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.
Follow the comprehensive list of tips, tricks, and best practices bellow to dominate the B2B SEO landscape in 2020 and beyond.
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.
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.
Use Offline Marketing Techniques To Feed 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.
Write Your Content In The Same Way That You Would Talk To Your Prospect
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.
Use Questions In Your Landing Page’s Search Headline To Grab Attention
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.
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.