How SEO Drives B2B Marketing Guest Author B2B marketing is about engagement. From channel partnerships to word of mouth, you need to engage your audience to positively impact your sales. To earn engagement online, your B2B company needs to invest in SEO. Search engines are invaluable to B2B marketing – B2B buyers depend on search as their primary resource for finding products and services. Some research indicates that as many as 81% of B2B buyers refer to search during their buying process. That means that your site has to be in tune with the search terms your potential customers are using in order to foster engagement. Use this article to guide how you approach SEO to earn B2B engagement. Start With Keyword Research Every time someone searches for a solution to their business issue, you want your site to show up at or near the top of those search results. To do that, you need to collect data about the keywords to target. Use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner to determine the topics your target customers engage with the most. Once you have an idea of the terms your customers search for business needs, you can understand the sorts of efforts to undertake to achieve strong search results for those terms. Strong SEO Based on Quality Content The success of your SEO relies on the effort you put in – search results are unpredictable and competitive, so consistent maintenance is required if you expect solid returns. By consistent maintenance, I mean it’s absolutely crucial that you appear among the top results for target terms: Over two-thirds of click-throughs come from the first five organic results. There several factors that you can control to make the most of your SEO marketing endeavors, and they all focus on your site content. 1. Organize Site With Targeted, Compelling Content In the past, you could load up your site pages with a barrage of keywords ( “keyword stuffing”) to “spam” search engines into indexing your content as relevant to a certain key term. Today’s search engines are smarter; specifically, they understand content context and quality. A web page that lists “SEO services” 100 times – even if it’s about SEO services – probably isn’t very high quality, nor is there any context in which a site needs to say “SEO services” 100 times on a web page. Your content needs to be formatted for the reader, not a search engine: Create web content that people will be able to consume and will find compelling. 2. Relevant Topics Your website should support your sales process by incorporating meaningful content. All of your content should be intentional – it should serve a purpose or answer a question that your potential customers have Prospects will quickly lose interest if all they find are meaningless blurbs and articles that were slightly rewritten (or worse, directly copied and pasted) from Wikipedia. For example, you can use as thought leadership and industry analysis on your blog to attract B2B audiences who are seeking an authoritative source of information about a topic. If you can demonstrate that your firm is a source of authority about a service or industry, people will be more likely to trust your abilities as a services partner. Use your target keywords to inform the type of content you create on your site – with keyword data, you can be confident you are speaking directly to your target customers. High-quality, relevant content ranks well in search engines because it acts as a legitimate source – people visit, engage with, and link to it, which improves its search ranking. 3. Optimize Everything Many superficial SEO strategies focus on specific parts of a website — landing pages, key product descriptions, or sometimes just the homepage. The best practice for SEO, though, is to optimize everything. All of the content on your site should be written to attract and engage your targets. From blogs to the “About Us” page, your content should be presented to help you convert the casual visitor into a prospect, or the prospect into a customer. Options for Developing an SEO Strategy As with anything in the B2B world, doing things properly comes with a cost. SEO is not free, and the amount you spend can fluctuate according to your ultimate goals. There are two main options for developing, implementing, and managing an SEO strategy for your business: in-house or outsourcing. In-House SEO Requires Training Keeping things in-house may seem like an attractive option, given that it doesn’t have an explicit cost, at least on its face. However, it’s important your business understand that the lack of an invoice doesn’t equate to no cost. Effective in-house SEO means that your staff has to perform the necessary maintenance to keep your SEO program running. The time they spend working on SEO services naturally detracts from time spent on other firm-building activities – a cost that equals the price of labor for that time period. Effective in-house SEO also assumes that your staff maintains a level of expertise required to perform and maintain SEO best practices. If they do not, you will need to shell out the funds to train your staff properly. SEO Companies Are Experts, But Have an Explicit Cost Outsourcing SEO services, on the other hand, provides more “bang for the buck” in the long term. The best SEO companies have a higher initial cost than the in-house resources, but they bring a level of expertise that your staff may never possess. Unlike your in-house staff, who will always have other responsibilities on their plate, SEO companies have a singular focus — driving business leads directly to your site. Maintain Proper Expectations for B2B SEO For many marketers, a B2B SEO strategy is all about bringing organic traffic to your website. However, to truly make SEO work for your business, you need to think differently. By focusing on your content, you can position your brand at every stage of the buyer journey, increasing your conversion rates and turning short-term visitors into interested prospects and long-term customers. Author Bio Grayson Kemper is a senior content writer for Clutch, a ratings and reviews firm for B2B marketing and technology services. He specializes in SEO and emerging technologies research.