By Manick Bhan
Although SEO has some fundamental best practices, every industry presents unique challenges that impact how to build a successful SEO campaign.
For example, B2B brands face longer sales cycles and more complex marketing funnels than B2C or e-commerce brands. As a result, B2B digital marketers need to approach their SEO campaigns a bit differently in order to see success.
Factors like brand awareness and authority are essential for B2B brands to earn new leads and retain existing customers. SEO can not only help with customer acquisition, it can also build up your B2B brand’s industry expertise in the eyes of search engines, industry experts, and your potential customers.
Why do B2B companies need SEO?
B2B companies work exclusively with other brands and businesses. Your B2B company’s target audience is most likely already profoundly connected and knowledgeable about your industry niche. Also, B2B consumers are likely to conduct extensive research on Google or other search engines to pursue possible solutions before ever speaking to a salesperson at your company.
Your B2B brand needs to get its foot in the door before the consumer can pinpoint its ideal product or service solution. Strategic B2B SEO establishes your brand’s relevance within the industry; then reinforces it with demonstrated credibility.
Unique SEO challenges for B2B brands
Every industry faces unique challenges related to SEO. However, there are several elements that B2B brands must consider aside from the typical obstacles. Becoming aware of these challenges and addressing them before they can negatively impact your digital marketing campaign will give you a competitive edge over the competition.
High search intent means higher competition
SEO competition is at an unprecedented level across nearly every industry. Because of the niche search terms that are often used to discover B2B solutions and services, these keywords usually represent very high search intent. Naturally, these keywords are more competitive, because more brands want to rank for them in the SERPs.
Longer, more complex marketing funnel
A classic marketing funnel flows from top to bottom as follows:
For B2C and e-commerce brands, searchers may move through the entire funnel in a single visit to your website. But for B2B purchases, the funnel is much more complicated than this four-step life cycle indicates.
The B2B marketing funnel’s complexity can be seen clearly in each stage:
- Awareness. This equates to everything your B2B lead generation entails. Primary SEO efforts like content marketing, on-page SEO are at the top of the funnel, and your B2B marketing team initiates the efforts to project authority and expertise in this stage.
- Consideration. Part of the B2B marketing funnel’s added complexity can be attributed to how many people will be involved in the decision-making process. For B2B brands, the consideration stage transfers over to your sales team, who will need to appeal to the mid-level manager that researched your B2B solution and the executive-level stakeholders that will need to sign off to secure funding.
- Intent. This stage encompasses everything your company can do to facilitate a decision from the consumer. Deliberations may occur across multiple channels and span over days, weeks, or even months. This period may involve proposals, contract creation, demo bookings, and sales meetings.
- Decision. Even after your lead has made the decision to become a customer, there are multiple processes involved beyond adding an item to a shopping cart. Putting together contracts, reviews, and data analysis all requires time and resources from your B2B team.
Newer sites that lack site authority
One of the most critical factors in B2B search engine optimization is the practice of boosting your domain authority (DA). Google and other major search engines are more likely to rank your content in the SERPs when your site displays authority through backlinks and off-site signals.
But if your site is newer and lacks authority, it can be difficult to rank on the first page of Google. This will naturally prove detrimental to your SEO campaign, which is why many newer B2B brands spend their marketing budget on Google Ads to rank at the top of the SERPs right away.
Fortunately, there are a few SEO tips for B2B companies to employ that can help brands overcome these challenges.
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6 SEO tips for B2B brands
There are several means of efficiently conquering SEO for your B2B brand. Since your company is unique as you are, techniques will vary based on your needs and target audience. Nevertheless, your business can implement a few universal B2B SEO strategies to help you conquer the SERP and your SEO goals.
1. Find keyword targets that your pages can realistically rank for
Competitive, strategic B2B SEO involves analyzing competitor data and identifying high-intent keywords that not only bring you qualified site visitors, but for which your web pages can actually rank.
The reality is, most searchers don’t make it past the first page of the search engine results. If your landing pages are unlikely to rank in the top positions, you are not going to drive traffic or leads to your B2B site anytime soon.
So if you can’t defeat the competition, evade it by optimizing for niche, long-tail keywords. People often avoid long-tail keywords because they are so specific that they have lower search volume.
However, studies show that nearly 92% percent of all queries are long-tail. This report is phenomenal news for B2B brands. Although long-tail keywords are so distinctive that search volume will be lower, high-intent keywords typically indicate action.
For instance, a query like “SEO services” indicates the consideration portion of the marketing funnel. The searcher may be looking for general information or examples of what to expect should they decide to partner with a digital marketing agency.
In contrast, a search for “SEO services free consultation” puts the consumer closer towards the intent phase of the funnel because it shows they have done at least some research and, as a result, decided to seek a consultation.
2. Use blog content to build your B2B industry expertise
Another SEO tip for B2B brands is to remember that quality content creation is an integral part of SEO. Your off-site content is one of the driving factors behind your business’s perceived credibility. Can you afford not to be one of the 88% of B2B brands that utilize content marketing strategies? In short, no.
B2B customers generally gravitate towards content that answers questions or helps solve problems, rather than blatant advertising. Additionally, B2B products and services often have a learning curve. High-value content creation helps potential customers understand the merit and applicability of your solution.
Quality content is invaluable to SEO in the B2B industry, where purchases are seldom driven by impulse or whim. Also, creating regular blog content has lots of SEO benefits as well:
- Rank for more relevant keyword phrases
- Build industry expertise, authority, and awareness
- Drive more CTAs and conversion actions
- Create opportunities for internal links to keep visitors on your website
3. Seek out guest blogging opportunities in your B2B niche
Guest blogging refers to publishing articles on other people’s websites. This relatively simple practice is beneficial for two reasons. First, guest blogging is an excellent way to build your brand awareness outside of your regular reach. Additionally, you’ll have opportunities to include relative links back to your website.
Make sure the blogs you seek guest post opportunities from are high quality and have strong search engine metrics themselves. Guest blogging on websites with high DA scores can be infinitely more effective than publishing on pages that lack credentials, despite the quality of your individual content.
Finding guest blogging opportunities is as simple as browsing relevant sites in your industry. Not every blog allows guest posts, so try keyword searching niche terms followed by “guest blogging” or “guest post by” to find the ones that do.
Most of these sites have specific rules about adding backlinks, but many will allow you to do so as long as you link to relevant, valuable content on your site.
4. Pursue only white-hat link building to increase your authority
To really crush it in SEO, your B2B brand will likely need more backlinks than just guest blogging can provide. Outsourcing your link building efforts to a reputable agency can be essential in moving the needle on your site authority.
The practice of white-hat link building uses original content on relevant websites to build links at scale. In stark contrast, black-hat link building refers to exploitative link building that can be more harmful than helpful to your SEO campaign. Accordingly, it is imperative to verify that any link-building campaigns you pursue are with a reputable and trustworthy agency. If not, your SEO campaign could pay the price … permanently.
Although you may not be directly engaging in spammy techniques, partnering with a site that does can harm your SEO potential. Link building takes a lot of time and effort. The last thing you want is to inadvertently blemish your reputation with search engines as a result of your hard work.
5. Monitor your progress in Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is one of the best SEO reporting tools out there, and it’s free. For SEO purposes, Google Search Console provides actionable insights regarding your B2B website’s rankings on the SERPs, and the reasoning behind it.
A few notable metrics the GSC monitors include click-through rates, impressions, search traffic data, and relevant queries. If your site has any issues with duplicate content or security risks, you’ll be alerted to this through the GSC as well. Software built over Google Search Console like GSC Insights can also aid you in understanding your SEO performance.
Despite the vastness of Google’s data, it is simple to use, even without an extensive technical background. First, you’ll set up an account, and link your domains and add users. Then, you can connect Google Search Console to your other performance-monitoring platforms for seamless integration.
6. Close the loop on your analytics
Regarding key SEO tips for B2B, the most critical communicative barrier to break is between your sales and marketing departments. Effective communication between these divisions involves both collaboration among employees and the integration of data across analytical platforms.
An excellent example of closing the marketing to sales team loop is funneling your Google Analytics data into your CRM. Seamless data integration allows you to track all the complexities involved with each stage of the B2B marketing funnel.
For example, you can use CRM plugins to export customized events like transactions back to Google Analytics. This will allow you to examine how many of the digital marketing-generated leads amounted to genuine customers. The end result? A closed-loop analytics system for tracking the website-visitor-to-customer pipeline.
Smart SEO tips for B2B brands to drive leads and revenue
These SEO tips for B2B brands can help your business overcome some of the major challenges associated with digital marketing in B2B industries. Get these SEO practices right, and your business will see more website traffic and organic leads at a much lower cost-per-acquisition than other digital marketing platforms.
Keep up these practices and your rankings, and your B2B brand can keep driving leads and revenue for the long term.