Are you selling your goods or services to people or to other businesses? This is the question you need to ask before you make any marketing decisions. After all, it affects everything— including how you use search engine optimization.
“In general, B2C buyers are typically looking for something to buy and B2B buyers are looking for a solution to a problem,” according to marketing platform RankWatch. So when you’re marketing to potential customers, your pitch is generally quick and to the point, your goal is to grab their attention so you can grab their wallet.
As you market to other businesses, who typically have a longer, more challenging buying process with more people involved, you have to make sure that they see your value over the long haul.
B2B SEO, therefore, isn’t as straightforward as it is for B2C companies. It has to be more thoughtful about keywords and guiding those potential business clients through your website to achieve the best results for everyone. B2B companies require a special touch.
Pre-Optimize for SEO
Just getting started with your B2B search engine optimization strategy? Here are the things to know before you SEO.
Optimize for the Questions Prospects are Asking at the Various Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
Since many B2B purchases are big-ticket, the journey that the buyer takes often takes longer and is more complicated than a simple consumer online purchase.
We organize the B2B buyer’s journey into the three stages that HubSpot recommend as part of their inbound marketing methodology. These stages are:
Awareness: The prospect is just vaguely aware that they have a problem or challenge but haven’t put a name on it. The primary search queries at this stage involve identifying the problem or challenge.
Consideration: The prospect has identified and named their problem. Queries at this point revolve around which category of solution is best for their situation.
Decision: The prospect has decided upon a category of solution and their queries now are about choosing which specific provider is best for them.
Clearly, a simple content and SEO strategy isn’t going to cut it. Making an effective B2B SEO strategy requires optimizing around these three kinds of search queries.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Types You Should Know
Before we get too deep into B2B SEO strategies, let’s take a moment and familiarize ourselves with the various kinds of common SEO activity, some of which overlap.
These are activities related to the page or pages on your website that are taken to make it rise to the top of a search engine results page. This includes activities and techniques such as:
Building strategic keyword-focused content that comprehensively answers the target query or keyword.
Optimizing page titles and meta descriptions to rank for your target query.
Using headings and content formatting that allow the reader and Google to easily understand the content.
As the name suggests, this refers to actions that take place off your website, and over which you have less control but that can help your site rise to the top—things like:
Promoting your content to other websites for the purpose of attracting backlinks
Answering user questions on Quora.com question
Technical SEO is all about nailing the technical aspects of your website to get maximum results when Google and other search engines crawl and index it.
Technical SEO activities and techniques include:
Making your site load speed as fast as possible. Website load speed is increasingly becoming an important Google ranking factor.
Adding an XML sitemap to your site.
Make sure that your site’s meta tags are all accurate and distinct so that crawlers can understand each page’s content and value.
If you’re selling products online, your product descriptions should be original, keyword-infused, and composed with a specific customer in mind—to mention just one aspect of effective product SEO.
Bilingual SEO (multilingual tool)
This isn’t to be confused with international SEO, which is related but different. Bilingual SEO takes search intent into account, understanding that direct translations just won’t cut it.
Build Your SEO Strategy
As you start building your B2B SEO strategy, start with these 5 steps, and don't forget the tools you already have in your B2B marketer toolbelt.
5 Steps to Building Your B2B SEO Strategy
1. Start with an audit.
It’s hard to decide where you want to go and what you want to do until you fully understand where you are NOW. You might already have content that could serve you well if it were only optimized.
2. Do some persona-based marketing.
Drill down into the businesses you’re targeting and the people who work there. Who are they, what are their concerns and problems, what solutions are they looking for?
3. Do some offline keyword research.
Have you asked how people view your products/services? How would they describe them? A simple survey might help you land the most-used keywords.
4. Take your search term research online.
Review sites belonging to your competitors and take a look at what keywords they are using. You can also try the more well-known online tools like Google AdWords.
5. Start mapping content.
Don’t get so busy generating a piece of content that you stop seeing how it works with all your other content and how all of it refers to each other. Organic traffic requires a clear plan of action. Mind maps—on paper!—and other exercises can help you not lose sight of the forest for the trees.
Tools In Your B2B Marketer Toolbelt
The Buyer’s Journey
Awareness, consideration, decision—these are the steps a buyer takes before buying. How can you increase your visibility, catering to the needs of each of these steps for your unique customer?
Don’t just consider keywords that Google searcher might use—what are they trying to do? What problem are they trying to fix? Think of all those alternatives of phrasing.
Multiple Buyers’ Personas
You don’t have one single kind of customer, so ascertain in detail what all those different people look like and cater your content creation accordingly.
Group your online content by topic, with links that carry readers from article to article.
Have content on a single topic link back to a “pillar” article that will then be seen by Google to have greater authority.
Create content that answers questions your audience is likely to ask, in hopes Google chooses it for that coveted top spot on search results, the featured snippet.
Are you creating the kind of content that people will want to share on social media?
Are you adding value to the lives of people and organizations by sharing your knowledge and teaching what you know best?
Finally, Stay Agile and Optimize Over Time
You’re not going to get all this done in one day. And algorithms constantly change. Take small, steady steps.
Best SEO Practices
Turn SEO challenges into opportunities with pointers from our team of digital marketing experts.
How to Manage SEO Challenges in Digital Marketing
Challenges are going to happen, no matter what space you’re in.
If you’ve been able to pinpoint your problem, like “not enough traffic” or “traffic but no leads,” then you’re halfway there.
Advice From Our Digital Marketing Experts
Don’t overcomplicate keyword research.
Understand that all of your keywords have a place. You should group them together by intent, topic, and type (primary keyword vs. LSI keyword).
Ditch the blog post editorial calendar.
You aren’t a magazine or a publication. It’s great to have new content, but content takes a lot of time to develop, so use your resources wisely and stick to content clusters.
Let the data drive your decision making when possible.
What reports should you be watching every month? Well, what are your goals? Website visits? Online sales?
Don’t rely 100% on volume numbers.
We recently had a client that had a group of product keywords—we went after it, did everything “right” and our tools like SEMrush, AHrefs, etc. were not seeing these keywords picked up. A few incognito searches later, we saw the content was ranking, but the keywords were so niched down and specific that our tools had no search volume or additional data on them.
Reuse and recycle content the smart way.
It’s important to tailor your content based on the platform. Each platform serves a different purpose and answers different questions for its users. Sustainable high-quality content requires that we reuse and recycle information.
We can reuse and recycle by changing the format of the content (ie. a blog becomes a video, or a video becomes a giphy) and by tailoring our content to answer different questions based on the platform we are promoting on and the ideal user experience. For example, instructional blogs do well as videos on YouTube or content on SlideShare, where people go to learn.
Be in it for the long-haul.
It’s important to know that organic search traffic is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s going to take a while.
Jake Fisher, a co-founder of Bridges, is a multilingual B2B entrepreneur. In 2012, Jake co-founded Bridges with Ashley Quintana, a former coworker at Tyler Media. Within two years, the partners scaled Bridges to more than one million dollars in gross revenue from a $10,000 initial investment. Combining business knowledge and insight with the comedy from his radio days, Jake regularly speaks at events sanctioned by organizations such as the American Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of America, and HubSpot.