Let’s face it, most B2B SMBs around the world get by without a huge amount of marketing.
At least, for a while.
CEOs and Business Development staff of such companies are normally responsible for the bulk of new leads, which are generated through specific sales tactics, or, more often, networking and word-of-mouth.
These methods of lead generation are 100% legitimate and have stood the test of time, but precisely because of this, many B2B companies don’t tend to look at other potential sources of leads – one of those being SEO.
What is SEO for B2B?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of adjusting and building your website to give it the best chance of appearing at the top of search engine results pages for target search terms.
So, for example, if someone is searching for agricultural supplies in their city, and you are a supplier of agricultural supplies, you want to be one of the first few results in google when someone types “agricultural supplies city name”.
From a technical point of view, this process is exactly the same for B2B companies as it is for B2C, but there are key differences from a strategic point of view.
B2B SEO vs B2C SEO: Audience Size
Naturally, the number of individuals searching for B2B services is much smaller than any equivalent B2C service. For example, according to Ahrefs, the search term ‘home security’ is searched over 50,000 times per month, while ‘office security’ is only searched 1,600 times per month. And while there is likely much less business competition on the B2B front, the audience size is still extremely small.
Take your own B2B business as an example.
Realistically, how many individuals within your ideal target audience really exist? And how many of these could potentially be looking for your services at any given moment? That number is probably relatively small in comparison to what most B2C brands need to consider. And while this narrows down the range of content ideas that you can create, it does help us focus on what’s important.
All of this means that the content that B2B companies should aim to create for SEO needs to be very specific, both in terms of its content, and in terms of the audience it’s attempting to address.
The first step in this entire process is to brainstorm and identify the audiences that are most likely to be actively searching for the services your B2B company provides. For example, a marketing agency would look at business owners, chief marketing officers, and business development managers as their primary audience.
After we’ve identified our audience, we need to take a few steps in their shoes. In order to place ourselves in the right position, at the right time, we need to try and understand our audience’s search behaviour.
This is where a full keyword research exercise would take place.
This process involves brainstorming of possible search terms that reflect an intent to engage in the services we provide.
In other words, our example marketing agency would probably pinpoint ‘marketing agency services’ or ‘social media marketing services’ as two of their primary keywords.
With these two keywords in mind, we can use specialised keyword research software to identify the amount of individuals searching for those terms in specific locations, and we can also identify other keywords that are similar or related to those primary keywords.
The goal is to end up with a healthy set of primary keywords that we can base our website content on.
Ideally, before you move on to actually creating or modifying the visible content on your website, it’s a good idea to make sure that your site is SEO-friendly on a technical level. This means running a diagnostic test on your website in order to find out if there are any flaws or errors that might prevent it from ranking on search engines in the future.
These errors can be any of the following:
- Indexing errors
- Low-quality content
- Incorrect Robots.txt usage
- Mobile page issues
- Structured data errors
- Inaccurate metadata
- No internal link optimisation
- Lack of https security
- Slow page speed
- Duplicate content
- Broken links
For a quick understanding of where your website lies on this front, you can run a test that’s been designed and provided directly by Google. Simply enter your website’s URL and run the test here. The results should give you an indication of what problems your website might be facing from an overall performance point of view – all of which may be preventing the site from ranking on search results.
If the results of that test aren’t painting a pretty picture, then we’d definitely recommend getting in touch with your web developer to try and mitigate some of those issues. An even better solution would be to engage a technical SEO expert to help guide your web developer to make overall adjustments to the site that would help any future SEO efforts reach their full potential.
On-page optimisation is a process through which the main pages of a company website are analysed and adjusted in order to have a better chance to rank on search engine results. By ‘main pages’ we’re talking about the home page, services page, about us page, contact us page, etc.
Very often, while the content itself conveys the intent of the website owner well, there could be various issues that may be preventing these pages from appearing higher on search engine results.
For example, it is advisable to take one of the primary keywords that we identified during the keyword research phase of the process and use it as the foundation of a particular page. For example, if we’re aiming to rank for the search term ‘marketing agency’, we need to make sure that our homepage uses this search term frequently and in the right places.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Proper heading and title tag structure
- Image alt text
- Primary keyword frequency
- URL optimisation
- Meta description optimisation
- Synonym-rich content
This applies to all major pages, and this process will definitely help elevate the position of any website on search rankings, if done well.
Content Marketing: Create Value
Once all of the above steps are completed, it’s time to put together a long-term B2B content marketing strategy. Still using the results from the keyword research exercise done earlier, we can now create new content on the website that will bring value to our target audiences.
The content can take multiple forms, including blogs and articles, videos, interviews, podcasts, and more. What you produce depends heavily on the type of audiences you’re trying to reach, and the financial commitment you can make towards these efforts.
That said, it is always essential to keep your target audience in mind – it’s easy to create content that your own peers and colleagues will find interesting, but that’s not necessarily what your target audience is looking for. In most cases, those looking for your services are having trouble with it on their own, so creating content that easily and simply breaks down real-world issues and brings value to these individuals is inevitably going to do a lot better.
Ensure that the content you’re creating is actively targeting any of those keywords you’ve identified. It’s also a great idea to tackle the same subject from a multitude of different angles. If you’re offering I.T. services for example, don’t just talk about the specifics of those services – talk about all the different ways they can bring practical benefits to a business owner – always in as much context as possible, without getting bogged down with technical detail.
Not to mention – all this content you’re creating can also be the source of a social media strategy that could not only bring traffic to your website, but also build your business’s reputation in the right circles as a thought leader.
In short, have a plan based on solid research and execute it with as much value as possible.
BONUS: Digital PR
Another way your business could receive an SEO boost is through digital PR. The process is simple, but can bring immense value.
Let’s say that you provide outsourced HR services to SMEs. Using the data that you have available to you, or data that you proactively collect, you can put together industry insights that business leaders would find immensely interesting.
By putting together those insights into an easy-to-access, well-designed piece of content, and getting that content into the press cycle, you can generate a lot of traffic and interest to your website in a short period of time.
Often enough, if that piece of content is of value, then other publications may link to that content on your website, thereby strengthening its authority and helping it rank for keywords surrounding that topic.
I’ve obviously made this process sound a bit simpler than it often turns out to be, however that’s the gist of it. If done well, it can bring immense value – not only for SEO purposes, but for overall brand reputation within your industry as well.
In short, SEO for B2B requires an initial investment that may not pay off in the very short term, but it has the potential to bring immense value if taken seriously. At Switch, we’ve replicated the above process for many B2B SMEs to great effect – often doubling or tripling business leads and website traffic within the first year.
If you’re intrigued but not convinced, let’s have a chat about what SEO can bring to your B2B SME – no strings attached.