When it comes to high-value customer acquisition, a business-to-business (B2B) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy is a useful marketing technique that your business needs to leverage. Finding ways to drive organic traffic to your online and digital channels contains many direct benefits, including:
- Enhancing brand awareness and online reach;
- Increasing the ROI on your content;
- Improving overall lead generation;
- Moving more customers through your sales pipeline.
Using search engines to locate new and potential prospects is a powerful method for creating business growth.
- 80% of priority purchases start with online research, and that 68% of every online experience begins with a search engine.
- 61% of B2B marketers state that SEO creates the most sales leads out of any other marketing tools, even beating pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
Considering that most consumers use search engines to find product information online (89% of all users!) and SEO is more cost-effective than other advertising spend, a proper B2B content marketing and SEO strategy are more than crucial for your digital reach.
The challenges of B2B SEO
Of course, building organic growth has its own set of difficulties. There are several differences between B2B and business-to-consumer (B2C) optimization strategies that can change the performance of your SEO campaigns.
To help you understand the details of a well-run and high converting B2B SEO strategy, we will walk you through the different elements of keyword research, content creation, backlinks, and buyer personas. Use this guide to enhance your online marketing strategies and generate more traffic and leads for healthy business growth.
Table of contents
- What is SEO?
- What’s the difference between B2B and B2C SEO strategies?
- SiteCare’s 5-step guide to creating a sound B2B SEO strategy
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of website-related practices and techniques implemented to help you reach and increase traffic to your website through search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Search engines filter the vast amounts of information found on the web, removing irrelevant websites from results while presenting only the most accurate and valued pages. The links shown first and foremost by a search engine enjoy the most organic traffic.
The importance of your search engine ranking is apparent – 75% of people never scroll past the first Search Engine Results Page (SERP). If your online content is filtered out and does not rank in the top 10 results, the odds that your website earns a strong click-through rating are low. And no web traffic means your sales pipeline will suffer.
Search engines determine your ranking through a series of factors, but here are a few common ones:
- Relevance to the user’s search query
- Page security
- Keywords, meta descriptions, and phrase snippets
- Click-through volume
- User experience
Each factor fits within the search engine’s algorithm and will determine the position of your web pages for a given customer search.
For example, if your website content includes several exact matches to the words or phrases used in a search query, you have a better chance of ranking close to the top of a results page. Knowing this, you can alter the various elements of your website content to obtain a favorable spot on a search engine that attracts the high-valued and priority business clientele your business needs.
This is the fundamentals of your B2B SEO strategy — optimizing your online content to better rank with each target demographic’s search queries.
What is the difference between B2B and B2C SEO strategies?
People commonly sell to people, but buyer behavior changes when purchasing on behalf of a business. Professional services go through a different sales funnel than the average consumer, and a lot of the behavior that drives consumption in a customer does not apply to a business.
For example, B2B sales have far more stakeholders involved, often creating an extended period of consideration and evaluation. Unique services found within a particular niche drive most B2B search engine results compared with the broader, more general queries asked by consumers.
Most businesses also have existing infrastructure that can make a service purchase harder to integrate. Consider how much easier it is to buy consumer clothing instead of enterprise business software, for example. Additionally, businesses know the exact requirements they need out of a B2B purchase, so keyword volume and total conversions are far lower. Each of these elements of B2B sales pipelines affects how you approach your SEO.
Unfortunately, many businesses continue to use an SEO strategy that mistakenly works for B2C and not B2B. Instead of making content that fits within the direct business profile (e.g., marketing to a business consultant rather than a consumer), companies follow generic optimization that is ineffective.
5 step guide to creating your B2B SEO strategy
To help you optimize your SEO, we have outlined a five-step B2B SEO strategy below.
1. Create buyer personas
The better you know your target audience, the better you can market to them. Businesses use buyer personas to accomplish this goal. Buyer personas are data-based profiles that list out the details about your high-valued clients. Key elements such as pain points, professional status, how they research, information sources, and purchase process are all depicted. Data insights of this kind will determine your overall marketing campaigns as well as your SEO strategy.
Without well-researched buyer personas, it is hard to tailor your content to your ideal client, and more importantly, their business or professional needs. Conversions result from brand trust and value given long before the sale even occurs. To ensure your efforts for search engine ranking have a positive return on investment, create buyer personas. Your client profiles will describe the channels and content types you can use to reach your target demographics, and you can use this information to focus your search engine optimization on the right people.
How to build your buyer personas
You can develop your buyer personas in several ways. Much of the information can be gleaned from reviews, surveys, and requested feedback from previous clients. Ask your long-term clients for the information you need in return for discounts or future rewards.
You can also create your own personas by answering a series of questions about your clientele:
- Personal info: What are their age, gender, and their highest level of education?
- Professional info: What is their job title and industry? Who do they report to, and who do they manage? What support do they need to succeed? What are their professional strengths and weaknesses?
- Values: What are their work goals? What drives them to succeed each day?
- Business challenges: What blocks their success? What do they need for business growth and to meet their key performance indicators?
Remember to fit the information about each client within the bigger picture of the company. It is easy to confuse the personal preferences of the individual with the business they are part of. Be careful not to create B2C buyer personas; instead, situate the info within a profile representing the business as a whole.
Then, use this information to create compelling stories about your product and services that can meet and solve each persona’s pain points, and help them achieve both their professional goals and their company’s overarching goals.
2. Understand your sales and marketing funnels
Your marketing funnel outlines the steps each business client must follow to journey through your sales pipeline successfully. It is the series of touch-points that move a prospect into a converted sale.
Use your sales funnel and the data it contains about your clients to inform your SEO strategy. Knowing the type of clients that turn into repeat business, their retention rate, previously successful marketing techniques, and stats such as time to purchase and sales volume are useful.
Take that information to build case studies, support panels, webinars, and other types of content that will create value and relevance to your potential business prospects (i.e., buyer personas). Search engines will look favorably at how well your web pages connect with what your target demographic searches for. With that kind of optimization, your rankings will improve. Enjoy a larger reach with a higher click-through rate on targeted clients.
A sales funnel can be broken into three stages:
- Outreach and attraction
- The sales process
- Final purchase
Each of these stages matches the three phases of the buyer’s journey as they move from awareness to consideration to buying. For all the details on building an effective marketing funnel, see our Marketing Funnel Deep Dive.
3. Do keyword research
Using the right keywords that match your business clients’ search queries is critical for SEO success. You want to connect your website to your buyer personas’ exact research questions – the search terms potential prospects are typing into a search engine.
Keyword research has turned into a science, and for a good reason.
With the millions of searches executed each day (Google completes 3.5 billion a day) and with an abundance of web pages (Google has indexed 100,000,000 GB of digital pages), you need to hone into your clients’ exact search terms.
There are a few ways you can accomplish this:
- Keyword search tools: Various online tools will take your seed keywords (your initial service and product titles) and help you discover variations, common questions, and connected topics.
- Keyword difficulty and search volume. The higher search volume a keyword has each month, plus the higher its difficulty score (which indicates how hard it is to rank for that search term), combined with your domain authority score, all need to be considered when choosing the search terms you want to rank for in search results. For example, a keyword with a high search volume and high keyword difficulty will be much harder to rank for if your domain authority score is low.
Here’s a scenario to better explain: Your domain authority score is 40. You want to try rank for the term “SEO services near me,” which you discover has 1000 searches per month and a keyword difficulty of 53/100.
“SEO services New York,” however, has 1900 searches per month and a difficulty score of 33/100. You stand a better chance of ranking for the term that scores 33/100 with a domain authority score of 40.
The answer is to find out your domain authority score, and then locate valued keywords with high search volumes and a difficulty score that matches your domain authority for a better chance of being found in a relevant search by an ideal business client.
- Long-tail keywords. The longer the keyword, whether it is an exact match of a phrase containing a set of words, the more niche and unique you become. You can gain value from longer keywords because you locate the exact client you want your marketing efforts to attract. A customer asking for “business software” returns millions of search engine offerings, while a complete question such as “where can I get B2B, long-tailed keyword search tools near me?” contains specific information your business can leverage. Long-tail keywords with low search volume convert best for B2B SEO strategies.
- Keywords for different levels of your sales funnel: As the needs of your client change, so should your keywords. A business well beyond the initial research phase will search for different products than a client just starting down the sales pipeline. Adjust your keywords accordingly.
4. Create a content strategy
With your marketing funnels, keywords, and buyer personas perfectly tuned, you now need the actual content that will drive value for your business clients. A company wants volumes of information about how your particular service will solve their pain points, create business growth and give a positive return on investment. Your online content and marketing efforts can meet those demands.
It’s important to include original research and data-oriented content.
- Status updates that include statistics achieved 162% more impressions and 37% more conversions.
- Original content makes your website the primary source of information (a key factor search engines use for rankings), and it also gives your webpage a level of uniqueness.
- Less than half of businesses use original research, and out of a study of over 1 million web pages, only 25 percent had linked connections. The opportunity for B2B SEO in the content space is still very much available.
Also, make sure to adjust your content with keywords relevant to the stages of your sale pipeline. For the attraction phase of your sales funnel, for example, include more educational and informative content. For the last mile before purchase, invite your online users to take advantage of discounts, how-to guides, and increased customer support.
5. Build backlinks
Backlinks are hyperlinks from another page that source your original content. If you have useful content, other pages will link back to your webpage. The hyperlink itself will help drive traffic to your website, but search engines also consider backlinks in their page rankings.
The more often your content is backlinked, the more votes of confidence a search engine has about your pages. Backlinked pages have authority, and that positive reputation has a great impact on where you appear on search pages.
Here are some tips that could result in backlinks:
- Make content that trusted sources can link back to. The more reputable the link source is the better your search engine ranking. Connect with local reporters, news outlets, and bloggers if possible.
- Build content around your keywords. Links that include the keyword in their anchor text perform best when it comes to backlink quality.
- Build skyscraper content. Skyscraper content is information that has known traction with social media websites and other search engines. The more topical content you can create around your niche, or content clusters, that adds value to a large cohort of people, the better.
Backlinks come from others sites connecting to your website, but adding backlinks inside your own content can help place your webpages within the sphere of other reputable sources. It can take time, but as more people share and refer back to your marketing material, you will create more organic traffic.
6. Optimize your B2B SEO strategy
From this point on, it is all about optimizing your B2B SEO strategy. The more often you can repeat the entire outlined process with high-level content and keywords, the more likely you will boost your conversions. Take advantage of analytics to see where you can improve your click-through rate, and try some A/B testing on certain pages to locate bottlenecks.
Take note of how you attract new visitors, and if you are not reaching the right business clientele, adjust your buyer personas and sales funnel. Over time, you can create a high-performing SEO strategy supported by accurate keywords and a strong network of backlinks.
Implementing a B2B SEO strategy is a long-term process, but the effort will result in better exposure and a higher conversion rate with priority clients. Business-to-business marketing has longer phases of research and consideration; with search engine optimization, you can locate and attract the type of businesses that will turn into consistent and repeat clients. Increase the number of leads you generate with organic traffic and appeal to the clients that provide enhanced lifetime value.
If you struggle with the ins and outs of SEO, get a B2B content marketing agency to help you optimize your SEO strategy.
Contact SiteCare to learn more about how we can develop an ROI-focussed SEO campaign that will drive traffic, leads, and sales to your business.