Your website is more than just a shop window and has the potential to drive a large proportion of leads and product trials if used effectively. How? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), lots of people have heard of it but, not surprisingly, many do not know what it actually is.
SEO is the process of preparing your website and its content to match search queries in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), the result pages that are presented to us when we look up something on Google.
How Does B2B SEO Differ from B2C SEO?
Well, the truth is, it doesn’t. SEO is simply a marketing channel and one that works just as well for B2B models, as B2C. The difference is your audience, if you were running a B2C eCommerce site, for example, you would want to attract the users looking for your products as well as targeting them earlier in that user journey through reviews and guides. As a B2B organization, you will be looking for users who have a need for your product or service and rather than buying products on your website, you might want to get users to the lead-generating pages, such as demons, trials or white papers.
The important thing to remember in any marketing channel, is the steps users take before they convert into being your client. This is usually in the form of information, whether that’s educating them via a blog, whitepaper or webinar, you are building authority in their sector and that makes your product or service more desirable when it comes to converting.
There is also the process that users go through when they have identified they have the need for your product or service, and like consumers, the influencers and decision-makers in the businesses you are targeting are going to use search engines to compare several vendors before finding the best fit for them. This might be through a list of features, pricing and actual demos and trails that help them experience your product or service and weigh it against their business needs.
Where to Start with B2B SEO
So, we have identified that there is a user journey, which is essentially the online equivalent of your sales funnel. When thinking about how we will utilize B2B SEO, we have several factors to consider:
Create content that will match user intent at each stage of the user journey. Keyword research is a vital step in this process and involves brainstorming, finding and matching keywords or phrases to the intent of your audience; whether your users are looking for specific information and how-to’s within the industry or comparing product offerings.
Creating content pillars is a great way to begin the structure of your website, these are pages that are a core source on a subject, and they will then link to related pages that you have or will create in future.
Site Health: Technical SEO
Making sure content is visible and accessible on your site is the next step, avoid errors like redirect chains or missing pages that interrupt the user journey on your site, optimize your on-page experience using Core Web Vital Metrics to ensure pages load quickly, do not having any annoying popups or elements moving around on the page as they’re trying to interact with it and most importantly, create a logical site structure using internal links, these are links from one page of your site to another page on your site, such as the mega nav, which should link to the most important pages on your site only, as this creates a link from every page.
This is because the number of internal links pointing to a page acts as a hierarchy, so when you’re creating a content pillar, reflect this in your internal linking.
Attract Backlinks, or External Links
Attracting links from external websites within your sector that is also a good source of authoritative content will benefit your own organic ranking in SERPs. The only caveat is that working to gain backlinks is against Google’s guidelines and could result in penalisation. This is most likely to happen when you pay for backlinks or you create a backlink to another website in exchange for them linking to yours.
The issue with Google’s guidelines, in this case, is that backlinks are rarely given without some work being put in. As backlinks are a signal of authority and part of the ranking factor, some of the top content we see in results and link to naturally already have a number of high-quality external links pointing to them. This is because ranking in the top 3 for a highly competitive term is near impossible without these backlinks so when this content is first created either the publisher does a lot of work to get backlinks or they’re so well known as an authority in the field that some links are naturally attracted. This results in top-ranking content either being in breach of Google guidelines or its content from a huge brand and recognised authority; which seems broken. This will be why Google has confirmed that backlinks will not remain a ranking factor in the next two or three years.
If you’re thinking about doing link-building yourself, the best approach is to write educational, unique content for the press that publishers will want to share. Or, to create resources of information, such as a research case on the facts of your industry, if you’re a SaaS company that offers development software, that might be the hours a project takes on average, the most popular programing language and platforms and their strengths, this creates useful content that others will want to link to as a resource when writing their own content. You will still need to work on sharing that content and making sure people know about your great resource, however, so writing a PR article and sharing on social media are both great ways of doing so.
As you can see, B2B SEO is an excellent channel for reaching key decision-makers as demand for your product or service arises but its success does reflect the time and effort put in and it’s also worth noting that it will likely be six (or more) months before you see the results from it. The good news is that, unlike other marketing channels, it will continue to work even if you stop putting that effort in but you will see traffic and conversions drop if you neglect it for too long.