SEO for B2B: 3 Reasons You Can't Avoid It Anymore
Most B2B marketers know that SEO is valuable, but hesitate to tackle it because of time and budget constraints, or just plain not knowing where to start. But can you afford to skip SEO? Most likely not, according to these stats:
- 61% of B2B decision-makers start the decision making process with a web search. (Demand Gen Report)
- 77% of B2B purchasers say they won’t even speak to a salesperson until they’ve done their own research. (CEB)
- B2B brands that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t. (Social Media B2B)
SEO can make one of the biggest impacts on lead generation and can easily be one of the most cost-effective channels for new lead acquisition. So, it’s time to get off the fence and make SEO a priority in your company.
Here are three reasons why B2B marketers need to get serious about SEO:
1. Search Results for Many B2B Terms Aren’t Crowded Yet
While SEO competition in consumer marketing is at its height, the hesitation that B2B marketers face when it comes to SEO is the very reason that the brands that do use it have a strategic advantage.
More importantly, big B2Bs often don’t utilize SEO aggressively. DuPont, for example, shows up at the bottom of page 2 for the keyword search “silicone lubricant” (bottom of page 3 in my own experiment). While that may not necessarily hurt them, considering that companies with higher SEO rankings are almost definitely selling more products and making sales directly, utilizing SEO with content marketing can make their brand more visible.
How do you determine what your rankings are? Start by examining the playing field on Google with a depersonalized Google search for some key terms or phrases for your industry, or for questions that your sales team is frequently asked. You may have “Googled” your brand (or yourself, we all do it) before, but keep in mind that Google personalizes search results based on your search history, location, and more, which can skew the results. A depersonalized search strips those preferences and lets you see the results that your audience is more likely to see.
Once you’ve removed personalization preferences, look at where your brand shows up in the search results compared to your top competitors. Is anyone answering your prospects and customers’ common questions online? Are those answers authoritative, specific, detailed, and helpful? If you can be among the first to answer their questions—and answer them well—you can capitalize on a huge opportunity and put a (potentially long-term) stake in the ground for SEO.
2. SEO Can Significantly Increase the Value of Every Content Effort
Done right, your content helps your buyers build trust and confidence in your business. For B2B specifically, your buyers want to know that the vendors they work with know their stuff, are reliable, and can be trusted.
If you are already creating content online, SEO can significantly increase the value of every content asset you have already created, as well as every new content asset. Without combining content creation with SEO, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.
Some of your initial considerations should include:
- Keywords: The search terms on each level of decision-making will be different. On the initial level, searchers may make very broad requests, such as “shipping companies in the Northeast,” while other users may search for more detailed keywords to meet certain specifications.
- User intent: Google’s algorithms are good enough now that keywords are almost worthless without considering the user’s intent. Do they want to buy or learn? Create content that answers the question behind the keyword.
- Content type: Understand who your audience is and then create the right type of content for them. For example, practitioners are more likely to be grabbed by a video, infographic, or ebook—something that explains the basic concepts while, CEOs and managers may be more willing to exchange email addresses for whitepapers.
Remember that all of the above will vary for every decision maker. What attracts the attention of a department manager trying to impress his boss will likely not be the deep resource that the CMO is looking for as she plans for the following year.
3. The Value (and Opportunity) of Mobile for B2B
Mobile can and does covert, although at times indirectly—and mobile traffic is spiking. Buyers are starting to use mobile in the workplace more frequently than they use laptops or desktop computers, according to eMarketer. That includes people on purchasing teams.
The demographic of your buyers is getting younger, and they use mobile at an increasing rate, even at the office. Your B2B marketing strategy should take that into consideration, not only because it’s the way of the foreseeable future, but because it’s an opportunity to be among the first to reach that demographic where they’re most comfortable.
How does mobile optimization differ from search on a computer?
- Long-tail keywords are even more important on mobile. Mobile users are more likely to search by voice, using a complete sentence that’s conversationally structured. Work direct answers to potential questions into your content whenever possible.
- Faster load times and, of course, a mobile-friendly user experience are required.
- CTAs need to be easily accessible by users and their thumbs. That means buttons need to be big enough, phone numbers should be tappable, and forms should be as short as possible.
Another reason mobile is so important is that it’s in use at all times of the day or night, not just during business hours. Without mobile optimization, you can miss out on potential purchasers who are researching during off-hours—especially when you consider that mobile users are likely to click through on several high-ranked results, as reported by a Mediative study.
Now is the time to use the lack of B2B SEO saturation to your advantage, to make the most out of your content marketing strategies, and optimize for mobile users. If you neglect mobile SEO, your competitors who do utilize it will earn the brand impressions. That’s a lot to lose out on.