You know your B2B prospects are online. You may be one of the fifty-seven percent of B2B marketers who have determined that SEO is their highest lead generating marketing initiative (Hubspot).
But how do you get your site to outrank everyone else? How do you get those key decision makers to read your brilliant thought leadership articles, or find your helpful guide among the millions of others in organic search results?
A Note about B2B Content Marketing
You may think SEO strategies are about the same for B2B and B2C companies. Just find the right keywords, plug them into your content, and start ranking, right?
Not exactly. What matters in 2019, the age of “searcher intent,” is how your audience is behaving online.
This brings us back to your ideal customer. With even the smallest variances in online customer behavior having a marked effect on search rank, it’s important for all companies to pay attention to how their audience searches and purchases, and to optimize their content based on what they find.
B2B buyers vs. B2C buyers
B2B buyers tend to have a much longer sales journey than B2C buyers — while purchases in the B2C space are really made on the fly.
While a B2C buyer may see a product that interests them and buy it without giving it a ton of thought, a B2B buyer has more than just their general desires to fulfill when they’re making a purchase.
They need to consider price in relation to their budget and perceived ROI.
They need to gain a deep understanding of product or service performance in relation to other similar offerings.
And they also need to ensure that the product or service meets every single one of their needs.
They may also often have to get approval from other people at their organization before they can pull the trigger.
Think of B2B buyers vs. B2C buyers as a sort of left brain vs. right brain dichotomy. Whereas B2C buyers might be driven by impulsivity, intuition, and subjectivity, B2B buyers are — and must be — driven by more analytical forces, such as logic, facts, and rationality.
That’s not to say B2B buyers aren’t driven by emotion, only that they often need a little more tangible proof that your solution works before they jump in.
What all of this ultimately means is that B2B buyers are going to do more research before making a purchase, since they’ll want to make sure a product or service meets all of their criteria before they reach the “decision” stage of the buying cycle.
As such, your SEO strategy and digital marketing plan needs to keep the B2B purchase process in mind. The things your buyers are searching for online early in the process are going to differ from the terms they’re typing into Google later in the process.
Beginning (Awareness) Phase
Search queries: Topical searches, broad questions/voice searches
Examples of ideal content: “What” and “How” blog content, longform content, educational content
Middle/Final (Purchase) Phase
Search queries: Product comparisons
Examples of ideal content: “Best of” lists, Pros and Cons, branded content, localized content
Acing Your B2B SEO Content Marketing Strategy
A successful SEO strategy for B2B companies requires a lot of research, a lot of patience, and a lot of data.
The more you understand about how not just B2B buyers in general but your B2B buyers move through the sales funnel, the better you can optimize your content to guide them from stage to stage.
There is no one-size-fits-all SEO strategy that all B2B businesses can employ to create content that always converts (though if we ever figure one out, we’ll be sure to pass along the wisdom).
Instead, there are fundamental tenets of SEO today that all B2B businesses need to incorporate into their SEO strategies if they want them to be successful.
Here are seven of the most important ones.
1. When it comes to keyword research, think topical — not just words and phrases
The general rule of thumb, when it comes to SEO and keyword research, used to be that you wanted to pinpoint specific search terms that your audience might be using and then work them in to your content as organically as possible.
And while that’s still mostly true, today’s search engines are way smarter than they used to be, and rankings are based just as much on topics as they are on individual words.
Let your content creation be guided by subjects that your buyers are likely to be searching, instead of trying to figure out the exact words they’ll be typing into the search bar.
Don’t worry about using every possible synonym or the order of your words. Google’s smart enough to understand that the search query “do I need a CRM for my small business” is essentially the same as “are CRMs necessary for small biz.”
What matters, though, is that the content you’ve created actually answers that query — and answers it better than any pages that are currently ranking at the top of Bing and Google search results pages.
2. Always be personalizing
If you’re really the best at what you do, then nobody understands your customers’ pain points better than you do.
Get as specific and personal as you can when it comes to identifying your buyers’ needs, and then let these needs guide you as you create and optimize your content.
As much as you can, establish yourself as a go-to source for helping your audience solve their most pressing problems.
It’s not just a good idea for your content strategy, but a good idea for your business overall. The more you’re truly focused on solving your clients’ problems (rather than just making the next sale), the more in-demand your product or service will become.
3. Create an intuitive user experience
To successfully guide your buyers from “awareness” to “decision,” you want to make it as easy as possible for them to find answers to their questions and navigate your site.
And because you can’t just rely on people reaching out directly when there’s something that they want to know about your product or service, you have to do two things:
Provide this information for them on your website
Do so in a way that makes it clear and obvious where potential buyers should look
Pillar pages, resource guides, pricing pages, and more, all purposefully linked together, will go a long way toward removing the roadblocks that send buyers in other directions.
Use menus to categorize your content and don’t bury your content more than a couple of clicks deep.
4. Don’t neglect mobile
As much as 70% of web traffic happens on mobile devices (CIODive), so if you’re not including a mobile SEO strategy, you’re missing a major opportunity to nurture potential leads.
Effective SEO on mobile requires more than just killer content; you’ll also need to optimize font size, structure and navigation, layout, and load times.
According to Google, the number one priority for mobile SEO is responsiveness — meaning that your site and your content easily adapts to mobile devices, without sacrificing quality or ease of navigation.
5. Never stop tweaking.
In a perfect world, you’d design your SEO strategy, execute it on your site, and start seeing the conversions come in.
In the real world, however, it’s a bit more complicated than that. You need to constantly adapt your optimization tactics to take into account information you learn about your customers, from their biggest questions to their most frequent behaviors.
Incorporate what you learn from Google analytics and keyword planner tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs, as well as from engagements with your audience (through emails, contact forms, chatbots, etc.) to continue shaping an SEO strategy that’s specially optimized for the businesses you’re aiming for.
These tools don’t only help you track your progress, but can also help you identify the keywords with the highest search volume and lowest competition in order to get you the best results.
6. Pay attention to Google’s changing ranking algorithms
One of the biggest struggles in B2B ecommerce is keeping up with the seemingly endless changes that Google makes to their SEO ranking policies.
The search engine leader is notoriously tight lipped about the precise factors that determine who ends up on the first page of search results and who ends up on the second page and below (for good reason!), but they do drop hints and advice you can use to your advantage.
To keep aware of what Google wants when it comes to rankings, regularly research the changes that they make to their ranking algorithms so you can know how to adapt and why.
7. Optimize third-party channels, too.
You may only think of your web content when you consider SEO, but third-party sites like social media platforms use many of the same algorithms that Google uses to help prospects find you.
Does your LinkedIn profile include industry-related keywords? What about your business page on Facebook or Twitter?
What would key decision makers look for on LinkedIn when searching for a solution like yours? Incorporate those keywords to drive traffic to your brand, and ultimately, to your site.
And one more thing: while it can be time-consuming, link building (getting other reputable sites to link to yours) is another insanely powerful SEO tactic for B2B companies.
It Pays to Invest in SEO
SEO is one of the most important variables that B2B companies need to pay attention to if they want to compete.
The content you create for your site, from blogs to videos to everything in between, is yours forever.
You only have to create it once, then it works for you around the clock to keep organic traffic flowing to your site. A quick refresh once a year will keep your blog posts and other pieces of content up-to-date and outranking your competitors.
If you want to always be ahead of the pack when it comes to SEO, you’re going to need either a dedicated SEO expert on staff or hire on an SEO consulting firm that can serve as your eyes and ears in the ecommerce space.
Invest in SEO, and you can spend less time worrying about how your content is going to reach your audience and more time closing more sales.
Tigris can help! Book a quick intro call with Tigris to see if we might be a good fit to work together.
*Tigris may get a small commission from the SEMrush link in this article.