TopRank Marketing Editor

5 Must-Read Tips for B2B Search Marketing

TopRank Marketing Editor     B2B Marketing, SEO, SEO Tips

Search marketing for B2B

[Note from Lee: A few weeks ago, Michelle wrote a great post on Retail SEO tips and this week, I’ve asked her to tackle B2B SEO and general search marketing tips, since one-size SEO does not fit all programs. Enjoy!]

Search marketing should be a top priority for organizations in any industry. But B2B search marketing efforts take a slightly different form than the tactics used in consumer focused SEO and PPC programs . Typically, B2B markets are smaller, products and services are more complex, and sales cycles are longer. Therefore, B2B marketers must think a bit differently in terms of target keywords, online content and link building.

TopRank has worked with many companies using search marketing to reach Business to Business audiences over the past 8 years and we’d like to share these 5 B2B search marketing tips that can help companies maximize their results:

1. For B2B companies, getting found is just the beginning. While B2C companies can reasonably expect to generate a purchase from a single site visit, the sales cycle for B2B companies is much longer. Once a prospect finds the B2B website via search, the real work begins to convert the prospect to a sale. Understanding the B2B searcher and their position within the sales cycle (Evaluation, Consideration, Purchase) is essential for creating appropriate optimized content to meet their needs.

Additionally, web sites focusing on reaching B2B audiences, must focus an equal amount of effort on gaining relevant search engine rankings and the stickiness of their site. Visitors looking for B2B solutions can be convinced to stay on a site longer by:

  • Providing the information prospects need to assess the company and its offerings
  • Relying on analytics and user experience metrics to measure stickiness factors, such as time spent on specific pages, clickthrough rates on calls to action and length of visits
  • Ongoing heatmap analysis to ensuring that the appropriate links are included on the home page to lead prospects to the most important content

2. Content is key for B2B websites. For B2C websites, the majority of content focuses purely on product information. Because sales conversions for B2B organizations are based more on building relationships, content must position that organization as an industry thought leader and a trusted resource. Including video demos, case studies and newsletters on a site can help B2B organizations build relationships with their audience.

For one client in the B2B marketing industry, TopRank devised a blog strategy incorporating industry thought leader interviews. Insight was gathered from notable figures and shaped into keyword-optimized blog posts for a special interview series. This tactic contributed to a nearly 50% increase in organic traffic to the blog. More importantly, referrals from the blog to the corporate site increased by more than 140%.

3. B2B target keyword glossaries must be more robust. Clearly, targeting the proper keywords is essential to any search marketing campaign. But for B2B organizations, keywords need to cover a longer buying cycle, and therefore must often be more diverse than B2C target keywords. Prospects at the beginning of a sales cycle might use certain terms to search for information that differs from terms used by those ready to purchase. That variety of keywords must be supported by relevant content and link building as well.

For one B2B client, TopRank® Online Marketing devised a robust keyword strategy that considered audiences at multiple touch points to achieve significant results. The realization was made that prospects who are ready to buy typically use solution-based terms – either general or exact product names – in their searches. On the other hand, prospects at the beginning of the sales cycle use issue- or problem-based terms in their searches. The target keyword glossary, therefore, included both specific product terms and issue-based terms. This helped increase keyword referrals by more than 60%.

4. B2B organizations must think outside the box when it comes to link-building. Because B2B markets are typically smaller than B2C markets, there may be fewer websites capable of linking to B2B sites. Consider the amount of fashion-related blogs compared to food processing technology blogs. To increase the number of inbound links to their sites, B2B organizations must get a little creative:

  • B2B organizations can approach their supplier networks for inbound links to their site
  • B2B organizations with a small target audience can create link bait focused on a different but related market
  • For very specific niches, a B2B blog audience can be widened by blogging about more general company-related issues

5. B2B search marketing efforts have to speak to multiple entities within a business. Unlike B2C purchases, B2B purchases involve different stakeholders within a company. Each stakeholder comes to the site with a different set of expectations.

For example, a B2B site that sells recruitment software might be visited by a company’s HR manager to gauge the effectiveness of the software. A member of the company’s finance department might visit the site to assess the value of the product. In still another scenario, a member of the company’s IT department might visit the site to learn how the software can be integrated into the overall system.

B2B search marketing efforts must identify:

  1. Who in the business is buying products/services on the website
  2. The level of understanding stakeholders have about products/services
  3. The jargon different stakeholders use to find products/services
  4. The benefits that their business needs to receive from products/services

As you can see, there are some important considerations for B2B search marketing vs consumer focused audiences. The key is to understand the unique needs of the target audience, how they search, evaluate solutions, consume information and ultimately, how search affects decision making, both directly and indirectly.

What tips do you have for B2B organizations to add to this list?

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Comments

  1. This is a great start for the B2B marketer. I am especially intrigued by the use of different keywords depending on where the prospect is in the selling cycle. Nice stuff.

  2. A common problem I see is that many B2B sites don’t have active blogs, or are actively updating their site in anyway. Hard to get people linking to you, and talking about you online that way. To keep things going they almost have to have someone actively promoting or offering expertise through forums, twitter, and stuff like that.

  3. Great stuff! B2B companies need to identify the multiple personas they are looking to reach, the way they refer to the problem they are experiencing, and the metrics their superiors use to measure their success. If you pay attention to that data it's much easier to shorten the sales cycle.

  4. kathleengage says:

    In B2B marketing it still holds true that you must earn trust and respect before you ask for a sale. Online marketing such as article posting, social media, and blogging give businesses the visibility and credibility edge.

  5. This is an absolutely amazing article and I can't thank you enough for posting it. It definitely got me started thinking in different ways about my website. We started to do UI changes to make the experience better for people but I definitely think that SEO is the next big goal for us.

    We have been writing on our blog, and have done small things but we haven't done a real thorough analysis of the blog as far as SEO is concerned.

    I am excited to use this as a model for my site and other sites that we built for B2B companies.

    Thanks again for the information and we appreciate it!

  6. it is helpful, i need it

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  8. vinod_bherwal says:

    it is helpful, i need it

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  9. HumInt Consulting says:

    Great-
    One more thing that we can add customer testimonials on website. On virtual world Customer testimonial have a high importance.

  10. agreed, customer testomonails are important and key

  11. I like the 5th point a lot. Most B2B companies out there fail to recognize the fact that their company site is going to be visited by different stakeholders. This is a crucial point for better conversion as elaborated in the article.

  12. Most B2B companies out there fail to recognize the fact that their company site is going to be visited by different stakeholders.One more thing that we can add customer testimonials on website.

  13. jamesgalt says:

    Nice article…..I've always been a sucker for case studies and white papers. They absolutely have influenced my B2B decisions over the years.

  14. Great post. It's all very logical isn't it but how many business owners do this?

    Personally I am a great fan of using PPC & Analytics to find out what search terms people actually use. Quite often they are not what you would expect. e.g. You may be a “Budget Airline” but your customers won't be looking for that, but they will be looking for “Cheap Airfares from X to Y”.

    I am also a great fan of using Analytics to find out which search terms convert into an action and which don't. How important is that????

    I also recommend using the various different match types Broad, Phrase & Exact in PPC to pinpoint exactly which keywords work. In fact there is a great $5 tool that can help you with this called the Text Ad Converter. It easily converts keyword match types in MS Excel & can add US States & Cities for Geo-Targeting. You can preview it at our website http://tinyurl.com/yj88pn8 if you wish. It certain saves you time and helps your targeting.

  15. Good post. Most B2B websites I've seen push for P2P engagement which kind of goes along with the longer conversion cycle. When devising content for the B2B website, there is a fine line between too much and too little. Striking a balance between adequate information and seductive omission of detail is key.

  16. iphone clone says:

    Nice post ,thanks for sharing

  17. biodenticaldoctor says:

    Michelle the tips which you have mentioned here about B2B search marketing are very true and result oriented. I need to implement them. Thanks for sharing.

  18. JemimaAlmeida says:

    Creating customer blogs would be great for all B2B websites

  19. Norma Doneghy Anderson says:

    Thank your for this very helpful piece! It helps me understand where to focus my energies particularly when you explain that I need to understand how my target searches, evaluates solutions and consume information.

  20. For B2B you must get the customer involved. Of course this follows effective keywording and SEO. Personal pages such as “my product” inclusions really boost repeat business. Stroking the customers ego just like Facebook and other social media sites do.

  21. Thanks for the information.

    This might be a bit off topic, but what do you do with a B2B client who doesn't think they need any SEO because they are, well, a B2B company?

    • Answering marketing channel questions like that is a matter of determining audience and demand. For SEO demand is determined, in part, by doing keyword research in the category. Are prospects for that B2B company searching at the various points in the sales cycle? Are journalists that cover that B2B vertical searching for subject matter experts? Are candidates searching for jobs in that B2B field? What about customers searching for “after the sale” information? If the answer is yes to any of those, SEO is appropriate for that B2B company. Otherwise, they're simply losing out on that traffic to competitors.

  22. Thanks for such an insightful article. Re: #5, having testimonials from customers that represent different stakeholders can be very powerful. Would you suggest different landing pages for different stakeholders, for prospects entering keywords with problem-based vs solution based terms? Are there any case-study examples that we can see?

  23. Very insightful article that helps you to think outside the box! The blog stragegy was such a fantastic idea that generated organic traffic.
    Thank you for this post. I will share with our readers at http://inboundmarketingpr.com/

    RMSorg – InBoundMarketingPR

  24. Excellent post “B2B purchases involve different stakeholders within a company. Each stakeholder comes to the site with a different set of expectations” I think that this is a point that many businesses miss when creating content.

  25. Love the idea of a glossary. We will be adding one before the new year.

  26. Thanks for the very helpful information about SEO.Search marketing should be a top priority for organizations in any industry. But this blog really good and every tips very important.

  27. Thanks for all the information, these is really helpful.

  28. Very insightful article that helps you to think outside the box! The blog stragegy was such a fantastic idea that generated organic traffic.
    Thank you for this post. I will share with our readers.
    Creating customer blogs would be great for all B2B websites.

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  29. israelexporter says:

    This is an excellent blog post on b2b marketing. I think that content is the number tool here because it acts a powerful pre-selling tool. In addition interviews are very powerful because they show the person behind the company – the more personal the better.

  30. israelexporter says:

    This is an excellent blog post on b2b marketing. I think that content is the number tool here because it acts a powerful pre-selling tool. In addition interviews are very powerful because they show the person behind the company – the more personal the better.