How to develop a B2B SEO marketing strategy
Having an effective and well thought-out SEO strategy is essential, whether you’re a large B2C eCommerce site chasing keywords with tens of thousands of searches, or you’re a B2B SaaS site in search of relatively small search volumes.
This blog will outline several of the key foundations for building an effective B2B SEO strategy, focusing on:
- Strong technical SEO foundations
- Targeting search intents at different stages of the funnel
- Competitor benchmarking
What’s the difference between SEO for B2B vs B2C sites?
Developing an SEO strategy for B2B and B2C companies is largely centred on the same principles:
- On-page SEO – prioritising and effectively targeting the correct keywords/search intents
- Off-page SEO – building a strong, authoritative backlink profile
- Technical SEO – ensuring that the site is technically sound
Key differences for B2B sites:
- Much lower conversion rates
- Whereas e-commerce stores may sell thousands of items per week, B2B clients may only get a handful of online leads each week
- Lower search volumes
- The bottom-of-funnel (BOF) keywords for B2B companies may have between 0-10 search volume per month. This isn’t to say they aren’t extremely valuable, though.
- B2B content is largely centred on key target personas
- Instead of targeting broad customer bases (women aged between 21-30, for example), B2B content tends to concentrate on key decision-makers
- For example, a payroll software website will be specifically focused on targeting CFOs, accountants, HR heads, or CEOs of small businesses, as opposed to the general public.
What are the best practices in putting together a B2B SEO strategy?
Strong technical SEO foundations
Strong technical foundations lay the groundwork for any SEO strategy.
With eCommerce sites, for example, product pages and category pages play a central role, but the main BOF pages for B2B sites are often industry, solutions or markets pages where users may make an inquiry or download an e-book or brochure. Alongside this, there are often editorial pages that include blogs, articles, whitepapers, customer stories, infographics, press releases, videos or training materials.
A key factor when developing a B2B SEO strategy is ensuring there is an effective site architecture. This facilitates strong internal linking to important organic pages as well as allowing the site to build out content clusters and authority around specific topics.
Other key considerations:
- Will the site structure and the different page templates allow the site to grow sustainably (and expand internationally into other regions/languages)?
- Do we have the correct structured data/schema markup in place for our different page templates (e.g. an article schema for blog pages)?
- How do we perform for core web vitals and how does this compare to our key competitors?
Targeting search intents at different stages of the funnel
Within the B2B world, it’s vital to ensure your brand is visible organically at all stages of the user journey, from top of funnel awareness, right through to the bottom of funnel, where users are converting on the site.
This means ensuring you have content that aligns with what people are searching for/the search intents at different stages of the funnel. The key to this is effective and thorough keyword research and content gap analysis using competitor domains.
Start with the bottom-of-funnel “money” pages
For B2B sites just getting started with SEO, the initial focus should be on ensuring that your “money pages” (i.e. market, industry or solutions pages) are effectively targeting these BOF keywords.
Examples of BOF pages in the CRM world:
- Zoho’s Small Business Software Page – targeting the keyword “crm for small business” (2.3K search volume in the US)
- Hubspot’s Lead Management & Tracking Software Page – targeting keywords such as “lead management” (400 search volume”) and “lead management software” (250 search volume)
Targeting middle-of-funnel (MOF) and top-of-funnel (TOF) keywords
After ensuring that these money pages are optimised, it’s important to look at keywords towards the top and middle of the funnel. You can then build out or optimise existing pages to target these keywords, which will likely be through blog posts, guides or eBooks.
The focus here is not on driving users to the page to gain a macro conversion (such as requesting a demo) but to ensure brand visibility at different stages of the organic journey. This is so when users are making those “money” decisions, the brand is already top of mind.
These keywords are often tied to people trying to find more information about a particular topic tied to your service or offering, or comparing different types of solutions.
Examples of content targeting MOF and TOF keywords
- Xero’s What is VAT blog – This guide helps small business owners understand what VAT is and how it works, and is estimated to drive 1,500 in monthly traffic through informational keywords such as “how much is VAT”.
- Verizon’s Difference between 3G, 4G & 5G – This blog allows Verizon to rank for a range of keywords comparing 3G, 4G & 5G, which is clearly an important topic for them to have organic visibility in.
When building out an SEO strategy, it’s essential to know where you’re positioned compared to key competitors in terms of backlink profiles and keyword performance.
When conducting keyword research and gathering keywords, it’s important to categorise or tag these keywords using a rank-tracking tool such as GetSTAT or RankRanger.
Then you can compare your relative performance across these different keyword categories, whether that’s looking at a number of keywords ranking in the top 10, estimated traffic or share of voice for these keyword groups.
Keeping a constant eye on performance across these different keyword categories will really help you to prioritise your efforts. For example, if you can see that your key competitors have a very strong share of voice across a particular keyword category, it would make sense to take a deeper dive into how you can improve performance.
To get a snapshot of overall organic traffic for yourself and competitors, the Semrush Competitive Positioning Map provides a solid overview, comparing (estimated) organic search traffic vs organic keywords.
It’s always useful to compare your backlink performance to that of competitors and look for any PR or link building opportunities where competitors have managed to get some great coverage and backlinks.
The Ahrefs Domain Comparison tool breaks backlink performance down into specific types of domains etc.
You can also see the number of referring domains over time, which provides really useful context in terms of performance.
When building out a B2B SEO strategy, there are numerous different facets to consider.
However, the fundamentals for a B2B site are:
- Having a sound technical framework that will allow your site to grow (and also expand internationally)
- Ensuring you’re targeting keywords at each stage of the user journey, starting with the all-important money pages and then middle-of-funnel and top-of-funnel keywords
- Effective benchmarking against competitors across important keywords, to help prioritise which areas to focus on