At one point or another, every marketer, agency, business owner, and inbound enthusiast has asked the question: “How much of my organic traffic should really be converting into leads?” And for good reason: organic visit-to-lead conversion rate is a great benchmark of inbound success. Not to mention, leads obtained from inbound activities (like organic leads) have a much higher close rate than their outbound counterparts: SEO leads have a 14.6 percent close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7 percent close rate, according to Eric Siu for Search Engine Journal.

So what is a “good” visit-to-lead conversion rate for organic search traffic? Before we look at the numbers, let’s first make sure we’re on the same page with what “organic visit,” “lead,” and “conversion rate” mean in the first place.

Organic traffic: Organic traffic refers to visitors clicking through to your website after searching for a keyword you’re currently ranking for. Upon searching for that term on a search engine like Google or Bing, users who click upon a link that shows up on that search engine result page (and is not a paid ad), then link to your website are considered “organic traffic.”

Lead: The term “lead” actually means three different things: sales qualified leads, marketing qualified leads, and plain old leads, who may be someone who’s filled out a non-specific form on your website a while back, but hasn’t been very active recently. For our purposes, a lead is anyone who has provided at least their email address on a website form.

Conversion Rate: Here, we’re going to focus on visit-to-lead conversion rate, or the percentage of website visitors who fill out a form and convert into, or become, a lead.

Okay, so what’s the number?

Now that we’re on the same page with what we’re actually talking about – the percentage of website traffic generated by organic search that converts into leads – let’s talk numbers. While specific conversion rates can vary considerably depending on industry, website size, where your site appears in search engine results, and number of landing pages (more on that below).

The overall average percentage of organic traffic that should be converting into leads is 16 percent

Breaking this down by industry, we see the following organic traffic conversion rates:

  • Media or publishing: 20 percent
  • Marketing agency or consultancy: 20 percent
  • Education, training, nonprofit: 18 percent
  • Technology (hardware, software, IT): 15 percent
  • Manufacturing, construction, consumer goods: 15 percent
  • Professional services (financial, legal, etc.): 14 percent
  • Retail, commerce, wholesale distribution: 11 percent

If your numbers aren’t all that similar to the averages listed above, don’t be surprised. There are many factors that can influence average organic traffic conversion rates. Here are a few of the most common:

1. Where you are on the search engine results page

Potential customers are likely searching for products or solutions like yours, but whether or not they find your specific site (and become a lead) depends on where you appear in search engine results. For example, a Slingshot SEO study found that on Google, 18 percent of organic clicks go to the #1 position, 10 percent of organic clicks go to the #2 position, and 7 percent of organic clicks go to the #3 position. Numbers continue to fall off the farther you get from the top three spots on the results page – so if you’re not listed on the first or second page for a specific keyword, chances are, you’re not going to see big traffic or leads numbers for that term.

2. Your industry

There are many reasons why certain industries see lower average conversion rates. For example, products or services with long sales cycle, that are targeted to a very niche market, or have very high price points may see lower conversions from organic traffic. However, some of these reductions in conversion rates can be offset by our next factor in visit-to-lead conversion rates:

3. The quality of your content

Successful inbound marketing – visits, leads, customers, and all – isn’t just about having content. It’s about having the right content – that which answers your personas’ questions, speaks to their interests, and guide them through their own, specific buyer’s journey. In terms of content that increases your organic visit-to-lead conversion rate, it must accomplish three things.

  1. First, it must be optimized for the right keywords so that it can be found via organic search.
  2. Second, it must speak to the specific needs and interests of that user. This means that it should answer the questions this user has at the beginning of their buying process – and is ideally, awareness stage content.
  3. Third, it must include a CTA for a follow-up offer that is directly related to the piece of content and would be of interest to someone looking to learn more about this topic.

4. The number of website pages you have

The more website pages you have, the more likely your site is to be found via organic search. One of the best ways to increase the number of pages your site has – and ranks for – is by blogging. Since each post you write becomes its own website page, a regular blogging schedule can easily translate into exponential growth for your site’s internet footprint. According to HubSpot, companies that blog 15 or more times per month get 5x more traffic than those that don’t blog, and companies that increase from blogging 1-2 times per month to 9-15 times per month get double the leads.

5. The number of landing pages you have

It should be no surprise that having more landing pages makes it more likely that your website visitors – regardless of where they come from – will convert from visitors to leads. In fact, companies see a 55 percent increase in leads when increasing landing pages from 10 to 15.

While there are many factors that contribute to a website’s organic search traffic conversion rate, a strong marketing strategy and content plan can put you well above the 16 percent average.

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