In today’s social media age, businesses are competing for attention in the digital landscape, including for B2B businesses.
With the majority of business buyers now relying on the internet for their procurement journey, having a strong online presence is crucial for B2B businesses to achieve success.
On the other hand, a strong online presence is no longer about simply being seen, but it’s about being seen by the right audience. One of the best ways to achieve this targeted online presence is search engine optimization (SEO.)
If your business is a hidden treasure, SEO is the treasure map, guiding those seeking exactly what your business offers to find you. When your business ranks higher on the search engines, more people will find you when they search for relevant keywords.
In this guide, we’ll discuss all you need to know about SEO for B2B business. We’ll explore the evolution of B2B marketing, the myths and misconceptions surrounding SEO, the tangible business impacts of SEO, and more.
By following the tips we’ll share in this guide, you can improve your website’s ranking in the SERPs and enhance your B2B visibility online.
Without further ado, let’s embark on this journey for understanding the growing importance of B2B SEO right away.
The Changing Dynamics of B2B Marketing
As the business and digital landscapes continue to evolve, the very fabric of B2B marketing has also undergone a significant metamorphosis.
In the not-too-distant past, B2B marketing was focused on outbound marketing tactics such as print advertising, trade shows/expos, and especially cold calling. Despite the different formats and mediums involved, these outbound tactics have the same concept: broadcasting promotional messages to as many people as possible, with the hope that it will strike gold and the message will reach a potential client at the right moment.
These outbound tactics can be effective in reaching a good number of potential clients. However, these tactics are also time-consuming and expensive.
This is why, in recent years, there has been a shift in the marketing paradigm from outbound to inbound marketing.
Instead of broadcasting the marketing message outwards, inbound marketing focuses on attracting the target audience inwards so that we don’t interrupt what the potential client is doing.
This is mainly achieved by crafting relevant and valuable content tailored to the needs of the target audience. The idea is when a potential client is facing a problem and looking for a solution, they can stumble upon your content and learn about your business. This discovery of your content is made possible by SEO.
In the next section, we will discuss the role of SEO in B2B visibility, and we will also demystify some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding SEO as a marketing strategy.
Understanding SEO for B2B Businesses: A Comprehensive Overview
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which, in a nutshell, is the art and science of making a website’s digital presence stronger on the search engines, which comes in the form of a higher ranking on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs.)
When a website ranks higher in SERPs, more people will come to the website when they search for relevant keywords, improving the business’s digital visibility.
In practice, SEO is achieved via a series of optimization made on and off the website:
- On-page SEO refers to the optimizations made on the website: its content, structure/layout, code, and technical factors with two objectives. The first is to ensure optimal user experience (readability, relevance, content quality, mobile responsiveness, fast loading speed, etc.,) and the second is to make sure the website and its content are indexable by the search engines.
- Off-page SEO, on the other hand, is the process of improving the website’s reputation and authority, which is performed outside the website. The main off-page SEO practice is link-building—getting other websites to link to your website—but there are also other practices like building a social media presence, sending press releases, influencer marketing, soliciting reviews, and more.
Successful B2B SEO requires both strong on-page and off-page SEO efforts. On-page SEO ensures that your B2B website contains valuable and relevant information — presented in an optimal way for both users and the search engines — while off-page SEO acts as endorsements from other players in the industry, enhancing your business’s credibility and authority.
Debunking Common SEO Myths and Misconceptions
Despite the fact that SEO has been around for quite some time, there are still myths and misconceptions surrounding SEO that often lead businesses astray. Here are a few of them:
- Myth: SEO is a quick, one-time fix
Reality: SEO is an ongoing journey, and it can take time and effort before you see significant efforts. There’s no “holy-grail” tactic that will instantly improve your website’s search ranking, and when implementing SEO, you’ll need to adapt to evolving algorithms and trends.
- Myth: SEO is only for big businesses
Reality: SEO can benefit businesses of all sizes and in different industries. In fact, there can be cases where small businesses benefit more from SEO than larger enterprises because they can target less competitive keywords.
- Myth: SEO is all about keywords
While keyword optimization is important for SEO, it is not the only thing that matters. Quality, relevant content that addresses user needs is always more important than keyword optimization, and you’ll also need to optimize the website’s structure and technical elements, as well as get links from other websites. Keyword stuffing simply doesn’t work.
- Myth: You simply need to get a lot of backlinks
The quality and relevance of backlinks matter more than quantity. A backlink coming from a reputable, relevant website in your industry will have significantly more weight than ten backlinks coming from brand-new websites totally unrelated to your niche.
As we can see, SEO is a complex and ever-evolving field, but it is a powerful marketing strategy for B2B businesses to achieve success. Understanding and avoiding these common myths of SEO can help you improve your chances of ranking higher in SERPs and attract more potential clients to your website.
Effective B2B SEO Implementation: The Business Impact
In this section, we will explore how SEO can help B2B businesses improve their digital presence and achieve economic success.
First, we will discuss how SEO can align with the B2B buyer’s journey.
B2B Buyer’s Journey: SEO vs. Customer Needs
B2B businesses are targeting other businesses/organizations, and there can be multiple decision-makers with different roles, needs, goals, and priorities in each organization. This often makes the B2B buyer’s journey longer and more complex than its B2C counterpart.
Yet, SEO can be a powerful weapon for B2B businesses to reach these decision-makers at each stage of the buyer’s journey, for instance:
- Attracting potential buyers who are early in the research stage: Many potential buyers begin their research with a search engine query. By having your website rank high on relevant keywords, you can make sure you are visible in search results during their research.
- Generate leads from those in the consideration stage: By publishing high-quality and relevant content, B2B businesses can attract leads in the consideration stage and nurture them until they are ready for purchase.
- Convert buyers who are in the decision stage: SEO can also be effective in attracting potential buyers who are ready to make a purchase. B2B businesses can publish information buyers may need to make a purchase decision and optimize it via SEO.
Case Studies: How Top B2B Brands Leveraged SEO to Drive Business Growth
Still not convinced about how SEO can help B2B businesses achieve better growth? Here are some examples of how top B2B brands leveraged SEO to grow their businesses:
- Hubspot: In 2016, HubSpot, a leading provider of B2B marketing software solutions, increased the organic traffic to their website by over 50% only via technical SEO adjustments.
- Piktochart: Piktochart is a web-based infographic maker and web design app and has successfully increased signups to its web app by more than 860% via SEO.
- Mind The Graph: Mind the Graph is a web-based design app specifically created for academic purposes. Mind The Graph successfully increased organic traffic by 400% and experienced a 100% increase in referring domains through SEO efforts.
These are just a few examples out of many more. As we can see, SEO-driven content can help B2B businesses in various stages of their sales processes, from attracting leads to nurturing prospects to encouraging conversions.
How Can We Measure B2B SEO Success?
True success in SEO is more than simply soaring to the top of SERP rankings. In fact, a high search ranking alone won’t bring value to any B2B business.
Instead, there are other metrics that matter more when it comes to measuring B2B SEO success, including:
- Organic traffic: The number of website visitors that come to your website by clicking on your search results. Organic traffic should increase as search ranking goes up.
- Conversion rate: A percentage of how many of the website visitors took the desired action (download a free trial, sign up for an email newsletter, purchase a product/service, etc.) High search ranking and organic traffic are literally useless if we can’t turn the visitors into conversions.
- Bounce rate: A percentage of website visitors who leave your site right away after viewing only one page (they are not checking out other pages.) A high bounce rate when your search ranking is already high means that your website isn’t relevant to your visitors.
- Dwell time: How long visitors stay on your website. A high dwell time signifies that your website’s content is engaging, which may lead to a high conversion rate.
Keeping track and analyzing these metrics (among others) would allow us to optimize the SEO efforts.
As we can see, the impact of SEO on a B2B business’s bottom line is real and tangible. When done properly, SEO can allow your business to gain a significant competitive edge and will provide a strong foundation for your other successful B2B strategies.
We will further discuss how to use SEO to gain a competitive edge for B2B businesses in the next section.
The Competitive Edge: SEO as a B2B Growth Strategy
SEO is a powerful marketing tactic that can help B2B businesses attract more leads and customers.
In this section, we will discuss how optimizing your website and its content for the search engines can help B2B businesses gain significant advantage over their competitors:
- Establishing Thought Leadership
At the core of any SEO strategy is a strong content marketing game: publishing high-quality content that is relevant and engaging to the target audience.
Doing so has the secondary advantage of establishing your position as the thought leader and expert in your niche or industry. Not only those who stumbled upon your site on the search results will click upon it, but they’ll be more likely to believe that your business is credible and trustworthy.
This is how you can sustainable convert your website visitors into leads, and then convert leads into actual customers.
Here are some examples on how you can build thought leadership through SEO:
- Regular publication of blog posts: Regularly publishing relevant, valuable, and insightful blog posts will help you establish your brand’s position as the expert in your niche. When potential clients search for information related to the product/service you are offering or the industry you’re in, they can discover your expertise.
- Publication of eBooks and whitepapers: You can also publish more in-depth content like research-backed eBooks or whitepapers where you can showcase your expertise and knowledge in the industry. You can offer these in-depth documents as lead magnets together with blog posts and directly optimizing them for the search engines to amplify your reach and thought leadership.
- Webinars and videos: Non-textual content like videos, webinars, podcasts, etc., can also help in solidifying your brand’s expertise and thought leadership. You can optimize these types of content for SEO by publishing them together with your blog posts, or use textual descriptions, among other techniques.
- Leveraging Local SEO to Target Regional B2B Markets
An important aspect of SEO that is often overlooked for B2B businesses is local SEO, which can be a very powerful strategy especially if your B2B business is targeting a local/regional audience like:
- Professional services firms (consultants, lawyers, accountants, etc.)
- B2B retailers (office supply stores, hardware stores etc.)
- Manufacturing companies
- Construction companies
- Suppliers and distributors
The idea behind local SEO revolves around local keywords: when potential clients search for location-specific keywords related to your business like “meat suppliers near me,” or “office stores in New York,” Google now features results from Google Maps above the organic search results.
Meaning, you want your business to be featured on the top Google Maps results so can be discovered by these potential clients. This is why local SEO is also often known as “Google Maps SEO”
To achieve this, there are four key steps to follow:
- Claim your Google Business listing, which is directly linked to Google Maps. Make sure to also verify your Google Business account.
- Optimize your Google Business listing. You can include target keywords and location-specific keywords, but focus on providing complete and accurate information for potential clients. Make sure to include well-taken photos/images of what your business offers.
- Build local citations by listing your business on online business directories and as well as getting backlinks from high-quality websites. It’s important to maintain consistency of information across different listings, especially your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number.) This means if your business moves to a different address, for example, then you’ll need to update all your listings.
- Encourage your B2B Clients to leave positive reviews, especially on your Google Maps/Google Business listing, but also on other relevant sites and platforms (i.e., TripAdvisor, Facebook Places, etc.) Not only are these reviews important for boosting your local SEO, but you’ll also get the benefit of social proof to attract more potential clients in your area.
3. SEO as a Trust Signal: Establishing Trust and Credibility in B2B Relationships
While trust and credibility are obviously important for any business, arguably, it’s even more important for B2B businesses where products/services tend to be more expensive and require longer-term commitments.
SEO can play an important role in solidifying your brand as trustworthy and credible:
- Consistent branding: An important aspect of SEO best practices is to ensure your branding is consistent across different marketing channels. This will also provide a secondary benefit of creating a consistent, professional, and cohesive brand image across all your different channels.
- High-quality content = more credibility: High-quality and relevant content optimized for SEO will showcase your brand’s expertise. This can help convince potential clients that you are a reliable supplier or partner for their business.
- Security and mobile optimization: Another aspect of SEO is technical optimizations, including mobile responsiveness and a secure website. A secure, mobile-friendly, and reliable website will also provide a seamless experience for your clients, which can help bolster trust. In the next section, we will discuss more about this technical aspect of SEO and how it can benefit B2B businesses.
Navigating Technical SEO for B2B Success
The term “technical SEO” refers to the process of improving the technical aspects of the website, including things like page speed, website layout/structure, security, and mobile-friendliness.
Let’s explore how technical SEO can help foster your B2B success.
- Mobile-responsive design for B2B websites
Google now prioritizes mobile-friendly websites on their SERPs. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, then your website simply won’t achieve SEO success, period.
However, despite its SEO importance, having a mobile-responsive website will also benefit your B2B business in other ways. Many decision-makers in your potential client companies are now using mobile devices to access and browse websites. On the other hand, these B2B buyers, just like B2C consumers, simply expect a smooth and intuitiv experience when browsing your website.
In such scenarios, having a mobile-friendly website can enhance user experience, showcasing your credibility and reliability as a brand, which may lead to higher conversion rates.
- Optimal page speed for better B2B buyer engagement
It’s no secret that patience is getting scarcer in today’s social media age, and internet users—-including your potential B2B buyers—-will simply leave your site if it loads too slowly.
According to Google, a whopping 53% of visitors will bounce from a site that takes more than a mere three seconds to load.
Not to mention, Google factors in this bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave the site immediately after viewing just a single page) as a ranking factor. If your site loads slowly, it will lower your search ranking even further, lowering organic traffic and then lowering the potential conversion rate.
In short, slow page speed will hurt your B2B business’s bottom line.
On the other hand, a website with optimal speed will keep visitors engaged so they’ll keep browsing your content (higher user retention), which means more possibilities for them to convert.
- Securing your site for trust-building
Security is obviously important in any business transaction and digital activity. However, it is even more important for B2B websites that often contain sensitive information about clients, business partners, and the business itself.
With that being said, Google has made site security a ranking factor. For example, websites with SSL certificates (with HTTPS) are now favored in search results over those with traditional HTTP.
In addition to this impact on SEO, site security can affect trust and credibility. The Google Chrome browser will display a warning message to the user that the website is potentially dangerous (and their data could be at risk.) This warning can have a negative impact on the B2B business’s reputation. Visitors may perceive the website—and thus, the business behind it— as being less secure and trustworthy.
As a result of this, the visitors may be less likely to revisit the website and even less likely to provide their personal information. This can lead to a lower conversion rate and lost sales. In the long run, a non-secure website can hurt the B2B business’s reputation, so it will be more difficult to attract more leads and clients.
As we can see, improving the technical aspects of the website won’t only improve its SEO performance but will also help the B2B business attract and retain potential clients. As we advance to the next section, we’ll explore how SEO can synergize with other marketing channels for B2B success.
SEO in the B2B Marketing Ecosystem: Synergies With Other Channels
While SEO is a powerful marketing strategy that can help B2B success on its own, it will work even better when it’s integrated with other marketing channels in a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
SEO can especially synergize with social media, PPC advertising, and content marketing, and maintaining the right harmony between these channels is critical.
Social media’s role in amplifying B2B SEO results
Social media can play a significant role in improving the B2B SEO efforts in several ways:
- Content distribution: Social media can be very powerful in amplifying the SEO-optimized content’s reach, which will contribute to the said content’s SEO performance and traffic. For example, we can share blog posts, videos, and infographics on Twitter (now X), LinkedIn, or Instagram to expand their reach to the social media networks’ users.
- Link building: While links from social media accounts are nofollow and won’t have any direct contribution to the site’s SEO performance, other people on the social platforms may discover and link to your content on their websites or blogs, which can be valuable backlinks.
- Engagement and authority: When your brand is active on social media, you’ll be perceived as more credible, trustworthy, and authoritative. While this is even more prominent in B2C businesses, B2B businesses can still take advantage of this fact. While, according to Google, social signals (likes, shares, comments, etc.), are not a direct ranking factor, they can indirectly improve your site’s SEO performance by bolstering authority and engagement.
PPC advertising vs. SEO: finding the sweet spot
PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising allows you to pay and have an ad for your website displayed above the organic search results on the SERPs of your targeted keywords. It is called Pay-Per-Click, because the advertiser would only pay the fee once a user clicks on the ad, and not according to the number of users it’s displayed to.
PPC ads will look different than organic results—and most users now will know that it is an ad—, but it can still attract searchers to visit your site nonetheless. This makes PPC advertising a great way to drive traffic to the website quickly.
We can think of the case of PPC advertising vs. SEO as time vs. money: SEO is much cheaper (and can be done for totally free in practice,) but getting significant organic traffic as SEO results may take some time. On the other hand, you can practically guarantee quick results from PPC advertising, but it can be (very) expensive.
Thus, an effective strategy is to find the balance between the two channels: PPC should support your SEO efforts, while SEO best practices will effectively lower your PPC costs. Finding this sweet spot will be an important key to your B2B success.
Overcoming Common Challenges in B2B SEO Implementation
Despite all the positive impacts on the B2B business we’ve discussed above, implementing B2B SEO isn’t without its hurdles.
Planning a comprehensive SEO strategy takes time, and then the execution can be complex and time-consuming. Here are some common challenges and the strategies to overcome them:
- Internal resistance to change: gaining buy-in from stakeholders
Many organizations have an established status quo, and if your business hasn’t implemented SEO, it can be difficult to convince your stakeholders due to the intangible nature of SEO.
To ensure you get everyone on board before executing your SEO strategy, it’s important to educate stakeholders on the benefits of SEO clearly. If necessary, organize training sessions, workshops, or presentations to communicate the value of SEO to your team. Try to discuss case studies and success stories. Use data to illustrate how SEO can drive your B2B business’s growth.
It’s also important to showcase how your SEO efforts can align with your business’s overall objectives, be it increasing lead generation, market share, or revenue. The most effective way to secure buy-in from skeptical stakeholders is by properly demonstrating the bottom-line impact.
- Managing expectations with realistic timelines
It’s critical to communicate to all stakeholders that SEO is a long-term strategy. It will take time to see a climb in search ranking and organic traffic, even more, if you are targeting a competitive keyword. It can take several months or even more than a year before significant results from your SEO efforts materialize.
To tackle this issue, it’s very important to set realistic expectations. Make sure the stakeholders understand that your SEO initiatives may not result in quick and dramatic improvements in the website traffic and your bottom line.
To help stakeholders understand that gradual, incremental progress will be the norm, make sure to regularly measure your SEO performance by keeping track of the relevant metrics. Regularly report your SEO performance to stakeholders to highlight incremental improvements and keep transparent communication. This is how you can reassure all stakeholders that your SEO strategy is executed well.
- Continuous adaptation to algorithm updates: turning challenges into opportunities
Another very important challenge to tackle is the fact that Google and the other search engines regularly update their algorithms. This means they regularly change how they rank websites on the SERPs, so an optimization technique that works well today may not work on the next update, and vice versa.
Obviously, it can be frustrating if you have spent your time and resources optimizing your website and content, only to find you’d need to change your approach.
To tackle this challenge, it’s critical to always stay up-to-date on algorithm updates and SEO trends. Keep a flexible mindset to always be prepared to adjust your SEO strategy accordingly.
However, it’s worth noting that Google’s updates always have the same goal: bringing better and more relevant search results to its users. So, if you focus on publishing high-quality and relevant content that aligns with your target audience’s interests and search intents, you’ll be fine in most cases.
Futurae Proofing Your B2B Brand With SEO
In today’s rapidly evolving digital marketing landscape, where the market, consumer behaviors, and technologies are constantly changing, future-proofing your B2B business is a necessity.
With that being said, SEO is a very sustainable and future-proof marketing strategy that can help your B2B business achieve long-term success. Here is how:
- SEO helps you adapt to emerging technologies
SEO helps your website and your business’s digital presence align with current and emerging technologies, for example:
- AI and voice search: SEO can help your B2B business align with the recent rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered search and voice assistants (as well as other voice-activated devices.) You can use SEO principles to optimize your content for voice search and AI-powered search. In the future, when these technologies will surely be more prevalent, SEO can help your business stay relevant.
- Mobile optimization: More and more people are (exclusively) using their mobile devices to browse the internet, and we can be sure this trend will continue in the future. One of the most important practices of SEO is mobile optimization to ensure your website is accessible and user-friendly on as many different screen sizes as possible. This means, your business can stay relevant and can reach as many mobile users as possible.
- Enhanced visibility in a more crowded marketplace
It’s no secret that the market is becoming more and more competitive, and the B2B landscape is no exception.
SEO won’t only help you stand out as a brand, but will also allow you to maintain a competitive position amidst the ever-changing market in two ways:
- Securing your place in the search result: in today’s digital age, if you aren’t visible on Google and social media, you simply don’t exist in your potential customers’ eyes. Implementing SEO ensures you secure your spot in the search results (preferably on top spots) so potential clients can find your business and not your competitors.
- Positioning as a thought leader: as we’ve covered, SEO allows the creation and optimization of high-quality content, which will help you position your B2B business as the expert and thought leader in your industry. With established thought leadership, you are better equipped to face the ever-changing market.
- Data-driven insights for informed decision-making
A core aspect of SEO execution is the continuous monitoring of various metrics related to website traffic (organic traffic, referral traffic, conversion rate, etc.,) and this practice will also provide your business with useful insights into user behavior and market trends.
Leveraging these insights would allow you to make better-informed decisions while actively responding to market changes. In turn, this can also allow you to refine your offerings and deliver better products and services.
- Adapting to the shifting buying behavior
As we’ve discussed throughout this article, SEO is not solely about pleasing the search engine algorithm but rather about catering to your target audience’s needs and search intent.
Thus, implementing SEO best practices would enable you to continuously tailor your business’s approach (and especially content) to meet the changing B2B buyer behaviors and needs.
Proper SEO strategy also encourages a flexible and agile content strategy. Meaning, with the foundational SEO optimizations already in place, you can easily pivot and develop new content that addresses the shifting market trends and new challenges/opportunities as they arise. This agility allows your B2B business to remain responsive and relevant to the ever-changing market situations.
SEO is a long-term strategy that will require serious commitment and investment. Yet, it can pay off in substantial ways for B2B success.
With SEO being a future-proof and sustainable marketing tactic, when you invest in SEO, you are also investing in the future of your business.
For B2B business, SEO can:
- Helps you attract organic traffic—the most valuable type of traffic—to your website, which may convert into leads and paying clients.
- Helps your B2B business build brand awareness and establish authority/thought leadership. When your site ranks high in relevant keywords, potential clients may perceive that you are a trusted expert in your niche.
In short, if you are serious about growing your B2B business, you need to invest in SEO.
Partner with us to unlock the full potential of your B2B brand through strategic SEO implementation.
Nine Peaks Media is an experienced SEO and digital marketing agency that can help you plan and implement a comprehensive SEO strategy for your B2B business. We will work with you to identify your target audience, conduct thorough keyword research, and implement both on-page and off-page SEO optimizations to help you attract organic visitors to your B2B website and convert them into customers.
Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive SEO services, and our team will gladly help you plan how to grow your business through B2B SEO.