If your target customer is another business, you need to approach search engine optimization quite differently than you would if your marketing to consumer impulses through search engines.
Factors like buying cycles, price, content strategy and whether you’re selling a product or a service will all play a role in your ability to convert traffic into measurable social, informational or ecommerce transactions.
citation-indexing In this post, inspired by a recent interview with Lee Odden of Top Rank Marketing, I will list out the considerations marketers need to be aware of when they search engine optimize web content for business customers.
What is Your Brand Position? – If you’re the premium provider, broad exploratory research terms and phrases are going to be critical, since you need to build awareness early in the buying cycle. If you’re the low price leader who swoops in right before the purchasing decision by selling on price, niche phrases queried by more educated buyers who are further down the sales funnel are going to be more important. There are many phases of the buying cycle. Figure out which one matters most to you and prioritize your keywords accordingly.
Select Keywords that Reinforce Your Marketing Strategy – If the high volume searches in your category are out of sync which your marketing strategy, cover your bases by launching a blog or a social networking presence that’s search optimized for the phrases management or marketing finds politically incorrect. If your company sees the impact of carbon emissions on the environment as responsible for “climate change,” but the volume is clearly behind “global warming,” write a blog post about why you think global warming should be referred to as climate change.
We Don’t Say What We Search – Don’t assume that the keywords you search optimize your web content for are the same ones people use conversationally in social media. Use tools like Google Adwords, Google Trends, Yahoo Site Explorer, Trellian and WordTracker to discover keywords for your SEO program. Log in and search the social networking services your target customers use to locate conversations with intrinsic business value.
Embrace the Long Tail of Your Keywords – Don’t just focus on high volume keywords. In B2B SEO, where the products and services sold are usually more expensive than in the B2C space, and thus more carefully considered, relevancy is more important than volume. There may not be a lot of people searching for an obtuse, highly technical search phrase, but if you’re selling the widget being searched, your conversion probability will be much higher.
High Search Ranks Doesn’t Guarantee Conversion – Particularly in B2B SEO, the top ranked sites don’t always win the business. And often that’s because their content strategy fails to anticipate and answer their buyer’s questions. Are the product’s technical specifications clearly laid out? If interoperability is an issue, is it easy to figure out which products your offering is compatible with? Is the content presented in a way that’s intuitive and compelling? If not, you may may rank high, but ultimately lose the sale to the site that makes it easiest to make the right purchase.
What Good is Great Content if You Can’t Find It? – Perhaps in less competitive categories, having great content is enough. But if your market is wise to SEO, you’re going to need to make it easy for people top discover and link to your content, and this, of course, is something that social media accelerates, because you can share your content in variety of places. “Having great content is important but if people don’t know about it, they’ll never link to it,” says Lee Odden, president of Top Rank Marketing. “Links and content are the yin and yang of an effective SEO program.”
But just as B2B SEO differs from B2C SEO, now all B2B SEO program are alike. Adapt your approach to your marketing strategy, do the necessary keyword discovery homework for search and social, and use your social media presence to share your content. If it’s done with valuable content, link baiting can be a good thing too. Like other aspects of business communications, SEO is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor.
This interview was conducted as research for an upcoming book on business to business applications of social media that I am co-writing with Paul Gillin, which will be published by Wiley later this year.
You can hear the whole interview with Lee Odden here.
I will be incorporating this information into the Social Media Boot Camp which covers all aspects of social media communications in a workshop environment.