Designing a B2B SEO strategy – 9 steps to success
Rolling out a new B2B SEO strategy? Read our checklist before you get started…
SEO isn’t an art form. It doesn’t have a Joseph Turner or a Frida Kahlo (though there are definitely a few Jackson Pollocks out there). It requires discipline, attention to detail, and flawless, up to date subject matter knowledge. Google is as fickle as the winds of Aeolus, and its algorithm updates all the time. You must bend your website and your off-site practices to accommodate it – whatever “it” happens to be at that precise moment.
Basically, there are rules you have to follow, and there are things you have to do, and if you follow all of the rules and do all the things, you will usually see good (or at least better) results.
Anyway, for the moment, here are the rules to follow and the things you need to do to cultivate a winning B2B SEO strategy.
1. Review your online assets
“You must know where you stand before you can move forward.” It’s the kind of banal truism that appears on motivational posters alongside a stock photo of a golden eagle flying across a sunset, but in this case, it almost works.
Have an idea of how SEO-friendly your website is before you roll out your B2B SEO strategy. Are you using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress which has an abundance of great SEO plugins? Are you using a CMS that requires extensive support? Are you not using a CMS at all, and hard-coding all changes into each page?
Whatever the state of your site, you should find out what level of support you need and create a realistic schedule for collaboration with the dev team – strategise based on their feedback.
1. Decide what your core products/services are
Unless you’ve got a strong, well-established brand, people aren’t likely to search for your company in particular – so it’s incumbent on you to work out what you want to sell the most of. What’s most important to your business? It doesn’t have to be one thing, but if there are a few products or services that you consider the greatest revenue generators, it’s essential you focus any B2B SEO strategy on them.
2. Do your keyword research
To get found, you’ll need terms your target audience is searching for, which will necessitate keyword research. There are a number of ways to do this. You can check competitor sites to see the words and phrases they’re targeting; you can ask your current customers what they’d search for online if they were looking for your product/service again; you can make best guesses and run the keywords through Google’s Keyword Planner to assess rough search volumes.
But bear in mind as mobile search grows and so does the number of people asking their phones questions, you will want to try and identify long tail (more than three words) keywords too e.g. How do I… What is the… What’s the cheapest… Soovle can be a great way of finding longer tail suggestions that are on the tip of your (figurative) tongue.
Whatever you do, spend some time on it, and be realistic about it. If you’re an accountancy firm, for example, you’ll probably struggle to beat the Big Four for the most popular search terms. It’s worth getting creative and finding a relevant long-tail keyword – maybe as part of a question, or something specific to your niche. Review forums, bone up on your subject matter to uncover relevant synonyms, and pair these phrases with suffixes and prefixes revolving around things like pricing and training.
Ideally, you want to strike a perfect balance of competition, achievability, and popularity. Pick your battles wisely: where SEO is concerned, Goliath, unfortunately, usually beats David.
3. Use these keywords in the right spots
When you’ve drawn up a list of keywords, you need to make sure they’re all in the right places. Place your search term in the…
· Title tag
· Meta description
· Page title
· Text (wherever appropriate and relevant)
The title tag is crucial: it’s Google’s primary indicator of relevance to a query.
4. Make sure your website is crawlable and user friendly
An ideal website will make things as easy for Google’s search bots as possible. Often, this means making things as easy for your customers as possible. You should start by having a logical, well-siloed structure that allows bots to easily crawl every important page. From there, focus on functionality: if your website is mobile-optimised, quick to load, and intuitive to use, your ranking will rise accordingly – but only if you tell Google about it. If it doesn’t know you exist, your B2B SEO strategy will be at something of a disadvantage.
Use Google Search Console (the erstwhile Webmaster Tools) to submit a sitemap containing your pages. This will make sure your website is crawled by search engines.
5. Regularly produce relevant content
In the days of “black hat” SEO, you could spam a webpage with invisible text containing your target keywords before enjoying a day-long desk nap. Alas, those days are long gone. Google wants your content to be interesting, relevant, and in-depth, and though this can seem like a lot of work – who wants to do research when there are day-long desk naps to be getting on with? – it’s worth doing.
If it provides more value to your customers than your competitors’ sites, you’re on to a winner. Fresh, relevant content means lower bounce rates, higher engagement – and happy search engines.
6. Develop your social skills
If they ain’t retweeting, prepare for a beating. Make sure your site is optimised for social media. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn aren’t just for broadcasting your ill-informed political views or celebrating work anniversaries (also, just on the off chance that Jeff Weiner or Reid Hoffman is reading this: nobody celebrates work anniversaries).
If your content is shareable from your site, you’ll see higher visitor numbers, higher engagement, and more links. Google’s algorithm displays tweets in its search engine results, so the more retweets and likes, the better your chances of ranking highly.
7. Get hooked on links
Links are either the first or the second most important off-site ranking criterion (the other one being RankBrain, the machine learning part of Google’s algorithm). You want as many as possible from the best sites possible (think reputable news sites or other businesses’ websites).
Accordingly, you need to approach link building with a degree of cynicism. Comments, articles, guest blogs on websites: if it’s online, you can get a link out of it. If you’ve raised a bunch of money for a rare disease, try to get a link off the relevant charity. If you’ve won a hot dog eating contest, get the hosts to link to your site.
Become shameless. In every interaction you have with anybody – Guardian journalists, civil servants, your children – you should be thinking about how to get a link out of it.
8. Keep it up
SEO isn’t one of things you can do once and never think about again (like visiting Stonehenge. It’s just rocks. Everywhere has rocks). It’s an ongoing process, and one that’s liable to take up a fair amount of time.
You’ll need a reliable stream of fresh content to keep up with the ever-shifting whims of Google; you’ll need to make sure your competitors don’t muscle in on your favoured keywords; you’ll need to keep building and replenishing your link building portfolio; you’ll need to stay on top of changing search trends, and to treat each algorithm update as a doomsday scenario. You’ll need to do all that and more – and you’ll need to do it alongside your regular business activity.
Best of luck.
Of course, if you don’t feel like doing any of that, you could always get help from a great B2B SEO agency used to designing and executing lead generating B2B SEO strategy. Talk to TopLine SEO director Luke to find out more.