23 Experts Reveal Top B2B SEO Strategies for Success
As more B2B marketers embrace the power of search marketing, the need for effective optimization strategies is more critical than ever. While SEO presents a big opportunity to generate high quality leads, many B2B marketers are in the dark on how to leverage innovative search marketing strategies.
To explore this topic, we polled a panel of experts and influencers in the search marketing space, asking them “What are the top three search marketing trends you have seen so far that B2B marketers should leverage?”
Here’s an overview of what they shared:
1. Content Marketing
By now, we’ve all heard the cliché that “content is king.” In 2015, 70 percent of B2B marketers said they are creating more content than they did a year ago, according to the Content Marketing Institute. With brand awareness among the most important goals of B2B marketers, there’s no better way to build a brand than to engage in content marketing. Thoughtful, in-depth, targeted content marketing, that is.
It’s no longer enough to just post to your blog every other week. Compelling, valuable and educational content – in the form of video, slide shares, webinars, infographics, and the like – is what will ultimately help B2B companies rank higher in search results through increased backlinks, shares and traffic generated by compelling content.
Many of our expert contributors advised that a great way B2B search marketers can generate impactful content is by creating in-depth articles, guides and expert round-ups. Expert round-ups and in-depth content not only provide value to your industry, they also bring more backlinks and attention to your site.
2. Mobile Optimization
Now that we’ve entered the age of Mobilegeddon, there’s no question that marketers must ensure their B2B websites are mobile friendly. Those that have not done so are beginning to experience significant decline in search engine rankings. How far will they continue to drop? That’s anyone’s guess. However, one thing is clear—as businesses approach the latter half of 2015, there has never been a better time to start focusing on your mobile strategy.
To ensure you appear in search properly, our experts suggest using a responsive design, enlarging your font size and call-to-action buttons, compressing the size of high quality images to speed up load time, slimming down navigation menus, and applying mobile-specific features such as click-to-call and making your address a link for navigation.
3. Retargeting and Personalization
Many experts believe retargeting will be the key to B2B search marketing success in 2015. B2B buyers actually want and expect personalized messaging. You can accomplish this through the use of retargeting and persona targeting, which let you reach prospects on a more personal, compelling level.
By placing visitors who have not taken action on your site into a remarketing campaign, you will be better able to guide these potential customers further down the funnel. That way, you’ll be there when they are ready to make a purchase. You’ve already paid for them to click on your ad and visit your landing page, so you might as well capitalize on their initial peaked interest!
4. User Engagement
As Google continues to place increased value on user signals from search – click-through rate, scroll depth, bounce rate, time on page, dwell time, etc. – it’s important for B2B search marketers to consider the user as the forefront of everything they do.
Search engines are also working hard toward reading social signals and including social media engagement in their ranking factors. For example, when you have a page that’s popular and widely shared, Google indicates that it satisfies visitors – thus it will rank higher in search results.
B2B marketers need to expect Google to start treating social media disengagement like they treat links bought on sites that no one ever visits – by either ignoring it, or penalizing for it. If visitors aren’t clicking on your content – or are clicking, but bouncing back right away to search again – you may find your rankings dropping.
Here’s a quick look at our experts.
“What are the top three search marketing trends you have seen so far in 2015 that B2B marketers should leverage?”
- Creating big, thorough blog posts, like a whitepaper blog post that you can then break out into many different blog posts. You can then use these posts as guest blog posts on other relevant, industry sites to earn links and generate awareness. I’d recommend B2B marketers create this in-depth, comprehensive content that they can post on their site as a blog post and then submit bits and pieces of it to other sites that will then link back to the larger piece on their site.
- Companies are finally (with their SEO consultant’s help) recognizing that they need to create content that fulfills a user’s needs/that answers a user’s questions. More and more I am seeing content that answers users’ questions. Google is looking for sites that are answering users’ questions, so of course the sites that are doing so are benefiting with higher rankings. I think B2B marketers should spend time investigating the questions their clients and prospects are asking. If possible, marketers can ask or survey their clients to see what they want answers to or would like more information about. They can then create content that answers these questions. It’s that content that will rank. Google will see that users are engaging with the content and that they are stopping their searching once they find the content. Even if the site doesn’t have traditional ranking signals, content that answers users’ questions, is seeing increased rankings in 2015.
- Video marketing – video continues to grow in popularity. Users love them — because they make products and services more tangible and can reduce the perceived risk of buying — and so do the search engines. Companies seem to be putting out more videos, which is great if they are deploying a strategy with SEO in mind. I’d advise B2B companies to inform their SEO consultants that videos will be coming and allow their SEO consultants to come up with a strategy prior to the videos are released. To get the biggest SEO bang for your buck with videos, videos should be self-hosted and video site maps should be created and submitted.
“What are the top three search marketing trends you have seen so far in 2015 that B2B marketers should leverage?”
- Mobile – this one has been talked to death, but it doesn’t change the fact that its important. Especially following Google’s mobile update earlier this, your website has to be mobile friendly for the search engines, and mobile-user friendly for conversion.
- Click-through Rate – I’ve been dubious about this one until recently, but enough of the industry “influencers” that I trust have come out in support of it, that I’ve finally accepted it. If you listing is being clicked on from the search pages, and searchers are then staying on your site, Google will assume that you’re a good answer for that query. If they are not clicking, or are clicking, but bouncing back right away to search again, you may find your rankings dropping.
- This brings into focus two different areas – First, you want to make sure that your user has a good experience once they get to your site, and secondly, it may be time to go back and check your meta-descriptions. Long forgotten or ignored, the meta description is your chance to “sell” to the searcher from the search engine ranking page – could definitely affect your click through rate.
- Content Creation and Sharing: I know, I know, another obvious one. However, even though Google’s always wanted you to produce GOOD content, it’s getting harder to ignore them. They are downgrading inactive sites (or even inactive Google My Business accounts – not sure if this will continue now), and poor quality content, and rewarding “fresh” high quality content. To compete today, you have to be active in content production and sharing – period
“What are the top three search marketing trends you have seen so far in 2015 that B2B marketers should leverage?”
- Remarketing provides businesses with an opportunity to nurture top of funnel prospects – While it’s best to segment/target your keywords and ad copy to deliver the right type of lead for an initiative, there will always be people who just aren’t quite ready to “buy.” However, you have already paid for them to click your ad and visit your landing page. Instead of hoping they remember your company when they are ready, putting these people into a remarketing campaign that ultimately places them into a nurturing campaign will allow your business to help guide these potential customers further down the funnel.
- Publishing content less often, but more in depth to answer everything – There are many sites that post new blogs daily. Sure, they might have an army of writers to handle this, but how actionable is the content? More often, the content is rather thin and high level. Today’s consumer wants detailed information which are typically longer in length and detail. They have tons of questions. For example, “Why is your product better than a competitor?” or “What’s the difference between Product A and Product B?” By providing more valuable content, your website will be able to provide prospects with the information they are looking for.
- Spend more time promoting than publishing – This kind of ties back to point #2 above. The real value of your content comes when you get others to link to it. For this reason, I recommend spending more time performing outreach to essentially pitch your content to be linked to as a resource, mentioned in a roundup, or even used to replace broken links on other websites.
- Hard-to-ignore advantages of going mobile – The balance between non-responsive vs. responsive websites has been broken and will never be the same again.Over the years, we’ve seen significant growth in the number of mobile users. According to Statista forecast, the number of mobile phone users will reach almost 5.3 billion. As a matter of fact, Google mentioned that in 10 countries (including US), there are more people who are using mobile devices than computers to search, transact, and purchase online.Due to the rapid increase in number, Google was determined enough to improve the quality of their searches. They have released an algorithm update which makes mobile friendly websites appear higher in search results (Search Engine Land coined the update as Mobilegeddon). It just started to roll out but it presented a tremendous impact in 2015 to all online businesses and webmasters alike. This update is a complete game-changer.Fortunately, it’s still not the end of the world for b2b marketers who missed this online trend. They should start learning how to make their sites mobile-friendly for Google.
- Involvement in social will not be limited for engagement – In the beginning, social media sites acted as a medium for businesses to communicate and interact with their audience. As time goes by, getting involved in social has advanced into something more significant to B2B and B2C marketers.There are hefty reasons why b2b marketers should exploit social media. Aside from social engagement, some important benefits I think would be:
- Social conversions – for any online business that yearns to gather some targeted audience for leads and sales, getting involve in social is a great venue to start expanding sales and conversions.
- Personal branding – having a large following in social media enhances brand awareness and reputation of any online business. It puts more trust plus it augments the overall authority of the business’ website/s.
- Ranking factors – top search engines like Google are working hard towards reading social signals better which is a reason to have it included in their ranking factors. When you have a page that’s popular and widely shared throughout various social media platforms, it makes Google consider that the page “satisfies” its visitors, thus reward it highly in the search results.
- More precise targeting for content promotion – I see a lot of websites which married their most beautiful content to paid social advertising and organic promotions in social to effectively spread the word. Many search marketers utilize social paid ads (i.e. Facebook targeted paid adverts) or seed their reputation in relevant G+ communities, Facebook and LinkedIn groups to amplify their business’ reach. Small to Midsized Businesses (SMBs) and even large enterprises shall continue to invest time, money and effort in order to cultivate their social media accounts and reinforce their website content.
- The rise of upgraded content – There’s no doubt that content marketing will have its place in the latest search marketing trends. In 2015, 70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did a year ago, even those who say they are least effective (58%) and those without any type of strategy (56%). Brand awareness came as the “most important goal” by b2b marketers and there’s no other way to leverage a brand than to engage in content marketing. The search will likely become a battlefield for the creative. Marketers are becoming more and more innovative in developing their website content assets as well as their strategy in content promotion. Content repurposing has been more useful than ever. When you have produced an educational, valuable and compelling article, it’s not enough to publish it as a blog post. Find ways on how to turn it into an amazing video, a slide presentation, an infographic or a gifographic.
- Content marketing informed by audience research. The most successful content marketing starts with a thorough understanding of your customers. Strong persona creation needs to be done through interviews of both current customers and prospective customers. Understand exactly what makes people tick when they’re considering a product or service like yours and appeal to these informational needs any way you can. Some of the best content in the B2B space is that which is easily shareable around companies, like whitepapers and slideshares.
- Top of funnel PPC. Once you have this content, it’s time to market it. Because transactional searches are typically more expensive to bid on due to competition, a good way to earn traffic for less money is to bid on the informational searches. Drive visitors to your content instead of product pages if you know they’re in the research phase. If you can do this well enough, they’ll fall into the sales funnel with ease.
- Live Events. Conferences, webinars, and even small MeetUps provide a great opportunity to demonstrate domain knowledge and also engage a viable audience. Invite speakers who are known in the space to come and present, while also making sure your audience (as business representatives) know what your company does. You can then do a variety of things to generate and nurture leads such as run a giveaway in which you collect contact information.
- A Move To HTTPS – With Google announcing HTTPS as a ranking signal back almost a year back, it ultimately took a few months for businesses to start to take note and make the move. There’s ultimately risks involved when making from HTTP to HTTPS, as with any form of domain change of any sorts, however when planned and executed properly, the rewards far outweigh these.Through 2015, I’ve seen more and more non-eCommerce sites move to an HTTPS domain, both for the added security and reassurance it offers, but also to ensure that the box is ticked in Google’s eyes. In addition, whilst previously many eCommerce sites used HTTPS only on their checkout and cart pages, they’re now rolling this out across the whole site.My top tip here is to purchase an SSL certificate if you haven’t already done so. Of course, HTTPS as a ranking signal is only one of over 200, however given all else equal, if you’re one step ahead of a competitor who hasn’t yet made the move, you’re likely to outrank them.
- Responsive Design Continues To Grow – Back in April, Google brought into play their mobile-friendly algorithm, making it almost a necessity for sites to be mobile friendly. Whilst we saw a huge growth in responsive design (this is by far the preferred solution for offering a mobile friendly site) across 2014, this growth accelerated in the first half of 2015. Of course, mobile search needs to be a HUGE consideration for marketers and business owners, however user experience needs to come into play as well.Having a responsive site will not only ensure you’re not being negatively affected by Google’s mobile friendly algorithm but that you’re also offering a superior user experience. Search marketing has come a long way since the early days and, as far as I’m concerned, the user needs to be considered at the forefront of everything which you do.
- A Strong SEO / PR Crossover – Let’s face it – in its traditional approach, SEO IS DEAD! Link building (or dare I say buying – as we know many agencies once did) no longer works and if you want to succeed on the search engines, you need to earn your way there. Producing great content is talked about by many in the industry but this is only the start! It’s all well and good producing this fantastic content but if no one see’s it, they’re not going to link to it.In 2015, we’re seeing a far stronger crossover between SEO and PR, with the promotion of content assets becoming as important, if not more so, than the creation. That’s not to say your content doesn’t need to be first class, however as it does. It’s simply that you need to put far more effort into promoting it and securing coverage of assets than ever before. Put in the hard work and you’ll succeed. Try to get by with inferior content and SEO approaches, on the other hand, and it’s a recipe for disaster!
- Social Signaling – Marketers must understand the importance of having a strong, frequent, market-position driving content marketing program that leverages social media and signaling to SEO. This includes not only posting; but also appropriate daily commenting on popular and related articles. The appropriate use of hashtags in channel is essential here.
- Online PR – This is what I have built my business on since 2006 and it is finally getting the attention it deserves. Because Google is rewarding trusted and credible content and sites, Online PR is critical to online brand awareness. This work requires a proper Online PR program.
- Rich Schema Tags – Both B2C and B2B brands can take advantage of rating systems for products and services. An SEO developer should be engaged to build a strategy for making certain products and services, especially customer reviews visible to the search engines.
I don’t know about trends, because trends are a little like fads – and following a fad is always a fool’s gambit ;-)
In fact the top 3 “trends” in 2015 search marketing I see are 1) giving up on SEO and buying AdWords, 2) doing ye olde 2008 seo (i.e., buying links and making blog posts, even disavowing links hoping that the “google-god” will forgive you your “sins”) and thinking it still works / is not risky, or 3) doing nothing because you don’t know what to do
All of this is wrong and will kill your business, eventually :-(
However, in terms of the top 3 ways Google’s algorithms seem to be going, are micro conversions, macro conversions, and popularity
And so, how do b2b marketers take advantage of these algorithmic trends?
In terms of search marketing, B2B is not that much different than B2C – either way a person with likes, values, and hopes will be making the purchase
1) You need to reach that person with the best value proposition (this is where it might differ between b2c and b2b clients, but not as much as you might think)
2) You need to make sure when they come to your site (from whatever multiple source: social, search, blogs, etc.) they find exactly what they are looking for above the fold, super-fast, super sexy, super easy to use
The majority of your traffic should convert. If not, you are doing something wrong.
B2B sites need to be even more streamlined, less sales speak, even more ease of use for ongoing purchases – in fact, it might be a good idea to have a separate area on the site where repeat b2b customers can easily make purchases
That is what micro conversions, macro conversions, and popularity is all about
And google is directly tracking that in real time these days
Changes to your strategy here can have HUGE and relatively IMMEDIATE results!
- Trend 1 – The increasing importance of optimizing SEM campaigns for mobile devices. With more searches now taking place on mobile devices than on computers, it’s more important than ever to optimize B2B search marketing campaigns for mobile devices. Google has several tools to help marketers easily reach and measure mobile audiences. For example, AdWords offers mobile-preferred ads, which allow you to create ads optimized for mobile devices without creating a separate mobile-only campaign. Google also introduced its Mobile Friendly Test tool, which helps marketers analyze the mobile-friendliness of their site and provides suggestions for how to improve.Of course, once you optimize for mobile, you’ll want to measure the effectiveness of your mobile campaigns. Since data from Google show that 9 in 10 consumers start an activity on one device and finish it on another (i.e., interact with an ad on their phone and then finish their purchase on a laptop) it’s important to measure cross device conversions. Google AdWords now does this with estimated cross-device conversions for display ads. With a little help from these powerful tools, B2B marketers can take advantage of this trend.
- Trend 2 – Audience-based search marketing tools are producing more effective B2B SEM campaigns. New services offered by Google and Bing provide marketers with the ability to customize search ads to individual audience segments. Services like Bing’s Universal Event Tracking tags, which help track multiple conversion goals, and Google’s remarketing lists, which enable advertisers to customize search campaigns for people who have previously visited their site, already enable advertisers to customize campaigns. These tools will continue to grow in their utility alongside new tools currently being developed. In Google’s rumored new service, audience segments could be defined by the advertiser through advertiser-specified audience tags based on the advertiser’s own online and offline customer data.For example, an advertiser could upload email addresses to Google with corresponding audience tags. Google would then use the email addresses to link the user’s devices to the audience tags set by the advertiser. Advertisers could then serve different, customized ads to each audience segment based on their own insights, which would likely produce more relevant ads for the consumer and better results for the advertiser. While this tool is still in development, the existing tools mentioned above can help B2B marketers reach specific audiences with messages tailored to their unique needs, resulting in a more personal, compelling and ultimately effective SEM campaign.
- Trend 3 – Tracking keywords that lead to phone calls. According to Google, 70 percent of all mobile searchers have called a business directly from search ads. Understanding which ad inspired your customer to call is an important, yet difficult part of tracking conversions. While there are third-party vendors that offer services to dynamically change phone numbers on webpages based on traffic source, these services can become pricey and difficult to manage if you want to track traffic down to the keyword level because they require you to pay for several phone lines.However, with Google’s Website Call Conversions marketers can track which ads lead to phone calls at no additional charge. The service uses dynamically-generated Google forwarding numbers to replace your contact number on your website. As a result, B2B marketers can see which keywords, ads, ad groups and campaigns are generating call conversions. Armed with this knowledge, B2B marketers can make more effective choices on how to spend their marketing dollars.
- The most impactful trend in play right now is one-to-one marketing; the ability to reach out to specific people you may already know, using your email lists, cooked site visitors and even phone numbers of existing clients or customers. This is making PPC feel a lot more like email, where you’re not just blasting out ads, but sending very targeted communications to people you know something about. We’re going to keep seeing new use cases here as Facebook keeps ramping up their use of Atlas and the Google Display Network tries to keep up.
- A second super impactful search marketing trend for B2B marketers is persona targeting. In addition to keyword targeting, we can add this whole layer of persona data, enabling us to reach prospects on a more personal, compelling level. It gives us far greater insight into context and motivations, so we can tailor messaging and creative accordingly. We’re learning that consumers and B2B buyers actually want and expect personalized messaging and that there are ways to do retargeting right, without being creepy.
- Speaking of keyword targeting, expect to see it continually deprioritized and eventually phased out altogether. Google already killed off exact match and phrase match and we have so many other signals now — behaviors, traits, demographics and more — that keywords just aren’t a great way to tell what someone might actually be looking for. Smart B2B marketers are looking ahead and starting to future-proof their campaigns by getting over this whole idea that having tens of thousands of keywords in their campaigns is doing them any good.
- Personalization – As more B2B marketers have adopted content marketing and the use of long-tail keywords as part of their SEO strategy, searches have become more personalized. This trend has continued in 2015 and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.Depending on the personal data that has been collected, each individuals search will yield different results based on the same search terms. Brands that recognize this trend and move to deliver a high degree of personalization along the consumer’s path to purchase, across multiple search platforms, will drive increased clicks, traffic, and business.The key? A brand’s ability to create unique, valued and relevant content that reaches an individual rather than the masses.
- Localization – The trend of localization in search goes hand-in-hand with personalization and is also positioned to continue for some time. Regardless of the size of an organization, from small business to enterprise, it is an essential element in today’s successful B2B SEO strategy.The number of consumers performing searches for local solutions and services on mobile devices is skyrocketing. Search engines are continually tweaking and changing their algorithms to rank local results higher and provide more relevant results to the user. These two factors alone clearly make the case for a continued emphasis on localized search in 2015 and beyond.Brands and businesses that place a focused effort on both localizing searches and leveraging data to deliver increasingly targeted and relevant results will enjoy a distinct competitive advantage in most markets.
- Mobile Optimization – Without a doubt, one of the top SEO trends to continue to follow in 2015 is the shift to mobile optimization.In April of this year, Google officially updated its search algorithm to include “mobile-friendliness,” or mobile optimization into its ranking factors. This move marked a significant change in both Googles algorithm and the SEO strategy of many marketers.Businesses that have not updated their websites or optimized them for mobile have begun to see the impact. Many are experiencing significant drops in the search results rankings.How big are the drops? Adobe recently reported from a study they conducted, traffic to non-mobile-optimized websites coming from Google dropped by 12% in just the first two months since the change took effect. That’s significant.How far will they continue to drop? That’s anyone’s guess. However, one thing is clear as businesses approach the latter half of 2015 – There has never been a better time to start focusing on your mobile audience and their importance to your business.With this recent update, Google is sending a clear message – mobile optimization is a key factor in your search ranking, and a trend will be around for some time.
- An increased focus on searcher behavior within the SERPs – I‘ve ran numerous tests to examine the effects of click-through rate on search engine rankings and the results have been speaking for themselves. Google is placing a huge amount of value on user signals from search – not just CTR but a number of other metrics too.
- Community engagement – This isn’t necessarily a new tactic but something that works particularly well within B2B industries to create a steady flow of organic links coming through to your website.
- Ranking for links – This is a concept that I recently discussed within my SEO campaign blueprint case study and it involves ranking content for long tail keywords purely for the purpose of earning links. By this I mean that you target long tail phrases that are asking specific questions, people search for these questions when looking for references for their content and then they link to you. Not only are you creating a ton of useful content but you’re scaling your link building in an effective and sustainable way.
In-Depth Articles & Guides
One of the search marketing trends that will continue to dominate B2B is the creation and optimization of in-depth resources and guides. In-depth articles feature both mainstream media and smaller reputable blogs, so there are myriad opportunities to show up in Google for creative B2B marketers. The in-depth articles are relegated to the bottom of the search results, after any advertisements and the organic search results, but they comprise of about 6% of search engine result pages. The keyword here is in-depth, so you really need to write a long-form content that solves a significant problem and provides curated resources and opinions. For example, we published 8k words guide, The Ultimate Guide to Outsourcing SEO to Philippines Done Right , which has ranked on Google on competitive keywords, such as ‘seo phillipines.’
- Topics vs. Keywords – Understanding Google’s shift from matching search terms + page titles to more of a search topic + page topic approach. As an example, Google now appears to understand (and rank pages appropriately) that when someone searches for “best time to go to Costa Rica”, they’re looking for information on weather, high/low airfare seasons, events, etc. Pages that seem to cover the TOPIC broadly and in detail–talking about all of the important related sub-topics–are ranking better than pages that simply match the search term with their page title. Content for long-tail terms need to migrate away from their own long-tail-targeted pages and into the head-term pages.
- Engagement Matters – For the last few years, so many marketers have had a butterless popcorn maker approach to blogging and social media: masses of content flowing out of the machine, with little flavor and no nutritional value to their content–so nobody cares, and nobody shares. And what’s just as important is this: Google is undoubtedly starting to measure that engagement–whether it’s just counting the nofollowed links from those shares, or doing some social media platform-specific analysis. We as marketers need to expect Google to start treating that kind of social media approach like they treat links bought on sites that no human ever visits…by either ignoring it, or penalizing for it.
- Reputation – In B2B, often it’s difficult to use the traditional reviews systems. But B2B buyers are often making much bigger purchasing decisions, so establishing your authority through awards, testimonials, your management team’s bios, etc. is important. As well, we’re starting to see negative SEO done more and more, ranging from really spammy link-building (attempting to get a competitor penalized) to reputation attacks (for instance, building links to negative articles about a competitor to attempt to get that article to rank for the competitor’s name). B2B companies need to be (a) monitoring for these kinds of activities, and (b) proactively working to mitigate the damage. A year ago, I would have called this paranoia, but today, I have a number of clients I’m having to do ongoing damage control for–and none of them are in industries that traditionally have a lot of black-hat tactics going on.
- Content marketing – it’s a great way to boost your organic traffic and generate more leads for potential customers.
- Guest posting – a lot of B2B marketers are guest posting on sites like Forbes and Entrepreneur. They aren’t doing this to manipulate search rankings through link building, but instead those sites tend to rank well in Google. And if they happen to mention your site, it drives signups.
- Paid ads to webinars – it’s much more cost effective to run paid ads to informational content like webinars and then convert those visitors into customers than it is to drive people directly to your homepage.
- Continued leverage of high production value, long-form resource content used for active and passive link building
- The use of paid social campaigns to inform detailed demographic persona design, which is then used to segment outreach campaigns for higher response rates from more authoritative content publishers.
- On-site strategies aimed at increasing customer generated content (CGC vs. UGC) to help augment natural language and build semantic relevancy on product pages.
- The Great Pixel Land Rush – More ad dollars will shift from cost-per-click to cost-per-pixel models.Advertisers will pay to pixel readers and create segmented audiences for retargeting. This will enable more targeted messaging across all touch points of the buyer journey, increasing conversion and driving down customer acquisition costs.Social ad platforms will grow in this area with the emergence of Twitter tailored audiences, dynamic custom audiences and Direct sponsored content.
- UXO and SEO will merge – While traditional ranking factors such as links, on-page and technical optimization will have a large impact…User experience optimization (UXO) will play a much larger role.Search engines will place more weighting on behavioral signals such as:
- Scroll depth
- Bounce rate
- Time on page
- Dwell time
A more diverse media mix will emergence.
Content marketers will begin to shift focus more towards video and infographics to boost interaction and keep readers around longer.
- Call tracking will explode – In late 2014, Google changed the game by introducing Website Call Conversions. Now, all businesses can implement free call tracking on their website.Advertisers can see keyword-level data across AdWord campaigns.This is incredibly powerful for B2B organizations as the majority of their leads come through phone calls, especially for higher ticket solutions. The ability to track phone leads down to the keyword will make it easier for advertisers to assess ROI and drive more companies to adopt a phone tracking solution.
- Schema is growing in Importance – Whether we accept it or not, or whether Google admits it or not, Schema is going to grow as a ranking factor. Right now it is an indirect factor in the sense that it affects SERP click-throughs by adding rich snippets on top of the Meta description, Title and URL.We all know how powerful click-throughs are in the recent “Quality Update” that Google rolled out under the light of “Mobile-Geddon”. Dwell time has never been more important than it is today.
- HTTPS will be the standard – Google announced that an HTTPS website will have its ranking factor increased by 1%. While that may be true, if your implementation of HTTPS is not done thoroughly, it may be a lot more damaging than the 1% boost that Google promises.Setting up HTTPS correctly can be tricky especially if you started out as HTTP (where I believe 99% of all websites start from). So read up on guides and case studies on how to set it up correctly.
- Conversion Rate Optimization will affect SEO in greater increments – Whether we like it or not, the effect of the scientific method is affecting startups, corporate teams and even algorithms. CRO deals a lot with the scientific method of testing with the goal of increasing leads, conversions, engagement, etc.Using critical CRO tools like Optimizely, Google Content Experiments, Qeryz, and other such tools for improving your CRO is critical if you want to build a strong SEO foundation that uses user activity and dwell time metrics as proof.
Thanks to Google and the continual evolution of technology, there are quite a few new trends emerging in search marketing. Here are our three favorite trends.
- Going Mobile – Google has made several key updates to search as it relates to mobile search. Earlier this year, Google announced they were expanding use of mobile friendliness in search rankings. Websites that are mobile friendly now receive higher rankings in searches initiated on mobile devices, than websites who are not mobile friendly. While many businesses were prepared for this shift, those who have yet to update their sites are now seeing visibility within Google. To ensure you appear in search properly, make sure your website, landing pages and your online newsroom are all mobile friendly and can render easily across all devices.
- Connect your dots! Marketing automation tools continue to evolve. Tools such as Pardot and Google Analytics allow you to track the impact of your communications program directly on your business goals. Use URL Builders to create URL extensions that allow you to track which of your communications are creating the most activity, traffic and conversions within your website. Create extensions for news releases, social updates, advertising, and other marketing collateral to keep your programming separated and then track not only who comes into your site, but if it is their first time visiting you in and how far within the site their journey goes. Email marketing services like Pardot allow you to track actions within distributed emails as well as landing pages, providing even more data you can use to tweak or update your program.
- Increasing budgets for program amplification – Today’s smart B2B marketers understand that it costs money to promote one’s website, news and content. It is important that these marketers establish a realistic budget to increase the visibility, and conversions they need to meet their business goals. Paid platforms include news distribution services like Business Wire, amplification products like Google AdSense, social media platform advertising and more.
Smart marketers watch for emerging best practices such as the three listed above and implement the ones most relevant and useful to meeting their business and business goals.
- Look for keywords that you rank for on the second page and try to push them to the first page – I use this one a lot because it’s a relatively easy way to boost traffic. What I do is this: I go into Google Webmaster Tools and bring up the rankings report in the search console. I download the report and then sort it by the average search position, lowest to highest. From there, I examine the keywords that Google shows us ranking for in the 11 to 15 range. Some of these words will have more search volume than others so concentrate on the ones where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. To improve your rankings, you’ll want to spruce up the landing page itself and see what the pages that are ranking on the first page have in them that you might be able to incorporate into your page. Sometimes, it’s as easy as changing the page title and, voila, more traffic.
- Scope out the competition – I’m a big fan of researching the competition. I often use tools like Compete.com to see what terms are working for my competitors. It’s a great way to discover new ideas for blog posts and landing pages. A lot of times, I am surprised by the long tail terms that these other sites are receiving traffic on.
- One page = one keyphrase – Don’t make any one page work too hard. It’s not likely to rank in the top 10 for more than one or two phrases anyway. All too often, I see people trying to stuff too many different keyword variations into one page. It’s a waste. If you want to rank for a particular term, build a page around that term. If you want to rank for a similar term, build a second page aimed at that second term.
- Testing tools are really starting to hit the early majority phase of adoption. Unbounce, and Optimizely are in many ways indispensable for B-to-B marketers driving leads, whether they’re focusing on organic or paid; Adalysis is great for paid.
- BtoB search marketers are increasingly testing non-search channels to get more reach – particularly LinkedIn and Facebook. I’m seeing BtoB marketers get a lot of reach on the organic side simply by engaging in LinkedIn groups, publishing content on LinkedIn, and so forth – and paid can work quite well there for many businesses too. Facebook is a different animal – I think BtoB marketers are more comfortable testing Facebook from a paid standpoint first – it allows quick experimentation.
- I see a lot of people initially getting excited and implementing Google Tag Manager but then running into governance issues. Not having role-based permissions is a bit dangerous in large enterprises – allowing everyone to push out whatever java script they want to the website is a recipe for problems. So I think BtoB marketers should think in terms of leveraging commercial, enterprise-grade tag management solutions when possible.
For 2015 and beyond, here are the top search marketing trends that every company in the B2B industry needs to look at:
- Mobile optimization – making your website mobile friendly doesn’t just help for technical optimization but also in providing a good user experience to the site’s target audience, especially now that mobile phones are in great demand for internet usage.
- Education-driven content marketing – content is king in context, as it helps navigate certain groups of readers to specific actions provided by the campaign (email subscription, lead generation and social activity).
- Link earning and building – links is still an important factor in helping a page/site rank in search engines, as they serve as signals of authority and relevance of a certain brand. With expert-driven content and influence, which is built through email outreach and other relationship building activities, links could easily be acquired from high authority blogs/sites that doesn’t just pass link juice to linking pages, but valuable customers/leads to the linking brand.
- Expert Blog Posts – Yes, expert blog posts are on the rise. Not only are they great for blog content and bringing in a ton of social shares, they also rank very well in the search engines. You can see two examples of expert blog posts here and here. The end goal for every expert based post is to provide value, feature experts within your industry and also put in the time and effort to gain more backlinks and attention to your site.
- Retargeting- Billions of dollars are spent on search marketing every year. If you aren’t following up on your advertising after that first visitor and click takes place, you are simply missing out. When someone searches for something through Google, Yahoo or Bing, they are genuinely interested in the topic or ready to make a purchase. Through the use of retargeting, you can setup ad campaigns that will display only for visitors who have come to your site through search and never made a purchase or took an action on their first visit. This retargeting guide from HubSpot is a great place to start.
- Implement a Blog into Your Business – Having a blog is simply one of the best ways to increase your search rankings, backlinks and content that appears within the search results. No matter what type of brand or business you have, there is definitely content that people are looking for, and a blog is the best way to deliver it to them. Another huge benefit of blogging, is being able to guest blog on other sites and gaining powerful backlinks and exposure back to your site — best of all, when done correctly, this process is free and extremely effective.
A big thank you to everyone who contributed to this post!
If there are any search marketing trends that weren’t mentioned by our experts, let us know in the comments section below.
You can also stay up-to-date on the latest search news by visiting our blog regularly for our biweekly search roundup along with other BtoB digital marketing and PR news.