B2B SEO: 8 Keys to Rank on Page 1

seo, search engine optimization

Increasing your website rankings requires a combination of onsite, offsite, and technical search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.

SEO remains the most cost-effective solution for driving traffic to your website and tends to offer the greatest ROI compared to other marketing strategies. However, the best practices and recommended methods continue to change and evolve.

While the cornerstones of great SEO like backlinks and steller content are the same, some popular SEO strategies from 3 years ago may not give you the results you want.

B2B SEO also requires different strategies compared to business-to-consumer (B2C) SEO. With B2B websites, you typically need to reach multiple decision-makers and rely on low-volume keywords.

These details make B2B search engine optimization more challenging. To discover the most effective strategies for boosting your website rankings, use the following 2020 SEO guide.

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

B2B and B2C SEO share many features and techniques. No matter what type of website, SEO involves a series of strategies for increasing rankings in search result pages:

  • On-page SEO
  • Offsite SEO
  • Technical SEO

On-page SEO includes using the right keywords, improving user experience, and adding metadata or schema data. Offsite SEO involves tactics such as backlink generation and social media chatter.

Technical SEO occurs behind the scenes. This may include improving page speed or implementing SSL certificates.

The Differences Between B2B and B2C SEO

If you have a B2B or B2C website, you still need to build backlinks, perform keyword research, and publish content. However, some of the details and methods vary depending on the industry.

B2B SEO requires you to consider the following:

  • Understanding the decision-makers
  • Converting optimization
  • Targeting low-volume keywords
  • Promoting thought leadership
  • Building a strong brand presence

While several of these details may apply to B2C SEO, they each remain essential to most B2B SEO strategies.

B2B marketing requires you to target multiple decision-makers. Instead of one person making the buying decision, several people weigh in on the transaction, each with their own challenges and questions they need addressing.

A typical company with 100 to 500 employees involves an average of 7 decision-makers in the B2B sales cycle. To target multiple people, B2B websites need pages optimized to answer different questions.

Another key difference between B2C and B2B SEO is low-volume keywords and fewer conversions. Depending on the market, your key search terms may only receive a few hundred searches per month. Targeting multiple keywords on the same page might not be a bad idea, and ensuring your website is optimized for conversions means you can capture every valuable lead.

Why Is SEO Important for B2B?

B2B brands stand to gain a significant benefits by including SEO in their marketing strategies. Search engine optimization lets B2B companies target specific, niche keywords through website pages and blogs optimized for SEO. The higher a B2B website ranks for organic searches, the more visitors it will get. As we’ll discuss below, a high ranking website means more qualified leads, increased brand awareness, and higher trust.

Essential Search Engine Optimization Strategies

Websites are the primary digital source for acquiring new leads. Using the latest B2B marketing strategies, you can guide prospects through sales funnels and closer to making a purchase. However, you first need to get people to visit your webpages.

Use these proven SEO strategies to drive more traffic and gain higher rankings.

Conduct Keyword Research

SEO starts with keyword research. You need to know what people are searching for to attract more search traffic.

Keyword research helps shape the content published on your website and blog articles, as 71% of B2B decision makers start their research with generic search terms.

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When conducting keyword research, it’s a good tip to broaden your scope to include relevant queries instead of focusing on exact matches to your product or service.

search engine optimization tool
Ahrefs, a popular keyword research tool

As mentioned, B2B SEO often relies on low-volume keywords. Only a few hundred people may search for terms related to your product or service each month. However, thousands of people may search for tangentially related content.

For example, 250 people may search for “solar energy investments” each month while several thousand people search for “benefits of solar energy.”

People that search for “benefits of solar energy” may have less intent of buying compared to those searching for “solar energy investments.” However, the higher-volume search term brings more traffic to your site.

This helps establish credibility and authority within your industry, which slowly translates to higher website rankings. As traffic starts coming in, fine-tune your sales funnel to start improving conversion rates.

Focus on UX Design

Improving the user experience (UX) of your website offers several important benefits.

Delivering a quality user experience creates a better impression with prospective buyers. Ninety-four percent of the initial impression comes from the design of the website.

As 85% of B2B buyers perform their own research, it becomes imperative for B2B companies to design professional websites.

Signs of a poorly designed UX include:

  • Low conversion rates
  • Limited marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Inconsistent layout and design
  • Lower website rankings
  • Lower ROI on marketing

When visitors arrive on a B2B website, they should immediately know what type of product or service the company offers. Present the value proposition at the top of the page and display an effective call to action (CTA).

Do not overwhelm visitors with information, buttons, or elements. Great UX design involves consistent, intentional designs, focusing and highlighting branding and content. People want easy to navigate websites with simple menus and limited distractions.

Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Not using a mobile-friendly design absolutely hurts your search rankings. For the past decade, Google has slowly made changes to its search algorithm to prioritize mobile-friendly websites in mobile searches.

With 81% of Americans using a smartphone, mobile design is critical.

Almost every website now uses a responsive design that adapts to the size of the user’s screen. This practice allows web designers to create a single website that works well on mobile devices or larger screens.

However, developing a mobile-friendly website requires more than just responsive design. Optimizing your website for mobile devices requires a closer look at:

  • Page loading speed
  • Content priority
  • Pop-ups + Functionality
  • Font sizes

Mobile devices often rely on cellular WiFi networks, which may include data caps and limits. Tablets and smartphones also have less power compared to desktop or laptop computers and the browsers may take longer to load large files.

Ensuring that your pages load quickly gives mobile visitors a better experience.

It also helps to prioritize content for smaller screens. Consider the order of elements presented on the page and how they appear to mobile users.

If you do use pop-ups, make sure they’re compatible with all devices. With some pop-up plugins, mobile users have no way of exiting the pop-up without closing the browser tab. We’d recommend removing popups on mobile devices.

Test the speed, layout, and font sizes on different mobile devices to ensure greater compatibility.

Maximize Your Website’s Loading Speed

Page speed impacts the user experience and mobile-friendliness of your website, hurting your SEO score. Google penalizes sites that take too long to load, as slow-loading pages indicate that the website is not optimized for mobile devices.

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People do not like to wait for webpages to load. Forty percent of visitors leave a website if it fails to load within three seconds.

Some of the best practices for improving page speed include:

  • Enabling compression
  • Optimizing images
  • Leveraging browser caching
  • Improve server response time

Several software applications exist for compressing files larger than 150 bytes. File compression is recommended for CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files to partially improve loading speeds.

To optimize images, select the right format and size. For example, don’t use a 1000px image for a thumbnail that only takes up 200px on the screen. Create a separate file for the smaller image, use image sprites, or if it just can’t work, consider redesigning the page.

Using a different format may also reduce the file size of the image. For color photographs, JPG images typically take up less space compared to PNG images. For WordPress websites, there a number of free plugins that help compress images and increase page speed.

Browser caching improves speed for repeat visitors and visitors that browse multiple pages. With caching, the browser stores static images and files instead of loading them from the server each time.

If the server has slow response times, the rest of the methods may not help. The ideal response time is about 200 milliseconds. Switching to faster hosting service or updating the software used on your servers may help improve server response time.

Obtain Quality Backlinks

Backlink generation is a well-established SEO strategy. Despite numerous changes to search engine algorithms, backlinks remain one of if not the most important factor affecting website rankings.

Backlinks tell search engines your website contains valuable information. Backlinks from relevant, trustworthy, and established sites show your website’s content is to be trusted. And to obtain more backlinks and massively boost your ratings, your site needs stellar content.

Publishing content provides an indirect method for generating backlinks while also improving onsite SEO. It is one of the most used tactics for B2B marketing, with 90% of B2B companies delivering informative content tailored to the needs of their clients.

As mentioned, use keyword research to shape your content. The search terms that you uncover help determine buyer intent and the common main points of your sales leads. Use this information to craft content geared toward their needs.

How to Get High-Quality Backlinks

Backlinks are important, but they are hard to come by. Some of the most effective forms of content for generating backlinks include:

  • Blog articles
  • Press releases
  • Guest blogs
  • Social media posts

Blogs are the core content for adding more valuable information to your website. They help attract organic visitors and provide something for people to link to. Guest blogs also provide internal links and backlinks while increasing brand exposure. Blogs also give your website a constant stream of fresh content, which means your website will have more keywords to rank for.

Press releases also assist with backlink generation and give B2B companies another solution for increasing brand awareness or product awareness. Be careful to not overuse canned PR services. The backlinks and press mentions are not as valuable as they promise.

Social Media Promotion

An overlooked and underutilized search engine optimization strategy is social media. The good news is, we’re going to give you the information few are using.

Once you have your website optimized and your content ready, one fast way to boost your rankings is to promote your content on social media. Find content that is popular or already ranking organically and begin promoting it on social media. This does two things:

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First, while we don’t know how Google uses social media interaction to affect rankings, it does use social media as an SEO signal. Promoting your content gives Google the opportunity to index your content quickly. The interaction from social media does matter.

Secondly, by promoting your content to relevant audiences, you’re boosting your content’s awareness. This increases the chances someone will find your content helpful and share it. The right person might even read your content and give you a backlink.

Create Top-Rate Content

Over the past several years, many B2B marketers have decreased their publishing frequency and increased their word counts. Companies are releasing fewer, but longer blog articles. An increasing number of companies now publish one or two articles per month instead of several articles per week.

Part of the reason for the change in the average content delivery schedule is an increased focus on thought leadership content. More companies want to establish themselves as knowledgeable sources of information in their fields. As the saying goes, the focus has shifted to quality over quantity.

Creating and promoting your content consistently is still the preferred strategy. But, the focus is becoming more about the quality and depth of content and the wealth of information that it provides. And for SEO, your content must be top-notch if you want it to rank.

While top-notch/quality content might be a little subjective, Google has given some insights on what their algorithm and reviewers look for. It’s called E.A.T., and your content needs to meet these standards.

E – Expert – Is your content written from an expert’s point of view? Is it well-sourced and factual? Is it able to answer your audience’s questions? Consider adding an author’s bio to each post.

A – Authority – Is your content being read and shared? Are you gaining relevant backlinks? This is why backlinks and outreach are so important to search engine optimization. They tell Google your content has authority, and Google ranks content with authority higher.

T – Trustworthy – Does your content – and your website – inspire trust? Is your website reputable (not spammy)? Does your brand have a positive sentiment? Do you have positive reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook? These signals all play a factor in Google determining whether your website and content are trustworthy or not.

Refine and Optimize Your Strategy

Along with the strategies in this article, every company should pay attention to the latest SEO trends. Things like page speed, SSL certificates, mobile-friendliness, and others used to not matter as much as they do today.

Tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and popular SEO software like Ahrefs and SEMrush give you insight into your SEO campaigns and optimizations to make for success.

Last Thoughts on SEO

If your goal is to generate fast traffic to your B2B website, then SEO might not be for you. But if you want a consistent, long-term flow of targeted and higher-converting traffic, then start implementing these latest SEO strategies.

It’s not easy, but it has the highest ROI of virtually any digital marketing strategy. It starts with audience and keyword research. You need to understand what people need and how they search for it. You then need to tailor the content on your site to address these needs and make it great.

SEO also requires ongoing strategies. If you continue to build backlinks, adjust your content, and consistently generate new content, your site will receive increased organic traffic.

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Austin Cline is the founder and CEO of ASUN Digital. He frequently writes about brand strategy and digital marketing with expertise in B2B marketing. He has served as a senior director of marketing and director of digital and web for previous marketing agencies and has over 10 years of marketing experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @itsaustincline or connect with him on LinkedIn by visiting his profile.