With proper SEO implementation, B2B companies can have stronger organic search visibility, which in turn can help the business’s performance across all stages of the sales cycle.
However, when discussing SEO, driving organic traffic for a B2B company has its challenges when compared to the B2C counterpart. For instance, B2B sales funnels tend to be more complex, and the sales process can involve more than one decision-maker with different roles and needs.
Simply put, many marketers downplay the importance of B2B SEO because:
- It’s more challenging to implement.
- At the first glance, the benefits of the investment aren’t as obvious as SEO in the B2C space due to the lower search volume on B2B keywords and lower overall organic conversion rate.
However, we can look at these issues from a different angle. The more complex sales funnel, for example, can translate into more opportunities to earn targeted organic traffic from highly qualified audiences.
With that being said, here we will discuss five key reasons you can’t avoid SEO for B2B. But let us begin by discussing the unique challenges and opportunities when implementing SEO for B2B companies.
Unique challenges and opportunities in B2B SEO
First things first, SEO in both B2B and B2C spaces retains similar principles:
- Knowing what your audience is searching for.
- Creating content that can satisfy their search intent.
- Convincing search engine algorithms that your content is worthy.
However, some unique particularities only apply to B2B SEO and not the B2C counterpart:
1. Low search volume keywords
In most cases, the ideal target keywords to pursue in a B2B space have a lower average search volume than in B2C SEO.
This can pose a challenge, as this means you’ll need to be on-point in your research and find high-quality keywords that resonate well with your audience’s search intent. At the same time, these keywords should be relevant for your company’s purpose across the sales funnel.
On the other hand, this can mean less competition. If you can find the right keyword that allows you to target a specific, high-value audience, you can get a valuable sustainable source of organic traffic.
2. Multiple buyer personas
Since B2B products and services tend to be expensive, long-term investments, it’s common for a typical B2B sales cycle to involve more than two people in the buying decision. The actual user of the solution (practitioner), managers, and executives will each have their needs, and they might create different search queries.
This poses a challenge since we’ll need to come up with multiple buyer personas and figure out their individual pain points and behaviors. However, this will also mean we’ll get more topics and keywords to target, which will translate to more opportunities.
3. Fewer conversions
Let’s consider an example. We can expect that out of all people who googled “PlayStation 5,” a significant number will buy the console right away. However, very few executives will make a purchase right after they’ve googled keywords like “Best email marketing automation software” for the first time.
We can say that the B2B space has a longer sales cycle, higher prices, and more stakeholders, which will result in fewer conversions.
While this can be a challenge, this will also mean that in B2B SEO, you tend to have fewer eCommerce competitors. If you, for instance, are targeting B2C keywords like “PlayStation 5,” it’s quite likely you’ll compete against massive eCommerce stores and digital marketplaces (such as Amazon, eBay, etc.).
Reasons B2B marketers can’t avoid SEO
Now that we’ve discussed how B2B SEO is different and looked at some unique opportunities you’ll get by implementing it, here are some key reasons you should invest in it:
1. SEO can significantly enhance inbound marketing efforts
It’s no secret that inbound marketing has been a major buzzword in B2B for the past half-decade or so. B2B business nowadays is increasingly about establishing expertise and credibility in the online space, and inbound marketing is the most effective method to do so.
Inbound marketing is essentially about attracting the target audience inwards rather than pushing marketing messages outwards. This is achieved by consistently publishing high-quality and relevant content supported by SEO.
Implementing SEO is crucial if you want to leverage inbound marketing in growing your business. Remember that B2B searchers most likely won’t convert on their first visit. This is why the objective of B2B SEO is to establish the brand as the top-of-mind choice in the searcher’s memory rather than convince them to make a purchase right away.
Thus, B2B SEO in inbound marketing is not solely about making sure your website shows up in Google’s SERP. Rather, it’s about ensuring your audience is now used to seeing your website and brand name in SERPs.
When incorporating SEO into your inbound marketing strategy, the most important thing is to focus on buyer personas and identify their search intent:
- What are their pain points?
- What solutions do they currently use or used in the past?
- Which information do they want to know?
- What questions are they asking?
Inbound marketing is an effective way to communicate your B2B business’s expertise and credibility to your target audience to earn their trust and it helps the right, qualified leads become your customers.
2. SEO = optimizing your site for better experience
While a huge focus of SEO is about optimizing your content for your ideal audience, a part of it is about optimizing the technical factors of your website and content.
In short, proper implementation of SEO will also help your website perform better and with a better user experience, which will provide various benefits for your B2B business:
- Faster page speed. According to Google, close to 50% of website visitors will abandon it if it loads more than 3 seconds. Page speed is an important factor in ensuring a good user experience. And you simply can’t convince someone to purchase from you if you can’t keep them on your website.
- Your content meets the searcher’s intent. You should ensure your content is as relevant and valuable as possible for the audience. The better it meets the searcher’s intent, the higher likelihood they’ll convert.
- It’s mobile-friendly. Mobile-friendliness is a crucial SEO ranking factor, as an increasing number of B2B buyers are researching products and services from their mobile devices.
- Readability. With dwell time (how long a visitor spends on your site) also becoming an SEO ranking factor, it’s important to ensure your content is engaging and well-optimized in terms of length, structure, layout, and overall readability.
Implementing SEO on your B2B website will mean an improved user experience. In turn, it will help convert more visitors into actual customers.
3. SEO = improved brand awareness
When used effectively, SEO can build your B2B business’s brand awareness. A common mistake for B2B marketers is to plan their branding and SEO efforts separately, which can lead to siloed SEO and branding strategies.
Instead, we can integrate branding and SEO to generate organic traffic while also improving your brand awareness, for example:
- More backlinks. It’s no secret that backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors in SEO. They are essentially a recognition from another brand that your website (or at least, your content) is trustworthy. And with a proper link-building strategy, both brand awareness and SEO performance can grow organically.
- Great content. Again, a core SEO strategy is to develop relevant content. At the same time, consistently publishing high-quality content can help boost your brand awareness, especially if it keeps appearing in popular keywords in your industry. As a result, your target audience will start viewing your brand as a credible one.
- Brand keywords. People search your brand name online, and by making sure the top content for queries involving your brand name is positive, you can establish a positive brand presence. We will discuss more about this below, so read on!
4. Even in B2B environment, your buyer will search your name online
We’ve briefly talked about this above, but online reputation management is now not only an issue relevant for B2C businesses with their massive number of customers but also in the B2B space.
According to a study by Heinz Marketing and G2 Crowd, a whopping 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase a solution after reading a trusted review. You can capitalize on this, for example, by developing case studies and testimonials as a part of your content marketing and SEO strategy.
Also, as discussed, with the core of SEO strategy being a consistent publication of high-quality content, this can help establish your brand’s thought leadership.
Combine PR tactics with your SEO by building relationships with relevant industry publications and influencers. You’ll get both brand mentions and backlinks, which in turn, will help both SEO and brand awareness.
Here are some additional facts you might want to consider:
- 29% of Google users only visit one page from the SERP. Ranking on top is your highest priority.
- 97% of B2B customers admitted that peer recommendations and testimonials are the most reliable content.
- 73% of clients read at least six reviews before making a purchase decision.
- 50% of content created by surveyed B2B marketers is focused on building interest and brand awareness.
- According to Google, 89% of B2B researchers gather information about potential purchases online.
- Again, according to Google, the average B2B buyer conducts at least 12 online searches.
5. SEO is cost-effective
One of the key reasons you shouldn’t neglect B2B SEO as a part of your marketing strategy is the fact that it’s cost-effective.
In fact, SEO is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels we have at the moment. If you can do everything yourself (including writing your content), then you can implement SEO on your B2B business for free.
It’s important to note that SEO enables you to bring high-quality leads to your website by targeting highly relevant keywords. By bridging the most qualified leads, we can maintain a high ROI.
Another factor to consider is that SEO can provide sustainable, long-term benefits. If, for example, you are running an advertising campaign, then you’ll likely lose the benefit of the campaign as soon as you’ve stopped paying for the ad space.
SEO, however, is a different story. Your content, once it’s ranked, will continue to generate organic traffic for months, years, and even decades after you publish it. Also, one of the beauties of SEO is that once your site is properly optimized, it’s going to be much easier to rank new content, producing a sustainable, long-term benefit for your company.
Yes, SEO can take a long time to implement, but it will also provide long-term value with a high ROI.
As we can see from the five key reasons above, SEO in the B2B space is simply too beneficial to avoid.
While it’s true that it’s a long-term game and can take a significant amount of time before you can reap the results, SEO will also produce long-term, sustainable benefits that can help your B2B business grow for years if not decades.
Implementing SEO, on its own, is not rocket science and only involves four things:
- Understanding your target audience (for B2B, target companies and key decision-makers).
- Developing high-quality content to cater to this audience.
- Optimizing the website’s technical factors.
- Continuous link building.
The key, however, is consistency in maintaining both quality and quantity. Monitor your SEO strategy accordingly, and don’t be afraid to make necessary adjustments when required.