Ultimate Guide to B2B SEO: How to Get Customers From Google
This guide provides essential information for developing a successful B2B SEO strategy. It covers various industries, including SaaS, healthcare, and tech, and offers guidance on growing your business. SEO involves analyzing how your website represents your company and product, making it challenging to anticipate search engine evaluations. Without the right strategies and goals, optimizing for search can be frustrating. Llama Lead Gen has created this comprehensive guide based on experience with diverse websites targeting B2B buyers. It covers both off-page and on-page SEO, offering best practices for reaching your target market through search.
Whether you're a B2B SaaS marketer, marketing executive, or co-founder of a B2B SaaS product, this step-by-step guide will help you succeed. These chapters aim to make B2B SEO as familiar to you as your favorite marketing channel.
Introduction to SEO for B2B Companies
In the B2B world, a company’s SEO strategy can make or break a business.
The digital world is saturated with content, making it difficult to distinguish your business from your competitors. To succeed today, companies need to approach SEO strategically. For B2B companies, organic traffic from Google is not about getting that one sale. B2B SEO builds up long-term relationships with potential customers and establishes thought-leadership. This makes the SEO process for B2B companies different from other types of businesses.
This guide will cover the basics of B2B SEO, show you how to jump-start your B2B SEO strategy, and explore advanced SEO tactics and trends.
Why do you focus on Google SEO (vs. SEO for Bing or Duckduckgo)?
It’s important to note that although we mainly discuss Google, these practices extend to all other search engines. At the moment, Google is the dominant search engine in terms of market share, and in our opinion, the most advanced one as well. In other words, if your SEO is up to date for Google, you can consider your site optimized for the other search engines.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for B2B companies?
Fundamentally, Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of optimizing a website so that it ranks better in the search engine results pages (SERPs). In a B2B context, the goal of SEO is to help Google surface relevant information from your companies’ website in the search engine results and ultimately bring B2B searchers to relevant pages across your site.
Although this is the textbook definition of SEO, the industry has evolved over the years, and modern-day SEO looks more like a holistic website marketing approach. It encompasses website optimization and off-page SEO (link building), competitor analysis, and content marketing strategy.
In other words, at Llama Lead Gen, we see B2B SEO as a strategic marketing channel that focuses on website-related activities to attract B2B buyers.
Does SEO work for B2B companies?
Absolutely! Nowadays, almost every B2B company produces content marketing, regularly sharing helpful resources on their blog. This is especially true for B2B SaaS companies. B2B SEO is essential for businesses with content marketing funnels and/or customer support hubs on their websites.
Most B2B companies see positive results from SEO within 3 to 6 months, and for many, SEO is an ongoing activity that maximizes the impact of their content and inbound marketing efforts.
B2B vs B2C SEO
The main difference between B2B and B2C SEO is that the B2B buyer journey is more complex. As a result, the content and keywords in a B2B SEO strategy require careful consideration in each marketing funnel step.
Broadly, we divide SEO into three categories in the SEO industry: on-page, off-page, and technical SEO. These practices are similar for B2B and B2C websites, but B2B SEO is a very different in strategy. First of all, nowadays, talking about B2B SEO implies having a business blog. This requires a content marketing strategy and a search strategy to find the content for your intended search terms.
Many businesses have pages on their website that are vital for the success of their products, for example, customer support pages and product guides. Although there’s no commercial intent for these pages, they must be found on Google for relevant searches to reduce the number of customer support tickets and educate their customers about the use of their products.
What is the difference between on-page, off-page, and technical SEO?
On-page SEO broadly refers to optimizing web page content for search engines. This includes optimizing a page's title and meta description and requires activities such as keyword research. With the help of an SEO tool (like Ahrefs or SEMrush), you can estimate the search volume of a keyword and subsequently optimize a page or blog post for the version of a term with the highest demand. Conducting good keyword research and optimizing the on-page elements of your website and content is an essential part of a B2B SEO strategy.
Technical SEO is related to technical website optimization. Although keyword research and the search volume you optimize for are essential, on-page optimization will not help unless search engines crawl your web pages correctly, understand and index their content.
Off-page SEO (also called link building) encompasses everything that has to do with digital PR and other actions taken outside your own website. Suppose you give an interview to a journalist about your business or product, and they publish it online together with a link to your website. This can be referred to as off-page SEO or link building – especially if you intentionally facilitated this interview as part of your SEO efforts.
Image source: Hubspot
Do I need to do it all?
Each aspect of SEO (on-page, off-page, and technical SEO) is complimentary, and a good B2B SEO strategy should take them all into account. For example, most optimized websites (with good on-page SEO) will not receive high organic traffic unless they have good technical SEO. But technical SEO alone will not result in a popular website. Similarly, link building can help your website establish authoritativeness and trustworthiness in the eyes of search engines. Still, unless your on-page elements are optimized, your B2B SEO will suffer.
Nevertheless, despite the complementary nature of on-page, off-page, and technical SEO, finding SEO success requires you to consider your business's unique strengths and weaknesses. Some companies have a greater capacity for content creation or technical website improvements than others, and some businesses naturally have better PR representation than others. Because of this, your business's strengths, weaknesses, and ability to execute should be all taken into account when creating a B2B SEO strategy.
Common misconceptions about B2B SEO
Because the SEO space is evolving rapidly, it’s natural that there are some misconceptions. B2B SEO today is very different from five years ago, let alone ten years ago. As the SEO field has matured, some of the old ways of thinking have changed. Here are some common misconceptions about B2B SEO that you should avoid in your strategy:
1. B2Bs should target low volume keywords
Whereas this used to be the case, it is no longer valid. It’s natural for B2Bs to dominate the search results for general terms (high volume keywords), both branded and non-branded. Targeting very specific searches with lower search volume (long-tail keywords) can still be an excellent strategy for B2Bs, but the generalization that you should avoid more popular terms is incorrect. Popular terms can play a significant role in your content marketing strategy, especially in top-of-the-funnel content.
2. B2Bs should publish content for decision-makers (vs. a broader target audience)
This is another generalization that is no longer true. It’s common for modern B2B companies (especially B2B SaaS) to attract broader audiences. Sometimes it’s important to leave space in your strategy for the unexpected; for example, internal teams can advocate decision-makers adopt specific solutions by their company, etc. In our experience, B2B SEO works best when it works in tandem with your overall digital marketing strategy, and the kind of content that you should publish depends on that.
3. B2B content should be “professional’
We believe that B2B content should represent your company’s voice accurately. Every B2B company has its voice, marketing communication style, and focuses on a different target audience. What it means to be “professional” is different from one company to another, so it’s vital that your B2B content strategy reflects your values and is an integral part of your digital marketing strategy and marketing communication.
The Eight Steps of a Successful B2B SEO Strategy
Before starting SEO, it’s essential to decide your marketing objectives. What are you trying to achieve with SEO? Is it to create a valuable resource for your target audience or drive more organic traffic to your product pages? B2B SEO can be a part of every stage of your marketing funnel, but it’s essential to clarify your goals.
In this guide, we will show you how to create a successful B2B SEO strategy by focusing on three pillars of SEO success:
Being intentional about the content strategy that you make and the searches that you want your content to be found for on Google
Creating a solid technical foundation for your website
Leveraging synergies between SEO and your business presence
Step 1: Define your buyer persona
Although this is the first step, it is also the easiest for many B2B companies. You have likely already defined your B2B persona and understand their buyer journey as part of your current marketing efforts.
Your buyer personas are essential for SEO because different stakeholders prefer different kinds of content. For example, CMOs are interested in different content than other c-level decision-makers and operate in different time frames. Your marketing team has different pain points than your board members - and any of these personas can propose implementing a B2B solution.
Step 2: Identify your search competitors
Understanding the competitive landscape is another critical step in creating a successful B2B SEO strategy. By doing a competitive analysis, you can uncover SEO strategies that are proven to bring organic traffic to your competitors' websites. Moreover, we recommend building a search competitor analysis. A search competitor is any website that competes in the search results for your target searches - even if they are not a business. Such examples include blogs and websites from companies in your industry that don’t compete with your product or service.
Step 3: Build your B2B SEO strategy on top of your Google Ads strategy
If you are running Google Ads, you are in an excellent position to capitalize on SEO. Organic and paid search are two sides of the same coin. You can start by identifying top-performing paid keywords with high conversion rates and adding them to the list of keywords you want to optimize your website for organic search. This way, you can jump-start your B2B SEO strategy and lower your ad costs simultaneously.
Step 4: Choose keywords for each stage of your marketing funnel
Keywords are a massive part of any SEO strategy. They allow you to be intentional about what you want your content to be found for and what terms you need to optimize your pages for. Moreover, the keywords (and content topics) you add to your strategy should reflect the stage of the marketing funnel that your buyer is in.
It is recommended that you create content for all buyer journey steps. For example, if you're targeting people who are just starting with your brand, then top-of-funnel keywords like “how-to” or "what is" might be helpful. As your target persona gradually moves down the funnel, you might want to create content around mid-funnel keywords such as "what are the benefits of." Bottom-funnel keywords generally include words with purchase search intent such as “buy” or “your product vs. competitor product” or “your product reviews.”
Step 5: Make sure that your technical SEO is top-notch.
Technical SEO is an integral part of website optimization. Actively maintaining your website’s health should be part of your strategy because sites with SEO issues might experience difficulties in getting their content indexed by Google. It can be a complicated task to perform, but it is necessary to ensure that your website ranks well on Google. In our experience, having an excellent technical SEO foundation is a prerequisite for good Google rankings, and it is well documented that websites with technical SEO issues might experience sudden traffic loss after Google core updates.
Some examples of common technical issues include: duplicate content, redirect loops, errors in code, improper site structure, and more.
Step 6: Assign search KPIs
The chances are that if you are reading this, you already have a website with some product or services pages and a few (or more) articles published on your business blog. One of the most high-value activities you can do as part of your new SEO strategy is to assign each of your pages a search KPI and optimize them for it. This search KPI can be a keyword from your keyword list, competitor keywords, or simply something you want this page to be found for.
Advanced tip: We also recommend checking Google Search Console for the keywords that triggered your pages to appear in the search results last month. This will give you ideas about what Google thinks are good search KPIs for your pages.
Step 7: Create an insanely valuable B2B blog
People do business with people they know, like, and trust. With higher stakes, this is perhaps even more true in B2B marketing. In our experience, one of the best ways to establish thought leadership in your industry is by creating a content library full of quality resources. Featuring content and/or interviews from key industry influencers and creating thorough, in-depth articles are some of the best ways to build brand awareness and enterprise thought leadership.
Step 8: Get positive PR
As a B2B company, you might already have received some publicity, for example, a blog post or article about your product or service, an interview with your founders, team, etc. Such digital PR initiatives signal to Google that you are a reputable website, and it will give you a boost in search engine rankings because of the backlinks from these websites. You can further nurture this channel by reaching out to influential websites and industry blogs, arranging interviews, contributing content, or announcing your latest product initiatives.
SEO is a constantly evolving field. To stay on top of the B2B SEO game, you need to keep up-to-date on the latest trends.
This chapter will discuss some of the most advanced tactics and strategies that you can use to take your SEO to the next level. These are beneficial both for companies that have been around for a while and those just starting with their SEO strategy.
Make sure you're aware of Google changes
Google is constantly changing its algorithms, and following these changes is vital for businesses that use their websites and content as marketing channels. For example, if you haven’t been following these updates in the last year, you would have missed some significant changes, such as the page experience update. Not only what worked yesterday might not work today, but following these changes closely will allow you to gain an edge over your Google competition.
Take a topical approach to keyword research
One of the latest trends in SEO is developing topical authority, and businesses with a very defined buyer persona can leverage this by focusing on what their customers need.
Many companies now take a topical approach to content marketing, creating content clusters that cover topics from multiple angles within their business blogs. It is an excellent way to establish thought-leadership and create more in-depth and valuable content for their customers. It also helps them to establish themselves as an authority on the topic in the eyes of Google (and all other search engines), which results in solid content rankings.
Use “people also ask” for ideas and micro-trends
The "people also ask" section of Google search results can give you some excellent ideas about what other related topics your target audience might be interested in. For example, if you are looking for a topic to write about, you can Google your focus keyword and explore the "people also ask" section for a trove of ideas and micro trends. We should note that not all searches bring up a “people also ask” box, so don’t be surprised if nothing comes up.
Make sure to leverage schemas
Schema markup is a way to provide Google with additional information about your website’s data. This is done by adding an extra layer of code to the HTML tags on your webpage. The schema markup can tell Google that something on the page is an article, a business event, a recruiting video, and so on. Once Google knows what type of content it's looking at, it will produce more accurate search results for users.
Schema markup also might be vital for unlocking rich search results for your content, such as featuring video from your page at the top of the search results.
Match content with search intent
Google has invested heavily over the years to make its algorithms more intelligent and responsive to what users are searching for. The algorithms can now understand which words are more relevant or essential to the topic, making it easier for Google to match content with search intent.
Because of this, matching content with search intent is perhaps one of the most critical aspects of B2B SEO. Google will prefer to surface specific content types in search results based on what they think the user is looking for.
As a result, searching for “best collaboration software for business teams” will surface informational content and comparison sites. If you were targeting this keyword with a product page, for example, you are out of luck.
We hope you found this guide useful, and it gave you some insight on how to get started and create your own B2B SEO strategy. We know that B2B SEO is a big topic, and we tried to present you with a high-level overview of what goes into a successful B2B SEO plan.
If you want to learn more about the specific processes of B2B SEO and how this would look for your business, we welcome the opportunity to discuss it with you.