The Advanced Guide to B2B SEO
For a B2B business, one of the most effective forms of traffic and lead generation is search engine optimization (SEO). There’s no other form of marketing for a B2B company that delivers the visibility, positioning, low cost of acquisition, nor the compound results as B2B SEO.
And to maximize your results from SEO, it’s important to stack your strategies. By integrating multiple strategies, you’ll generate many times the marketing results from your SEO initiatives.
Is B2B SEO a key part of your marketing strategy? If not, read this guide to see why you should be prioritizing SEO more for your business. If you’re already committed to SEO, then read on to learn the specific approaches to SEO that will take your results to new heights.
Our team at Stratabeat loves nerding out on SEO. It’s not magic. It’s hard work. And it takes time. But if you’re interested in learning how to achieve greater visibility in Google, drive higher volumes of organic traffic to your website, and generate more leads for your business, read on!
B2B SEO vs. B2C SEO
Though they share many similarities, there are unique aspects to B2B SEO that must be accounted for in order to generate real business results. Approaching search engine optimization for B2B companies the same way you do B2C can lead to mediocre results. Instead, prioritize the following considerations for your B2B SEO efforts, and you’ll achieve greater results.
Multiple Decision Makers
One unique challenge with B2B marketing in general is the need to target multiple decision makers. For example, if you sell graphic design software, you may need to engage with the head of design, the graphic designer, and the head of marketing (CMO, VP of Marketing, Marketing Director, etc.) before a sale can be made.
This makes SEO campaigns more complex for B2B. They need to account for all the influencers and decision makers involved in the process. To do this, create content and web pages that are optimized around the key questions, challenges, and pain points that each decision maker has.
Using the graphic design software example:
- Designers want to know how your software makes the design process easier and helps them tackle specific design challenges. They’ll likely dig deep into specific functionality.
- The head of design needs to be convinced that your platform will integrate smoothly with their technology stack as a whole.
- The Chief Marketing Officer should be made to understand how your software fits within the marketing budget, increases productivity, and will ultimately boost the bottom line.
An effective B2B SEO campaign hits all of these key points.
Longer Sales Cycles
B2B leads take much longer to convert than their B2C counterparts. The number of team members involved and the dollar amounts at stake extend the sales cycle much longer than B2C transactions.
This means that your B2B SEO campaigns need to include enough content to cover not only the entire length of the sales cycle, but the entire customer journey as well. Your audience needs to be educated about the pain points they are experiencing, how you help solve that problem, and why your solution is the best fit for their industry. You need to create content in a variety of formats that speaks to the specific questions and objections that arise at each stage of the sales cycle.
Each piece of content should be designed to help the prospect take the next step in the customer journey. Some content should answer their high-level questions. Other content should help them avoid common mistakes. Yet other content could help them assess the best type of solution for them based on the options. And at the bottom of the funnel, content could offer competitor comparisons or could include ROI and TCO calculators.
Lower Search Volumes
B2B SEO often involves lower search volumes than B2C. The targeted terms, phrases, and acronyms, though highly valuable, simply have lower search demand than many B2C keywords.
For example, “corporate security” has only 900 monthly Google searches according to Ahrefs, yet “home security” has 27K. “Commercial security systems” has 1.3K monthly Google searches, while “home security systems” has 71K.
It’s just the nature of the beast. There are fewer than 11 million companies in the U.S., yet more than 82 million detached, single-family homes in the U.S. There are fewer businesses than people, and consumer-oriented searches typically have many times more searches.
However, B2B often has higher price points for many of the purchases being made. And so it by no means indicates lower revenue or ROI potential. For example, one commercial security system can easily cost in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
Once you get into the long-tail, B2B search volumes can be truly small. However, if you are connecting with searchers at the bottom of the purchase funnel, you’re getting a highly engaged, qualified buyer. Plus, you’re dealing with less competition. Low volume, long-tail keywords can be a goldmine for a B2B marketer.
More Search; Less Social
With B2B SEO, it’s more a pure search-and-answer type of relationship with the individual looking for answers. Whereas with B2C, social media often has an important role to play in the process, with B2B, social is often a non-factor.
B2B SEO Strategy: The Basics for Higher Google Rankings
While there are elements of B2B SEO that are somewhat complex, the overall process and concepts are straightforward. At its core, B2B SEO is simply giving searchers:
- The right content
- In the right format
- So that they have a superior experience
All the strategies we’re going to talk about are ultimately designed to help both Google and searchers find the content that best matches their query and have the best possible experience while engaging with that content.
With that in mind, let’s look at the core B2B SEO strategies for higher Google rankings.
Technical SEO involves optimizing the technical aspects of your website and underlying architecture. This includes crawlability, redirects, usability factors such as mobile-friendliness, safe browsing features such as HTTPS security, etc. It also includes structuring the site for easy crawling and interpretation by Google and site visitors.
As part of technical SEO, it’s important to make sure your website is free from any crawl errors. Crawl errors may occur when a search engine tries to reach a page on your website but fails for one of a variety of reasons. If it’s a 404 error, the page simply doesn’t exist, for example. If it’s a 5xx error, typically something is wrong with the server.
If a page should be permanently redirected and you want to transfer the SEO equity of the redirecting page to the destination page, then apply a 301 Redirect. Applying the wrong redirect, such as a 302 or 307 Redirect, would translate into a loss of any SEO equity from the original page. Avoid redirect chains, where a URL redirects to another URL, and that URL then in turn redirects to another.
Optimized XML Sitemap
An optimized XML sitemap should include the 200-status URLs in your site, including new URLs that are added over time. It should not include any URLs that you do not want indexed by the search engines. Do not include more than 50,000 URLs in a single XML sitemap. For sites with many URLs, break them up into different “child” XML Sitemaps, such as for posts, pages, authors, etc.
When constructing your XML Sitemap, exclude URLs with parameters and URLs that 301 redirect.
Robots.txt files are instructions for search engines related to crawling your website. A website has one robots.txt file, and it indicates any areas or files of the website that should not be crawled and indexed.
When a search engine crawls a website, there’s only so much crawling that it will do. If the site becomes too complex and confusing, the site may waste its crawl budget on less important pages. With this in mind, the robots.txt file can play a helpful role in guiding the search engine bots how to most effectively and efficiently crawl the website.
Structure your site for an optimal user experience, but also to give Google a clear understanding of the content of every page and how all the pages relate to one another. Clarify the broadest categories as well as their respective sub-categories. Make clear product and service areas vs. educational content vs. other types of content. Site structure is a basic, foundational way to ensure that Google understands the informational hierarchy of your website, making it easier for Google to understand when one page should be displayed in the search results and when it should not.
Recently, Google started using Page Experience signals as one of its ranking factors. Essentially, Google wants to ensure that they’re sending users to the web pages that provide a good user experience.
Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals (CWV) are an important subset of Page Experience and should be a focus of your technical SEO. There are currently three metrics that make up Core Web Vitals:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – How long it takes to render images or blocks of text
- First Input Delay (FID) – How long between when a person first interacts with a page (clicks, scrolls, etc.) and the page responds
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – The amount of visual shift that occurs when someone starts using a page
Google prioritizes pages that load and can be used quickly, without various page elements shifting to different locations on the screen. Your Core Web Vitals scores tell you how your website performs in each of these areas, as well as what you can do to improve. The easiest way to see your scores is in the Google Search Console.
Site architecture is another key technical element of B2B SEO. The better your architecture and internal linking, the easier it will be for Google to understand how content relates to one another. The structure of your site should be intuitive so that users can easily get to any page with just a few clicks and the relationships between pages are abundantly clear.
In addition to optimizing for performance and navigation, optimize for clarity. Use short, descriptive URLs that make it clear what the page is about. Keep category pages as discrete as possible to avoid confusion and help users quickly find what they want. For example, if you have products for finance and HR, give each its own page so that those in HR don’t have to wade through information about your finance product that doesn’t interest them.
Structured data is a standardized format for (1) providing information about a web page and (2) classifying the page content. Within the world of SEO, structured data is the markup that helps search engines understand how to interpret and display the content (e.g., a mailing address, an event, a person, etc.). The site Schema.org provides a library of shared vocabularies to be used to mark up web pages in ways that the major search engines have agreed to support.
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B2B Keyword Research
Keyword research is the process of identifying the keywords your customers are using and then incorporating them as part of your on-page SEO and content. By identifying the specific terms and phrases being searched for at each stage of the funnel, you can map out a plan for creating content that speaks to each of those needs.
Keyword Research Tools
You can use a variety of tools to help you identify potential keywords to target, including:
- Ahrefs: A comprehensive SEO suite, including a powerful keyword research tool. A leader in the industry.
- Semrush: Another leading comprehensive suite, including a powerful keyword research tool.
- Serpstat: Another comprehensive SEO suite, including a tool for quick automatic grouping of a large volume of keywords for better semantic search.
- Surfer: One unique aspect of Surfer is that the platform helps you identify SEO topic clusters for organization of your keywords.
- Moz: A good keyword research tool for beginners as part of another comprehensive suite.
- Soovle: Scrapes suggested keywords from multiple sources.
- KeywordTool.io: Makes use of Google Autocomplete to uncover new potential keywords for your consideration.
- AnswerThePublic: This tool pulls Google Autocomplete data to inform you of the questions people are asking.
- AnswerSocrates: If you’re interested in both the questions being asked as well as the trends surrounding the related keywords, this tool is for you.
- Google Question Hub: The Question Hub is a tool that identifies actual questions that are being asked online, for which answers are not yet available.
Top of the Funnel Keywords
Top of the funnel (TOFU) keywords are those used by prospects who are in the awareness stage of the buyer journey. They are just becoming aware of a problem, pain point, or desire, and are in the beginning stages of researching it.
In most cases, these people are checking out a wide range of content and information on the web. They’re still not sure what they’re looking for exactly, and want to get a sense of whether this is an issue or desire that affects them and what it entails.
According to Gartner, a B2B buyer spends 27% of the time in the purchase journey conducting online research independently of any brand engagement. So, connecting with your audience at this stage is highly important and will serve you well as they make progress in their journey.
When doing keyword research for the top of the funnel, think through the very first steps of the customer journey. What problems are they experiencing and what words are they using to describe those problems? What are the specific questions running through their minds? Your goal at this stage is to further educate prospects on the nature of their problem as well as possible ways to solve it.
Middle of the Funnel Keywords
Prospects in the middle of the funnel have a much better understanding of their pain point or desire and are actively researching various solutions. They want to understand their options and how different products/approaches can solve their problem. They haven’t determined exactly how they want to solve their problem yet, and it’s your job to convince them your method is the best.
When doing keyword research in the middle of the funnel, consider the different avenues prospects might take to solve their problem. For example, a digital marketing manager wanting to improve the conversion rates of landing pages could:
- Invest in a landing page creation tool that makes it easy to rapidly create multiple iterations of a page
- Purchase market intelligence software that allows them to more accurately target audiences
- Invest in analytics tools that allow them to better observe user behavior on landing pages
If you’re a SaaS company that sells a landing page creation tool, you want the marketing manager to solve his problem by creating multiple landing pages. At this stage, you don’t have to convince him your product is necessarily the best, just that your approach is.
Focus on identifying methodology, “how-to” keywords at the middle of the funnel. Then create B2B SEO content around those keywords that show the benefits of your approach.
Bottom of the Funnel Keywords
By the time a person has reached the bottom of the funnel, they have decided how they want to solve their problem and are actively comparing products or services against each other. At this stage, they want specific product/service information. What features do each of my options have? How much will it cost me? Will I be able to implement it quickly enough for my next big initiative?
This is your opportunity to differentiate your business by demonstrating the ways your product/service is the best fit. In terms of keyword research for bottom of the funnel keywords, focus on showing off your strengths by comparing yourself to competitors. You may even want to go as far as creating a side-by-side comparison of your product versus a competitor’s since searchers at the bottom of the funnel often use search terms like “product vs. product”.
Don’t Forget Strategic Low Volume Keywords and Questions
As we noted above, targeting low volume keywords can be an effective way to capture highly targeted organic search traffic. Many times, the reason a term has low search volume is because it’s being used by only a specific group of people or those trying to solve a specific problem.
When doing your keyword research, look for questions that your audience would be asking at various stages of the funnel. Questions often have lower search volume than keywords, yet could be a goldmine for driving highly qualified traffic.
A benefit of targeting strategic low volume keywords and questions is that your competition will be light. It will be comparatively easier for you to rank on these queries than broader, higher volume options.
The Tree Ring Keyword Strategy
The tree ring strategy is the process of starting your SEO efforts where you’re already strong and then building out from there, like the concentric rings in a tree. In other words, if there are several keywords for which you already rank on Google page one, start by building out more content around directly related keywords since Google already sees you as an authority on those subjects. Get strong and build a powerful core. Go deep before you go broad.
From there, you can expand outward to other subjects relevant to your brand. By strengthening your brand authority on the initial topics, you have a much better chance of ranking for other related topics down the road.
The Value of Page Two and Page Three Rankings
Another effective strategy is to identify the keywords which are currently ranking on the second or third page of Google search results.
This is low-hanging fruit for your SEO efforts.
With an incremental effort, you’ll be able to get these keywords ranking on Google page one, and the ROI from that would be extremely high. The click-through rate of listings on page two and three is very low. But, if you have keywords ranking on these pages, it will take less effort to move them to page one than it would to start from scratch with other keywords or to spend time on keywords that are ranking much lower in the search results.
This is why page two and page three rankings are a veritable gold mine. Sometimes, it just takes a few more links to these resources in order for them to move up the search results to page one.
Also, if these rankings are part of the same SEO topic cluster, link authority will be passed between the pages. In other words, as certain pages make it onto Google page one, they’ll pass some of that authority on to those on page two or three.
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Audience Segmentation and Personas
The first step is to segment your audience and then create personas around each segment. Each segment should represent a different type of customer you serve. For example, if your product is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, your audience may include Chief Marketing Officers of Fortune 500 companies as well as small business owners with less than 25 customers.
The way you market yourself to a Fortune 500 company will be much different than to a small business owner, and segmenting your audience allows you to craft different strategies for each segment.
Once you’ve identified all your audience segments, create a persona for each one. A persona is a description of the customer that helps you understand what they want and need from your product. Ideally, personas should be based on research and interaction with actual customers, not guesses.
Some information you may want to include in your personas is:
- Age range
- Job title
- Factors for promotion
- News sources
- Pain points
- Products desired
- Features desired
The goal is to have a thorough understanding of who your customers are and how you can best engage with them.
Map The Customer Journey
The customer journey map is a visual representation of the customer’s experience as they go through each stage of their relationship with your brand. It encompasses every touchpoint, from the first time they encounter your brand to the point where they make a purchase.
To map the customer journey, identify all the possible ways a customer might interact with your brand: organic search, social media, email, webinar, PPC ad, etc. Focus primarily on any touchpoints where the customer is taking some form of action.
Once you’ve identified all the potential touchpoints, map them to the different stages of your sales funnel and then start to look for any points of friction. In other words, any places where a customer might encounter problems, have unanswered questions, feel hesitant, etc. Then focus on optimizing those places to remove and hindrances.
Align with Search Intent
If you want your content to rank, it has to align with the search intent behind keywords. It’s not enough to know the terms your audience is searching for. You also need to know why they’re using those terms and then give them what they’re looking for.
For example, if someone searches for “Insperity PEO”, they’re clearly intending to find information about Insperity and their HR and related services. But if someone searches for “what is a PEO”, they are looking for an educational overview at an elementary level. Now, if someone searches for “best PEOs for small business” instead, they’re probably looking for lists, reviews, and comparisons.
When creating content around a particular keyword, ensure that it aligns with the intent behind that keyword. If it doesn’t, visitors will quickly leave when they see that the page doesn’t contain the information they were looking for and Google will place it lower in the search results.
Keep your pages focused. Center your page on a specific concept or topic. Then, based on that narrow focus, optimize your URLs, title tags, headers, etc. for the page in a highly contextually relevant manner. In this way, you’ll send a very clear signal to Google what your page is about and why it should rank high for specific queries.
Make sure your URLs are optimized for Google, as they are a Google ranking factor. You can do this by using simple, understandable, real-language text rather than gobbledygook spit out by your CMS. Include your primary SEO keyword in the URL, and try to place it as far to the left in the URL as possible. For example, the URL of this post is set to https://stratabeat.com/b2b-seo, given that the target keyword on the page is “b2b seo”.
Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
The title tag on a page is a Google ranking factor, and so be sure to optimize your title tags for search. Include your primary keyword, and place it as far to the left in the title as possible. Keep your title tag within 55 or 60 characters and under 600 pixels in width.
The meta description is NOT a ranking factor. We would still, though, recommend including the primary keyword if you can do so naturally.
For both the title tag and meta description, be sure to optimize them equally for CTR. When someone is in Google making a query, your title and description act as an ad copy for your web page. Your “ad” then competes with everything else on the Google results page to attract their attention and capture the click. After all, ranking is not the goal. You want the click through.
From your H1 to your H4s, optimize your headings. Google looks to the headings to help it understand what the page is about as well as its structure.
From a prioritization perspective, we’d recommend prioritizing optimization of your H1 and H2s. Although Google representatives have stated that it’s OK to include multiple H1s on a page, we recommend going with a clearer information architecture and sticking to only one H1. Include your primary keyword in your H1 if you can do so naturally.
H2s are also really important. It’s not that you should include your primary keyword in too many of your H2s. Instead, use your primary keyword in at least one H2, and then look for important related keywords that can be sprinkled into other H2s when it makes sense. Don’t force it.
Same goes for your H3s and H4s. When it’s contextually relevant, see if you can naturally add a related keyword here and there. Again, don’t force it.
Great content is critical to successful SEO. Beyond optimizing content, it’s important that your content meets searcher expectations and delivers a positive experience. Focus on providing lots of value. Taking it a step further, your business will benefit even further if your content is captivating, with your readers sharing it with others and with other websites linking to it.
Optimize the body copy of your web pages and posts. Do this by including multiple iterations of the primary keyword on the page.
Long-form content tends to outperform short-form, but that also depends on the specific keyword you’re targeting. Confirm the word count of each listing on Google page one, and then aim to have at least the average word count. If the domain rating of these listings is very high, then we’d recommend actually generating a higher word count than the SERP average for your content piece.
Use a tool like Clearscope, Surfer, or MarketMuse to identify the related keywords that should be included in your content, as well as the recommended number of iterations on the page. If you’re going to write a piece on lead generation, for example, then Google is going to expect you to include something about the “funnel”, “customer journey”, and “lead scoring” on the page. In this way, Google is ensuring high quality by looking for pieces that cover a topic more holistically or comprehensively.
Format important text as bold. This helps Google understand your content at a more granular level. (Yes, Google pays attention to what’s bold on the page.)
Keep each section on the page within 300 words respectively. And make sure your copy is easily readable. To that end, keep sentences short, use the active voice, and try to write so that your reader doesn’t need a PhD to understand what you’re communicating.
To increase reader engagement and to attract more backlinks, consider adding videos to your content pages and posts.
This is the forgotten middle child of SEO. Internal linking is invaluable in SEO, yet it’s often a topic that gets passed over or forgotten altogether.
But here’s the thing. While internal linking helps Google understand the focal points of your individual pieces of content, it also helps Google see the relationship among your different pages.
Do yourself a favor. Pay just as much attention to internal linking of your content as to any other aspect of your SEO initiatives. You can read a master class in internal linking in this piece by Jonas Sickler.
Image Alt Text
Did you know that Google cannot read your images? It doesn’t know what they are about. And that’s why image alt text exists. You can use image alt text to specify to Google what each photo, chart, or other image is on your page. This can be keyword-focused, or it can simply speak to what’s in the image.
Image alt text is simply a nice complement to all the other signals that indicates to Google what a page is about. Make use of it for more holistic SEO.
Content SEO and Content Marketing
Creating high-value, in-depth, SEO optimized content and then marketing that content as widely as possible is an extremely powerful B2B SEO strategy. Not only does it attract organic search traffic, it also establishes your expertise and helps develop relationships with prospects and customers that last long after they’ve left your site.
If you’ve done your keyword research right, you should have a good idea of what your audience is interested in. Use that information to inform the content you create and how you optimize it.
Write for Humans
A common temptation in B2B SEO is to focus on writing for search engines first and foremost. This is a mistake. First, it often results in content that sounds odd, with keywords jammed into places they wouldn’t normally be used. This creates a bad user experience.
But more importantly, focusing on search engines can cause you to miss the intent behind a particular keyword. The goal of B2B SEO is to give users content that contains exactly what they were looking for, not just content that contains the keywords they used. Before you create a piece of content, determine why a person would use a particular keyword and then use that answer to guide you.
Build a Content Calendar
Developing a content calendar is an effective way to keep your process running smoothly and ensure everyone knows what tasks they are responsible for. The calendar should include:
- Title of each content piece
- Primary target keyword
- Target persona
- Desired outcome
- Deadlines for every task involved
Develop SEO Topic Clusters
Topic clusters are an effective way to group related content together in a way that helps both users and Google better understand how the pages are related. Topic clusters typically contain a central pillar page that covers a broad subject at a high level. Connected to the pillar page are multiple cluster pages, with each page thoroughly covering a sub-topic that was discussed briefly in the pillar page. The pillar page is internally linked to each cluster page and vice versa.
For example, you could create a topic cluster on “marketing automation software.” The pillar page could cover marketing automation software as a whole, and the cluster pages could cover things like best practices for using marketing automation software, different categories of software, how to do certain tasks, etc.
The Power of Long-Form Content
There are some real benefits to creating long-form content. First, creating longer content allows you to more thoroughly cover a subject. You can provide users with all the information they’re seeking so that they don’t have to go back to the search results and keep looking.
The longer someone stays on your site, the more likely it is they’ll click through to other pages you’ve linked to, drawing them further down your marketing funnel.
Longer content also allows you to naturally include and rank for more long tail keywords. Long tail keywords tend to convert better, and you can rank for them more easily than short head terms since they’re less competitive. As a page ranks for long tail keywords, the page authority will increase, allowing you to rank for more competitive keywords.
According to an Semrush Google ranking factors study, content ranking in the top 3 positions in Google is 45% longer than the content ranking in position 20 on average.
In a different Semrush study of 700,000+ articles, it was found that long-form articles generate 3X more traffic and 3.5X more backlinks than short-form content.
So, when a topic is a priority for your marketing, create long-form content to give you a better shot at ranking for related keywords.
Optimize Your Product/Service Pages
Your product pages should be optimized for both branded keywords and feature-specific ones.
For example, if you offer a payment management system designed for freelancers, you should optimize around the product name, as well as relevant keywords like “invoicing for freelancers”.
You also should optimize your product/service pages to include the latest information, including availability, features available in different pricing tiers, etc. You also want to answer any common questions that potential customers might have when looking at your product/service pages.
When you optimize your product/service pages, you can capture more qualified leads who are interested in buying your product or service right now.
Optimize Your Blog
The first step is to consistently create outstanding, high-quality, optimized content on a consistent basis. This content can’t just be okay. It needs to be the kind of content that is better than what is currently ranking on the first page for the primary keyword.
Tools with content graders like Clearscope, Surfer, and MarketMuse help you know if your content is of sufficient quality to rank on the first page of Google.
In addition to optimizing for keywords and aligning your content with search intent, optimize the formatting for easy reading. Use lots of headings, subheadings, paragraph breaks, and bullet points to make it easy for people to quickly scan your content. And be sure to include multiple CTAs on the page to drive readers to relevant next steps.
Offer Free Tools and Calculators
Creating free tools or calculators and making them available on your B2B website is an effective link building strategy, as well as a way to establish your expertise, both of which provide a significant SEO boost.
For example, HubSpot has numerous free marketing tools available, including a website grader, persona creator, blog ideas generator, and more. Whenever someone creates a list of marketing tools, there’s a really good chance they’ll link back to one or more of HubSpot’s. For example, HubSpot’s persona builder tool has attracted more than 13,800 “dofollow” backlinks from other sites.
Can you create (or hire someone to build) a free, valuable tool for your website? If so, use it to drive organic traffic and backlinks to your site.
Include YouTube in Your SEO Strategy
YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. More than two billion people log in to the video platform daily. And more than one billion hours of YouTube videos are watched every day.
YouTube is a juggernaut!
In light of this, YouTube SEO should be included in your B2B SEO strategy. Create videos around topics that are relevant to your audience and optimize those videos for search results. Optimize your videos to be found in YouTube. In addition, embed YouTube videos in relevant blog posts and articles to increase the ROI from each video and to drive higher engagement from your content.
Additionally, Google frequently includes YouTube videos in the main search results, even highlighting specific, relevant sections within videos. On top of this, YouTube videos typically dominate the “Videos” tab within Google.
A mistake that many B2B companies make is producing videos filled with internally-focused content, speaking to their products and services. People on YouTube are not looking for that type of content.
Instead, create videos that captivate your audience. Yes, you should target keywords and topics. More than that, though, make sure that your videos are engaging and are exactly what your audience would be happy to uncover and watch.
Some simple ways to optimize videos include:
- Upload a transcript so that YouTube better understands the content of the video
- Use compelling, clickable titles that include the primary keyword
- Include the primary and related keywords in the video description
- Enter a handful of targeted tags
- Create attention-grabbing thumbnails
For a detailed list of recommendations, see our 31 YouTube SEO tips.
Content atomization is the process of breaking content down into smaller, more specific, stand-alone pieces from a larger source. This allows you to get more use out of a single piece of content, as well as more traffic.
For example, you could take a lengthy blog post, break it down into quotable soundbites, and then share those on social media platforms. Or you could create a quick, snackable video for each concept presented in the post.
The goal with atomization is to get more ROI out of your content development efforts. By taking a core piece of content and then translating it into many different, smaller, more granular pieces of content, you’ll not only have more content in more locations, you’ll have content in different formats to appeal to different types of learners.
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Offsite SEO is an important, yet often overlooked element of B2B SEO. Offsite SEO allows you to strengthen your digital presence as a whole, beyond just your website. It allows you to increase the value of your brand in the eyes of your audience as well as Google.
Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information from an organization to a target audience in order to affect brand perception. Digital PR is, broadly speaking, any digital activity you do to increase your exposure and establish expertise. Some examples include:
- Guest Blogging: Guest blogging involves writing original content for another website or blog. This an effective way to grow your reach by getting your brand in front of new audiences. It also enables you to acquire high-quality backlinks to your site.
- Columns: Taking the concept a step further, you can secure a regularly scheduled column in a third-party publication. This gives you repeated exposure over a longer period of time, helping you to expand reach.
- Podcast Appearances: Podcasts are an increasingly popular medium for information, entertainment, and education. Being interviewed on another brand’s podcast is a good way to establish yourself as an expert in your field and speak in-depth on a subject you know well.
- Joint Webinars: Webinars are a great opportunity to share knowledge and build relationships with potential customers. Partnering with another company on a joint webinar or where you’re the featured guest on their webinar can help you establish yourself as an industry authority and give you access to an audience you wouldn’t otherwise be reaching.
In addition, offsite SEO should focus on increasing the number of high-quality backlinks from other websites pointing at your site. External links is one of the most important Google ranking factors. You want to capture not only a high number of external links, but also links from highly reputable websites.
In the case that your business partners have a partners page on their respective websites, see if they are willing to add a link back to your website. This is low hanging fruit for link building.
If you have sister companies or are part of a network, the same thing applies. See if there might be a contextually relevant place for a backlink in other sites.
Another way to drive backlinks is to create captivating content. Make it something they want to tell others about. Make it easily shareable.
Another effective way to attract a large quantity of links is to publish original research. The media is looking to share new research with its audience, and to that end, first-party research is a great way for you to cut through all the noise and attract their attention.
Other Highly Effective Strategies for B2B SEO
Beyond the basics listed above, there are a number of actions B2B businesses can take to bolster their SEO program and results, as outlined below.
The Power of Brand-Building
A strong, authoritative brand translates to stronger B2B SEO results. Google wants to give people the best, most reliable information in the search results. This means that Google often favors strong brands with a solid reputation.
How can you build a strong brand? Some ways include:
- Have clear differentiation
- Create authoritative content on your website
- Deliver a superior customer experience
- Generate positive off-site brand signals across the internet
- Have numerous positive reviews on third-party sites
- Build relevant, high-quality backlinks to your website
How Creativity Impacts Your B2B SEO Results
A common mistake in B2B SEO is to focus primarily on dry explanations when crafting copy and messaging. What is your product or service? What does it do? What are all the features? Etc.
We call this “Dictionary Marketing”.
So, what some B2B brands do when it comes to SEO is simply write dry, boring copy, and add some keywords.
None of this works.
What many find surprising is that creativity can have a significant impact on your SEO results and can help you leapfrog the competition.
Creative content helps you increase the click-through rate in the SERPs. It helps you keep site visitors engaged and on your site for a longer time. Creativity allows you to show off your brand personality, which helps you connect more deeply with your target audience. Creativity enables you to differentiate your brand.
Plus, it’s creative content that tends to break through the noise and generate the most backlinks. Look at Domo’s Data Never Sleeps infographic series that highlights what’s happening online in an internet minute. The latest iteration in the series generated 419 “dofollow” backlinks, while the entire series has resulted in more than 4,100 “dofollow” backlinks.
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience for a moment. Even with B2B, you’re still dealing with real people. No one is thrilled to read dry and bland content. What sparks a stronger response is content that’s interesting, informative, and captivating.
I mentioned AI-powered SEO tools such as Clearscope, Surfer, and MarketMuse above, and it bears pointing out again how helpful they are to the SEO process. With these tools, you’ll better understand the structure your content should take to have a higher chance of ranking on Google page one. In addition, the tools reveal the related keywords to include in your content, the recommended number of iterations of those phrases, and whether they should be included in headers. Essentially, what these tools do is accelerate the content research, creation, and optimization process. We’ve seen tremendous results through the use of these types of tools and are true believers.
To succeed with B2B SEO over the long run, build a scalable process. Create a well-documented, repeatable process that can be taught to others. Use software to tackle SEO tasks efficiently. Manage discussions and share information via an online project management portal. Make use of online dashboards to monitor progress and easily hone in on what’s working and what’s not. If your infrastructure is not scalable, then your SEO efforts are going to hit a ceiling at a certain point, limiting your results.
The repeatable process should encompass:
- Competitive analysis
- Topic and keyword research
- Content creation and optimization
- Updating and refreshing content
- Link building
- Digital PR
- Measurement and reporting
B2B SEO Success Stories
Several years ago we started blogging for a marketing agency. After guiding them through a brand strategy and an overhaul of their website, we rethought everything they were doing with the blog. Using the strategies outlined above, we wrote long-form posts arranged around SEO topic clusters filled with relevant CTAs in producing the following organic search results:
- Grew organic blog traffic by 7,235.7%
- Increased monthly traffic value from organic search by $682,088
- Took the Domain Rating from 35 to 72
- Enabled growth from 160 to 412 employees
See the case study for further results.
Property Management Software Company
We worked with a property management software company in transforming its digital results. Beyond delivering SEO recommendations for the entire website, we focused on content optimization.
We started with a content strategy and blog calendar. From there, we produced multiple optimized blog posts every week around a wide range of property management-related topics. In the process, Stratabeat identified a myriad of opportunities to improve awareness, drive traffic, and increase leads. To boost business performance even further, we initiated site retargeting.
As a result, organic search traffic increased by 123% while blog page views increased by 196% within one year. We helped them in other areas of their digital marketing, as well, with the company growing by 5X during our two-year marketing engagement.
Business Information Website
A business publication came to Stratabeat without any clear content strategy. The site was focused on providing businesses with information to improve operations and performance. But the content was all over the place without any focus.
Recognizing that the long-tail represented a massive opportunity for online visibility and traffic, Stratabeat took full responsibility for content and went hard after the long-tail through the type of content that we could see was generating the highest views.
By doubling down on the content that was already working best, organic search traffic increased by more than 100K monthly site visitors.
Venngage is a SaaS tool that makes it easy for anyone to design graphics, presentations, slides, etc. By creating in-depth content around strategic keywords like “infographics”, “letterhead example”, and by providing templates galore for their users (e.g., “business proposal template”), they’ve achieved phenomenal organic search results.
They’ve been aggressive in their pursuit of backlinks, conducting nonstop outreach and partnering with many third parties. This has resulted in 548K “dofollow” backlinks from 18,300+ “dofollow” referring domains.
The blog attracts 693K monthly organic visits from 37,400+ Google page one keywords.
Overall, the site receives approximately 2.3 million monthly organic visits, and ranks on Google page one for 61,700+ keywords.
Kinsta is a WordPress hosting service, which is a competitive vertical to say the least. Nevertheless, they’ve used B2B SEO as a competitive advantage. By identifying the many different keywords potential customers might use at various stages of the buyer journey, they’ve created valuable content in many formats. From a knowledge hub to a blog, webinars, ebooks, podcast, and WordPress learning center, Kinsta goes all-in when it comes to content. As a result, they’ve managed to capture an enormous amount of organic search traffic.
Overall, they receive approximately 1.8 million organic search visits per month, and they rank on Google page one for approximately 71,400 keywords. This has helped establish them as an industry authority and attract high-profile clients like Intuit, Vonage, Ricoh, Ubisoft, and Drift.
SEO as a Competitive Advantage
If you’re willing to invest the time and effort, SEO can give you an edge over your competitors. When someone is searching in Google for answers or a solution, they are either going to go to your site, or to a competitor’s, or to a content website. Every time you attract the click, it means your competitor is necessarily not getting the click. Gaining strength in SEO automatically becomes a competitive advantage.
Not only does SEO allow you to attract more organic search traffic, generate more leads, and drive more revenue, it also helps strengthen your brand as a whole. Your brand becomes known as a trusted authority. This creates a halo effect, of sorts, that even further helps you attract and convert new customers. In this way, the ROI goes even beyond standard measurements.
Once you generate qualified traffic and leads from your web pages and content through strategic SEO, you’re playing with house money. That you’ll continue to capture traffic and leads from your original SEO efforts simply means that your returns compound over time.
Any way you look at it, SEO when done right is one of your most strategic competitive advantages.
NOTE: This post was originally published on December 1, 2021, and was updated on June 6, 2023.