SEO is one of the most important channels for customer acquisition for B2B companies. Having strong organic visibility at all stages of the sales cycle is an effective way to increase growth.

But when it comes to creating a B2B SEO strategy, where do you start?

Increasing organic traffic for a B2B company has its own set of challenges. There are differences when it comes to creating an SEO strategies for B2B and B2C companies. It is very important to understand how to approach SEO with these differences in mind, as it is the key to success.

SEO for B2B

What is SEO for B2B?

SEO for B2B (Business-to-Business) is a strategy that aims to increase traffic and organic search engine optimization rankings for companies. A good SEO strategy for B2B puts a company’s website within reach of users searching for its services and products.

While in B2B marketing one company buys from another, in a B2C company it is the other way around (business-to-consumer, consumers buy from companies). Regardless of the case, the basic SEO concepts are the same. Among these basic concepts are the four main pillars of an SEO strategy:

  • Technical SEO
  • Content
  • On-page SEO
  • Off-page SEO

SEO for B2B has unique challenges that you need to keep in mind when creating a strategy, as they relate to your target audience.

Whether B2B or B2C, people buy from people. However, those who buy on behalf of a company have different consumer habits than those who buy for themselves. So, let’s explore the differences and dive deeper into what you should be aware of.

The Differences Between B2C and B2B SEO

When you compare B2B and B2C, the main difference is the audience. It’s important to know that the way you buy professional services and products, is very different from that of consumers.

This means that the way you’re going to approach B2B SEO is going to vary from a B2C strategy. We can summarize the unique challenges that B2B SEO professionals face in many key differences:

Complex sales funnels

In most cases, the sales funnel of a B2B company is more complex than that of a B2C company. There are many circumstances to consider when analyzing the sales funnel of a B2B business.

Compare the consideration, research, and planning it takes to buy a pair of sneakers to that of professionally investing in a new CRM system for a large enterprise.

It’s pretty easy to know which process is going to be more complex, isn’t it?

There are different requirements for a B2B company to be visible to search engines at each stage of the sales funnel. From the consideration stage, when prospects first interact with you, to the action stage, when the sale is closed.

A B2B marketer needs to know their audience inside out, which usually translates to digging deeper than you usually do in B2C.

However, don’t think this is a negative thing. Having a complex sales funnel means, at least from an SEO perspective, that you have more opportunities to get targeted traffic showing up at each stage.

Low volume keyword

More complex sales funnels usually result in a higher number of search engines terms that potential customers use to search for suppliers. In most cases, this means a lower B2B keyword research volume than in B2C.

To make SEO do its work in the B2B sector marketers need to master their keyword researching skills. They need to adapt to their audience, find search queries that align with audience intent, and cluster through the sales funnel.

The idea is to find specific key phrases that allow you to target a specific audience with content that pushes them into the next stage of the funnel.

Low conversion rates

Another unique challenge of business to business search engine optimization is low conversion rates, at least compared to B2C.

We’re talking about click-to-sell conversion rates, not click-to-query.

But sales that are closed typically have more value than B2C. A successful B2B strategy focuses on attracting traffic that is specifically looking for the products and services you offer. Find a niche, know your audience, and demonstrate why your proposition is the solution to their problems and you will succeed.

Demonstrate Your Expertise Through Leadership.

While we can’t deny that consumers pay attention to where they shop, B2B customers shop differently.

B2B buyers want to be assured, even before they contact a company, that their purchase will meet their needs. They want to make sure you can offer them the right solution to their problems before they talk to you or fill out a form.

Part of the complex sales funnels we’ve mentioned takes place in the evaluation phase: when a customer is considering their options. Hopefully, one of these options will be your brand.

But you need to be in a position to demonstrate your knowledge, to show that you are a leader in the industry and that your company is the right fit. You can do this through leadership.

According to Marketing Insider Group:

Thought leadership is a type of content digital marketing strategy where you leverage the talent, expertise, and passion of your business or community to answer the big questions that your target audience cares about on a particular topic.

While there are many ways to position your community (lest you forget, people buy from people and personal brands are important in B2B) as experts in a field, among the best practices are:

Public Relations
Guest articles
LinkedIn marketing
Podcast appearances
Video Marketing

Get your community associated with your industry and integrate thought leadership into your SEO strategy.

SEO success stories for B2B

If you want to know what’s working (and what’s not), one of the things you can do is research the strategies of sites that are performing well in the search engines.

Spending time analyzing why these sites are performing can help you uncover tactics you should be paying attention to. And you can do this with Semrush’s Traffic Analysis, Organic Research, and Backlink Analysis tools.

Within the B2B SEO success stories, two sites stand out from the crowd: HubSpot and Canva. They are two very different B2B companies, but both have used very smart strategies to grow.

B2B SEO strategy in 7 steps

To help you create a solid strategy for your business, here is a 7-step B2B SEO strategy you can follow to beat the competition:

  1. Create your ideal customer
  2. Know your sales funnel
  3. Make keyword research tools around your customers.
  4. Design a keyword strategy to reach your customers at the different stages of your funnel.
  5. Create and optimize landing pages for products and services.
  6. Create a scalable content strategy
  7. Promote your content to get backlinks

1. Create your ideal customer (buyer person)

You can’t deny the importance of creating ideal customer profiles for B2B search engine optimization, and it should be the first step in creating a successful strategy.

After all, the more you know about your audience and their requirements, the better you will be able to target them.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, here’s an explanation:

An ideal customer profile is an abstract description of your ideal consumer, based on qualitative and quantitative data from market/competitor research and existing customer profiles.

However, it is not about describing the potential buying audience of a business, but about generating a set of data that can be used by marketing, sales, and product departments to make informed decisions and smart investments.

Most businesses have more than one ideal customer profile. It is very important to know who they are, their problems, and their online behavior, among others. The more you know, the better.

This can help you break down your strategy into different stages that target different customers, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach, something that doesn’t usually work in B2B.

2. Know your sales funnel

Before you can figure out which keywords your ideal customers are using and which keywords you should rank for, you need to know how your business’ sales funnel works.

Although the lines between sales and marketing have been blurred, you may not be familiar with how to analyze your funnel. 

So where do you start?

Talk to your sales team. Ask them to explain the funnel, how they think it works, and its key elements, among other things.

Analyze your sales and analytics data to determine how consumers are finding your business.

Collect some key metrics, such as customer lifetime value, average customer retention time, the average time to purchase, and the reason customers leave.

3. Conduct keyword research around your customers.

Detailed keyword search is the foundation of any successful B2B strategy. Marketers who find opportunities to target your customers are the ones who will be in a position to increase your organic traffic.

You need to find the search queries that users are using to find businesses similar to yours at each stage of the sales funnel.

While most B2C marketers focus their keyword research efforts on commercial search terms, a successful B2B strategy should also focus on informational queries. 

Use Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, to locate the keywords your ideal customers are using to find answers to their questions, learn more or find a supplier.

It is very important to find keywords that align with each stage of the sales funnel and group them by intent.

If you’re having a hard time getting started with keyword research for B2B, ask yourself questions like:

What are the problems your customers are facing?

How might they be looking for ways to overcome their pain points?

How can you be the solution?

What are the key features of your product or service?

What are the keywords that generate the most organic traffic for your competitors? 

4. Design a keyword strategy to reach your customers at the different stages of your funnel.

One of the most effective ways to succeed in B2B SEO is to use create content clusters to showcase your knowledge, and rank in search engines by topic, not just by keywords.

But what are topic clusters and why are they key to B2B SEO?

Topic clusters are a group of content that revolves around a central topic and use a pillar page to link to.

A content cluster should start with a solid pillar page (the center of a specific topic) and then include links to all related cluster pages (a more detailed page that answers specific questions about your topic and links back to the main pillar page).

Developing a keyword strategy based on creating content clusters helps you target your potential customers at any stage of the buying cycle. In addition to developing a scalable content strategy that you can grow every month.

It helps you keep your content organized, more easily demonstrate your knowledge of a topic and avoid keyword cannibalization.

At this stage of creating your strategy, you need to create a keyword strategy that aligns with your ideal customers and your keyword research. 

5. Create and optimize product and service landing pages.

While we don’t deny the importance of getting positioned and creating content to drive your leads through your funnel, your ultimate goal is to make a sale. 

To do this, make sure you have solid sales pages or service landing sites.

For B2B companies, sales landing pages typically form the cornerstone pages of topic clusters. You can expand the content of the clusters to add details, acquire traffic through the funnel and answer questions your prospects have.

6. Create a scalable content strategy

Sales landing sites are usually found at the end of the B2B sales funnel, in the action stage.

That’s why B2B SEO needs to have a scalable content strategy that increases funnel visibility.

In most cases, this content strategy includes your blog or content hub.

You need to create your clusters with SEO-ready content that answers your prospects’ questions, puts you on their radar, and introduces them to your business.

Don’t focus your efforts at the very bottom of the funnel, otherwise, you may find that your competitors are creating brand awareness content before you.

In B2B SEO it’s important to keep in mind that sales are long-term, a customer who is searching for “what is [topic]” today, maybe a new customer in 12 months.

That said, B2B content marketing uses many different formats and tactics to target your target audience, including:

Blog articles
Research studies
Whitepapers and eBooks
Case studies
Templates and checklists

It’s all about creating a scalable strategy that helps you position your content, get links, increase interactions and drive organic visitors through your funnel.

Backlinks remain a fundamental part of any successful SEO strategies, as it is one of Google’s 3 key ranking factors.

When it comes to getting links as a B2B brand, content marketing is one of the most effective tactics available.

Once you’ve created a piece of content, you need to spend time promoting it beyond encouraging social media shares.

For your content to rank, it needs to be linked to other sites, and part of your distribution strategy should be to reach out via email to encourage others.

For example

  1. Get them to link to your content from resource pages.
  2. 2. Get them to recommend it in an existing piece of content.
  3. Motivate journalists to write an article on your latest research.
  4. Using broken links to find opportunities to earn links pointing to your content
    and much more