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What Is B2B SEO?
If you’ve been in the marketing world for long at all, you’re likely extremely familiar with SEO and how it works to help a website move towards the top of a web search. What you may not be as familiar with is B2B and B2C SEO and how they differ from traditional SEO methods and each other.
To fully understand how SEO for B2B businesses is different from traditional SEO, let’s look at how a consumer approaches an online purchase. More than likely, they perform a google search and then look at the first three results and choose their purchase based on them. For a business, if they’re looking to purchase online, they may perform this same search, however, they’ll want more details and will have to go through a process before making their buying decision.
B2B and B2C SEO depends on the business fully understanding how their customers decide on their purchases so they can create an effective SEO strategy to drive visitors to their website.
The Importance of B2B SEO
When using B2B SEO, a business is focused on meeting Google’s standards for what they consider to be a high-quality website. Both B2B and B2C websites must demonstrate what Google refers to as their EAT principles: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
B2B websites are generally dealing with costly and complex purchases so it’s no wonder that they’re expected to be knowledgeable in their field and able to solve their customer’s problems. By demonstrating expertise in their given industry, a B2B website can help their customers feel more comfortable about moving forward in their buying process.
A company’s public perception is crucial to its success both in-person and online. Authority is given to those companies that are considered to be experienced and credible within their field either by having a recognizable brand name or by establishing a positive reputation based on their years of experience.
Considered to be the most crucial of the three factors, trust is what ultimately leads a customer to overcome obstacles and make their purchase. Companies purchasing their products from a B2B company are risking their own reputation with their customer base, so it’s of supreme importance that they trust who they’re buying from.
B2B Buyer Statistics
To further drive home the importance of B2B SEO, look at what B2B customers are saying about their searches:
- 89% use the internet to find information (Google, 2020)
- 77% say it was difficult to research their latest purchase (Gartner, 2019)
- Most won’t reach out to a salesperson until they’re halfway through their decision process
- 96% look for written content endorsed by thought leaders (Demand Gen Report, 2016)
- 12 searches- the average for B2B researches before looking into specific brands (Google, 2014)
The Three Pillars of B2B and B2C SEO
When it comes to ways to improve your website’s ranking, there are three pillars to guide you whether you’re a B2B or B2C company: On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO.
This is the on-page optimization for both the visible portions of your website and the backend which is known as “technical SEO.” We’ll cover the latter separately and focus on the visible portion of this section.
On-page optimization encompasses the use of keywords that customers would put into a search bar to find your business or product. It’s important to use keywords that are high-quality and to create content superior to your competitors if you want to convert your website visitors.
The best way to do this is by finding the keywords customers are most likely to use and putting them throughout your website. Next, analyze your competitors and find what’s unique about their pages to determine how they’re ranked higher in search results. Finally, create content that exceeds what they offer so your ranking will move above theirs.
This part of SEO refers to partnering with brand ambassadors and influencers by asking them to link their sites to yours. By creating links that point to your website, you’ll capture the traffic of web crawlers and improve your ranking.
This can be a challenging step since it involves asking other companies to help promote yours so be sure to have a strategy in place that will explain how it can benefit them as well.
Technical SEO is the backend part of your website that helps your visitors navigate your website. To perfect this part of SEO, check for broken links, page load times, improve site security, and make sure that your site is indexable by Google.
The Differences Between B2C and B2B SEO
B2B and B2C SEO are indeed similar in many ways, but there are also several distinguishing factors between the two which are important to note.
B2B Has More Complex Sales Funnels
When selling to a consumer, there’s less of a process for the buyer to walk through before deciding a purchase so the sales funnel will be simple and direct. However, when a company makes a purchase, there’s typically a chain of authority that the decision has to work through and therefore the seller doesn’t expect a decision right away leading to the need for a complex sales funnel involving contact forms and extensive information for researchers to browse.
B2B SEO Uses Low-Volume Keywords
Companies selling to consumers are more likely to use SEO keywords that are high ranking while B2B companies use a different approach by focusing on the different decision-making groups in a buying process and targeting them with the keywords they would specifically use. These will typically not be the ones most searched for by consumers.
B2B Has Lower Conversion Rates
Since B2B companies are dealing with large and complex purchases, they expect their conversion rates to be lower than companies that are B2C since the stakes are higher. Due to this, they’ll have a focus on follow-up and driving customers to landing pages with more information.
A Need to Demonstrate Your Expertise Via Thought Leadership
B2B content should have a focus on establishing a brand and its website as a thought leader in its given industry. This helps build trust and loyalty with their customers. In contrast, B2C customers don’t feel the need to establish deep trust before making their purchases.
A 7-Step B2B SEO Strategy
1. Understand your audience and customers. It should be your goal to understand how an individual company makes its purchasing decisions so you can know how to reach each person in the chain effectively and create personas for each player.
2. Understand your sales funnel and how it works with your buyer’s journey. Create your plan to intersect with each step they take and how you can help them overcome obstacles.
3. Conduct keyword research around your personas and determine the keywords that they would use to search for your product or service. Google can help with this research by looking at what they auto-populate when you type in a search.
4. Map out a keyword strategy to target buyers at different stages of your funnel.
5. Create and optimize product or service landing pages to further persuade your customers to take action within the sales funnel.
6. Build a scalable content strategy by incorporating content that will help in the buyer’s journey such as blogs, white papers, and case studies.
7. Promote your content to earn backlinks by finding what sets your company apart and getting this information to organizations that may agree to link to your website.
B2B SEO Tools
In a growing sea of SEO tools available online, there are four that stand out from the crowd:
Google Search Console
This free tool helps improve your Google search results by confirming that Google is able to find your site. It also discovers technical problems on your site and delivers data such as traffic and which sites link to your website.
If you’re wanting to see how your competitors are performing, you’ll need to use this paid online tool that lets you perform extensive competitor analysis. It also runs an audit on your website and suggests areas of improvement.
Similar to Semrush, Ahrefs is less expensive and it produces excellent reports on your website as well as competitors. It lets you research keywords on several search engines (not just Google). It also allows you to have multiple users on their higher accounts.
While B2B and B2C SEO have some differentiating factors, their ultimate goal is the same: to drive customers to your website so you can help them through their buyer’s journey. By utilizing some of the same tactics as traditional SEO and understanding how to gear the methods for either B2B or B2C formats, a company can virtually take their customers by the hand and lead them through the sales funnel and forward to a final purchase that everyone can feel good about.
Jason started freelancing in SEO back in college, sold his first agency, and now is the founder of Zupo, which is an Orange County-based SEO consulting agency helping construct powerful long-term SEO strategies for our clients. Jason also enjoys multiple cups of tea a day, hiding away on weekends, catching up on reading, and rewatching The Simpsons for the 20th time.