B2B SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

NOTE: Excerpted From SEMrush “B2B SEO: A Complete Strategy”

SEO is one of the most important customer acquisition channels for B2B companies. Having strong organic visibility across all stages of the buying cycle is a proven way to accelerate growth.

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

Driving organic growth for a B2B company comes with its own unique challenges. There are differences for launching a B2B vs. a B2C business SEO strategy. It’s vital to understand how to approach the channel with these differences in mind, as it is the key to driving success.

In this guide, we’re going to break down the essential parts of a complete B2B SEO strategy and look at the key differences with B2C SEO. Specifically, we’ll look at:

What Is B2B SEO?
The Differences Between B2C and B2B SEO
B2B SEO Success Stories

A 7-Step B2B SEO Strategy

What Is B2B SEO?
Business-to-Business (B2B) SEO is a strategy that’s goal is to increase organic search engine traffic and rankings. A successful B2B SEO strategy places a business’ website in front of people who are actively looking to engage the services they offer or buy the products they sell.
While B2B marketing is all about one business buying from another, unlike B2C (business-to-consumer, where it is consumers buying from a business), the SEO basics remain. Those basics are the four main pillars of SEO success:

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

B2B SEO brings with it unique challenges that need to be considered when putting together a strategy, and these relate to the audience you’re marketing to.

Whether B2B or B2C, people buy from people. However, people buying on behalf of a business have different purchasing habits than those buying for themselves. So, let’s explore these differences and dive into the things you need to consider.

The Differences Between B2C and B2B SEO
When you’re comparing B2B vs. B2C, the big difference is that the audience. It’s important to recognize that the way professional services and products are bought is, in most cases, very different to consumers.

This means the way you approach B2B SEO is going to differ from a B2C strategy. There are several unique challenges that B2B SEOs face that helps to summarize the key differences:

Complex Sales Funnels
In most instances, the sales funnel for a B2B company is far more complex than for B2C companies. There is a whole set of circumstances that need to be taken into account when looking at the B2B sales funnel.

Just think of it this way…

Compare the consideration, research, and thought that goes into buying a pair of sneakers as a consumer versus a professional investing in a new CRM system for a large company.

Pretty easy to spot which one is going to be more complex, right?

There’s a distinct requirement for a B2B company to be visible on the SERPs for each step of the sales funnel. From the awareness phase, when prospects interact with you for the first time, to the action phase, when a sale is closed.

A B2B marketer needs to know their audience inside out, which means going to a greater depth than B2C marketers will often need to do.

However, you don’t need to think of this as a negative. A complex sales funnels mean, at least from an SEO perspective, more opportunities to earn targeted traffic by appearing at each stage.

Low Volume Keywords
A more complex sales funnel means that there are many different search terms that prospects search to find suppliers. In many cases, this means lower volume keywords than what a B2C marketer would expect.

B2B SEOs need to really nail their keyword research skills. They need to adapt to the audience that they’re serving and dig deep to find search queries that align with their audience’s intent and stack across the sales funnel.

It’s all about finding specific keywords that allow you to target a specific audience with content that pushes them through to the next stage of the funnel.

Low Conversion Rates
The other unique challenge of B2B SEO is low conversion rates, at least in comparison to B2C.

Note: Here, we’re talking click-to-sale conversion rates, not click-to-inquiry.

But those sales that do close are typically of far higher value than what B2C marketers are used to. A successful B2B strategy focuses on attracting the right site traffic that is specifically looking for the products or services on offer. Go niche, know your audience, and demonstrate why your offering is the solution to their problem, and you’ll enjoy success.

A Need to Demonstrate Your Expertise via Thought Leadership
While there’s no denying that consumers pay attention to who they’re buying from (don’t ever underestimate the power of building a brand), B2B buyers shop differently.

B2B buyers want the confidence, even before inquiring with a company, that they’re buying from the one that is the best fit for their needs. They want to be sure that whoever they speak with can offer the right solution to their problems before picking up the phone or filling out a form.

Part of that complex sales funnel that we mentioned happens in the evaluation phase: where a prospect is considering their options. Hopefully, one of these options will be your company.

But you need to be in a position to demonstrate your expertise; you need to show that you’re an industry leader and that you’re the right company. You can do this with thought leadership.

This is, according to Marketing Insider Group:

Thought leadership is a type of content marketing where you tap into the talent, experience, and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience on a particular topic.

While there are many ways you can position your people (don’t forget, people buy from people, and personal branding is essential in B2B) as experts in their field, common tactics include:

  • Blogging
  • PR
  • Guest posting
  • LinkedIn marketing
  • Podcast appearances
  • Video marketing
  • Speaking at conferences (or webinars)

Make your people the ones who are associated with your industry and integrate thought leadership into your SEO strategy.

B2B SEO Success Stories

If you want to learn what’s working (and what’s not), one of the best things you can do is spend time digging deep into the strategy of websites performing well on the SERPs.

Taking the time to analyze what’s working for sites that have grown at a phenomenal rate can help you understand the tactics you should be paying attention to. And you can do this using tools including Traffic Analytics, Organic Research, and Backlink Analytics from SEMrush.

When it comes to B2B SEO success stories, two sites stand out from the crowd; HubSpot and Canva. Two very different B2B companies, yet ones that have used super-smart strategies to grow.

HubSpot receives more than 15.9 million organic hits every single month, and this figure continues to grow.

It’s safe to say that this is one of the best examples of B2B SEO success, especially within the SaaS, sales, and marketing space.

The site ranks in no. 1 spots on the SERPs for search queries such as “branding,” “market research,” “webinars,” and more.

Canva – If you’re a marketer, there’s a very good chance you’re more than familiar with the design platform Canva. In fact, you’ve probably used it many times before.

What you probably didn’t realize is that they enjoy 38.7 million organic hits from SEO every single month.

How do they do it?

By ranking in no. 1 positions for terms such as “brochure,” ‘template,” and “YouTube banner.” Besides ranking well for these keywords, they offer a solution to their audience’s problem. That’s why they’ve got top positions for these high-volume keywords.

Take someone searching for a “YouTube banner.” There’s a really good chance that they’re looking to create one. Canva can help them to do that (for free).

If you know your audience and create the content that deserves to rank, whether that’s tools, written content, video content, or even commercial pages, you’ll find excellent SEO success.

A 7-Step B2B SEO Strategy
To help you put together a solid strategy for your business, here’s a 7-step B2B SEO strategy process that you can follow (adapting as necessary) to blow away the competition:
Please review this strategy in this blog post on the SEMrush Website – it’s excellent!
B2B SEO: A Complete Strategy


Note: My name is Dave Ingalls. If you need help with your B2B Digital Marketing tasks, please review the B2B Digital Marketing Services I offer.