By Julie Davis, American Marketing Association
The technical and frequently changing world of search engine optimization can be challenging for B-to-B marketers to navigate. SEO strategies help businesses increase website traffic by ranking higher in search engine results, and when done well, SEO can help B-to-B marketers target customers through a Web search, direct them to your website and drive online sales conversion. But according to the 2014 Search Marketer Survey by SEO analytics software provider BrightEdge, 55% of respondents said that their content could be more search-engine-friendly. Here are four ways to improve your B-to-B SEO strategy.
• Understand your customers and how they’re searching. According to Stephan Spencer, SEO expert and co-author of The Art of SEO, marketers have three primary audiences they need to reach via a website. The first audience is your current customers, the second is prospective customers, and the third group is the influencers, made up of Internet pundits, bloggers and celebrities with large social media followings, Spencer says. Marketers often overlook the influencers and should remember that these individuals may not be current or future customers, but they can lend authority to your brand and drive traffic to your website. Furthermore, B-to-B marketers need to think through the types of searches each of these audiences are doing. The prospects higher in your sales funnel will be searching for different information, such as non-branded searches around a business problem or area of interest, while the leads and customers further down the funnel may be conducting more branded or focused searches.
• Expand your search terms. Derek Edmond, co-founder and managing partner at Boston-based KoMarketing Associates , a B-to-B marketing firm that specializes in SEO, social media and content marketing, says that B-to-B marketers need to remember that they’re not just building their strategy around a handful of search terms. Rather, there may be hundreds or thousands of words or phrases for which a business may want to be highly ranked. “Obviously in the marketing world that can be very overwhelming, especially if you’re juggling multiple things, but it’s usually going to take more than just a nice visibility for a dozen key terms,” Edmond says.
• Strengthen your relationship with IT. Many technical details affect how easily search engines can find your company website. URLs should be clearly labeled and not riddled with strange numbers or characters. The site’s linking structure should flow logically, with priority information only a few clicks away from your home page. While management of your website might be handled by the IT department, marketers need to be guiding the discussion around these issues, Spencer says. “I would suggest that folks read up on SEO,” he says. “Even if they don’t want to become SEO experts, they’ll learn enough to know what to ask for.” Sites like Moz and Search Engine Land are well-known resources and a good place for B-to-B marketers to start.
• Integrate content marketing and social media strategies. In September 2013, Google encrypted all keyword search data, effectively removing organic search data from Google Analytics, which meant that marketers could no longer see the search term people used when they landed on a brand’s website via a search engine. According to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Regalix Research’s report, State of Search Marketing 2014, 56% of respondents say their content marketing and SEO practices are completely integrated. One way to do this is by encouraging social influencers to share your content and link back to your site, which will improve the reputation of your website in the eyes of the search engines, Spencer says.
Keeping up with SEO is a continual process, but this environment of change gives marketers an opportunity for tech-savvy brands to gain an edge over their competition, Spencer says. “You can run circles around them if you are nimble and flexible and futuristic in your thinking.”