Guest post by Dylan Berger.
Regardless of your sector, search engine optimization (SEO) efforts are incredibly valuable, as organic search traffic typically converts at much higher levels than visits from other sources. B2B buyers have relied heavily on search for years, but recent research shows that Gen Z and Millennial buyers are 2X more likely than older generations to discover a product by searching online.
That makes SEO one of the top areas of investment for B2B marketing teams. However, B2B SEO is a different animal from consumer-focused strategies.
The technical side of SEO is pretty much the same between B2B and B2C, but the audiences behave differently.
Consequently, elements such as page load speed and keeping your site clean from broken links and 404 errors are important regardless, but factors like content strategy will differ. With that in mind, here are five beyond-the-basics strategies for improving your B2B SEO efforts.
1. Target decision makers.
The first step in B2B is to create a buyer persona, but this differs from consumer versions. You’re targeting a product champion or decision maker acting on behalf of a larger group rather than an individual buyer. Begin by determining who that is, based on factors like title, role, industry, and company size.
Next, uncover what your target decision-makers need and focus on the buyer, not necessarily the company. For example, since 60% of B2B tech buyers are Millennials, your audience may be less interested in analyst reports and more likely to care about social impact and self-service.
2. Understand the context behind keywords.
One key part of understanding your target audience is identifying the keywords they are most likely to use in search. They may use different terms to describe their problems and the solutions they are looking for than your internal engineering team does.
The intent behind these keywords will likely differ from consumers performing similar searches. While a consumer searching about oil changes may be wondering about the risks of putting it off or DIY instructions, a B2B buyer is likely seeking fleet maintenance considerations, so very different content will appeal to them.
Many of the keywords you target won’t look like B2C SEO keywords. Generally speaking, you’ll target more long-tail, highly specific, low-volume search phrases, as you’re trying to appeal to a narrow, specialized audience. Look for bottom-funnel keywords that your prospects are likely to search for when they’re ready to buy.
3. Create valuable, timely content.
This may not seem “advanced” at first glance, but understanding why your target audience is searching for these keywords allows you to craft better content around them. One common B2B SEO mistake to avoid is focusing on promoting your goods or services. B2B buyers are busy, so your content should provide value, answering their questions or offering unique insight so they don’t feel you’ve wasted their time.
Look for opportunities to produce content timely as well. Just as gift guides during the holiday season appeal to consumers’ immediate concerns, financial guides entice businesses during tax season or the start of a new quarter. Plan to post your content according to when it will be most helpful. Summaries of industry research reports are most valuable when the results are fresh.
One powerful example of timeliness is this post about the chicken shortage from supply chain software provider ToolsGroup. The post tied a widely reported problem in the news to the company’s expertise in improving supply chain performance.
Team-building provider Best Corporate Events did something similar, tying the value of team-building programs to what’s happening right now in the job market: the post-COVID “new normal,” the labor shortage, the “Great Resignation,” and more employees working remotely.
4. Optimize landing pages.
It’s also important to optimize your landing pages. They should be concise and organized so your busy visitors can find what they need quickly. Remember to build a separate page for each of your services to maximize SEO and keep your website content focused.
Your landing pages should also address and assuage B2B buyers’ concerns. Addressing these reservations can lead to an increase in conversions. That likely entails addressing business disruption, image, or expense questions in B2B markets. Answering common questions can also help with SEO, while including social proof can boost conversions.
5. Track SEO KPIs.
Optimizing your website for organic search success is an ongoing effort. Different strategies are impactful in different industry segments, and trends shift. Consequently, it’s important to track key performance indicators (KPIs) in your SEO program and adjust accordingly.
Search rankings, organic traffic, and click-through rates are the most popular KPIs to track, but you can go further. Content efficiency, which compares how much information you publish to how often it meets predicted ROI, is an often-overlooked but valuable metric. On average, teams achieve just 10% content efficiency, and finding these shortcomings can be a big step in improvement.
B2B SEO Involves Unique Considerations
B2B SEO has much in common with B2C SEO at its technical core. However, applying the same tactics to both will yield subpar results. Ecommerce SEO, local consumer SEO, and B2B SEO best practices have diverged as search marketing has matured and search engine algorithms have become more sophisticated.
These five strategies can help you tailor your B2B SEO to improve outcomes. Your company’s overall online presence and its impact on sales will expand as you employ and refine them.
Dylan Berger is a digital marketer and SEO at WebFX, where he writes about B2B and B2C marketing. He studied advertising in university but is a life-long student of philosophy, design and art.