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Every business that operates online needs a comprehensive and effective SEO strategy to boost organic traffic and visibility. People generally think of SEO in terms of ranking high for popular keyword searches, but for business-to-business (B2B) companies, the strategy moves from a broad audience to a specific one.
The consumer in a B2B exchange is the end user of a product or service, not a general consumer looking for a regular product. The marketing content with B2B needs to appeal to not one person, but a whole group of decision-makers, including managers, directors, C-suite executives and shareholders.
Appealing to this group and selling effectively requires a nuanced understanding of how approval and buy-in happens across each decision-maker and channel. The sales cycle for B2B is typically longer, more involved and much deeper than a B2C campaign, so the SEO strategy has to adjust to that.
What’s the difference? A general consumer tends to make decisions on their own and buy whatever they find that solves their problem. While some purchases may be higher involvement and may need buy-in from others, many consumer products and services require less research and fewer decision-makers than any B2B product or service.
The campaign has to be adjusted to this understanding to get the payoff in the end. Here’s how to go about it.
Related: The Secret to Super Successful SEO
Why is B2B SEO unique?
Knowing the differences between B2C and B2B SEO is just one part of the equation. Understanding how to manage these differences in planning and execution is key.
B2B keyword strategies:
B2B keyword strategies are very different from B2C keyword strategies. With B2B, you’re aiming to target not just the end user, but the collective decision-makers. The line-level employee who may mention the idea to management to improve the organization and processes is helpful, but they’re not the ones making the decision in the end.
Ultimately, it will be an owner, founder, director or executive who’s searching for a solution that solves a pain point for the company, not someone looking to make work more streamlined at entry level. Their approach will be more precise and focused, which may include low-volume keywords and phrases.
Understanding the industry language that these decision-makers will use will help you discover the best keywords for your SEO strategy. If they’re lower in search volume, that’s actually better for a B2B strategy. You’ll have less competition and create a place for your brand to stand out and capture attention.
Bigger effort for conversions:
Selling to a consumer is often simple and straightforward. A lot of purchases rely on impulsivity, so all you have to do is catch their attention at the right time. They’re scrolling, shopping and buying regularly, so being the one who comes up in their search or feed is not as challenging.
And in return for that ease, most B2C companies may sell to one-time purchasers, but they make it up in high volumes.
In contrast, B2B customers typically buy once or once every few years. The purchases are usually much bigger, both in cost and potential impact, so there’s a lot more for them to consider in saying “yes.” These relationships are meant to be long-term, so no one is jumping in impulsively.
What does this mean for you? You will have to invest more work and research into the content and marketing channels to nurture and earn the trust of a B2B consumer. It’s essential that you communicate your EAT: Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.
Expertise: Expertise is your knowledge of the industry and product on a deep, practical and relatable level. You have to establish yourself as an expert and show that you can do it better, faster and more easily than others.
Authority: Authority is your credibility — your position as a respected source of information in the industry. You not only need to know what you’re talking about but how your products and services impact the industry in its entirety. It’s about knowing what you do and how it affects what your customers do in context.
Trustworthiness: A B2B customer has to believe that you can deliver what you say you will. They’re ending their long research process and sales meetings by choosing a brand and shelling out a lot of money for a business investment in hopes that it will pay off and solve their problems. They have to trust you for that to happen, and it’s up to you to make your company and your offerings seem as trustworthy and reliable as possible.
Focus is shifted to B2B content:
Authority and trust are paramount to closing the sale in a B2B market. Your website and off-page content should be designed to prove that you’re an authority in the niche and that your company, products and teams are trusted by others to deliver solutions no one else can.
According to a Demand Gen Report survey of over 200 senior-level B2B marketers, 41% of respondents report consuming between three and five pieces of content before making a connection with a sales representative. That’s a lot of upfront effort for the lead payoff.
Those same industry experts also said that 68% of them want to see B2B content organized by the pain point or problem it can solve, and they want in-depth, specific content like case studies.
Leveraging case studies isn’t directly promotional, but they can make your company stand out. You’re showing off some of the process to make them feel at ease with your approach and how you performed with other business customers.
You can also use customer testimonials, which go a long way toward showing potential customers how you run your business. Choose testimonials that demonstrate real results, such as a customer who had an X% increase in productivity after implementing your software solution.
Content like this uses hard facts and real-world customers to give your prospects confidence, which is the key to getting them to reach out to a sales representative. Educate your target customers to help them see your value, and more importantly, offer value to them.
B2B SEO numbers:
A survey in 2019 with SEO professionals from across the globe revealed that the number one most important element of search engine results page rankings was on-page elements like meta titles and descriptions. The next priority is the depth and accuracy of the content in the results.
Furthermore, a consumer insights article by Google indicated that:
89% of B2B researchers find information online
The majority of decision-makers are C-suite executives, but almost a quarter of the decision-makers are not executives
49% of B2B product research is conducted on a mobile device while at work
Related: 5 Content-Marketing Tactics for B2B Ecommerce
B2B SEO campaign strategies
There are three basic elements to any SEO strategy, and here’s how they apply to B2B brands:
1. On-page SEO:
On-page SEO encompasses the actual words and phrases you use on the website and how they correlate with your target keywords. This includes your blog posts, articles, page content, FAQ page and other on-page content.
Think of this as your first opportunity to leverage your creativity to include keywords in your website content. This not only helps when visitors browse your page, but it shows the search engine site crawlers what your website is and what you do, which impacts the ranking and relevance of your content in the search results pages.
It’s not enough to just plug in keywords, however. You have to provide high-quality content and accurate information that has value for the customer, which keeps them reading and looking for more information.
Here’s an outline to optimize your content for rankings:
Keyword research: Do your own research based on rankings and low competition. Determine what your B2B customers are searching for and how you can use those keywords to direct them to your website.
Competitor research: Look for search terms that aren’t sponsored, then plug them into your search engine. Check out the top few results for those search terms and see what makes them better or more unique, earning that high ranking. Let that guide your strategy.
Create better content: You saw what competitors have to offer, and you know what keywords are most important, so now it’s time to put it into action. Create content that’s better than your competitors — offer more value, use keyword variations, include engaging graphics, and refine until you get it right.
2. Off-page SEO:
Off-page SEO is where you boost your credibility and authority. Take advantage of your industry connections to build links, collaborate on groundbreaking content, establish thought leadership and promote your content.
Backlinks tell the search engine algorithm that other authoritative sources find your content reliable and accurate. The AI bots are more likely to rank your content and website higher if you have approval from another website that they already view as credible.
Your networking skills can also build strong relationships with other brands to enhance your authority. Consider it a mutually beneficial relationship that serves both of you, not a chance to boost your own company.
Consider opportunities to guest post on each other’s sites, collaborate on research, start a podcast together, build an online community, or host a virtual summit. These are all powerful off-page SEO boosters.
3. Technical SEO:
Technical SEO may seem boring because it’s the code-driven, behind-the-scenes, introverted part of SEO — but it’s essential to your success. Think of technical SEO as facilitating the communication between your content and the search engines, giving the bots all the information they need to put your content in front of relevant searchers.
Google and other search engines want to provide high-quality results to searchers with a seamless process. For that to apply to your site, you need to get it functioning beautifully and ensure that the content is as good as it can be.
If you have site issues that impact the experience, such as slow page load times, broken links, excessive or obstructive pop-ups, or a non-mobile-friendly interface, you will lose some of your ranking. The best content in the world can’t make up for a poor website and vice versa.
Here are a few precautions you can take:
Audit page load times: Long page load times make visitors click away. It should only take a few seconds for a page to fully load — otherwise, you’re losing a potential customer.
Optimize for mobile: Many B2B customers are searching for business solutions on their mobile devices. Make sure your site is not only fast but optimized to be easy to use on mobile phones and tablets.
Test navigation: Is it easy to move around your site and find what you need? If not, consider how you can fix it to make the experience seamless for your visitors.
Create a schema or site map: A schema is for the bots and helps them map out your page to learn what you do, what you have to offer and what relevance you have for searchers.
Check all links: Check every link on your site, both internal and external, to make sure everything is functioning as it should. If links are broken or changed, replace or remove them.
This guide gives you everything you need to get started with B2B SEO campaigns. Get started to create a winning B2B campaign that gets you tons of valuable organic traffic.