By Sam Martin-Ross, Founder and Director, Digital Uncut
Improving the ranking of your business in the search results through effective SEO is one of the mainstays of successful digital marketing, offering a cost effective way to boost both visibility and leads. Good SEO is of particular importance for B2B firms, as leads are more likely to have a higher customer lifetime value than those in B2C. However, creating a strategy that works for direct-to-business companies requires targeting the decision makers within your sector.
Successful B2B search engine optimisation, therefore, relies on a precise, laser-focused approach that is centred on driving qualified traffic to your offering. Below, we explore five key components of effective SEO activity to ensure you are making the most of your B2B marketing efforts.
Decide on your goals
When structuring your SEO campaign, you must be clear what your goals are. Do you want to boost awareness of your company within the industry, or is the intent to increase leads and conversions?
One of the biggest mistakes B2B companies make with their SEO is mixing informational keywords with transactional ones. This can be disastrous when trying to generate leads. Informational keywords are typically questions, with users looking for an answer to their query. They are more likely to search for content that answers their questions, then leave without becoming a lead. While this certainly has its place for increasing brand authority and awareness, positioning your company as the go-to within the field, it is less useful when what you are really after are leads.
Transactional keywords are the key to accomplishing this, and refer to when users are actively looking for a specific product or service. These should be the focus for generating qualified traffic to your website.
Start with keywords
A solid SEO strategy needs to start with a good understanding of relevant keywords. While these will differ based on your specific business, there are some over-arching trends present in nearly all B2B keywords.
B2B keywords typically have lower search volume but higher value than those we see in B2C SEO, and are also often accompanied by common keyword qualifiers such as “service”, “software” or “company”.
Many researchers tasked with finding B2B services will use what are termed “long-tail keywords”. These are highly specific phrases used to answer particular queries. Ranking highly for these is important, as these are a powerful sign of highly motivated buyers. It pays to be aware of the long-tailed keywords within your own sector.
While it is important to focus in on those highly-specific, relevant keywords that apply to your own niche in B2B SEO, there are circumstances where this is not always possible. For example, if your company has a new technology that the market simply is not aware of yet, and therefore no-one is searching for it. In these instances, it can pay to instead target informational keywords instead.
Technical and on-page SEO
It is important to ensure that your website is supporting your SEO efforts, and to this end, focusing on the technical side of your SEO strategy is always time well spent. This ensures that the search engines can read and understand your website quickly and effectively, translating into better rankings for you.
While B2B technical SEO is often easier to get right than many eCommerce sites, it is still vital to get the structure right from the start. Not only will this save you a huge headache further down the line, but it will help you when you come to scale and build out the website with new pages and content over time.
Along with the technical component, content is the next most important aspect of a robust B2B SEO strategy. Put simply, if your content does not have the keywords you are targeting, your website will not appear in the search results for those keywords.
A good place to begin is with an assessment identifying what content is ranking within the top positions for the keywords you wish to target. This will help you gain a better understanding of the kind of content you need to accomplish this.
Note that Google prioritises “helpful” content, meaning it can work against your strategy to simply indiscriminately stuff you content with keywords. It is important to write content that represents your brand and unique selling points, while appealing directly to your target audience. The purpose of the content is to ultimately convert users and have the correct SEO optimisations, and crafting a well-defined brand messaging strategy is important to achieve this.
Consistency is key
Once you have developed a strategy that works for you with these key elements, namely, keywords, technical and content, one of the best things you can do is to remain consistent. Ranking highly in the search results is incredibly competitive, with companies doing all they can to gain that all-important competitive advantage. It is therefore vital that you commit consistent time and effort to your SEO.
Deciding to suddenly pause or pull your SEO strategy altogether not only means you will inevitably lose your previous progress – with other businesses standing in the wings ready to knock you from your spot in the rankings – but it also means you will face an uphill climb to attain your previous position.
SEO provides a truly cost-effective way for B2B companies to effectively market themselves to their key decision makers. However, it does require a continued focus and emphasis on those transactional keywords, with a solid supporting technical and content strategy to really maximise the return on investment and start reliably generating leads.
Sam Martin-Ross is Founder and Director of digital marketing agency, Digital Uncut, specialising in B2B SEO for scaling startups.