple - Write what your audience is looking for. You want active seekers, not browsers!
This means writing headlines that capture your reader's attention – just like you do with an ad! Making sure the opening paragraph pulls them into the content. Align your optimized post image to the right so it creates a narrow column. This pulls the reader deeper into the content, faster. Don’t believe me? Newspapers have done it to you for years; it works.
Add multiple opt-in points to your blog (Thrive Leads helps you do this)
- At the end of each post
- Entrance pop-up
- Exit pop-up
- Stand-alone opt-in pages or posts (great for testing and tracking too!)
Of course, someone will say that’s too many optins, but you’ll be surprised at how many people will not see or not realize that something is an optin. Use attractive buttons to direct people to your stand-alone page/post instead of having the full form showing (great for places like headers, in-post promos, etc.)
Remember your 404 pages? Add an opt-in offer or button to your 404 page and direct people to your optin. Add a Welcome/Hello bar to the top of your site and direct new visitors to your optin page. And remember your about page? This is a fantastic page to get people into your funnel – they want to know who you are.
Blog content to fill your funnel
Post at least every 3 days. I try to write every other day. Not only does it keep my writing skills fresh, but it also means I’m getting more traffic to my website. Write targeted posts that are specific to your audience. No one cares about your holiday/ your car / your new house unless you sell holidays, cars and houses. Content cannot be driven by your ego, it must be driven by your ideal clients.
Whenever I have a call with clients about their content not working it’s always because they’re writing about their own hopes and dreams rather than their prospects. It takes practice to get this right, so post every 3 days and watch what happens.
Create educating content. The best customers are educated customers – to educate them. Show them how to do something. For every reader that goes out and implements directly from your post, there will be one opting into your list and buying your product or service because they don’t want to DIY. Many keywords start with “how to” and this is fantastic for attracting beginners in your niche, or those that want to get more from a product.
Create targeted lead magnets that address something specific your audience needs/wants. It works for ads, and it works for your blog. Try them – you’ll love how quickly you can build a niche list.
Share freebies - some requiring opt-in and some not. Those that require nothing, be sure to brand them with a link to your opt-in page and encourage visitors to share the freebies with their friends.
Now you may have read this far and you’re thinking about your audience – you don’t know them at all. Survey your audience and require them to include their email address. Offer them a freebie or something irresistible for their time. Tools like Survey Monkey even have a paid offer where you can put your survey in from on your desired demographic.
Your blog’s true superpower comes in the form of content upgrades. Post part 1 of a series or course on your blog. Have people sign up (upgrade) to get the rest of the material. Example….
- Part 1 educates on a topic and offers 3 of 10 steps to do something
- Part 2 they must sign up to get and is steps 4-10 and tells them more (this is your lead magnet)
- Part 3 (a paid product you upsell to them in follow-up emails) takes their education further
One of my best content upgrades is on Calls to Action. I offer half of them in the post and the remainder as an optin. It works! It also means my follow is based upon their needs – writing calls to action that get clicked.
Personalize your call-to-actions (CTAs) and use humor, if appropriate. Don't use boring words like 'subscribe', 'sign up', 'join'. Try things like 'Yes! I want to earn an extra $500 this month.' or 'No, I prefer to be broke.' Check out this article on Shame marketing because there’s a fine line between humor and shaming someone.
A recent test I performed on subscribe buttons showed that using phrases like “I’d like the free video please” primed the audience to be respectful and increased conversions by 54% over phrases like “Grab the free video” and “Give me the video”.
Changing the language also kept them in my funnels longer and changed the way that they communicated with me!
Paid traffic isn’t the only way to fill your funnel. Try blogging for 90 days and optimizing your content for search. You’ll find a little effort here will go a long way to filling your funnels without ads.
Sarah Arrow is the creative director at Leads Launch Leverage where she helps ethical entrepreneurs go organic with their digital marketing.