It sounds so easy, right?
The dream for MSP SEO is that you write some content. You optimize your site. You rank at the top of Google for your key search terms, like “managed IT services” or “cybersecurity consulting”. And then you sit back and watch the leads roll in.
But the dream is rarely the reality.
SEO – even good, effective SEO that drives first-page rankings – does not always lead to lead generation.
At New North, we’ve done SEO for dozens of MSPs. Here’s the problem – and how to fix it.
Most MSPs are offering high-priced services to a small geographic region, which means they simply don’t have much search volume to capture.
Take your standard MSP located somewhere near, say, Indianapolis (it could be any city). Most often, they’re only offering managed services to businesses that are within or around that metro area.
Let’s say they target their SEO efforts toward the keyword “IT company,” which is a nice (if general) keyword with fairly high buying intent. If someone in Indianapolis is searching for “IT company,” they’re probably thinking about buying services from a local provider.
That keyword gets 8,100 searches each month across the US. That’s great! But in the Indianapolis metro area, it only gets 50 searches. That’s not so great.
Even if our MSP ranks in first place for that term – which will probably take a substantial investment over a long period of time – they’ll only get around 30% of searchers to click through to their site, bringing in around 15 people each month. If 3% of those people fill out the form to request services (which is a generous conversion rate), the company can expect…
0.45 leads per month.
Yes, that’s less than one person each month from a pretty relevant and popular search term, assuming some pretty great results (a first place ranking and a 3% conversion rate).
If you’re looking for consistent lead generation, 0.45 people probably won’t cut it.
Serve on a broader geographic scale.
We’ve had the most success doing SEO for MSPs that are serving a broader geographic region. If you’re targeting a niche, for example – like manufacturing firms or nonprofits – you may be able to rank for terms in that niche at a national level, which will give you access to a bigger pool of searchers.
“Nonprofit IT support,” for example, gets 170 searches per month in the US. If you keep the same assumptions we made before, a first place ranking for that term should generate about 1.5 leads per month.
Still not great, but it’s definitely better.
If you’re a generalist but you have offices in multiple service areas, you’ll have an advantage, as well, assuming you can rank for your terms in each of the areas that you serve.
Rank for multiple core keywords to capture multiple streams of traffic.
This is the key to successful SEO: rank for a lot of good keywords.
As we’ve laid out here, one keyword ranking won’t do much for your lead generation efforts. But let’s say you rank for “IT company” and “IT support” and “managed IT service” and “IT service” and “IT consultant”. Now we’re talking!
Rack up enough first page rankings for relevant and popular terms, and you will start to see consistent leads come in.
Use SEO as part of lead generation strategy – not as your only lead generation strategy.
If you’re doing SEO effectively, it will still take three-plus months for you to rise to the top of the search results for your targeted keywords – and it takes a lot of work (blog posts, pillar pages, backlinks) to get there.
Sometimes, you’ll rank for your keyword and find that, after all of your effort, it wasn’t worth ranking for. Maybe the keyword has a low conversion rate, or maybe it brings in mostly would-be clients that aren’t actually great fits.
For this reason, we’ve found that paid search ads are a great companion to SEO campaigns. You can essentially pay to skip to the top of search results and test if a keyword is worth ranking for. If you can’t drive any leads when you’re paying to rank for “remote desktop consultant,” you probably shouldn’t invest the time, effort, and money to rank organically for it. We’ve also found that it’s sometimes better to flip the funnel on its head; in smaller markets, ABM campaigns can be more consistent in providing a flow of leads than traditional inbound tactics.
SEO absolutely can work, but it takes time, and it shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox.
Need help with SEO for your MSP?
If you’re struggling to generate leads using SEO, get in touch with us.
The truth is that the dream – easy and consistent lead generation from SEO – is rarely a reality. But with an intelligent and comprehensive approach to MSP marketing, SEO can play a valuable role in helping you to dominate your market.
We’ve helped dozens of MSPs do it, and we can help you. Schedule a free consultation today and let’s discuss where SEO should fit in your lead generation strategy.