B2B marketers have always been in the business of “content marketing” with white papers, case studies, webinars, demos, free consultations, ebooks and the like. Longer sales cycles due to more complex products and services and business purchasing processes often require more information. The content used to educate buyers of B2B products and services can be a very valuable asset when it comes to content optimization and acquiring leads via organic search.
When assessing B2B client resources for optimization, most marketers focus on web pages and increasingly, digital assets and social media content. Web pages are more often directly linked to by other sites vs images or video, so it makes sense to start optimizing a B2B site’s web pages. The operative word in that last sentence is “start”.
Asking the right questions when sourcing content for search engine and social media optimization can reveal substantial assets that many marketers didn’t even think of using. Here are a few of the most important questions to ask (and get answers to:)
- How many web pages are published on the corporate domain name?
- How many pages are actually getting indexed and included in SERPs by search engines? (reconcile the difference and fix)
- How many and what type of images are being published ON the corporate domain name? How many off site?
- How many and what type of videos are being published on the corporate site? How many off site? How many off site?
- How many and what type of audio are being published on the corporate site? How many off site?
It’s also important to look at other file types that could be potential entry points for search:
- How many blogs published on the corporate domain name? Sub domain? Different domain name? Third party domain?
- How many and what topics of PDF files are published on the corporate domain name? How many off site?
- How many and what topics of Microsoft Office files are published on the corporate domain name? How many off site?
Identifying topics related to these different types of content and media for optimization will give you a better picture of what you have to work with. It’s helpful to know what types of documents or information is published as you build out your content strategy and optimization plan.
- Case studies
- White papers
- Product or service specifications
- Press releases
- Product demos
- Frequently asked questions, knowledegebase
- PowerPoint presentations
- Rich media apps, games or interactive tools
- User generated content, either raw or aggregated according to topic
- Blog content, blog comments, other corporate social participation on the web (Ex: Twitter) – again, either raw or aggregated by topic
Of course there are many others for B2B marketers that have made any kind of commitment to content. Once there’s a clearer picture of what content and media assets there are to work with, they can be mapped by keyword topic.
Some content types deserve focused keyword optimization and link building attention. Others really only need the benefit of process driven or template level SEO . By process driven, I mean training content producers within the company on using keyword glossaries to guide their word choices when creating web pages or other types of content. By template level SEO, I mean modifications to the web site templates that are used with the content management system to dynamically populate keywords in title tags, image alt text, breadcrumb navigation and similar locations. Automating such SEO tasks can propagate to most or all of an entire website, whether it’s 100 or 10,000 pages.
While most B2B Search Engine Optimization efforts are focused on marketing activities that drive leads and sales, working holistically with SEO can deliver benefits that increase value or reduce costs in other areas of the company as well. Optimizing FAQ’s and product support information can provide answers to customers before they call support. Optimizing news related content such as press releases and images can attract journalists to use the company in a story. Optimizing blog content that humanizes the company and gives insight into the culture as well as optimized job listings can make it easier for qualified candidates to find open positions.
I’ll be talking about these topics and more at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston tomorrow at 1:45-3pm in a session called, Content SEO: Best Practices and What to Avoid. TopRank SEO client, Jiyan Wei from Vocus will present a case study of how they’ve used and advanced their SEO efforts with the 500,000 press releases hosted on PRWeb. There will also be a special handout (small book) provided of the presentation with additional SEO resources available to the first 50 attendees. We hope to see you there!
Tahire Khan says
As a b2b marketer for over 10 years I would agree that a lot of useful content is being overlooked. The main problem as I see it is that the conventional offline marketing activities tend to take priority in b2b organizations and so implementaion of online marketing is so far behind. So thank you for your really insightful post.
Tahire, that is true. Many marketers in general are not aware of the content resources they already have. However, even after existing content is optimized and promoted online, there is almost always a need for ongoing content creation in order to be competitive.
Todd @ BuzzStream says
Providing valuable and easy to digest content can be a boon for the B2B marketer. When it's well crafted and has SEO focused copy the impact can be beneficial for all involved. Making relevant information easy to find and properly focused can have so many residual benefits as well as drive conversions. By pushing out, we can all pull more back in.
Hi Todd, have you read our blog before?
Lisa | SEO Brisbane says
It is also useful to take note of the flow of traffic. What URL is that video directing its traffic to – does it follow a natural progression. Does that press release link directly to a sale page or should there be something in between? I find it helps to map the flow of traffic and consider who is coming from where and whether that will make sense.
Indeed, never underestimate the value of analytics and click path analysis.
Thanks Lee. This is incredibly salient stuff for those of us slogging it out in b2b social/SEO land. It's generous of you to give this stuff away.
Thanks Marty. For B2B marketers, these basics are often overlooked. The really “good stuff” comes from deeper market and customer analysis over time. But you already know that 🙂
Tim Holmes says
SEO is very important for developing your business. along with i would also recommend using affiliate marketing which is growing popular everyday.
yes, user centric content is always boon for b2b market… thanks for bringing our knowledge on this point
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Website Design says
focus on the longtail
Judy Seiler says
Lee, I agree with Marty — thank you for sharing this level of actionable B2B Web tactics.
As you inventory your B2B clients’ assets do you categorize those against the stages in a purchase cycle? If so, directionally where do you see gaps — that is, what stage (or stages) in the sales funnel has the fewest (or weakest) assets? Do you see any patterns here? And do you tend to use the same basic sales cycle categories for your B2B clients?
Perhaps you remember the old advertising formula AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. I believe this is still a valuable formula but suggest given today’s ‘buyer beware’ business environment another stage needs to be added — that of evidence. (Prove it!)
With this in mind AIDA would change to AIDEA with E representing the evidence stage in the purchase funnel. Here Webinars, videos, key opinion leader Q&As articles or case studies (to name a few asset types) could be ideal ways to satisfy the needs of targets in this stage.
Having a formula like this in mind as content is reviewed and even created might help assure an an overt call-to-action (next step) exists. Given the longer purchase process inherent in B2B sales, understanding how to ‘pull’ targets through the sales funnel is key.
Would love your thoughts on this. I think this classification method (AIDEA) is a viable way to categorize assets and thus identify gaps or weaknesses. I’ve seen something similar used to categorize (and test) PPC target phrases.
Tahire also has an excellent point about how off-line marketing initiatives can take precedent. I try to continually remind my peers to think about how off-line campaigns might be reworked into valuable online assets. A simple example is taping a round table event comprised of key opinion leaders or customer advocates and turning this into an online Q&A article.
Thanks Judy. The ideal would be to map assets to the needs of the target customer and their place in the buying cycle. The reality is that web site structures do not always support that ideal. So we make the best of what we have while building a case for a better situation overall.
I think the need for a call to action cannot be overstated in the content optimization process. The mistake many marketers make is to publish optimized content digitally, just to provide another entry point without being accountable for converting that traffic.
Great idea you have there about leveraging offline assets to online. Most B2B companies are sitting on a much larger stack of usable content than they realize. The trick is to identify, package and optimize what has the most potential of being useful to prospective customers AND search engines.
Thanks for a great comment and insight Judy 🙂
Judy Seiler says
It is interesting how the call-to-action on Web pages can be MIA, unclear or not primary isn't it?! Or, too many CTAs on a page can also have the same negative impact! 🙂 Hope your forum for MarketingProfs went well. Great organization!
AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action still most used and implemented, why we have public trade shows just to get attention……..i have used this with success and it works great
judy seiler says
Great to know! It’s wonderful when foundational principles work isn’t it?!! 🙂
This truly insightful information. Thank you for a terrific list of guideposts and reminders..
Guru J says
Great information and comments below. Taking a holistic approach to B2B sites is an absolute given the scope of these types of projects. I really enjoyed the comment from Judy about AIDAE, evidence is so key in today's B2B environment.
Judy Seiler says
Thanks much Guru J. In pharma (we’re I’ve been working), as you might imagine, the evidence stage is so key for physicians, nurses and clinicians. But given how cynical we consumers have gotten (rightly so given the last 2+ years of corporate corruption) I think this is increasingly important in all areas of marketing (b2b + b2c)
‘Evidence’ does align with the cry for transparency.
This is the first time I have stumbled across this blog – great content. Keep up the good work
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