Google is hands down the most reliable way to drive clients to your business.
- 72% of business executives begin their online experiences using a search engine.
- B2B decision makers, on average, conduct 12 searches before engaging on a specific brand’s site, according to Google.
If you’re already aware of these facts, then you know that your competition is also not left behind.
Hopefully, this post can save you time.
- Discover little tweaks you can do to boost your website’s ranking.
- Know what to do when you aren’t generating organic leads and sales.
Even though a lot of people are aware of the benefits of organic traffic to B2B businesses, only a handful are able to achieve top rankings and traffic.
These business executives and marketing managers in most cases have an ineffective SEO strategy or no strategy at all.
Your success online begins with a strategy. Whether it’s social media or SEO, you can’t do without an easy-to-implement strategy for your B2B company.
What’s a B2B SEO Strategy?
B2B SEO strategy includes the plans and processes you put in place to guide your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). An effective strategy ensures you can keep engaging in all the important SEO practices consistently.
You might be wondering if there are differences between B2B and B2C SEO. The simple answer is yes. However, the biggest difference is the approach.
Since you’re targeting different types of customers, a B2B company will have a different approach to B2C business. However, basic SEO principles remain the same in both cases.
The question now is: what are the best practices to create a B2B SEO strategy that attracts your customers from the search engines (organically, not paid advertising)?
Follow these 15 best practices to create a winning B2B SEO strategy that works:
1. Have a Deep Knowledge of Your Product
What most people don’t realize is that SEO in general begins with ‘you.’
Yes, you need to know your brand, products, and culture well enough to be able to communicate it in your articles, videos, eBooks, and while interacting with potential customers.
This may look like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised by how many businesses fail at this. How do you sell your product to a potential customer if you don’t know what your product is all about?
It’s almost impossible for a B2B business to convince a buyer. Because B2B buyers usually engage in more research than B2C buyers.
A study conducted by Google shows that 90% of B2B researchers online leverage search specifically to research business purchases.
Yes, B2B buyers are more or less dependent on salespeople while making a buying decision. They rely on the internet, and search engines, in particular.
And it makes sense. Most B2B products cost a lot and can have direct impacts on a business’s profitability. Likewise, many people are involved in making the decision for purchasing a B2B product.
Also, having deep knowledge will help you create the right content for potential customers.
2. Carry Out Customer Research
Customer research is important if you want to know customer needs and behavior. Don’t make assumptions that your product is the right fit for them — always collect useful data and make decisions with them.
One difference you’ll find between B2B and B2C products is that B2B businesses need to target more people than B2C businesses.
For a B2C business, you only need to target a single person which is the end user.
For a B2B product, you need to convince the product user who might be different from the decision maker. And in most cases, they’ll need different information before they’re convinced to buy your product.
A B2C customer might be more concerned by how useful a product is to their work, while the decision maker might be more concerned about the returns on their investment (ROI) or how it benefits the company in the long run.
The main point I’m trying to make here is that you need to understand your audience before you can attract them. And to do this, you need to create personas that represent them.
What’s a persona?
A persona is a document that represents an individual who is your audience and could take part in the buying process. Your buyer persona will contain details including:
Solutions they need at work
You should add as many details as possible depending on the product you’re trying to market. After creating your buyer personas, it’s important to put life into them. Because these personas represent people.
You need to imagine your persona’s day at work. What are the issues that come up on a daily basis?
When you understand your personas, then you can predict to an extent what they might put in the search box.
Below is an example of a detailed persona of a company’s decision maker:
3. Find the Keywords You Already Rank For
Except your website is brand new, you already rank for some keywords. Before you start targeting keywords, you need to know the ones you rank for already.
You don’t want to put a lot of effort into a piece of content just to find out that one of your posts already ranks for it. This would be a case of keyword cannibalization and you want to avoid that. [source]
If your pages are already ranking for a keyword, you’ll only need to update those posts to boost their rankings. This will also lead you to target keywords you’re not ranking for already.
To find these keywords, you’ll need to use keyword research tools. Some of the tools you can use are SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, Majestic SEO, etc.
If you enter your website address into Ahrefs and click on organic keywords, you’ll find the keywords your website currently ranks for. You’ll also see other details like volume, keyword difficulty, traffic, and position of your page.
4. Go Deeper Into Keyword Research
Whether an individual carries out a text or voice search, keywords are used to find results on search engines. However, people uncover different insights through keyword research.
The simplistic way of doing keyword research is to find keywords with high search volumes and try to compete for them to gain high organic traffic. However, keyword research goes beyond that in B2B SEO.
Generally, B2B keywords will have lower search volumes than B2C keywords. This is because most B2B keywords are to find products that are used by a low number of people in specific niches.
Therefore, a keyword with a monthly search volume of 20 might be more valuable for your business than one with a search volume of 5,000. What’s the point of having 1,000 people that are unlikely to buy on your website?
Having 10 people who will buy is more beneficial. But to find these keywords in most cases, you’ll have to dig deep to find keyword ideas and potential opportunities.
Find competitors’ keywords
You can build great personas, but you can also miss out on some potential information and keywords. That’s why you must always watch your competitors. Especially those landing customers through search engines.
If they’re achieving that, they probably have some information you lack. You can use keyword research tools to uncover various insights about your competitors.
One great tool you can use is SEMrush. Even if you don’t know your competitors, enter your website address and SEMrush will show you your competitors based on the similarity of content.
You can then enter your competitor’s website address into the tool to find more details about their keywords.
You can also find their top keywords to give you an idea of some keywords to target.
Another tool you can use is the keyword gap tool. This helps you to identify keywords your competitors are ranking for that you’re not.
You can also compare your website’s backlinks to that of your competitors to see how well you’re doing.
5. Optimize Your Page for Valuable Long-tail Keywords
It’s obvious, long-tail keywords are easier to understand than head keywords. What I’m trying to say is: it’s easier to understand the user intent behind long-tail keywords.
A keyword like “social media” is a head keyword. But it’s pretty difficult to understand what the searcher is looking for. Are they looking for social media channels or how to use social media?
But consider the keyword “best social media scheduling software.” This shows that the searcher is carrying out research on social media scheduling tools. Such a person may purchase a software subscription in the near future.
Apart from understanding intent, many long-tail keywords are easier to rank as there’s lower competition to rank for them.
Another edge that long-tail keywords have is that potential buyers use them more when they’re deep into the sales funnel. Even though you may have fewer visitors to your website, you’ll have better conversion rates.
What you’ll find in most cases is that when you target a long-tail keyword, you can rank for many other similar long-tail keywords and still gain substantial organic traffic. Consider a study that found that long-tail keywords make up 70% of search queries.
6. Understand the User Intent Behind Keywords
Over the years, user intent has become integral to search engine results.
Google and other search engines have grown smarter and they want to give searchers the best results by understanding their queries better.
But what do I mean by user intent? This is simply the reason a searcher puts a keyword into the search box. To search for a keyword today, this is one of the metrics you must consider.
Unfortunately, user intent is a metric you can’t measure. While creating content to target a keyword, you need to know why a searcher is using the keyword and ensure you meet their needs through your content.
There are 4 types of keywords based on their user intent:
i). Navigational keywords: These are keywords people use when searching for a specific page online. In most cases, they use brand names and those brands are likely to rank at the top due to relevancy.
Examples are keywords like “Facebook login” or “HubSpot.”
ii). Informational keywords: Searchers use this keyword when they’re looking for information. Informational keywords are common at the beginning of product research. This can give them ideas on what they need from their B2B product.
An example of this search is “how to select a social media scheduling tool.” A searcher is probably looking for a blog post that will take them through the details.
iii). Commercial keywords: These keywords are used further in the research phase. At this stage, a searcher is getting closer to purchase and considering their options.
An example of such a keyword is “best social media scheduling tools.” They want to see different tools and pick one that meets their needs. See an example of “best CRM tools” below:
Transactional keywords: These are keywords that indicate a searcher is ready to buy and is only looking for the best deal. For B2B products, a searcher could mention your brand name.
For instance keyword like “HootSuite subscription plans” or “Buffer subscription plans” qualify as transactional keywords.
7. Optimize Your Page for Your Target Keyword
Even though Google is smart enough to know what your page is all about, there’s no harm in providing help to search engines. Optimizing your page for your target keyword is a way of telling Google about the keyword.
What are the steps to put in place to optimize your website for a keyword? You should consider doing the following:
i). Write an attractive headline: Most people will scroll past a poor headline. That’s how powerful a headline can be.
According to David Ogilvy, 2 out of 10 people who see a headline will click. An attractive headline can help gain more clicks and improve your click-through rate.
This will, in turn, improve your rank as search engines see your page as valuable. Here’s a compelling headline from Forbes (it currently ranks #1 in Google for its main keyword).
While writing an attractive headline, don’t forget to add your keyword into the headline. The best practice is also to have your keyword as soon as possible in the headline. That is, at the beginning.
ii). Optimize your URL: You should ensure that your target keyword appears in your page URL.
iii). First few paragraphs: The earlier your keyword appears in your post, the better. If not possible in the first paragraph, then your keyword should be in the first few paragraphs.
However, you have to know that there’s no need to add the keyword as many times as possible. This could lead to keyword stuffing and your website will be at the risk of a Google penalty.
iv). Image alt text: Search engine bots are currently unable to view a picture and tell what it’s about.
So, the bots depend on your alt text. With your keyword in your alt text, your images can rank in Google image search for relevant keywords and it can be a source of traffic to your website.
v). Image name: Your image name should contain your keyword. Note that if you have many images on your page, not all the images should contain your keyword as this may be too much.
8. Create Content That Shows Expertise and Answers Questions
For B2B businesses, being an expert is vital. But more importantly, you need to show this expertise in your content. Without this, your potential buyers will find it difficult to trust your content or buy from your business.
If you’re marketing products to individual consumers, there’s no big need for these. People don’t expect you to be an expert at making shoes before they trust your information about shoes.
But if you’re marketing customized solutions to businesses, then you need to be an expert. This brings us to the Google E-A-T update.
To ensure that searchers get the most accurate information possible, Google introduced this update to weed out light pages that provide no value to the user.
Its major target was Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages. These are pages which can lead to personal harm if they provide inaccurate information. Even though the major target was medical websites, B2B purchases are just as important.
Picking the wrong B2B product could lead to a loss of money for a business and possible repercussions.
Therefore, you should follow the E-A-T (Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness) guidelines. You page content should fulfill at least one of the 3 considerations below:
High level of expertise of the author.
High level of the authoritativeness of the author and the website.
High level of trustworthiness of the author and the website.
One way to achieve this is to have experts in your organization create content for your website. Often, you’ll visit some websites and you’ll see “Company staff” as the author of a post.
You should avoid this. If a visitor can’t identify the author, why should they trust the information? You should have the name of the top experts in your company associated with your content. This helps to ensure trust.
9. Create Cornerstone Content That Subtly Promotes Your Product
If you run your website well, you probably produce content on a regular basis. Some of these pages are more important than others. The cornerstone content pages are the most important content pages on your website.
Some people call it pillar content. If your business provides lead generation services to other businesses, then you should have a content page that explains lead generation.
This could be a title like “The Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation” or “Lead Generation: Everything You Need to Know.”
Of course, this page won’t explain everything about the topic. But it would be like a hub on your website. You’ll have many internal links on this page to other website pages that explain narrow topics about lead generation.
Likewise, many pages will link to your cornerstone content pages to ensure that search bots find them frequently and know how important these pages are. It’s vital to optimize your cornerstone content to rank for your main business keywords.
For instance, if you offer a lead generation service, your website should show up for the keyword “lead generation.”
In most cases, this is where your potential buyers will start their research. Being visible for these keywords help you to stay in their mind.
For instance, for the keyword “social media scheduling,” you can see the results have both Buffer and HootSuite in the top 10. These are popular social media scheduling tools.
10. Create a Content Calendar
Creating content is difficult. And that’s why most businesses are unable to get results from their content efforts. In fact, in a study by Zazzle Media, 60% of companies find it hard to produce content consistently.
Inconsistent content can lead to ineffectiveness. For example, only 30% of B2B marketers rate their organization’s use of content marketing effective.
Even for writers, a lot of effort is needed to create great content. Creating content is not an activity you do once in a while or when you feel like. You need consistency to get results from your content.
No website ranks immediately they start creating content. But if they keep doing it consistently, they’ll start to rank for keywords and bring in steady organic traffic.
A content calendar will go a long way to ensure you keep consistency. You don’t have to publish content daily but you need to select a frequency and stick to it. Will you post twice a week or weekly?
For what it’s worth, it’s better to provide content regularly on your website blog. For instance, HubSpot found that companies that blog more than 16 times monthly get 4.5 times the leads of companies that blog between 0 to 4 times a month.
After selecting the frequency you want your posts to be, you need to create a schedule which will include the following details:
Deadline for the first draft
Time to edit
Time to publish
This will ensure that all team members can follow this schedule to help improve consistency. See a content marketing calendar by HubSpot below:
11. Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews On Relevant Sites
Reviews are important. Whether you run a local business or a software tool, people want to know what your past customers think about it.
This is no surprise as 84% of people trust online reviews as they would trust personal recommendations.
In fact, in some cases, people trust reviews more than personal recommendations if the review is from an expert.
If you run a business, you should encourage your customers to leave reviews about your business on relevant review sites that a potential buyer might visit.
What you’ll find is that most of these reviews are done by someone representing a business. If many people say your product has helped their business gain more profit, this is social proof that could convince them.
Another benefit of having your product or service reviews on these websites is that review sites sometimes rank for important keywords about your product. If you rank highly here, it could be an indirect source of engaged organic traffic to your website.
See an example of SEO software reviews on Capterra. Potential customers can go through these reviews before they make a choice.
12. Engage in Outreach to Gain More Trusted Links
If you don’t already know, backlinks are the most important off-page ranking signal. In fact, when most people talk about off-page SEO, they’re talking about how to gain more backlinks.
Search engines use backlinks to understand how valuable a page is. This might look unfair if you’re running a new website, but you should see the thinking behind it.
If 50 people link to a particular page from other websites, it means they trust the page enough to refer their readers to it.
If 50 people trust a page, then surely it must be providing value. Search engines can look at a piece of content and judge if it’s quality. But it also takes people’s views important.
At the end of the day, Google and other search engines are trying to satisfy their users. Backlinks are one of the people signals. That’s why you’ll find many quality pieces of content ranking lower than the content you view as less quality.
After writing a quality piece of content, you’ve done a good job. But to make it look valuable to Google, you need to build backlinks to the content.
If you run a popular website, then you can easily get editorial backlinks where other websites link to your content due to your popularity.
However, for a relatively new website, you need to create an outreach plan to reach people who might like to link to your content. Some steps to take are:
1). Find roundups: There are websites that produce weekly or monthly roundups in various industries.
You can find these websites and contact the owner or staff in charge and submit your suitable website page for consideration. See an example of a weekly roundup on TrustYou about travel, tech, and social media.
2). Find broken links: Due to many factors, broken links are a part of the online experience. But it’s a poor experience for the users.
You can find broken links on other websites and send your page link that addresses a similar topic to replace that link.
3). Create linkable content: Some pieces of content are easier to link to than others. For instance, your product or service page will get fewer backlinks that your detailed guides.
An example of this is writing a post about experts in your field or conducting an interview for an expert.
In most cases, these experts may share to their audience or write about it on their own blog. In some cases, you’ll get backlinks for your efforts.
13. Create a Guest Posting Strategy
This is one of the best ways of gaining backlinks to your website. But apart from gaining backlinks, it also helps to gain access to a new and often larger audience than your website.
As experts, engaging in guest posting can increase your popularity and the chance more people will check your business out. For B2B business, guest posting can be a bit complicated.
Do you have all your employees guest posting on various websites or a single individual representing your business on guest posts? I’ll advise the later.
This individual could be the CEO or the marketing manager or one of the top employees of your company.
This employee will gain a bigger reputation as an expert over time and it rubs off on your company. Whenever people find information about this employee, they find your company.
When Buffer began its automated social media marketing tool, its co-founder, Leo Widrich, engaged in a guest posting campaign.
With 150 guest posts, the company was able to increase their organic traffic and go from 0 to 100,000 users in 9 months.
14. Gain Backlinks by Answering Questions in Relevant Forums
When people want answers, they use search engines. But in some cases when they need personalized answers, they may use forums where experts may provide answers to their specific situation.
One of your top employees should be on forums to answer questions that may relate to the service you offer or your product.
For instance, if your product is about lead generation for other businesses, you can answer questions about lead generation.
In some cases, forum users can ask questions about your product. This is an opportunity to explain more about your product. How do you turn this to an opportunity to gain backlinks?
Some of the questions you find on forums will be questions you have answered in details on your blog.
In this case, you can answer the question briefly and then provide a link to the relevant blog post if the original poster or other viewers want more details.
15. Check Your Website Speed Regularly
One of the vital parts of improving your B2B website SEO is also improving the user experience. If your website user experience is poor, people won’t stay long enough to convert. In fact, people will bounce off your web pages.
This is a negative signal to Google that your website is providing low value to users.
Consequently, you’ll see a drop in rankings. One of the determinants of your user experience is website speed. People want things now and very few people will wait if your website takes ages to load.
In fact, Google found that the probability of a bounce rises to 32% once your website loads for more than 3 seconds.
Furthermore, Google has stated that speed is a ranking signal for both desktop and mobile searches.
It’s important that you check your website speed regularly to ensure it’s fast enough to retain your users.
Over time, your website speed could reduce as you add more content and images or videos. You should note this trend and make the necessary adjustments to bring your load time down.
One tool you can use for this is Pingdom. This tool will analyze your load time and other details like your page size, number of requests, etc.
Added to that, it will give you suggestions on what you can change to improve your website speed.
Apart from checking your website speed regularly, other actions to take to increase your website speed are:
- Use a fast website host.
- Minimize image and video size.
- Implement Google accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) for mobile users.
Converting customers for B2B businesses is a long process. And during this process, potential buyers use search engines for research.
It’s beneficial for your B2B company to have an SEO strategy that helps you attract potential buyers and turn them to customers. Follow these best practices to maximize your SEO results.