According to the annual Global Digital Overview Report from We Are Social and Hootsuite, 81% of internet users search online for a product or service to buy and 74% have purchased online. Without question, digital engagement and commerce is the new normal and is as relevant for B2B companies as it has been for B2C.
During the pandemic, search engines have become even more important as B2B brands and buyers alike digital transform to virtual engagement for information discovery, consumption and interaction. As a result, many companies have invested more in search engine optimization in order to capture the fast-growing opportunities to be the best answer for customers at the moment of need – when actively searching for solutions.
Best practices for SEO abound on the web including this list from SEMrush:
- Find Your Competitors’ Best Performing Pages
- Inform Your Content Strategy Using A Keyword Gap Analysis
- Use Digital PR To Earn Authority Backlinks
- Improve Your Organic CTR Using PPC Testing
- Optimize For ‘People Also Ask’
- Steal Your Competitor’s Broken Backlinks
- Use Supporting Content To Show Topical Expertise
- Use Internal Links To Supercharge Page 2 Rankings
- Optimize Core Web Vitals
- Make Your PR Team’s Efforts Work Harder For SEO and Turn Brand Mentions Into Links
- Optimize For Image Search
- Clean Up Toxic Links
But what good is optimization for visibility if buyers don’t trust what they find?
Research from CSO Insights reported by MarketingCharts, 27.2% of buyers say web searches are their preferred source of information for solving business problems but 43% rely on subject matter experts (SMEs) from the industry. Trust in marketing has become a challenge and it’s no different with search marketing. A Forbes/Yext study found that only 50% of people trust what they find in search results and research from HubSpot reports that 65% don’t trust ads.
Virtually all SEO efforts emphasize the KPI of ranking on a search engine as the proxy to success but without trust in content, that’s simply not true. Even when companies make the investment to create “great content”, without signals of trust and credibility, those content and SEO investments fall short of being a mediocre user experience at best.
In the world of SEO, you are what you E.A.T.
According to Google’s search Quality Rater Guidelines, one of the most important criteria for evaluating best answer content is the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of content, creator of the content and the website that hosts the content. More than ever, it is important for marketers that are striving to capture the fast growing opportunities coming from increased use of channels like search to go beyond simply creating great content that is SEO friendly. The new opportunity to be the best answer for customers means optimizing for findability and credibility.
How can marketers optimize content for trust?
According to research from the Demand Gen Content Preferences Study, 95% of B2B buyers prefer content from industry experts and influencers. Partnering with credible experts that have influence, trust and audience attention for the very same topics that marketers are creating and optimizing content for brings together very powerful elements for a successful digital customer experience. Relevant and findable information that is credible.
Creating best answer content in 2021 and beyond means an approach to content marketing that involves aligning best practices SEO and content strategy with influencer marketing and employee advocacy. Effective Content Marketing in 2021 is a team sport and in order to achieve the signals of credibility that search engines need for high rankings and the trust that buyers need when they click through, marketers are finding that collaboration with experts is the solution.
Creating best answer content that is findable in search involves the keyword research and content optimization that you would expect along with core web vitals and tech SEO, internal link optimization and the attraction of relevant links into the site/pages from other websites.
When it comes to content collaboration with experts, whether they are external industry influencers with their own blogs and columns in industry publications or internal key opinion leaders and subject matter experts that also publish, topical alignment is essential. In other words, the topics your customers are looking for should drive both content optimization for search as well as the effort to find the right experts to collaborate with.
Optimize for findability and credibility
What better way to optimize for findability and credibility than to make sure brand content is relevant for what customers are searching for and includes contributions and citations from people that are experts and influential on those very same topics? Activating influencers in SEO friendly ways can mean collaborating on keyword specific content that lives on the brand website or the influencer’s channels. It could also mean collaboration on new web entities or content that lives where the influencer publishes editorially.
Beyond content creation is content distribution because let’s face it: search engines are not the only way buyers can discover great content. Links in social shares can drive substantial visibility, engagement and even conversion when relevant industry experts share with their audiences directly.
When you’re reviewing your SEO performance think about ways to take optimization to the next level and create even better experiences for customers. Make content findable but also credible. Find ways to align your content, SEO and influencer engagement opportunities including:
- Identify experts creating on-topic content with great search visibility
- Seek influencers with Knowledge Panels in Google
- Evaluate influencer’s link attraction rate when they publish or contribute content
- Provide influencers with SEO audits of their blogs so they can improve their search visibility
When content is credible, it not only creates a better user experience for customers using search, it creates E.A.T. signals that can help improve search visibility even more to help your brand truly become the best answer for customers when they need you most.