Absolutely. Because if you’re trying to reach the type of customer who needs--- and will purchase -- your company’s goods or services, you’ll need the power of B2B SEO driving your marketing strategy. It’s really that simple.
What is B2B SEO?
The most basic definition of B2B SEO is the method by which businesses reach other businesses via search engines.
Of course, B2B SEO is far more nuanced and complex than that definition suggests, and while similar to standard SEO, has some very important differences.
How Is B2B SEO Different?
With B2B SEO, you have to appeal to multiple decision-maker profiles. You’re not just after a typical consumer searching for, say, accounting services. Instead, you’ve got to appeal to a wider audience of decision makers within an organization who have purchase power.
Keywords are important with B2B SEO, but not in quite the same way as with standard SEO. Because with standard SEO, it’s all about identifying as many keywords as possible and including them in your content and tags. B2B SEO is all about identifying and using high quality, not high volume keywords.
When designing your marketing strategy, you have to know that B2B SEO converts far less organic traffic than traditional SEO.
It’s the difference between an individual consumer Googling “accounting software” and a manager searching “secure cloud-based accounting systems.”
Finally, B2B SEO is heavily focused on creating a positive brand experience with its audience since these decision makers likely won’t make a purchase the very first time they encounter your brand. You’ll need to get them acclimated to seeing your brand repeatedly on their search engine results pages so when they are ready to make a purchase, you’ve already established credibility in their minds.
Why Your Business Needs an SEO Strategy
The strategies used 10 years ago are not necessarily going to continue working like they used to. Also, it must be pointed out that “content marketing” and “SEO” are not necessarily the same thing.
How Are SEO And Content Marketing Related?
Although they serve two very different functions, they overlap a lot. And when combined, they play a powerful role in any solid marketing strategy.
Because applying SEO’s specific technical aspects to content marketing is hugely effective, as is applying SEO in a broader way to better support content marketing.
The two converge in a way that’s symbiotic; SEO is always hungry for things like articles, keywords, and blog posts--- and content marketing provides just that.
Prioritize Your SEO Efforts
Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a highly effective marketing tool for businesses who want to reach more local customers within a specific geographic area online.
Also known as local search engine marketing, local SEO helps businesses to get their products and services in front of local customers at precisely the time they’re looking for them online.
There are a variety of different approaches, but local SEO generally employs very different methods than standard SEO.
Because there’s a big difference between a CIO searching “Salesforce managed services” and “Salesforce managed services in Dallas TX.” The former indicates the person is looking for very general information, while the latter indicates someone who’s ready to buy.
Businesses who use a local SEO strategy are far more likely to be found by these customers, and at exactly the time they really need what they have to offer.
Statistics show 80% of your potential customers will never know you exist if your business isn’t optimized for local SEO search. Without a local SEO strategy, customers can’t find you. It’s as simple as that.
B2B product SEO includes things like creating a captivating URL that clearly indicates a click will lead directly to a page for a very specific product, not to a general brand page. You have to create a transparent URL that’s relevant to the search query and that tells the user where he or she will land once they click through.
Titles should appeal not just to search engines but to your target audience as well.
A relevant, thorough--- yet succinct--- product title can increase chances of your potential customer actually clicking through.
As with most digital marketing practices, including detailed, compelling, creative and high res images is a must. Better yet, standardize the size of these images and allow users to zoom in on products that interest them. Adding videos further increases engagement and click-throughs.
How Do You Start An SEO Strategy?
Anyone can put together an SEO strategy. But putting together a B2B SEO strategy that works is a whole different ball game. There are a huge number of factors that come into play, but when you’re just starting to put yours together there are best practices that can help guide you.
It’s not about using a wide net to catch as many fish as possible, but using a narrower net to catch the right fish who need something specific. You need to identify the intent of your potential customer, and that’s where long-tail keywords are hugely helpful.
In essence, long-tail keywords use specific phrases, usually more than two words in length, designed to capture the attention of a niche market. These keywords should offer low search volume, low competition qualities that are more likely to target specific users with very distinct needs.
They don’t, individually, pull in a high volume of traffic, but when you add them all up together, they represent a significant amount of traffic and those potential customers know exactly what they want (and so theoretically are ready to make a purchase). Long-tail keywords, when fully leveraged, can garner more just as much, if not more, engagement as broader keywords.
Map Your Content.
Your B2B SEO marketing strategy should include a plan to deliver the right content to the right people at the moment they need to see it.
Executing this requires a deep knowledge of the characteristics of the people who’ve clicked through to read your content and where they are in the lifecycle stage. Basically, the goal is to deliver content that feels like it was custom-tailored to whoever might be viewing it at any given time.
The Buyer’s Journey
To map your content effectively, not only do you need a solid understanding of your customer persona, you need to know where they are in the buying cycle, also known as the lifecycle stage.
The three basic stages of the lifecycle are:
When a person has realized some sort of pain point or opportunity.
When a person has moved beyond awareness and can now define the problem or opportunity and give it a name.
At this stage in the lifecycle, the person has developed a strategy, method or approach for solving the problem or taking advantage of the opportunity.
This information, when combined with a customer’s persona, allows you to identify and hone in on a very specific audience segment so you can tailor your content to resonate with them.
Multiple Buyer’s Personas
The ideal number of personas for a particular strategy can vary greatly based on the complexity of the organization and the products or services it’s trying to sell.
However, a good benchmark is to aim for between three and five buyer personas. You don’t want a plethora of personas because that creates issues with messaging, risking confusion.
On the other hand, too few personas can hamper your ability to drill down on a specific messaging strategy. The rule of thumb is to keep it as simple as possible.
Many companies tie the number of personas they build to the different main products or services they’re offering. But, for example, a SaaS company might only have two or three personas to describe their niche market.
Create Content Clusters.
Content clusters are a more recent development in the SEO strategy world, and use topic modeling and internal linking to provide a positive user experience relative to your content which boosts search performance.
Without clustering content, companies are basically shooting in the dark and hoping something hits. You end up with a scattershot of topics with no cohesive throughline, and so Google doesn’t recognize you as an industry authority or thought leader.
Content clusters present a much more organized model with three main components:
This is a general piece of content that’s central to your cluster.
Is any content that’s internally linked to and from a pillar page for a particular cluster.
These hold everything together.
Spend your resources improving the content over time.
Because content is so important and has to be relevant to a buyer respective to their place in the lifecycle, it’s important to keep it fresh and updated over time.
We live in an attention span economy, and because consumers expect to get something of value upon their first introduction to a brand (like an eBook, whitepaper, or personal assessment), it’s most strategic to spend your resources on developing and improving valuable, compelling content over time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
How to Measure & Optimize Your SEO Performance
Ideally your search engine optimization is going to guide your company to steady lead generation. But before you get to lead flow, you’ll need to measure some metrics that will get you there.
Setup your SEO tool stack.
The next important step in developing your B2B SEO strategy is to identify and set up your SEO tool stack.
Keyword Research Tool
To do keyword research well requires lots and lots of time, and involves tracking keywords used by your competition. Additionally, it means running SEO audits of blogs, identifying backlinking opportunities and many other activities.
There are some great tools that help with this, including:
Website Analytics Tools
In general, website analytics tools collect, report and analyze website data. These tools allow you to deep dive into who’s visiting your site and what they’re looking for and can measure how effective your strategy is.
Tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console and HubSpot are industry leaders in providing these types of tools.
User Experience Tools
In essence, these are tools that analyze how your customers feel when they’re on your site. And user experience research is the process by which behaviors, motivations, and needs of customers are discovered using observation, task analysis, and other user feedback elements.
Some popular user experience tools are:
Google Page Speed Insights
Reputation Management Tools
Reputation management tools help businesses monitor, manage and maximize their online reputation using a number of methods from using customer feedback to address problems before they inflict damage to addressing content that is potentially damaging to a brand.
Some common reputation management tools include:
Google My Business
Social Media Tools
It may be true that social media provides a weak and unreliable signal to search engines (even Google doesn’t have the resources to crawl and index even a day’s worth of social media posts).
But ignoring social media in your B2B SEO strategy is a big mistake. Sites like Facebook can generate high-quality backlinks and boost your authority, all of which can help land your site on the first page of a SERP.
The following are some of the best-known social media tools:
Data Visualization Tools
Just as it sounds, a data visualization tool provides a graphical representation of information and data and uses visual devices like graphs, charts, and maps to illuminate data trends, outliers, and patterns.
Some well-respected data visualization tools are:
- Google Apps
Your B2B SEO strategy shouldn’t be static, which is why you should be monitoring and reviewing metrics at least once per month in several key areas.
Generate a keyword report to view a list of your current keywords, their position, and volume metrics.
You’ll need to analyze them for relevancy and search intent, and when you identify a page that has significant volume but is listed on, say, page 5 of Google, you’ll know to do some optimization on that page.
Run a list of other sites linking to your website (known as a backlink report). This is important to do because you’ll want to quickly disavow any toxic links on your backlink report. If you’re not reviewing this metric each month, a toxic link could linger for a long time and do a lot of damage.
Run a site speed test to see how fast your site is loading on mobile devices.
In our experience, websites with lower page speeds are not served on slower devices. You want to rely on the Google Score and prioritize the items Google lists, but Pingdom Tools tends to lay out the specifics of your load time a bit better and so it’s a little more actionable.
Review Google Analytics or HubSpot reports to determine how much time viewers are spending on your site in a single visit. Pages with a 3-minute average dwell time generally show up in the top three SERPs.
Pages Per Session Length
Ideally, you should aim for at least 3-page visits per session.
Be aware, however, some searchers are incredibly efficient and want only to get their answer and get out, which is why search intent becomes so important.
Use Google Analytics to determine how many people are viewing a single page and leaving (this is known as a bounce rate). Under 60% is a good target to aim for.
Pages By Volume
The Google Search Console can provide information on which blogs are being viewed the most. You can then identify which pages should be optimized for conversions first since more potential customers are seeing this content.
Generate a listing report for all of your online directory listings. Make sure that your name, address, and phone number (in precisely that order, NAP) match the footer of your website exactly. If there are errors, correct them immediately.
Compile a list of reviews from tools like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Bing, and Birdeye to ensure you’re responding to all reviews. Bear in mind, you’re not so much speaking directly to the original poster but to the potential customer who will read it later.
It’s abundantly clear, your B2B marketing strategy should definitely include an SEO element. Otherwise, you’re likely to be the best kept secret on the internet. Use the information contained in this article to run monthly optimizations, or if you’re ready to talk to an expert, we’d love to talk.