SEO for B2B business has changed. Google and other search engines are getting smarter. Ranking is no longer about technical skills, but about sharing value. Read our guide on how to discover and rank for your keywords relevant to various stakeholders in a complex B2B sales process.
What makes B2B SEO optimization different?
SEO is all about making the right content visible to the right audience. This is more complex with B2B than with B2C because there are multiple stakeholders and the buying journey is often longer and more complex.
Each stakeholder you are targeting is probably on their own sub-journey, and your job is to understand both who they are and where they are in their buying journey to make the right keywords and content visible to them.
Add to this the different buying situations in which each stakeholders can start their journeys, and you got yourself a highly complex map of situations, stakeholders and stages to map keywords for.
The full graph looks something like this:
In the above graph, we have the follwing dimensions:
- Stakeholders: IT/Finance/CEO
- Stages: Awareness/Consideration/Decision
- Situations: Challenge X / Situation Y / Trigger Z
Of course, this is a generic model and an example. You will probably have your own version of this. Yours will probably contain more variables in each dimension.
Your job in creating a B2B SEO strategy is to draw out this map containing your version of each of these dimensions, then map keywords to each of the possible variations that you want to rank for.
This is of course closely related to your B2B Content Marketing strategy. It is in fact a sub-part of it. While your overall content marketing strategy looks at all your content, your SEO strategy only looks at that part of it which will be visible to search engines.
How Google and other search engines determine rankings
Once you have mapped which keywords you want to cover with your content in the dimensions above, it's time to think about how to get that content to rank for relevant searches.
To do this, consider what the search engines today want to achieve. They want to make the best possible content visible for a person, and they only have the person's search history and current search keyword to go by. They do this by looking at three main ranking factors:
1. Authority: One of the key factors a search engine looks at to achieve this is how authorative the person or site posting the content is. How many others are linking to this site or to this particular piece? How long and how regularly have they been producing content? How much do they seem to write about this topic vs. other topics?
2. Relevance and quality: They other key factor, of course, is the content itself. Google and other search engines read your content, and try their best to understand what the content is actually about. Although there's no AI today that can understand what most of what is written means, they're getting there fast. It's no longer possible to "trick" Google by adding a bunch of keywords into your content. Rather, write in a natural way, and let Google figure out the purpose of your content.
3. Impact: Finally, search engines are getting better and better at looking at the behavior of the visitors to your site. Do people who get your content served on Google frequently continue searching? Or do they stop searching? And does their behavior frequently change in a detectable way after reading your content? In short, what impact does your content have on the behavior of your visitors? This tells Google how impactful, and thereby how valuable, your content is for your visitors for any given set of keywords.
How you can rank
Google and other search engines want to serve good quality results to their visitors. To do this, they want to understand what content is most likely to satisfy the intent behind their query. Your job is to allow search engines like Google to do their job. Make great content for each of the buyers in your mapping mentioned above, and you will rank. It's really that "simple".
Thus, you need to figure out which content is most likely to positively impact each of the stakeholders in each stage and journey. Then produce.
Of course, a lot of this is guesswork. Nobody knows and nobody probably can know for sure, so your job is to test, measure and optimize.
B2B SEO: Step by step
- Map your customers' journeys. Which situations are your customers in when they start their buying journeys? What's the circumstance in which they need your solutions, what's their challenges in that situation, and what's the trigger to start looking for a solution?
- Map and produce content for each stakeholder and stage in each journey. Understand how you can help your stakeholders. What key insights can you provide? Produce articles and other types of content (videos, posts) around these insights. That's your best chance of being visible to those stakeholders.
- Measure if your theory was correct and optimize. Check which of your content pieces rank for which keywords, and if certain topics, keywords or pieces of content hit a nerve or tanked. Improve based on this knowledge and repeat.
How to measure your B2B SEO efforts
There are many ways to measure your SEO efforts, but we have chosen to work with a method that is both simple and free. And it works wonders!
For this method, we are using the absolutely free tool Google Search Console!
Jump into the tool, and go to the "Search Analytics" section. Here, you will see for which searches your content is shown, for which keywords, and in which position, among other metrics.
Here's the very simple method for optimizing your content:
Check the list of keywords. Find those for which you have many impressions, but rank badly. This shows you which keywords you have potential to rank in many more visitors for.
With Google Search Console, you don't need to guess. You see what people actually search for, which keywords you actually rank for, and where you have the biggest potential to rank better.
How we can help you
Do you want to implement our B2B SEO and other methodologies to get more visitors, leads and sales? We work remotely with companies all over the world to help them implement SharpSpring, a leading Marketing Automation and CRM platform. Learn more about SharpSpring and how we can help you below.
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