If your objective is B2B growth marketing, you need to approach search engine optimization differently.
You need a strategy for SEO for B2B.
Buying cycles, price, content strategy and whether you’re selling a product or a service all factor into your ability to develop effective B2B content marketing programs that generate leads into revenue.
This is an updated post originally inspired by an interview I did Lee Odden of Top Rank Marketing — which started as a B2B SEO Agency and evolved into a B2B influencer marketing firm.
Here are 6 things B2B marketers need to be know when search optimizing content for business customers.
1. What is Your B2B Brand Position?
If you’re the premium provider, broad exploratory research terms and phrases are going to be critical, since you need to build awareness early in the buying cycle.
So set your keyword selection filter to “Broad Match” instead of “Phrase Match” or “Exact Phrase Match” so you can see the entire landscape of keywords buyers search at various stages of the customer journey.
That way, you can see which terms to go after at the top of the funnel.
If you’re the low price leader who swoops in right before the purchasing decision by selling on price, exact matches queried by bottom funnel buyers are going to be more important.
At which stage of the funnel is your brand most competitively positioned?
Figure that out and prioritize your keyword strategy accordingly.
2. If Necessary, Embrace Popular B2B Keywords Off the Page
If the high volume searches in your category are out of sync with your management’s ideology, consider embracing popular language off-page in your page title and meta description.
When I was consulting the US Dept. of State during the Obama Administration, they made a conscious decision to embrace the term “climate change” instead of “global warming,” even though the later had much more search volume at the time.
Since then, the more politically safe term (which some may call doublespeak) “climate change” has usurped “global warning” as a search phrase, though in those states that typically vote for Republican candidates, interesting enough.
In this case, we used “global warming” in page titles and meta description to make sure Google indexed us against the higher volume phrase, without committing to the same politically divisive language on page.
3. Find B2B Search Phrases Based on Trending Conversations
Don’t assume that the keywords you search optimize your web content for are the same ones people use conversationally in social media.
Then, use tools like Google Adwords and SEMrush to select your keywords, armed with that intelligence.
4. In B2B SEO, Choose Keywords Based on Conversion Probability, Not Search Volume
Not a lot of people buy circuit boards. But those who do, back up the truck.
So rather than optimize just for broad phrases, optimize your site for niche terms that may not get searched a lot, but if they do, are likely to refer qualified leads.
In B2B SEO, where the products and services sold are usually more expensive than consumer products, and thus more carefully considered, relevancy is more important than volume.
There may not be a lot of people searching for an obtuse, highly technical search phrase, but if you’re selling the widget being searched, your conversion probability will be much higher.
Embrace the Long Tail of keywords. Don’t just focus on high volume keywords.
5. Search Rank is No Guarantee of B2B Conversions
When it comes to SEO for B2B, the top ranked sites don’t always win the business.
And often that’s because their content strategy fails to anticipate and answer their buyer’s questions. Are the product’s technical specifications clearly laid out?
If interoperability is an issue, is it easy to figure out which products your offering is compatible with?
If not, you may may rank high, but ultimately lose the sale to the site that makes it easiest to make the right purchase.
Perhaps in less competitive categories, having great content is enough.
But if your market is wise to B2B SEO best practices, you’re going to need to make it easy for people top discover and link to your content, and this, of course, is something that social media accelerates, because you can share your content in variety of places.
Just as B2B SEO differs from B2C SEO, not all B2B SEO program are alike.
Adapt your approach to your marketing strategy, do the necessary keyword discovery homework for search and social, and use your social media presence to share your content.
If it’s done with valuable content, link baiting can be a good thing too.
Like other aspects of business communications, SEO is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor.
Here’s a video of a recent interview I recorded with Lee Odden.
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