Business-to-business search engine optimisation is similar to optimizing consumer websites. However, some fundamental differences need to be considered when developing a B2B search engine optimisation strategy.
- The search is just the start of the journey – In B2B the goal is to generate leads that a sales team can follow up. Search terms are much more research orientated than transactional, resulting in complex searches. In B2B the buyer won’t buy on their first visit it may take many visits over several months. The best a B2B vendor can hope for is to generate a lead, through data capture. This is the gateway to lead nurture and supporting the prospect through their decision-making process.
- B2B searchers are looking for reassurance – A B2B buyer starts by researching their challenge and wants to learn how to solve it. Eventually, they move towards looking at solution providers and short-listing them. At every stage, the buyer is looking for reassurance they are making the right decision on behalf of their businesses.
- B2B vendors operate in niche markets – B2B search engine optimisation occurs within niche markets this means fewer searches are happening, but each search and each potential visitor is worth more. Search terms will be technical and industry-specific.
- Businesses buy-in teams – In the business-to-business market, you are dealing with a variety of experts which make up the procurement team. Having a broad audience means you can often go into much more detail on particular topics, giving you a more extensive range of search terms to target. In B2C SEO you are unlikely to be serving customers with a high level of subject expertise.
- The B2B sales cycle is long – Business-to-business purchases are more considered, take longer, and there are multiple points in the journey where buyers will undertake research. This longer decision-making process gives B2B organizations plenty of opportunities to appear in the search results. The same B2B buyer will perform a variety of searches as they explore solutions and shortlist vendors.
Five tips for B2B search engine optimization success
- Understand the customer journey. Your prospects will need different information at different points in their journey. Consider how this may change the search terms they use.
- B2B buyers use more complex search terms. Target multi-phrase searches and problem statements. Keyword research tools can help you identify relevant search terms.
- Optimize different content not just web pages. PDFs, videos, slides, webinars can all be optimized and distributed so they are found in the search results
- Pages rank, not websites. Optimize different pages for different terms, avoid multiple pages targeting the same terms.
- Ranking in search is part of the challenge, getting the visitor to click is another. Optimize the title and description of your pages so that they serve as a call to action to click.
The importance of B2B search engine optimization can’t be understated. B2B buyers spend a long time researching their challenges and the eventual solution. Every part of the buying journey involves research and at least part of that is likely to happen on the search engines. The earlier your business can engage the prospect the more likely you are to build a relationship with them and get close to the shortlist. Waiting for the buyer to search for your brand is too late in the buying journey to influence it.
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