Few marketing methods get as much attention as search engine optimization (SEO). This highly effective method can generate tons of online traffic with comparatively low marketing spend, which is why it’s so appealing to newer or smaller businesses that don’t have enterprise marketing budgets.
In an increasingly competitive environment, SEO is a vital tool to boosting a brand’s exposure and traffic. More and more businesses are vying for the attention of consumers, and SEO is one of the best ways to get it. A solid strategy gets your website and content high in the rankings, driving traffic to your site – and ultimately – more sales.
SEO isn’t a single strategy, however. businesses need to tailor their SEO strategy to the business type, industry, and organizational goals.
SEO for B2B vs. B2C
SEO for business-to-business organizations (B2B) needs to be conducted differently than for business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations.
The key difference is the consumer. While both B2B and B2C consumers show similar buying behavior, they differ in some key ways. The relationship with B2B consumers and organizations is nurtured longer and relies more on trust and a long-term relationship. There may also be a number of people involved in the decision to buy, rather than one impulsive shopper.
Understanding these differences is vital to creating a successful SEO strategy that targets the B2B buyer.
B2B buyers are typically spending more money in one sale and seeking to invest in a product, service, or inventory for their business with the intention of generating a return. In most cases, B2B purchases involve several decision-makers within the company, including executives and leaders. All of them may have a say in the decision, but they’re coming to the decision from different perspectives and pain points.
With this in mind, B2B SEO focuses on those individuals that make up the whole group determining whether to purchase. You need to understand all of their individual concerns, pain points, questions, obstacles, budgetary restrictions, and goals to speak to them effectively and convince them to make the purchase.
Keyword research is paramount to any SEO strategy, but B2B is aiming for different types of keywords. B2B buyers enter the buying process with different perspectives, intents, and concerns, so keyword research should focus on addressing them as individual segments. The information they’re searching for is targeted and specific, so the keywords aren’t going to have a lot of competition.
This is really important for very competitive industries. As you can see from the image above, the video wall control room keyword is extremely important and easy to rank for. However, you will be sacrificing volume.
Think of the last time you made a personal purchase. You may have seen an ad or looked up information about a problem you’re looking to solve, found some options, and chose between them. If it was a small purchase, you didn’t need to consult with multiple people to make your decision. The stakes are low, so you just buy and take your chances.
B2B buyers aren’t in that position. Most B2B purchases are big-ticket sales, such as technology tools on a subscription basis, a bulk order for inventory, commercial products, and more. The cost is high, so more time is needed to make a decision. On top of that, these buyers typically involve multiple decision-makers, all of whom need to consider the benefits and impact on the department, team, employees, or business.
This all takes time, so B2B sales aren’t impulsive. These buyers need to be nurtured and guided to the ultimate sale through content that addresses all their pain points and concerns, such as webinars, case studies, and whitepapers. All of this information provides them with the answers they need to consider a purchase and see its value for their business.
Authority and Thought Leadership
B2B products and services are often bought repeatedly and built on long-term relationships. For example, businesses invest in outsourcing services, software, technology tools, logistics partnerships, or product distributors and suppliers. These aren’t one-off purchases, so they want to get involved with an organization they can trust and rely on now and in the future.
B2B content can nurture that relationship and build trust with the buyer, ensuring that they’re “getting into bed” with the right organization. The more these buyers search for answers to questions or for information on different products and services and see your organization’s name or content, the more trust they’ll have in you. For small B2C purchases, trust isn’t a big motivator beyond trusting a website with contact details and payment information.
SEO Secret: E-A-T
The inner workings of Google’s ranking algorithm are a mystery, but we do have some clues to go on. Based on Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, E-A-T is a priority.
E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, which are guidelines Google uses to determine whether the content is useful and relevant to searchers. This includes not only the content itself, but the creator of the content and the website where it appears, so it all needs to be tightened up.
These criteria won’t solely determine ranking, but it does carry weight. Google uses it to understand whether content is quality, trustworthy, and credible, and where it should rank as a result.
According to the guidelines, E-A-T should be:
- Written by an expert
- Shown on a credible site
- Helpful to searchers
Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you need to hire the top experts in the field with tons of education and experience for all your content. Google considers “everyday” expertise from people with hands-on experience.
Here’s where you benefit as a B2B owner – you know your products or services inside and out.
Here’s how to make sure your content covers the E-A-T criteria:
Highlight Your Brand
Google cares about the content creator as much as the content itself. It’s wondering if the information source is legitimate, so be sure to include detailed About Us pages discussing your organization, team, and credentials.
Google isn’t only considering high-quality content – it needs to come from expert sources. While this isn’t necessary every time, collaborating with experts in your field or industry helps you provide content that Google trusts. You can do this through interviews, guest posts, or collaborating with other organizations to publish research summaries.
Keep the Goal in Mind
You should always have a goal in mind for your content. Remember what you’re trying to achieve with your content. Is it intended to provide value and information to your prospects? Are you showing people how to use your product and its features? Are you trying to persuade them to buy?
Knowing the goal in advance ensures that your content is targeted and hits the message you’re going for. If you try to create content that’s too broad, the ultimate message can get lost in the shuffle.
Link to Credible Sources
Experts use real data from reliable sources to back up their claims. Be sure to link to research publications and studies to support your assertions and lend credence to your claims. Think like the reader – if you tried to verify the information and got redirected to alternative sources and outdated information, how much would you trust what you read?
Stay Up to Date
Ideas and research are constantly being updated, especially in certain industries. Your content can become outdated quickly – new research gets published, people leave their positions, sites or pages cease to exist. For example this web page talking about virtual leadership training was recently updated so that it fits with today’s clients after 2 years.
Conduct regular content audits to see what needs to be updated or revised with new information. Look for new stats, new research, changes to best practices, and other opportunities to refresh your content. You should also check links and replace or remove them.
How to Create an Effective B2B SEO Campaign
Segment Your Audiences
As mentioned, B2B buyers often have groups of people with different goals and motivations who need to be persuaded to make a purchase. The best way to address them is with content that’s directed at their individual needs, rather than just the larger business goals.
Remember, these stakeholders will experience the impact of the purchase, whether directly or indirectly through the effect on their workflows, team morale, or departmental goals. You need to persuade each individual stakeholder clearly and concisely, which is why you need segmented audiences.
With segmented audiences, you can be sure that you’re speaking directly to the pain points, concerns, questions, and opportunities of each individual decision-maker.
Create Brand Authority
Trust is necessary for B2B purchases even more than B2C purchases. These buyers are investing in their business in hopes of generating a return of some kind, whether it’s direct profits or better workflows. They need to trust that they’re going to get their worth from their purchase.
The content you create should communicate your value as a thought leader and brand authority. You understand their needs and know how your product or service can solve them.
Use the Three Pillars of SEO
The pillars of SEO are the foundation of your strategy and can be tailored to your specific needs.
On-page SEO refers to both the front-facing aspects of your website and its technical backend. We’ll be focusing on the front-facing aspect in this section, which is all about understanding search intent and the appropriate keywords.
Here’s how to optimize your on-page SEO:
- Determine your ideal low-volume keywords
- Conduct your own searches to check out what type of content exists about your topic
- Make note of the top search results
- Consider what’s working on those pages and what could be improved
- Use your research and insights to make even better content
Off-page SEO is challenging and something that many business owners and marketers want to avoid, but there’s no way around its value – linkbuilding.
Why? Because there’s no quick fix or magic bullet to gaining backlinks. It takes time and effort for quality backlinks that drive results. You need to get other credible websites to reference your site with links.
Linkbuilding can be very valuable for SEO, but not if you take shortcuts. Using blackhat linkbuilding methods, spamming, or paying for links will get you more links, but they’re basically useless for SEO. Put in the time, effort, and patience to create content that credible sites want to link to.
Technical SEO is the nuts and bolts of your SEO strategy and relates to user experience. Most technical SEO involves how well your site runs and whether it leaves a positive impression on the customer.
Here’s how you can optimize it:
- Audit your site and check for any delays in load times
- Incorporate the target keyword in the title, meta tags, and URLs
- Use both nofollow links and follow links to create paths for users to follow
- Fix or remove any broken links
- Remove duplicate content
- Develop an internal linking model that creates a sort of hierarchy of your site, showing the crawlers which pages are important
- Enhance site security with HTTPS
- Optimize your site for mobile
Create a Winning B2B SEO Strategy
SEO strategy for B2B organizations is different than B2C, largely due to the buying process for B2B buyers. The B2B sales funnel focuses on building a long-term relationship with the buyer and showing them why your brand and your products or services are the best solution for their business needs.
Jason Khoo started freelancing in SEO back in college, sold his first agency, and now is founder of Zupo, which is an Orange County based SEO consulting agency helping construct powerful long term SEO strategies for our clients. Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea a day, hiding away on weekends, catching up on reading, and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.