When it comes to B2B marketing, search engine optimization is more than just a public relations tool.
Getting a blog post ranked at the top of Google might be a nice way to enhance your brand’s image among your best prospects, but you need to focus on converting those prospects to qualified leads if you’re going to make the most of your SEO efforts.
Effective B2B SEO is much more about what kind of content you are ranking for your desired keywords, and it’s much less about just bombarding the search algorithms with high authority backlinks. The content on your site needs to be actionable and detailed, but it also needs to be easy to digest.
Fortunately, there’s a playbook you can follow to have the search engines deliver consistent leads and generate a healthy return on the time that your marketing staff puts into your company’s SEO efforts.
If you are looking to improve your B2B SEO Strategy in 2020, then you’re in the right spot. We’ve got the actionable steps you can take to increase your rankings and bring in more traffic.
The Components Of A Winning Marketing Strategy
Ranking at the top of Google is a goal for many businesses. The problem is knowing how to do this and ensuring you’re ranking for what your clients are searching for.
To create a winning strategy, you must know what best practices will get your posts to the top of the SERPs. However, this isn’t good enough. You must also choose the right terms to rank for.
It doesn’t do your business any good if you’re ranking at number one for terms your clients are searching for. You might get great traffic, but that traffic won’t result in sales because it’s not your target audience, and they aren’t interested in what you have to offer.
Your strategy must include these four vital steps if you want to increase your leads through organic searches.
- Know your target audience
- Know what they’re searching for
- Create valuable content that offers real value to your audience
- Track your results and test for continued optimization
When you follow these actionable SEO tactics, you will follow the best practices to rank your site on the search engines.
First Things First, Focus on the Decision-Maker
You don’t necessarily need to worry about targeting the CEO of every company you want to work with. Within each business are various decision-makers based on their level of expertise.
For example, if you’re selling Facebook ad strategies, you should target the marketing manager. The company’s CEO isn’t worried about their social media advertising, but their marketing manager is. So, find your target audience based on who makes the decisions for what you’re selling.
Once you know who you’re creating your content for, you need to determine what they’re searching for.
Your B2B SEO Roadmap In 2020
1. Consider Buyer Intent When Choosing Keywords
Traditional SEO practices might tell you to target a keyword with 50,000 searches a month. However, in the B2B market, you don’t need hundreds of thousands of page views. Instead, you need to focus on a small, specific, and targeted audience.
Your audience is the decision-maker in their company. Your audience has a specific question in mind when they begin their online search.
For example, in the B2C market, if someone is searching for “shipping costs,” they’re probably trying to mail their Aunt Margaret a sweater for Christmas. But you’re targeting the business who is calculating their shipping costs for 25 pallets of printing paper.
This will take a different approach, and you’ll target different keywords than your B2C competitors. So, when it comes to SEO marketing and organic traffic, the basic concepts are the same. For you, however, you’ll want to ensure that the keywords you choose have the right intent for your target audience.
2. Create Valuable Content That Educates and Empowers Prospects
At the heart of any SEO strategy is great content. And B2B search engine optimization isn’t any different. You need to create the content that your clients are searching for. This is the key to improving your rankings and getting found organically and consistently.
This step is where you’ll combine all the research you’ve done in the previous two steps. You’re creating content that is written specifically for your target audience and answers the questions they’re asking the searching engines.
There’s a reason that Google earmarks billions of dollars for research on artificial intelligence every year, and it’s not so you can spend your day stuffing keywords into your articles in ways that a real human being would never want to read.
The algorithms that companies like Google use are designed to crawl the web and figure out for themselves what your content is actually about. Again, you’re not going to outsmart the thousands of software engineers that any of the large search companies employ, so have faith that your content will rank highly if you just write like you are having a conversation with your ideal customer.
The language that your ideal customer uses will certainly vary from industry to industry, but your content must sound natural for the search engines to even consider it ranking it highly these days. This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many companies fail to heed this warning.
Using analytics tools like Google Search Console in tandem with Google Analytics, can give you crucial insights into the language that your users and prospects are using to find and engage your website.
3. Make Sure Your Landing Page Serves A Compelling Purpose For Your Prospect
This is the fundamental rule of B2B SEO. The key words here are “for your prospect”. To put it simply, don’t confuse “a compelling purpose” with what you think the search engines will be interested in.
Too many B2B companies try to guess what the search engines want instead of figuring out what their prospects need to hear before taking the next step in the customer value journey.
While it’s true that search algorithms use factors like content length to determine how highly a given page ranks in 2020, meta-characteristics like the number of words on your landing page are far from the only factor that determines whether you reach the top of page one or you stay buried on page three.
The algorithms are designed to reflect what your visitors want, and they aren’t designed to be a test of how well you can game the system.
Above all else, user engagement is the most important metric to optimize for. User engagement, however, is highly contextual to the type of content that is featured on your page.
If you are sending your prospects to a video sales letter, for example, then the search engines will be keeping a close eye on how long users spend watching the main video, how they interact with the video player, and whether or not they leave your page without taking further action.
As more and more users respond to the content on your page in ways that indicate they like and trust your company, your landing page will climb up the search rankings faster and faster.
Don’t make the mistake that most of your competitors are making. Design your landing pages to sell your prospect on moving to the next step in the buying process, and forget about trying to outsmart the engineers at multibillion-dollar technology giants.
If there’s one thing you can be certain of, it’s that all of the shout-outs, link campaigns, and slick SEO tricks in the world won’t help you if your visitors hate your landing page. Treat your prospects with the same respect that you would show them if they visited your business in person.
4. Answer Common Questions In Your Landing Page’s Metadata
Human beings are naturally curious, and asking your prospect a question can be a great way to hook their attention and get that initial user engagement.
You’ve probably seen headlines like “Why Is Everybody Talking About ____?”, and there’s a reason that so many publications use them. As any great copywriter will tell you, the main purpose of the headline is to get the reader to stop and read the line that follows.
When people see a question on the search page, they instinctively want to know the answer. After all, a question that popped into their head is what got them to submit their search query in the first place.
The searcher’s curiousity can mean more clicks for you, but just make sure that your landing page actually answers the question in your headline.
5. Align Offline Marketing & Sales With Your SEO Efforts
This strategy requires thinking outside of the box a little bit, and that means your competitors are highly unlikely to do it.
After your sales reps get off the phone with a lead for the first time, what do you think that prospect does if they want more information? They’re usually going to open up their web browser, punch your company’s name into one of the major search engines, and take a good look at everything they find.
Knowing this ahead of time, you can plan some of your efforts around what prospects who are already in your sales funnel are trying to find out about your company.
In other words, SEO can actually be a highly effective lead nurturing tool. Most of the companies in your space will be putting all of their efforts towards ranking for lead generation terms, and they won’t bother trying to compete with your for terms that your existing leads are putting into Google or Bing.
For example, let’s say your company name is “NextGen SaaS”. How many of your competitors do you think are focused on ranking for the term “NextGen SaaS experiences”?
Anybody who is searching for a term like that is already considering purchasing from your company and is looking for some extra assurance that they will be making a good decision. Thus, a search term like that represents the perfect opportunity to swoop in and make sure that a Testimonials page from NextGen SaaS is the first page that this searcher sees.
The key here is to understand that B2B SEO can be a force multiplier for your existing sales efforts. The above strategy work can especially well if you’re selling a high-ticket product with a longer sales cycle.
6. Test and Track Your Results
It has been said a dozen times, but it’s still true, search engine optimization is a long game. It isn’t something you publish once and forget about. You need to continually track your results and optimize each page to get better results.
For example, if you have a page on page one but not at the top, do some further research and update the information on the page. Google rewards fresh content, so take the time to do this step, and you will see your results skyrocket.
New competitors come onto the scene every day. So you can’t rest on your previous accomplishments. Be sure to test and track your results regularly to keep your top spot in the SERPs.
7. B2B SEO Is An Ongoing Effort
Let’s say your SEO efforts are mega-successful. Your landing page has finally hit the top of the first page for your biggest keyword, and it’s bringing you leads left and right. Are you prepared to wake up tomorrow and see 15 new competitors climbing up the search results and threatening to outrank you?
You should be ready for that reality, and you should be prepared to deal with it every week. By the way, we’re not talking about the companies that you were worried about last quarter. We’re talking about companies that you weren’t even aware of until they started showing up out of nowhere.
Thanks to increased outsourcing opportunities, decreased overhead requirements, and the internet providing a reduced barrier to entry for many industries, it’s never been easier for somebody to go into business and start stealing your market share. This happens every day, but establishing your rankings as fast as possible does give you a first-mover advantage.
To keep your rankings high, you’ll need to constantly update the content on your most popular pages. Just making a few subtle tweaks to the introductory paragraph in your site’s best blog article can give you an edge over companies that don’t do anything at all, but you’ll also want to update any educational content to reflect new developments in your field.
For example, suppose that you have an article on smart home technology ranking at the top of page one for the search term “smart doorbells”. Whenever a major advance in smart doorbell technology hits the market, it’s a good idea to revise your article with a few sentences about the news if you want it that page to stay on top. Even updating a page’s title when the year changes can have a large effect on how well it ranks.
These aren’t the changes that will turn your leads into deals, but they will help your content get in front of more prospects. Of course, getting more eyes on your content will result in more deals, so making these subtle changes can be worth the effort.
For businesses that use white-hat strategies and treat their prospects right, the B2B SEO landscape hasn’t actually changed as much as it might seem.
In fact, the algorithms have become more and more favorable to legitimate marketing practices over time. For businesses that have become used to relying on unsustainable tactics like keyword stuffing and using spammy links, getting to the top of the SERPs is going to get much tougher.
As long as you approach your online marketing efforts like you are having a face-to-face conversation with your most valued customers, then the sky is truly the limit on your ROI.