Tired of only getting site traffic when you’re aggressively posting content to social media?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means making your website appear in your target customers’ search engine results pages.
Unlike other marketing channels, the upfront work pays off in the long-run. You don’t need to commit to posting on social media each time you want website traffic. Instead, you capture people actually looking for something you offer when they need it.
The only problem? Over 90% of web pages get zero organic search traffic from Google.
There are hundreds of factors that search engines consider when they’re judging where to rank a page. Knowing and then implementing them is the best way to make sure you don’t fall into the majority.
In this guide, we’ll explain what B2B SEO is and why it matters, how it differs from B2C SEO, and explain some best practices so you can implement what you learn. So let’s get started.
What is B2B SEO, and Why Does it Matter?
Before we dive in, let’s be clear on what B2B SEO is.
Here’s a simple definition: B2B SEO refers to optimizing a business website to improve visibility within (and drive traffic from) search engines like Google.
The basic optimization techniques are the same as those used by all websites and businesses.
There are some specific approaches B2B sites can use to build their online business and get the attention of other companies looking for the services they offer.
Not convinced? Consider this: 81% of all B2B purchases begin with a web search.
(It’s why 57% of B2B marketers say that SEO generates more leads than any other activity.)
The key to SEO for B2B sites is to get your company in front of the target customer early enough to nurture them into leads and convert them into customers.
Search engines are the first port of call for almost 90% of B2B consumers, so it’s no surprise why SEO is so effective.
SEO for B2B vs. B2C: What’s the Difference?
Whether you’re a B2C business, a B2B company, a SaaS provider, or a one-person blogger, optimizing your website for search engines is generally the same.
You need good content, technically sound foundations, and links to your website.
However, it’s the content and the way you target your customer that impacts your B2B SEO strategy.
Let’s take a look at why.
When you’re selling to consumers, you’re selling to a person.
But when it comes to B2B, the average buying process involves four different people. You’re probably selling to a group of people or stakeholders (or even an entire company.)
Your SEO needs to work around more than just one consumer profile. You need to be aware of the different people within the group you’re targeting, and the company itself. That leaves you with a more comprehensive profile target, including details like:
- Staff count
- Annual turnover
- Employees with purchasing power
Making a B2B purchase is nothing like a B2C purchase.
There are more stakeholders, more decisions, and more considerations. The company purchasing your product or service needs to know that it’ll deliver an ROI. They want to make more money using your tool than they’re spending on it.
More than three quarters of B2B buyers consider their last purchase “very complex or difficult.”
That’s likely because a purchase journey in B2B lasts longer.
There are meetings, discussions, research, and finances to consider so the typical B2B buying journey lasts between six and 12 months.
That’s a long time compared to a B2C purchase journey, which can be anything from a few minutes (for smaller commodities) to a few weeks for larger ticket items. Having to convince only one person speeds up the sales process.
Goals for B2B SEO Strategies
Sure, the purpose of any business is to drive sales and revenue—and SEO helps with that.
But in B2B, that might not be the overall purpose of your SEO strategy. In fact, driving sales may not be your end goal at all.
Often, one of the biggest SEO goals for B2B brands is to build a relationship with ideal users. Once they’re on the website, B2B marketers can nurture that relationship by encouraging them to convert in a different way.
For example, you might want organic visitors to:
- Sign up to your email list
- Download a whitepaper or document
- Attend a webinar
- Register for a product demonstration
- Fill in an inquiry or contact form.
The sales team will take over nurturing the lead’s email address, and it will be their goal to close the deal and make the sale. This is the personalized approach that 92% of B2B buyers say they want before investing in a new product or service.
All of this means you need to be your ideal customer’s first choice during the entire journey.
The Importance of Content in B2B SEO
Make no mistake: the most crucial thing in your SEO strategy is the content on your website.
It’s probably even more important for B2B businesses because you’ll need to provide solution-based content that attracts, engages, and converts your target customer.
If you don’t create the content your audience wants, another company will.
How do you find the content your B2B buyers are searching for? It starts with keywords: the words your target customer is typing in for when searching for answers.
The majority of marketers start with keyword research when coming up with new content ideas. It helps you find the words and phrases your target customer searches for online.
While that might be the name of your product (or something closely related), that’s not even half the story.
Your target customer searches for things related to their job you can help them with—provided you have the relevant content.
For example: If you’re a conversion rate optimization (CRO) company, you want a user to find you when searching for “conversion rate optimization.”
However, you’ll also want them to find you when they make information-based searches related to your industry—perhaps something like “how to run an A/B test” or “A/B testing examples.”
People performing these searches aren’t quite ready to buy your product, but they are interested in what it does. They’re the perfect people to get your brand in front of.
The key is to create content related to the different short and long-tail keywords and topics from your industry, designed to solve your target user’s problems or answer their questions.
Here is how to find great keyword and content topics:
Use Keyword Research Tools to Find Topics
Luckily, there are various keyword research tools to help you find the terms people are searching for, including:
These products work in a similar way, and many of them are free (or freemium): enter your seed keyword or a term related to your industry or product, and you’ll get back a list of related words and phrases.
You can then create content around these to appear when people search for them.
Find User Questions
Question-based searches are a goldmine for B2B SEOs and content marketers.
Why? Because they’re a ready-made opportunity for you to connect with your target audience (by answering their questions with the content on your website.)
To find out what your target users are asking online, enter your seed keyword in Answer The Public to get every related question you could want:
You can also type your keyword in Google and make a note of the autosuggest recommendations before hitting “Enter”:
Or, search for your seed keyword on Google, and then head to the “people also ask” section.
Expand these questions to load even more related queries.
Monitor Industry Forums and Communities
If you find out where your target user hangs out online, mine those places for topic ideas.
Let’s say your target B2B customer is a marketer working at a SaaS company.
(Once you create content around that, reply to the thread with your blog post. It’s a great way to promote SEO content and build backlinks.)
Listen in on Social Media
Social media is another excellent way to generate keyword ideas and topics.
Monitor industry hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to find out what people are talking about.
Social listening tools like Mention also help you capture existing conversations about your industry. Is there any news emerging? What content is making a buzz? All of those are potential keywords for your B2B SEO strategy.
Get Data From Sales and Customer Service Teams
You don’t always have to hunt for the keywords your B2B customers are searching for.
Ask your internal team for ideas. Ask your sales teams for some frequently asked questions and turn them into content to improve conversion rates.
Three-quarters of B2B marketers use sales team feedback as a form of research for content:
Or, ask your customer service department to find common complaints or questions. If people ask how to change their billing information, create content optimized for the term “how to change billing information [brand or tool name].”
Make it a team effort and get some ideas from those around you who know your B2B customers best.
Steal Your Competitors’ Best Content
This is a sneaky tactic, but your competitors probably have some great content that drives tons of organic search traffic.
Why not target the same keyword and outdo them with better content?
Enter your competitors’ URL into Ahrefs Site Explorer, and navigate to the Top Pages report. Filter your results by traffic:
Analyze the pages driving most of their organic traffic, and cover those topics with even better blog posts.
5 SEO Best Practices for B2B Content
Ready to create some killer content for your B2B audience to find through search engines?
Here are five SEO best practices to keep in mind when writing B2B content.
1. Make it Solution-Focused
Your keyword and topic research will provide you with your ideal customer’s questions and problems.
Research shows that 69% of B2B buyers consider the website content that caters to their needs as the most influential one.
To build great B2B content for SEO, you need to answer these needs by providing solutions. That’s why 90% of the top-performing B2B marketers put their audience’s informational needs first.
Do this by making your B2B SEO content solution-focused.
That might look like solving a buyer’s pain point (instead of a list article explaining why they feel that way.)
2. Target Users Across the Entire Sales Funnel
As mentioned earlier, the B2B buying process is long and involves several touchpoints.
Here are the sales stages your customers pass through:
- Awareness: They have a vague interest in the topic
- Consideration: They know they have an issue that needs solving, and they’re doing their research to find the best product
- Decision: They’ve decided to buy the item, but are still unsure which supplier to buy from
- Retention: They become lifelong, repeat customers
Over 70% of B2B researchers start with generic searches. Get the maximum results from your B2B SEO strategy by being present from the top of the buying funnel, all through the bottom.
Here’s what the content structure might look like for an office furniture supplier:
- Awareness: Workplace wellness tips
- Consideration: Standing desks vs. sitting desks
- Decision: The best standing desks for tall people
- Retention: How long should you stand at your desk?
The first two stages capture people who aren’t ready to buy yet. They have a basic interest in office furniture and are getting interested in choosing the best product for their office.
Conversion tactics—such as asking them to sign up to your mailing list—can nudge them towards the later stages of the funnel.
Purchase intent begins to increase as the customer gets through to the third stage. Here, they want to know they’re choosing the best supplier.
Creating content for the keywords they’re searching for at this stage positions you as the authority and the supplier they should buy from.
3. Go Long-Form
If you’re creating B2B content as part of your SEO strategy, our best advice is to make it long -form.
Cover your topic comprehensively and in-depth.
There are many reasons to create long-form content, but the one that matters here is that Google favors it: the average page 1 result contains 1,447 words.
Google values content that has a high E-A-T factor (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness).
In other words: content valuable to the reader.
The lengthier your SEO content is, the more chance you have of answering a user’s questions.
Sure, you should make sure to cover your chosen topics in insane detail. Your content should cover a topic more thoroughly than any other out there using the skyscraper technique.
A word of warning, though: don’t write just for the sake of bumping up your word count.
Focus on quality rather than quantity. Cut out any fluff, so every word has a purpose. Filler content isn’t useful to the reader. They’ll exit the page in frustration and find a supplier who gets to the point.
4. Format Your Content for Online Readers
Did you know that 79% of online users don’t actually read a full page of content? They skim-read, scanning over the content to pick out what they’re interested in.
Format your SEO content to take advantage of that.
If not (and readers face a giant wall of boring text), they will refuse to read it. The hours you’ve spent creating that SEO content go to waste, and you lose the chance to push them through your B2B sales funnel.
Luckily, it’s easy to format your content for online readers:
- Use short paragraphs to keep the reader moving from one idea to another
- Break up subtopics within your content by using subheadings
- Use bullet points or numbered steps to give white space
- Use images and video to boost engagement and break up walls of text
Check if your content is scannable by doing it yourself.
If you can easily find a snippet of information without feeling overwhelmed, you’re doing it right.
5. Create and Share Video Content
There are more search engines than Google.
In fact, the second biggest search engine is one you probably failed to think of: YouTube.
YouTube’s search algorithm works in a similar way to Google’s. They scan content on each page and rank it based on a variety of factors. The only difference is that it’s video pages, not individual websites.
Creating video content gives you another place to share it. You can capture people looking for topically relevant videos, rather than written content, with:
- How-to guides
- Explainer videos
- Product tutorials
- Industry interviews and thought leadership
Interestingly, embedding videos onto your website content boosts on-page engagement metrics. People will spend more time on-site, which correlates with stronger organic rankings.
No wonder 73% of B2B marketers say that video content has a positive impact on ROI.
4 Bonus B2B SEO Tips
Content is king, but you need a technically-sound website before driving organic traffic to it.
Here are four elements to think about when you’re doing SEO for a B2B website.
1. Build Your Site on Solid Foundations
You can have the most comprehensive, perfectly-optimized content on the internet.
But if visiting your site isn’t a pleasant experience for search engines, they won’t rank you well.
Remember: Google needs to understand what a website is talking about before they can even consider where to place it in search results.
The website’s technical side needs to be on point, so keep SEO in mind during the development sprints.
For starters, double-check the site is accessible to search engine crawlers enough to show up in the search results. Remove a noindex tag for pages you want to appear in search.
It’s also worth creating a sitemap to make crawling your site and identifying key pages easier.
Many content management systems (CMS) create and update a sitemap for you automatically, along with SEO plugins like Yoast or RankMath. Still, it’s always worth regularly double-checking that critical pages are included.
2. Pay Attention to Page Speed
Search engines count page speed as a ranking factor, meaning your pages must load as fast as possible.
They don’t want to send their users to a site that takes minutes to load.
Research shows most people will exit a website if it doesn’t load within three short seconds. That’s not good for Google’s reputation, nor your B2B websites’.
A study by Backlinko found that faster load speeds correlate with higher rankings:
(Mobile pages that load a second faster than otherwise-identical pages also generate 20% more conversions.)
Test the speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Just plug in your URL, and you’ll get a score on how mobile-friendly your website is out of 100.
You’ll also get some handy, personalized pointers for improving your site speed:
3. Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly
Did you know that smartphones account for half of all B2B queries?
It’s why Google’s algorithm uses mobile-first indexing. Your website ranks based on the mobile version, rather than the desktop one.
Think about it: if you’re using your mobile to find a B2B supplier and their website layout is all over the place, you won’t buy from them.
Therefore keep your mobile site responsive and offer an excellent experience to those on different devices.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test to analyze your pages and ensure they’re suitable for mobile devices. If your page isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll get a list of reasons why (which will help you fix it).
4. Set-up Accurate SEO Reporting
You can put tons of work into making your B2B website SEO-friendly, but if you don’t have the reporting tools in place to track if it’s working, you won’t know how to scale your strategy for even more organic traffic.
You’ll need to set up a few basic reports and platforms to start tracking your SEO performance.
Here’s what you need to get started.
Claim and Verify Your Google Search Console Account
Google Search Console is a free tool that Google uses to communicate with site owners.
It also provides information on your technical SEO, such as error pages and crawl issues. It’s how Google tells webmasters that something is wrong with the website—and that it can affect rankings.
Use it to find a range of reports that are really useful for SEO inside your Google Search Console account.
The key one is the Performance report. It shows you your site’s performance over time in terms of impressions, clicks, click-through rate, and average ranking position.
Set-up Google Analytics
Chances are, you already have Google Analytics set up to monitor overall site traffic.
Lean on that for SEO. It provides a wealth of information about your site’s overall performance, enabling you to look into organic-specific reports to find out how your content is performing from an SEO perspective.
Goal tracking in Google Analytics explains how your site is converting visitors.
For example, you might make sales a primary goal, but have secondary goals for conversions like email list sign-ups, product page views, or file downloads. Each of those secondary goals feed into your overall sales funnel.
Finally, don’t forget to sync your Google Search Console account with your Google Analytics. This feeds SEO data to your Analytics dashboard, making it easier (and quicker) to spot changes.
Find a Keyword Tracking Tool
The primary purpose of SEO is to drive traffic from search engines. To do that, you’ll need to rank well for your chosen keywords.
They’ll show what keywords a page is ranking for, in which position, and how much traffic they drive to your website.
These SEO tools are also useful for monitoring competitors’ websites, discovering backlinks, and vetting new websites before writing a guest post.
The best part? Both of these tools help track SEO progress over time.
New strategies often take a while to kick in, so monitor how your rankings improve as you go.
Master Your B2B SEO Strategy
At a basic level, B2B SEO is really just SEO.
Your content is what makes you stand out. Make it relevant, comprehensive, and helpful to your ideal customer.
Still, you have to get the technical SEO right and begin to build backlinks. Our guide to building your first 100 backlinks is a great place to start.
If you follow these tips to create B2B content (and have a perfectly-optimized website), nothing is stopping you from dominating the search results page for your target keywords.