SEO 101: The Need to Know of Better B2B SEO [List]

Amy Leefe, our very own search guru, spills the beans on the two things you need to know when it comes to B2B SEO, and highlights the three types of keywords you need to utilize to get your SEO campaign going. Watch her video below for more!

How do I get my company to rank on the search engines?

Prior to getting an answer to this question, or better yet, understanding the answer, it’s important to understand how search engines work.

The Internet is made up of “content” – webpages and documents – which are linked together through hyperlinks. The search engines use these hyperlinks to crawl across the Internet and discover content. The easier a site is to crawl around, the happier and less confused the search engine is. Once a search engine crawls a content page or file, it is then able to add the element to its indexes. These steps are called crawling and indexing.

The third step in this process is ranking. Once a page or file has been added to a search engine’s index – the collection of all the content from the pages the search engine visited – it then has the potential to rank on the search engines. Where it ranks, as most users know, is for the search engine to determine, but ranking can be influenced by a number of factors. Let’s look at a few.

Keyword Research is the most important part of any SEO campaign. It is a necessary first step because it is required for most activities that come down the SEO pipeline.

Keyword research is the process of collecting target keywords organized with each keyword’s search volume included. With this information, you can determine if the keywords you would like to rank for are being queried in the search engines and at what rate. From here, you can determine if you are, in fact, targeting the most beneficial keywords, and can evaluate if there are relevant, high volume keywords you should create content pages for. With that done, you are set for success and can start creating truly optimized content pages using keywords with high search volumes.

Crawling, Indexing, Ranking

On-page optimization is a relatively simple but often overlooked task. The practice, which is ensuring a content page is set to target a specific keyword or phrase, can help significantly increase the page’s ranking. Targeting a set keyword for a page and including that keyword in particular elements throughout the page, can take the page from invisible to visible on the search engines. Optimizing content pages can range from the optimization of existing content pages to the optimization of newly developed site pages.

Technical SEO is an element of SEO not to be ignored. While technical errors can be simple warnings from the search engines that something is not functioning correctly, they can also be larger issues preventing the search engines from crawling, indexing and thus adequately ranking a site. Common crawl errors include:

  • 404 and 505 errors, which are status code errors that are shown when a page cannot be accessed or generated by the server
  • Bots blocked by robots.txt, which indicates that robots.txt files are blocking search engine “bots” or “spiders” from crawling a site
  • Duplicate page content, which indicates that code and content is similar or identical to code and content on other pages of your site
  • Duplicate page, which indicates that there are duplicate instances of a title tag for a page
  • Missing title tags, which indicates that one or more site pages are missing a title tag

These barriers must be addressed for the search engines to properly access and index a site. Tools such as Google’s free Google Webmaster Tools provide a list of crawl errors that it discovered when attempting to crawl the site.

Competitor research for search takes on two forms – business competitor research and search competitor research. When attempting to increase search rankings, your competitors may not be your typical business competitors, but rather the sites (companies) ranking above you on the search engines. Look at what those companies are doing because they are the ones taking the valuable search engine real-estate. You can learn a lot by looking at the link building tactics, on-page tactics and keyword tactics the organizations competing for the same keywords are using.

Link Analysis is the process of determining the value of a link. Links play a critical role in SEO and a site’s ranking potential, so link analysis is a critical element to understand. Links are one of the central factors Google uses to determine the popularity and authority of a site. Each incoming link counts as a “vote” and the more valuable a link is, the greater its “vote” counts for. Therefore, it is crucial to acquire links or engage in a link building plan to improve your ranking.

So, how do you get your company to rank on the search engines? First, ensure you understand and practice the elements above. Second, create quality content using the skills you’ve learned and third, read the articles set to come in the following weeks on the Rules of SEO Engagement.

To understand B2B SEO and execute B2B SEO campaigns effectively, you need to know two things: the B2B sales cycle and the B2B buyer.

A thorough understanding of your B2B sales cycle not only gives you the means to properly calculate SEO ROI, but also helps you determine which call-to-actions (CTAs) will be the most successful. And taking the time to understand the B2B buyer helps you work out which keywords to target and when to optimize for specific keywords.


Understand the Sales Cycle and Develop CTAs to Align with It 

Your company’s sales cycle must be factored into your SEO strategy. Here’s why.

The sales cycle begins as soon as a sales lead rolls in. The time it takes to close the deal will vary depending on the product or service being sold – expensive software will have a longer sales cycle than office furniture. Because SEO takes time – usually at least six months – to show results, you may not be able to attribute a sale to SEO until six months after the deal closes. Thus if you’re not factoring in the sales cycle, you’re not accurately tracking the ROI of your SEO efforts.

Once you understand your sales cycle, you align your CTAs to it. Those buyers considering expensive software may not be ready to make a purchase on their first visit to your site. A compelling call-to-action that directs them to a form lets you capture the prospects’ information at the same time as you provide them useful information and offers. Offer users the chance to register for a free demo, sign up for a newsletter, download a whitepaper or analyst report… even fill out a contact form. The better and more specific the offer, the more qualified prospects you’ll find you get.

The Must Know of B2B SEO

Understand the B2B Buyer and Align your Keywords Accordingly

Unlike many B2C buyers, B2B buyers typically spend a considerable amount of time on research before making a purchase. The bigger the purchase, the longer the sales cycle. The B2B buyer is unlikely to whip out a credit card and make a large purchase without researching first.

Understanding this longer, and often complex sales cycle, in which the potential buyer passes through different phases, helps when determining which keywords to target in a B2B SEO campaign. Optimizing for a variety of keyword types can increase your likelihood of appearing to users in all stages in the buying cycle. Here are a few keyword types to get you started:

  • Demand generation terms – B2B buyers will frequently use non-branded, industry-specific terms in the preliminary research phase. Developing pages to target these terms will help you rank when users search for these terms. Even if users are not currently searching for the term(s), it may be wise to create content pages in order to “own the keyword” in the space.
  • Branded terms – B2B buyers often search for product-specific terms, model numbers, instructions about a product, data sheets, etc. Be prepared for this by setting up pages targeting these terms.
  • Non-branded terms – Users may find your site organically, without having any knowledge of your company or its products and services, through these terms. These are often highly-searched, competitive keywords that can bring large volumes of traffic if your company is positioned on the first few search engine results pages for these terms.
  • Product and service evaluation terms – B2B buyers may be interested in comparing the features of a product or service, or reviewing customer testimonials or online reviews. Such terms might include “features comparison,” “customer testimonials” or “online reviews.”
  • Purchase-ready terms – B2B buyers may want to know the prices of specific products or services, or understand contract terms. Search terms may include “pricing,” “contract” or “agreement.”

B2B SEO is not rocket science, but it is complex. The steps involved in an SEO campaign are the same for B2B and B2C campaigns, but the way you apply and execute the steps are often different. B2B SEO can be time-consuming and may require considerable research, but if executed well it can deliver significant benefits in the long run.

This post first appeared on CommPRO.biz.

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Video Transcript: 

To understand B2B SEO and execute search campaigns effectively, you need to know two things: the buyer cycle and the buyer.

A thorough understanding of your buyer cycle not only gives you the means to properly calculate SEO ROI, but also helps you determine which call-to-actions will be the most successful. And taking the time to understand the buyer helps you work out which keywords to target and when to optimize for specific keywords.

Unlike many B2C buyers, B2B buyers typically spend a considerable amount of time on research before making a purchase. The bigger the purchase, the longer the buyer cycle.

Understanding this longer, and often more complex, sales cycle helps when determining which keywords to target in a B2B SEO campaign. Optimizing for a variety of keyword types increases your likelihood of appearing to users in all stages in the buying cycle.

Here are three keyword types to get you started:

The first type is branded terms. Buyers often search for product-specific terms, model numbers, instructions about a product, and data sheets. Be prepared for this by setting up pages targeting these terms.

The second type is product and service evaluation terms. Buyers may be interested in comparing the features of a product or service, or reviewing customer testimonials or online reviews. Examples include “features comparison,” “customer testimonials” or “online reviews.”

The third type is purchase-ready terms. Buyers may want to know the prices of specific products or services, or understand contract terms. Examples include “pricing,” “contract” or “agreement.”

B2B SEO is time-consuming and requires considerable research, but when executed well, it can deliver significant benefits in the long run by delivering more sales-ready buyers.

By Hailee Sosnowski – March 19, 2014

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