Recently I spoke with a business owner who had hired a search engine optimization firm. That firm had done a fine job, and this owner thought his marketing was in good shape. What he failed to understand is this:

There’s a world of difference between Search Engine Optimization and B2B Demand Generation.

Despite the claims of search engine optimization folks, visitors to your website are NOT qualified sales leads.

The purpose of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to make your website appear at the top of results when a user types keywords into a search tool like Google.

Check out the results for “Life Insurance New York” The colored sections at the top and at right are paid ads. So AARP and Prudential, as well as MetLife on the right are “buying clicks” with paid ads. But New York Life has the most respected position – #1 in organic search.

While ranking highly gets you a lot of traffic to your website, it is not B2B demand generation. Look at this image of a revenue cycle (compliments of Marketo)

Notice the All Names and Engaged stages. All Names mean they visited (but not qualified) and Engage means they are active on your website. At best, Search Engine Optimization covers only these first two stages of the Revenue Cycle.

SiriusDecisions calls the entire revenue cycle the Contact to Close process – from the time we first meet till they are inked as a customer. They urge their clients to focus on that entire process – and we at Find New Customers agree.

The critical element in B2B demand generation is looking at the entire revenue cycle and moving the prospect through every stage. That means attraction strategies to drive Awareness, like SEO. But it also means Lead Nurturing, Lead Scoring and Content Marketing , as well as Sales Ennoblement and so forth.

What do you think? Do you think companies confuse SEO with B2B Demand Generation? We love comments and those who share. Lastly, we invite you to check out the Full Lead Generation program from Find New Customers.

Author: Jeff Ogden (@fearlesscomp) is the President of the B2B lead generation consultancy Find New Customers. Find New Customers helps companies dramatically improve revenue results by transforming the way they attract, engage and win new customers. Contact Find New Customers by calling (516) 495-9350 or sending an email to sales at