The online B2B market is highly competitive.
To stay above the noise, you must apply a strategy that speaks directly to your target businesses. This is what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about; providing relevant solutions to online queries.
B2B SEO can often seem like “Black Magic” – its practices are not well-known and its practitioners can often hold their secrets close to their chest.
That’s why we felt it was so important to release this ultimate guide to B2B SEO.
When you understand the basics of how SEO works, you can begin to build a custom strategy to attract the businesses you want.
Before you create your B2B SEO strategy, first outline your business proposition by answering the following 6 questions:
1. What are you offering?
You must be able to break down the value of your B2B product or service.
This question should be answered from a problem-solving angle; it should be a clear outline of the solutions you provide.
With this answer, you can determine who needs your B2B offerings and the best places to find them.
2. What are the pros/cons of working with you?
This answer will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Your strength is what you push to your target audience; you will also need a strong understanding of what your weaknesses are.
This knowledge will prevent you from harming your brand value by promoting the wrong things.
Additionally, this will be a major tool for when you will need to identify which keywords to go after – focusing on your strengths.
3. What is your price range?
B2B SEO can be used in a very targeted way when done right.
If you offer high-priced services, marketing to a low-paying audience provide little to no Return on Investment (ROI).
When you identify the pay bracket of your target market, you can start marketing in the right places.
If your offering is at a low price-point, you will have to focus on having a low cost of customer acquisition in order to generate any sort of positive ROI.
4. How do you compare to your competitors?
If you have a competitor that has almost monopolized the market for a specific feature, don’t try to fight for that spot.
There is a range of solutions that your target market desperately needs; it’s in your best interest to identify the holes in products and services being provided and fill them with high-quality solutions.
It is these “holes” that you will be able to find the white-space you need to dominate in SEO for your space.\
5. Does your company have any authority?
The strategy used to build a reputation for a new business is quite different from the one that will be applied to maintaining an established business.
The truth is, one is not harder than the other.
There’s no room to relax in such a competitive market. Proven or not, every business needs to constantly maintain their relevance.
Authority is a major indicator to search engines of if your site deserves to be ranked higher. While “authority” can seem a bit vague (and it is), there are some good tools that you can use to measure a site’s authority.
6. Do you have social proof?
Unless your business is completely new, you should have an online footprint that verifies your business. It can range from anything between references to reviews, partnerships, and so on.
Businesses rely heavily on referrals, as that is one of the easiest ways to feel assured of the value being paid for.
SEO Practices for B2B Businesses
B2B SEO is divided into two major, and equally important sections; on-site and off-site.
Here’s how you can optimize for both:
Onsite B2B SEO
Onsite B2B SEO includes everything you do on your own website to make it more search friendly. This usually involves adjusting several components of your content and website structure to make it relevant to search engines.
This is because search engines rank your website using the quality of data they can gather from it.
Every step in your onsite B2B SEO strategy must be in line with Google’s guidelines. With good research and a clear action plan, you should be able to develop a strategy that provides the needed results.
Here are the important elements of onsite B2B SEO to consider:
Search engines crawl live pages and websites to determine their relevance. Your page titles and descriptions should give a clear indication of what your website is about, and why it is relevant to users.
Title tags are specific HTML elements that identify a page or posts title.
A page or post’s title tag appears on search as a clickable link. The title tag should be a clear description of the page/site/post’s purpose.
Beyond Google’s algorithm, a thoughtful title tag is important because it’s what a potential visitor will see first on the results page. It has to be enticing and clear in order for them to want to click it.
From an SEO perspective, the title is a powerful place to leverage the use of your chosen keyword.
A few things to remember when choosing a title tag:
- The optimal character length for a title tag is 50-60 words
- Be as specific as possible, this will help you rank for long-tail keywords
- Use numbers, odd numbers (“7 best practices for a better blog post”) have been shown to work better than even numbers
- Think about synonyms of your desired keyword if the competition is very high
In December 2017, Google increased the character limit for meta descriptions to 300. While this was seen as a good thing for SEOs – it provided more opportunity to insert keywords and rank for a variety of longtail keywords – it also created a bit more confusion around what the “optimal” character length of a meta description was.
It is important to note that Google has stated previously that Meta Descriptions do not play a part in its algorithm. However, what Google says and what actually happens can be different.
Regardless of whether or not optimizing a meta description will help you rank better, a better meta description will most definitely increase click-through rates – which, in turn, positively impact your ranking.
Your website cannot attract or convert visitors if there is no (relevant) content published. Pages such as your landing page should have high-quality, relevant, and readable content.
Each page should also have a well-defined call to action.
A well-optimized page should also use header tags: H1, H2, and H3 with the right structure.
Modern-day SEOs are maniacally focused on what are called “long-tail” keywords. In essence, these keywords are more “niche” focused. They are generally longer (at least three words), less competitive, but still, have a decent amount of monthly searches.
Finding long-tail keywords is both a science and an art.
First, it’s important to note that there are thousands of so-called “experts” out there that will tell you they can teach you to rank for a keyword within a few hours – all you have to do is buy their “course” for $1,000.
Don’t do this.
There are some great tools out there for finding keywords – though, they are often paid products.
Some great tools include:
However, if you are more bootstrapped, you can use a strategy that doesn’t require any investment – just some instinct and elbow grease.
Step 1: Input a basic search into the Google search bar.
If you are planning on writing a post on B2B SEO, for example, you could go to Google and begin a search such as “B2B marketing”
Make sure you do this in “incognito mode” though, I’ll explain later why this is necessary.
When you begin to input your query, Google will give you suggestions as to what the full query should be.
Basically, Google is doing your job for you. They are suggesting full queries that clearly have been searched previously. This is a great way to get yourself on the right track as to which longtail keyword to focus on.
From this list, you then choose a suggested query that you think most closely resembles what you want your page or post to be about.
In this case, we’ll choose “B2B Marketing Strategies.”
Once you choose this search query, Google will actually show you how many results it has indexed for this.
In this case, there are over 30 million results. This is clearly a highly competitive term and probably not one you will rank for – that’s why you need to whittle it down further.
Step 2: Related Searches
If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the search, you will see “Related Searches.”
Again, Google is doing the work for you! These are similar search terms to your initial search, but, generally, you will find that these terms have far less competition – these are your longtail keywords.
Basically, keep clicking through these related searches until you find one that has, ideally, less than 1 million pages indexed.
This is a quick and dirty tip and there are definitely other ways to do it, but you are using Google’s suggestions here, which are based on the fact that other people are searching for these terms.
The ultimate longtail keyword is one that is both popular and has low competition.
Every page on your website should contain a link to another internal page. It’s not just enough to leave links lying around though. They must provide additional information that your visitors need.
Internal linking is a necessary way to establish an architecture of your site. Google looks at this as an important indicator of your site’s authority and value.
Internal links connect your pages and posts together, giving search engines an indication of how your site is structured.
They are also an important factor in showing your site’s hierarchy. As such, you will need to give the pages and posts you deem as most important more internal links than others.
Website Load Speed
A heavy website with slow load speed will not rank high on Google. Your load speed can affect your website ranking if it is 1 second slower than the ideal time, so this is a factor to monitor constantly.
A good rule of thumb is that you never want your site to take longer than 3 seconds to load. However, the faster your site, the better.
According to research, 25% of website visitors will “bounce” from a site if it doesn’t load within four seconds. This is an important statistic to note – bounce rates are a signal to search engines as to the authority of your site.
If you have a high bounce rate, this tells search engines that your site does not provide value, and, as a result, you will be ranked lower over time.
Fast site = lower bounce rate = better SEO.
Unsure as to your actual load speed? There are some great tools out there. Each one might show you slightly different numbers, but, for the most part, it will give you a good picture of what’s going on with your load time.
Other important onsite B2B SEO factors include:
- Mobile optimization
- Sitemap structure
- Broken links
- URL formats
Offsite B2B SEO
The other end of B2B SEO involves everything you do to promote your website, beyond its internal pages. This is done using several marketing efforts such as:
Google’s complex algorithms don’t just evaluate your website. They also search out authority websites that link back to yours. Your own authority has to be proven by other high-quality sources.
You can increase your visibility using review sites. A good online reputation is important for authority building.
Who are the people or publications that already have the trust of your target audience? Once you identify them, offer to collaborate on something that will also provide value for them.
Write for authority platforms in your industry, and leave links that take users back to your website.
Find and engage with your audience on social media. Also, give them something to share on their own pages.
B2B SEO requires the most of the general practices, but with better targeting. Businesses are looking for solutions, not words. If you can apply the right marketing principles while offering great value, your reach will keep growing.