Search engine optimization. It’s a simple phrase with a complex meaning, and too often, it’s misunderstood by B2B companies who are (understandably) more focused on the product or service they’re selling than the media content on their website.

The value of SEO is not relegated to B2C brands and publishers. In the B2B world, where direct outreach and network connections are key, businesses need to optimize for search engines if they want to compete. And it makes sense, because if you’re not focusing on SEO you’re not ranking high in the search engines — and if you’re not ranking high, you’re not getting your name in front of new leads.

Here’s the thing: 93% of all online experiences start at a search engine. It’s where people go when they’re looking for a solution to a problem, as well as where they go to discover they even have a problem in the first place. As a B2B business, you’re selling the solution to that problem — whatever it may be — and it’s crucial that you get on a prospect’s radar before your competitors do. And with 75% of searchers never scrolling past the first page of results, it’s hard to overstate the importance of SEO for driving growth in your business.

Where SEO Matters

Think of SEO as having two distinct purposes:

(1) Building general brand awareness online

(2) Matching your customers’ intent so that it’s as easy as possible for them to find you

The internet is a vast ecosystem. Search engines provide a helpful service, aggregating and prioritizing billions of pieces of content so that when someone types words into a search bar, they actually find what they’re looking for. Your job as a business operating in this limitless digital space is to be that piece of content that gets designated as relevant and authoritative to a certain search word or phrase, and that’s where SEO comes in.

SEO matters anywhere that you’re trying to attract visitors, including (but not necessarily limited to):

  • Your website (product pages, blog posts, “about us” pages, contact pages, etc.)
  • Your social media pages
  • Your ads
  • Your titles and meta descriptions
  • Your videos and images

It may be a lot of work to optimize all of these areas, but 57% of marketers say that SEO generates more leads than any of their other marketing initiatives.

Making SEO Count

Speaking in a live Q&A a couple of years ago, Andrey Lipattsev, Partner Development Management at Google and former Search Quality Senior Strategist noted that there are two primary boxes you have to check off if you want to rank at the top: your content must be high quality, and you need to have a strong foundation of link building.

Google is notoriously secretive about how they rank websites, so this nugget of information from Lipattsev shouldn’t be ignored. SEO has 20 times more traffic opportunity than PPC, and even small changes have a big impact. Focus on targeted keyword research to bulk up your web presence, and devise a robust link building strategy to build on your site’s authority.

Keep in mind that SEO isn’t stagnant. The rules are constantly changing, and search engines are getting smarter all the time. If you previously implemented SEO, it’s worth taking a look back and seeing if you can optimize better.

The Risk of Not Prioritizing SEO

Among all marketers, 61% say that improving their SEO is a top inbound marketing priority. And trust us, you don’t want to be one of the other 49%. Failure to implement SEO means:

  • Less traffic
  • Fewer leads
  • Lower lead quality

These aren’t exactly areas where B2B businesses can afford to fall behind.

SEO is one of the most cost effective marketing tools at your disposal. Small, medium, or large, all B2B businesses have the resources that they need to bolster up their SEO efforts and start ranking higher — even if those resources are limited.

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a B2B business is to under-prioritize SEO. Effective search engine optimization is necessary not just for the metrics above but also for improved customer experiences and brand-customer relationships. It’s as much an investment in your overall company identity as it is a concerted marketing strategy, and an integral part of securing long-term growth potential.

B2B sales will always be people-centric at the top of the funnel, but more and more the bottom part of the funnel is happening online, with or without your direct interaction. Driving more traffic to your site and ensuring that the content searchers find there meets their expectations is the bread and butter of SEO, and the more you can meet the mark the better chance you have of expanding your lead base and increasing your sales.