Did you know that 57 percent of a customer's decision is already made before they even reach out to anybody at your firm? That is why search engine optimization is such a critical piece of starting a relationship with a prospect and future client.
Hi, I'm John Durso, President of Crosshatch Creative and this is Be Bold, Be Smart, all about inbound marketing for consulting firms.
Alright, so the common misconception in SEO and professional services is when we talk about search engine optimization for professional services that we're talking about people going to Google and typing in 'IT consulting firm' or 'management consulting firm' or 'CPA firm' or something like that, where they're just typing in the business type and using Google as some sort of business directory. Which, certainly people do that but it's not really a great strategy because number one, those terms are really hard to rank for and number two, they're very broad and general. You're not necessarily sure that somebody typing in those terms is really looking to work with you.
So when we talk about SEO for professional services firms, what we're talking about is being in front of them when they're trying to solve a problem, right, so that is a more specific search and it's also a search that shows more intent, that they're actually looking for the services that you offer, right? So if you're an IT consulting firm, think about your clients, your ideal client when they first realize they have a pain that you can solve, what do they do? Most likely, they turn to Google and they start researching the answers and the solutions that are out there, so they might be typing in questions like 'how to migrate a enterprise database from Oracle,' for example.
And so if you have content that you can put out and then they find in their search, then that's very valuable to your prospect and that's the way that you start a relationship, that is why the search engine optimization can be such a valuable way to start off because number one, they clearly trust the search engine they're going to because they're going there to help solve their problem. The search engine trusts you because they're ranking your page and so therefore that prospect automatically, you have some credibility in their eyes, right and then of course, once they click through and they read your content and they actually get value out of it, now you've boosted that credibility even more. And if you have a website that can actually capture that in the form of, you know, getting an email address or social media follow or whatever that might be, even a phone call, then that's a very valuable way to start a relationship with a prospective buyer.
So now that you know what kind of content that you need to create in order to rank and start establishing those relationships with prospects, at scale, through search engine optimization, how do you do that, how do you actually rank? Well, the old method was cranking out a lot of blog posts, just the more the merrier and certainly content is still a core part of this strategy because that is how you provide value online, on your website, but the organization is a little bit different.
So whereas your blog is kind of an archive system, what we recommend now and what the research bears out is actually more effective is organizing your content around topics, so a particular topic page with subtopics around it and an internal linking structure that shows that this page is an authority on the subject. And if you create content with that kind of organization, it helps in two ways. Number one, it helps Google crawl your site and see which topics that they should rank you for, at least test ranking you for and number two it's really valuable for your users. It's really easy to navigate and see the kind of content you have and click around and dig into certain areas. Whereas if that's just spread out on posts throughout your blog and your archives, it's not as convenient and they're likely not gonna find half the content you have that way.
So go look at your content and make sure that at least part of your content that you're creating, about a third of it, should be these question answering posts that help people when they first realize they have that pain - their first point in the buyer's journey when they're turning to Google to start research. And then also look at your site and see how it's arranged and see how you might be able to arrange it around topic clusters rather than a string of blog posts and archives.
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