Search engine optimization (SEO) is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Strive for bespoke SEO: designed for your particular business, industry, geographical area, and goals.
SEO strategies must change to keep up with how people are searching online and the nuances of Google’s algorithms that determine search results ranking.
If you’ve noticed a decline in your ranking or results, it’s likely because your SEO strategies are “so last year.” And if your company markets business-to-business (B2B) then your SEO needs to be different from companies whose model is business-to-customer.
Our friends at Romain Berg design bespoke SEO strategies and stay up-to-date on the latest changes in the industry. Let’s look at some ways to create B2B website designs that are optimized for SEO.
Why is SEO Important to B2B Companies
For years, many people thought that online marketing was primarily for B2C companies. The theory goes that customers start their shopping online by seeking first to learn, then to compare, and then to purchase.
B2B purchasers, however, were thought to stick to traditional channels: personal relationships with salespeople, repeat business, and recommendations from within the industry.
However, according to recent studies, this behavior has changed dramatically in the past decade. Here are some statistics that should make you take notice:
- 61 percent of B2B decision-makers begin their acquisition process with a web search.
- 61 percent of B2B buyers consider third-party review sites and testimonials in their decision-making.
- 77 percent say they won’t have a conversation with a salesperson until they’ve done their own research.
As you can see, traditional marketing methods like cold-calls or direct marketing aren’t going to get the job done. B2B decision-makers behave like B2C customers when it comes to making purchases.
They arm themselves with information first, then reviews, and they reach out to the companies that fit their needs.
These behaviors mean that you must optimize your B2B website design for your keywords. This way, your potential B2B customers can learn about you, and what others think of you.
Just Like B2C, B2B SEO is Based on Content & Links
While B2B SEO is not the same as B2C, there are some key similarities. The primary drivers for SEO ranking on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) are reliable and on-topic content, and the number and quality of backlinks to your site.
The higher both of these numbers are, the higher Google and other search engines will rank your page. The higher your rank, the closer to the top of the SERP your company will appear.
The higher you are to the top, the greater the number of click-throughs you will obtain. More click-throughs lead to more people learning about your business.
Another study found that businesses that blog generate 67 percent more leads per month than those who don’t. Creating search engine optimized content online is a strategy that gets your business noticed and generates leads for your sales force to convert.
Additionally, the best SEO content is content that answers questions your targeted customers need to be answered. Thinking like the user is a good SEO strategy for both B2C and B2B website content.
Backlinks are links from other sites to your own site. Just like with B2C sites, the more backlinks you have, the more Google considers your company to be a leader in your industry.
Reviews are one way to obtain backlinks, as is guest blogging on an industry site. We’ll talk more about those strategies below.
B2B SEO Content Is Different
With B2C SEO content, you’re hoping to find your niche customers by providing the answer to their questions and their needs. You use the same general principle when creating B2B websites optimized for SEO, but with two key differences.
Optimized B2B SEO content must:
- Appeal to multiple audiences
- Capitalize on long tail keywords
Let’s unpack each of these, in turn.
B2B Website Designs Need Content for Multiple Audiences
A B2B decision-maker may be a single point of contact who initiates the sale. But, the process for approving, purchasing, and paying for a B2B product is more complicated than a single customer choosing “Buy Now” on a website.
Practitioners, managers, and executives must approve B2B purchases, as well as regulatory or legal staff in many cases.
Each of these audiences is important to consider when designing the B2B website. They will approach a B2B purchasing decision with different needs in mind. Here are some samples:
- Practitioners or users want their tactical questions addressed. How does this product work? How will it help me?
- Managers want to understand the efficiencies and how the product will fit in with existing work processes and other systems.
- Executives have high-level concerns, such as cost, scale, integration, training, warranties, service contracts, etc.
- Legal or compliance staff will be concerned with whether the product meets their safety needs, protects data, complies with regulations and procedures in their industry, etc.
Since these different audiences for your B2B product approach the purchasing decision with different concerns, they will use very different queries when they search for solutions online.
Your B2B SEO strategy needs to anticipate those concerns and be ready with optimized content.
B2B Website Designs Need to Use Long Tail Keywords to their Advantage
Unlike B2C, you’re not fighting with big brands to get to the top of the SERP. You’re also not going to have tens of thousands of people searching for your product online, either.
You likely have a very specific niche audience who is looking for “HVAC automation system,” for example, and not just “air-conditioners.”
By nature, B2B searches are long tail searches: they aren’t very popular in the grand scheme of web searches, but they are precisely what those customers need.
Your job when creating a B2B website optimized for SEO is to discover those long tail keyword phrases for your industry, and to use them in your web content, either on main pages, blog posts, or both.
But remember principle number one, above? Your various B2B audiences will use different search terms to answer the questions they have, depending on their position with the business.
That means that you will have numerous long tail keyword phrases to incorporate into a single page. By using this strategy, you compile the long tail searches to a single resource. You will create more backlinks, more results, and a higher place on the SERP.
The other good news is that these specific long-tail searches are specialized. The number of results on the SERP will be lower because there are fewer web pages out there addressing these topics.
That means it is that much easier to move to the top of the SERP.
B2B SEO Content Has a Different Goal than B2C
As mentioned above, B2B sales have a much longer cycle, going through RFPs and multiple levels of approval. As a result, B2B searchers aren’t likely to convert to a sale on their first visit to your site.
B2B SEO is more about branding and reputation than getting a searcher to make a purchase. Your goal with B2B SEO is to establish your brand as trustworthy, reliable, and able to help the searcher with their workplace needs.
You want your searchers to remember your brand and to associate it with problem-solving and solutions.
A smart B2B SEO strategy is designed to build trust and confidence in your business. One of your goals is to get your company’s name to come up on the SERP, even if your website does not.
The repetition of your brand name as a response to Google questions imprints your company’s name with positive connotations.
You’re showing the B2B decision-makers that they can count on your company to understand their needs and help them solve their problems.
Updating Your Existing Content for B2B SEO
Your company already has a web page, but it may not be optimized for keywords related to your business.
SEO will increase the value of your existing content and enhance each new content asset you add to your site. An SEO partner can revamp your existing pages to optimize them for your keywords elegantly.
Remember that for B2B optimization for keywords, you need to use many long-tail search phrases. There are different niche audiences asking questions that may lead to a sale.
You’ll want to include broad search terms for your primary industry, but add a location if your customers are mostly in one geographic area.
Consider that many broad searches include the words “top” or “best” or “reviews,” as people want to learn what is considered the highest performing product. They need this type of validation from happy customers, not just your marketing department.
Your SEO content should use these habits of searchers and add these phrases to your pages.
Google’s algorithms get savvier every time they change. One of the most important factors Google considers is user intent.
Keywords dropped on a page without context won’t rank highly with Google, who may even penalize your page.
This is another good reason to use a reputable firm to optimize your SEO, so these mistakes aren’t made unintentionally by staff who don’t specialize in the SEO industry.
Consider whether the searcher wants to buy or learn when they ask a search engine a question. Your content needs to answer the question that is behind the keyword, not merely have the keyword on the page.
For B2B, remember the cycle we started this article with: learn first, then compare, then purchase. Your B2B SEO needs to take these three user intentions into account and focus primarily on the first two since the sales cycle is much longer for B2B.
You’ll also want to understand your multiple audiences and create the type of content they desire. Tactical-level practitioners will have their attention grabbed by video or an infographic that explains the “how” of your product.
Executives and managers are more likely to want studies, research, or white papers that give industry details and high-level information.
B2B Optimized Websites Must Rank for Your Product Category
The number one keyword phrase your B2B optimized website must rank for is the general category of product you make. If you make industrial wind turbines, then your company’s web page needs to rank for “industrial wind turbines.”
If you make retail cash register software, use “retail cash register software,” “point of sale cash register software,” and “retail cash register solutions” in your web pages.
Ranking for your product category is the most fundamental part of B2B SEO. But, you would be surprised by the number of businesses that do not tend to this keyword optimization.
Here are some ways to easily update your site for B2B SEO in your product category.
- <title> tags on your site’s home, pricing, and feature pages should contain your product category
- Add your product category terms adjacent to your brand name when writing content, especially in your “boilerplate” for media releases.
- Add your product category terms to captions in pictures on your website. Doing so helps you rank in image searches, which are becoming increasingly popular.
- List your product on review sites in your product category and ask your customers to give you reviews.
- Offer to guest blog on websites in your industry, such as industry unions, associations, or organizations.
- Cultivate backlinks from “best of” lists in your industry. Reach out to them and ask if they will review you or add you.
Partner With a Reputable SEO Firm to Help You Strategize
If you’re ready to optimize your B2B website for SEO, our friends at Romain Berg are ready to help you. They’ve assisted many clients, including many B2B companies, in creating SEO content that gets them noticed on the SERP.
Contact them today to launch your SEO and complete digital marketing strategy.