SEO channel could save your sales pipeline

Events are virtually gone in 2020. Is SEO the channel that can save your sales pipeline? "The data says yes!", according to Aoife McIlraith, Global Search & Marketing Consultant (pictured).

What do successful companies know that under-forming companies don’t?

Digital Marketing in 2020 became the only way a huge proportion of brands globally have to communicate with customers. Covid dramatically changed how we reach and communicate with existing customers and more importantly reach new prospects. What and how we run digital campaigns online matters now more than ever.  As we all know in the localization industry this becomes even more complex in a multilingual, multicultural world where one global message rarely fits.

Insights from EUTAC’s 2020 report shows the difference in how localization companies leverage and use digital channels.  SEO is actually leading at the top for the best performing channel with nearly 42% saying it helped generate new business, the same results as industry events!  When we dig deeper, we see that SEO tactics in growth companies is at 46% versus 39% for non growth companies.  That’s a 7% difference increase over your competitors from a single digital channel.  This begs the question why are all companies not prioritizing SEO in the marketing mix?

Is your website working for your business and how will SEO help?

One of the very first questions I ask any client is “what is the goal / purpose of your site?”                        Amazingly 7 of 10 times the company cannot actually articulate an answer.

“If you build it they will come” is a quote from a 90’s baseball movie and it seems to be the premise a lot of brands build their web sites on☹  The question should be “If we build it, will they come?”

Companies need to know the purpose of their website. What should the site delivery on for the brand, for marketing and for lead generation? You need to build and execute a strategy to delivery on these requirements. Most companies do not want to have a digital brochure site that is a cost center, they want a revenue generating asset.  Optimize your site so that it works for you and your business – this is SEO.

How do users find your products and services? You need to know how users search in each market and language. Do not use internal lingo, jargon, industry acronyms.  Make sure your site and content is customer centric (outside looking in) not brand centric (inside looking out).  Do the research and find the keywords they use and optimize for them – this is SEO.

How do new customers find your business over a competitors?

Do you know who your digital competitors are?

How can you win if you don’t know who your competing against!

The digital competitor’s landscape can be a made up of very different competitors than your traditional offline competitors.  Online you are competing against news sites, industry sites, consultants, blogs, vlogs and more, all of whom are creating content and want to rank for the same keywords.  However, they may not be competing for the same new client offline.

Unless a user knows your brand and types in your exact domain directly into a browser, you need to build a website that can be found.  This means a site that can be crawled, indexed, ranked and ultimately clicked – this is SEO.

There are two basic ways to drive search traffic to you site leveraging either SEO or SEM (search engine marketing).  There is a place for both in a search strategy depending on your timeline and requirements.

I like to explain it like this:

SEO is a marathon: long term strategy that takes time, effort and endurance and will deliver long term results.

SEM is a sprint: short term strategy that is short, fast, effective, eats up energy and will delivery for a short time; you pay for every customer every time.

Do you know what your new customs are searching for?

If you don’t know how users search for products and services how can you optimize to be found for those products and services? To optimize for search and understand search intent in specific market we need to carry out keyword research.  Where do I start?

Keyword research is the process of researching and finding the most relevant search keyword in relation to a product, service, or piece of content.  There is already a good quick article on EUATA blog as an introduction to keyword research – you can read it here.

Two key tips for  keyword research:

  1. Get out of your own way!

Think like a user/searcher not how you think and talk about your products or services – outside looking in.

  1. Understand user intent | Browser V Buyer keywords

Are they just starting their research or are they ready to buy?

Example: Browser  “things to do in Barcelona”   Buyer:  Hotel Barcelona 14thJune 2021

Client requirements, has a client asked you to translate or localize a list of keywords? Sent a file with a column that says “keywords” or “SEO terms” and the content is clearly digital marketing web content. Have you been asked you to add translated keywords to their terminology guide for use everywhere? These are all SEO requirements and usually there was a source strategy that literally got lost in translation☹Did they provide any in market research to ensure that keywords are optimized for that language and market? Be a great partner and let you client know that this project requires SEO localization, increase the value of their content and your quote.

First step is finding a tool that will let you do keyword research that you can trust.

As a SEO veteran I have spent a lot of time over the past 12 years carrying out due diligence on multiple keyword research platforms.  We in the localization industry need a platform that can actual delivery on multimarket keyword research.  Below are a few keys tools I use to carry out research.

SEMrush is by far the largest keyword research tool available with over 17 billion words in the index, across most markets, languages, and search engines. I use the keyword magic tool daily due to the fact they it is a multilingual platform at its core enabling all the research I need to do across all markets in a single place. I have leveraged their tools and functionality for five years for so many global clients that I become a passionate advocate.

SEO Knowledge and Training

One of the biggest hurdles to SEO success or failure is the level of internal knowledge in your company.  One of the most interesting findings in the EUTAC report was under training requirements.  SEO was specially called out as a requirement by both companies and departments as needed. This is in line with the demand and growth of SEO localization services over the past five years.

Over the past 12 years building and executing multilingual SEO digital strategies and SEO localization, one of the biggest gaps I saw in the industry is the lack of SEO knowledge and specific training requirements. Training needs to be available to in-house and PM’s, client side and vendor side.  I built training modules from the ground up specially designed for the localization industry.  The 2020 data is showing that this training is still wanted and needed.

There are quite a few aspects of SEO that you can upskill on and keyword research and SEO localization are two of them. Not only will use be able to do SEO tactics in house but you can also leverage this knowledge as a service offering.  Multi-market brands need SEO localization for their web content!

Where do I find the budget?

Events are a big part of our industry.  It can be the one time of year we get pitch to new clients in person, learn and expand our knowledge and catch up with old colleagues. We also know the time, effort and budgets that go into industry events.  As 2020 events are now all virtual (and let’s face it not the same), how are you planning to repurpose the events and travel budgets?

The data has shown that SEO delivers equal or better results than events, why not repurpose the events budget into SEO. If we put our efforts behind SEO in 2020 those results will drive leads for much longer than a single event, it’s a marathon remember!

A full SEO strategy and execution for a website takes planning, budget, expertise and time. SEO success does not happen overnight, it won’t happen over a few weeks, it takes months and is on-going, SEO it never “done”.  If SEO is a key digital sales channel to gain new customers how can it ever even be done!

Aoife McIlraith Consulting is an affiliate with SEMrush

 To help you kick start your SEO plan I worked with SEMrush to get EUTAC Network members and members of its partner organisations (see logos below) a  7 day Free Trial to the platform, which includes their Keyword Research Magic Tool and Competitor insights.

The 7-day free trial is available to any member of the EUACT’s nine partner organisations too.


Find out more about Aoife McIlraith