Search engine optimization (SEO) is well-known in the marketing and business worlds. In an increasingly digital environment, SEO is a fundamental piece of a business’s marketing strategy and exposure.
Solid SEO strategy can help your website and content rank higher on the search engine results pages, driving more traffic to your site and boosting your sales.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to SEO, however. It’s important to tailor your SEO strategy for your goals and business type, such as business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C).
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Understanding the Difference Between B2B and B2C
B2B companies are similar to B2C companies in many ways, but there is a key difference. B2C companies can leverage emotions, impulses, and typically lower prices to get buyers on board as well. These consumers aren’t making a business investment – they’re making a purchase to solve a problem or address a need.
B2B companies are selling to another business, so making the decision to buy isn’t an impulse or solitary choice. Buyers often need to seek approval from multiple people or teams to get to “yes,” and the price is often higher. They need more persuasion and more nurturing.
SEO for B2B vs. B2C
Both B2B and B2C consumers exhibit similar buying behavior, making SEO a valuable strategy for success. The strategies may differ significantly, however.
B2B companies need to showcase stronger product understanding and deeper knowledge and empathy for what B2B consumers need. They need to know how B2B consumers make purchasing decisions for their businesses.
Google’s E-A-T Acronym
No one knows exactly how Google ranks pages, but we do have some ideas. According to Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, E-A-T is very important.
E-A-T is one of the guidelines Google uses to determine whether the content on a page is valuable and relevant to users and where it should rank. The acronym includes:
- The expertise of the creator of the content
- The authoritativeness of the creator of the content, the website, and the content itself
- The trustworthiness of the creator of the content, the website, and the content itself
While E-A-T is not technically a ranking factor, it does have an impact on content’s rank. This guideline helps Google understand what content is a high-quality and whether it should rank higher.
According to guidelines, E-A-T content should:
- Be created by an expert
- Be posted on an authoritative site
- Help users
- Be trustworthy
- Be up to date
This doesn’t mean everything should be written by a PhD – everyday expertise from people with firsthand experience is still valuable.
And B2B companies often know far more about their products, services, and industries than B2C companies.
Here’s how to make sure your content hits all the marks for E-A-T:
Showcase Your Brand
Google wants to know who’s creating content and whether they’re a legitimate source. Make sure you have an About Us page to share details about your company and team. You could also include a snippet about yourself and your brand that lends some credibility to your content.
Work with Experts
Google is looking for more than well-written content – it wants to see content from experts. If possible, work with experts in the field to create content that Google will trust. Consider interviewing known experts in the field, hiring them to submit a guest post, or collaborating with another company to publish research.
Stay Clear with the Goal
What’s the goal of the content? Are you looking to inform? Persuade? Describe? Explain?
For instance, you can see from this virtual leadership training landing page that the team put more effort into talking about important questions that a potential client might have. This would increase the probability of converting a client and creating trust.
Make sure the purpose of your content is clear and straightforward. For example, if you’re answering a commonly asked question with in-depth content, use headings phrased as questions.
Keep Content Current
New data comes in every day. Content can become outdated quickly as tools are updated, people take on new roles, and sites or pages go offline. Depending on the topic and industry, your content may only be relevant for a year or two.
Regularly audit your content to see if anything needs to be updated with new information or developments. Check for dead links, add new stats, and incorporate new research or best practices to refresh your content.
Link to High-Quality Sources
Experts rely on real data. Make sure you link to studies, research publications, and other official sources to support your claims and show that they’re verified. You can also link to research, quotes, or reports from industry professionals.
How to Launch an Effective B2B SEO Campaign
Direct Content at Different Audiences
Making a purchase is different from investing in something for a business. Products or services provided by B2B companies are sold as business investments, such as software tools, sales inventory, or commercial equipment.
This complicates the buying decision. Businesses have inherent risk spending money on something intended to generate a return – it can fail to turn a profit.
Your products or services will likely need to be approved by multiple decision-makers, including executives, department heads, and other stakeholders, all of whom have different goals and pain points.
B2C companies only have to serve the needs of one buyer. B2B companies need to persuade every decision-maker or stakeholder, and that needs to be clear in the content. Your audience should be segmented to address the questions, concerns, pain points, and limitations each of these segments have about a product or service.
For example, enterprise resource planning software should be marketed differently to a CEO and a finance director. The executive is focused on overarching business goals and objectives and how the software can generate profits, while the finance director is focused on how it streamlines the finance and forecasting process. Both of these serve the business, but they do so in different ways.
Define the Sales Funnel
Before you can conduct keyword research and develop your content, you need to understand your buyers’ unique sales funnel.
The lines between sales and marketing have been blurred for a while, but understanding the sales funnel isn’t part of a lot of marketers’ skill sets. Begin by talking to your sales team and the touchpoints.
Then, dig into the sales and analytics data to see how customers find and interact with your business. Identify key stats, such as the average customer retention period, the lifetime value of a customer, and the average time to purchase.
Build Brand Authority
Trust is fundamental to all purchases, but particularly with B2B buyers. They’re looking for an investment with an ROI, whether that’s direct profits, more time, money saved on employee salaries, or streamlined processes.
Your content should communicate your value as a leader in your industry – someone who understands the unique challenges and pain points of the businesses you’re targeting. The more you come up in the search results pages and the more they learn about your brand, the more they’ll trust you and eventually make a purchase.
Prioritize Low-Volume Keywords
Keyword research is vital to effective SEO. B2B companies need to conduct keyword research differently than B2C companies, however. This is due to having so many stakeholders and decision-makers, each of them searching for different things.
Your keywords need to target each audience segment and their search intent to meet them at different stages of the sales funnel. Remember their objections and pain points, which are unique and unlikely to have high-volume searches.
Optimize Your Landing Pages
Content and rankings help your business, but the end goal is conversion. You still need solid sales and service landing pages to ultimately convert the buyer.
For most B2B businesses, the sales landing pages act as pillar pages with topic clusters. You can use this to develop content around the topics and add depth and information, driving more traffic across the funnel and answering your buyers’ biggest questions.
Build a Scalable Content Strategy
Sales landing pages are usually at the bottom of a B2B sales funnel – the action stage. It’s important to have a scalable content strategy that drives visibility higher up the funnel, such as a content hub.
Your topic clusters should have rank-ready content that answers your prospects’ biggest questions and keeps your brand front-of-mind.
Don’t put all your efforts and energy into the bottom of the funnel, however. Your competitors are building every stage of the funnel, and you should be, too. B2B sales are all about the long game – the basic content around a common question like “what are the benefits of X software?” can turn a searcher into a new buyer in a year.
You have a variety of content formats to choose from to hit every stage of the funnel and guide your B2B buyer, such as:
- Blog posts
- Research studies
- Templates and checklists
- Free tools
- Case studies
All of this content is part of a scalable strategy and helps you earn links, engagement, and prospects that can be converted in the future.
Leverage the Three Pillars of SEO
Whether B2B or B2C, the pillars of SEO are the same.
On-page SEO is the front-end optimization of your website and the technical aspects. You can optimize on-page SEO by predicting the search intent and the right keywords to target, as well as delivering content that builds trust and provides useful information.
- Determine low-volume keywords
- Conduct your own search to see what content is already out there
- Note the top search results
- Analyze what works on those pages, and what doesn’t, then use it to shape your content
Off-page SEO is among the most difficult aspects of SEO and relies on backlinks. There’s no fast-track or quick fix to gain backlinks – you have to convince other websites to reference your site with links. And they have to be authoritative sites that can pass some of that authority onto you.
It takes time and effort to build links, but avoid using any blackhat methods or paying for links. This won’t help your SEO. Devote your attention and effort to producing quality content that authoritative sites will want to link to.
As the name suggests, technical SEO requires technical knowledge and an understanding of what makes a positive user experience. This mainly applies to how a site runs.
Here’s how to improve your technical SEO:
- Make sure your pages load without delays or lagging
- Develop an internal linking model that creates a hierarchy of your site, allowing search engine crawlers to understand your site’s layout and what content is most important
- Use the target keyword in the title, meta tags, and URL
- Use nofollow links and follow links to direct users where you want them to go
- Search for broken links and errors
- Avoid duplicate content
- Make your content and website indexable
- Ensure site security with HTTPS
- Optimize your site for mobile devices
- Use structured data to make it easier for search engines to index your content
Leverage B2B SEO Strategy
SEO strategy for B2B companies and B2C companies is about increasing search engine visibility and boosting traffic, but the B2B sales funnel is longer and requires more persuasion. B2B companies need to address B2B SEO strategy with the needs of the buyer in mind.
This is a guest post written by Jason Khoo
Jason started freelancing in SEO back in college, sold his first agency, and now is the founder of Zupo, which is an Orange County based SEO consulting agency helping construct powerful long term SEO strategies for our clients. Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea a day, hiding away on weekends, catching up on reading, and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.
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