Its 2021 and still Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most underrated yet necessary activities a business to business organisation can undertake online. The trouble is, not enough B2B organisations know how or why to exploit SEO as a tactic to attract new business.
Many B2B organisations can't be bothered with SEO because it appears to not work and is therefore a complete waste of time and money. However, B2B SEO has a different ‘burn’ rate than B2C SEO because there are normally more than one person making a business decision. In addition, B2B have salespeople, and most B2C’s do not.
We recommend an approach where your web pages, blogs/articles and videos follow a certain format based upon search intent and conform to specific Google recommendations. The content is then expected to 'perform' and attract an audience that eventually converts to becoming prospects and then customer.
This article explains why there is such a problem for B2B exposure today and how to instruct your marketing team to adapt their strategy and achieve great results.
Whenever an article is written and posted on the Internet, if you want it found, you must adhere to the programming requirements of a massive computer system designed to present data to someone requesting a search on their browser.
Google made/make their money by delivering fast and accurate search results. If they weren’t accurate, you would have gone and used Yahoo, Bing or any other of the search engines. Of course, Google did get it right and now we all have to conform to the ‘programming’ structure they recommend.
Whilst the Internet and Google is free to use and access, it costs time and money to get your digital content prepared in such a way that it matches the requirements of Google. Unfortunately, many marketing teams and CMO’s keep getting it wrong and are paying the price – with their jobs.
I firstly want to touch on an interesting fact. You only have to do a quick search to see that the average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer in the UK is hovering around 18 months or so: -
There is something not quite right with this picture! Considering the average tenure for a CEO is about 7 ½ years, it seems that ultimately, the CEO is effected by the performance of the CMO; after trying to get the marketing right with different CMOs during his watch, the CEO ends up leaving or being kicked out too, perhaps due to poor performance. I know it’s different with an owner-manager business, but the logic is still there. If the sales are not coming in, then the marketing leader gets the boot and you have to start again.
Most businesses are trying to use every means possible to get in front of a decision maker and are using all this ‘digital technology’ to simply replace the use of the telephone, and that’s it! Wow, what a waste of effort and money!
You won't be surprised that I blame marketing people for the appalling demise of so many businesses year after year. In fact, businesses who have received investment, according to Harvard Business Review,
And those who don't get investment:
Talking about SEO is often met with disdain. Many business owners believe that companies selling SEO services are merely attempting to con them into buying something they don’t need. They believe the whole SEO thing is so basic and simple, that trying to sell SEO services to get a business to the top of the search engines is simply a ruse to earn a bit of cash. Add to this the fact that their own marketing people or perhaps the marketing people they may have met in the past may not have impressed them, then it's not surprising that the business go bust!
For the most part, I don’t blame them. SEO has been seen either as a black art or money for old rope. What doesn’t help are the poor explanations that get through to a CEO or business owner that fails to compel them to make an informed commercial decision either way.
Just because the majority of B2B marketers are not doing it correctly, doesn’t mean you should continue to suffer. There is a better way of doing this marketing ‘stuff’ and part of the solution starts with the approach to SEO using this guide, and a different mindset.
If you haven't seen it yet, take a look at the last article that explains in detail why sales and marketing have failed so spectacularly over the past few decades, with both parties blaming each other for their lack or performance. The article is aptly named 'Should I hire a Marketing Consultant, a CMO, a CRO or a CGO?'.
There is a great deal to think about when planning your digital strategy and most of the SEO related businesses will simply talk to you about an SEO strategy, but it goes deeper than that. If your business is failing in ‘digital’ then you may have to reconsider the staff split between sales and marketing.
To be successful you need to start attracting the necessary number of enquiries that can be converted into sales and that may mean bringing in more marketing people. The bottom-line – you can be assured that if your competition are not reading this like you are right now, any change you decide to make will place you in the driving seat of your chosen market.
There are two main reasons why organisations need SEO. Firstly, and most obvious, you’re in business and you expect that to continue, so your whole existence is about telling people your story and for them to buy from you. Therefore, using the Internet is expected and that is how people will find you through searching for your solution. However, a significant proportion of businesses never seem to achieve exploiting SEO.
Secondly, SEO means optimising your written and presented information in a way that conforms to Googles’ platform. But this conforming also means that you are being forced to structure your content in a way that satisfies the people who will read it. And that is what makes the Google search ‘so’ intelligent.
You cannot write a few paragraphs, add a royalty free stock photo and post up the most basic and scant effort and call it a blog, then expect to achieve top ranking in the search engines!
The reason being is that the Google search ‘spider’ will process your article and ‘grade it’ unhelpful, not useful, or engaging or at worst unreadable. Following Google’s guidelines helps you and your staff create the best articles you can that will engage and connect with your audience.
The logic of getting to the top of the search engines for a term like, ‘multi-coloured router switch boxes available in Chelmsford’ is laughable. Of course, you’d be at the top if you used seven words about anything. The trouble is, from a B2B Marketing point of view, that isn’t the ‘only’ thing that SEO is about.
The trouble is, B2B SEO is not as explosive as B2C. Not much goes viral and B2B products or services are not going to appeal to millions, so it’s slow-burn and time consuming. There will not be the same search volumes as you find for B2C products like for example ‘pet insurance’. Therefore, you have to rely on providing a very comprehensive offering in terms of your content within the article.
Don't be misled about success rates or what it would mean to your business if your articles and product pages were optimised for SEO. Using the Google Keyword Planner or any number of other keyword tools and apps, you will find out what the search volume is for any given single or selection of words. I'm not going to go through everything here as this article is not about teaching how to do SEO rather it is to explain what you can expect and to ensure your staff are following Google’s guidelines.
Firstly, the Google Search Console will tell you what the search volume are, how many times your article actually appeared in someone’s search and what Search Engine Result Page (SERP) you appeared on. If you're on page 96, you're not going to get much traffic let alone any clicks.
To increase your chances, before you do any SEO, you can opt for any of the activities below:
Applying a CTR of 0.5% for a LinkedIn PPC advert means for every 200 Impressions, i.e. someone actually sees your advert or post, you will achieve 1 click-through to your website or landing page.
Your window of opportunity is tiny seeing as people can blindly scroll through their news feeds on both Facebook and LinkedIn. Whilst you may want to attract their attention, this is a slow-burn process of becoming recognisable and, over time, they will click through and you must be ready and waiting with a great answer or an exciting landing page offering that engages them and entices them to come back for more.
When it comes to increasing your exposure, you have no choice but to plan your strategy in advance and automate your tactics starting with the number of people you're connected to on social media and the type of articles you have on your website.
Creating B2B marketing articles is a method of producing ‘bait’, scattered online, used to entice and attract interested parties who have a problem, query or need. Once they ‘take-the-bait’, your article will present a solution, with links, that will engage them and demonstrate why they should choose you as a supplier. Sounds simple, but not enough businesses are doing it.
Once you have a correctly search engine optimised article, not only can you tweak it to improve its content and its position. Once you achieve your desired position, your article can stay there for years. You then have the luxury of creating more SEO’d articles!
Imagine for a minute that every article you produced acted like a targeted like a salesperson: -
Your salespeople are expected to connect with a certain number of people every month. And of those people, some of them will agree to meetings, some will require demonstrations, and some will buy from you.
Your articles are no different. Browsers are expected to click and be drawn to the product pages of your website. Once on a product page, another set of parameters are to be in place that engages the browser and encourages them to connect with you and go the distance and buy. All this traffic flow is visible on Google Analytics.
As with salespeople, if they can’t do the job properly or can’t close the deal, you’d fire them. The same with your articles. If, over a period of time, the article is not performing, there has to be a reason for it. You either provide retraining, i.e. re-write the article or you amend it.
If the article was a complete failure, this would be highlighted in an SEO Audit, based upon the number of visits/hits the document had and the bounce rate etc. Ultimately, Google Analytics would provide the necessary statistics to keep it, amend it or delete it.
There are three elements to how SEO affects what you have written or will write;
Knowing the information below will help frame your authors ‘thoughts’ and ‘structure’ and make for a well ranking article. It also means the article is complete when the Administrator receives it and can simple upload it to the company website.
These guidelines are essential to give to an external copywriter and any internal member of staff who elects to write an article or indeed someone who has been instructed to write.
An example of Latent Semantic Indexing:
When writing, by following Article Structure recommended by Google will ensure you and anyone writing for your website adheres to the same format and structure when creating content, you want to rank on the search engines: -
Last but not least, be completely clear about a call-to-action. What should it be, where it should be positioned and why they should be interested in taking a next step?
Include links, downloads, videos and anything possible that would help your browser become more ‘educated’ about your product and how you approach solving their problem.
You may want to offer a button for them to call you (as we have done), download a brochure or invite them to an event. Perhaps they can sign up for an email series? But don’t scupper your chances of them connecting with you by restricting their access and making your content ‘gated’. This is proven to reduce success rates and distribution of content. If people want to buy from you, they will. You just have to give them a reason to do so.
You probably already know, anything to do with a website seems to require more than one person as there are very few employees who would be able to research, evaluate and write a business or sales related article, then format the article on the website and for that person to have built the website in the first place, knowing all the components, plug-ins and processes to make the article not only appear at the top of the search engine, but for the website to actually be fast in the first place.
Therefore, you will probably need three different types of personnel to carry out your production work, however, these are not necessarily full-time positions. Again, this recommendation is to ensure you have everything covered, even if you have contracted out the web support, admin and copywriting.
The next three sections of this document are separated into the following: -
A digital/SEO strategy needs to identify the following: -
Your ability to communicate how you satisfy that need is not only for your prospects benefit, but also for the benefit of the search engines. Don’t forget, the reason Google is a trillion-dollar company is because of their ability to emulate the logic of a person looking for something.
The better you are at explaining your answer, the higher Google will rank you in the search engines. But don’t be too focussed on ranking first. It can take a long time; however, your team need to ensure they’re making your business look attractive to your prospects by providing comprehensive, relatable answers to the question posed in the search query.
Before you put pen-to-paper, you need to plan what you are going to say and why. Start with understanding what your prospective customers are thinking and how they’re transposing their thoughts into search terms.
Start thinking about making the search ‘real’. Imagine saying to Alexa, Siri or Google “Hey Siri, ‘kitchen cabinets’”, Siri responded to me (yes I tried it!): -
“I didn’t find any kitchen cabinet or countertop suppliers” ….
But of course, Siri would say that. I would need to say at least a colour, type (Solid Wood, MDF) and geographic region for Siri to respond with something more meaningful. The same applies to your prospects and what they would enter into a search query.
Therefore, you need to review the way you prepare an article and your reasons behind producing it in the first place.
You already know the keywords for your business and products, and these can be increased by interrogating the Google Keyword planner. Whilst Google recommended a certain keyword density to rank you, in real terms it means Google is looking for natural language when you’re writing. Unscrupulous SEO tactics include keyword stuffing in titles and paragraphs which means repeating the same words(s) over and over again.
Writing articles needs to be seen by B2B organisations as a process that scatters ‘bait’ on the Internet that will match/resonate with a browser’s ‘Search Intent’. When it does, we want the browser to take the bait and start reading your ‘amazing and comprehensive’ article.
The more complete the article, the longer someone will spend reading it. This is what makes a site ‘sticky’. It encourages browsers to return, start to like you and ultimately buy from you; all without a phone call being made or costing you a penny more after the article is uploaded.
If your article is only about a page of A4, say 400 words, it won’t rank very well. However, if it’s news, funny, or factual, then post it. If you are writing for a keyword that has multiple connected keywords AND you’re providing an answer to ‘search intent’ then start thinking of producing 2000 words or more. This article is 6257 words.
Look at your website as being two separate entities: -
It’s the skill of the writer to produce articles that will attract the browsers and the internal links to encourage them to look at your product pages.
Article and Blog Pages
You already know why you sell your ‘product or service’ therefore you need to be clear what problem your readers will be trying to solve when you write your article. You (your marketing department) can start using Google Keyword Planner to search on commonly used search terms that will need to be used in your article. You need to think about what problem(s) your product/service solves and then write about it.
Think about the actual benefit to the reader. What will they get out of the article and what are the takeaways going to be? Write them down, put them in a box at the bottom of your document and keep writing, focused on assisting your reader to help them fully understand your various explanations.
Use images when necessary and use arrows pointing to specific components (if relevant) to reinforce what you’re saying.
You don’t need to tell your readers all about the ‘big red button’, or that by pressing the big red button makes the machine ‘work’. Your readers need to know why they should have a machine with a big red button on it in the first place because of what does it for them and why should they buy it.
Product pages are sales pages. You will probably have enough technical specs to sink a battleship, so keep them available, but perhaps as a download. Brevity is the key here as you don’t want to overwhelm you reader
Provide great pictures, great explainer videos, great podcasts, detailed FAQs, offer online Chat, glowing Customer Success stories and so on.
You already know the benefit your products or services deliver to your users. In addition to telling them about the Features i.e. what it is) you need to consider how you explain the attributes (what it does) and finally what it means to them, why should they buy it, (i.e. What is the Benefit?).
Thinking along the lines of FAB, Feature, Attribute, Benefit when talking about your products or services and keep saying to yourself after you write something “so what” or “And?” or “why should I care”. And your response will be “you need it because…”. The more you do this, the better your content will appear to your audience.
There is an element of set-and-forget when it comes to what the web developer does for your website, but without these elements you will be at a disadvantage. Furthermore, there is virtually no cost except for £50 or so for a plug-in if you use WordPress or Joomla as you CMS website platform.
It is important to make sure your website is properly structured with SEO software, either Yoast SEO for WordPress sites or JSitemap Pro for Joomla CMS websites. These products help ensure you are following a process and they will highlight what you may have forgotten to do.
You will need XML sitemaps that are automatically created within your website and automatically submit the site maps to Google. In doing so, Google is able to cross reference all your content and present a comprehensive search page when someone searches for your business name.
The XML sites you will need to be submitting are as follows: -
If you have a podcast already, you will need to use the following code on the Home Page of your Podcast pages to tell Google that the RSS Feed belongs to your business/website:
<link type="application/rss+xml" rel="alternate" title=“B2B Marketing Talk for CEOs" href="https://feeds.buzzsprout.com/316772.rss"/>
As yet, Google have not provided a structure for podcast xml sitemaps.
As an example, I have seen websites that appear to have been fully ‘set up’ with meta descriptions everywhere, including menus and main site descriptions. It all looks perfectly fine, until you see that the search engine thinks there is the same description on every page because of where the description placed and blocks all the other pages!
This means the search engine can only interpret your site on a general level rather than a page level. Another common problem is that access to robots.txt files are not entered in a filter security ‘boxes’, meaning that Google will be restricted from properly indexing the website and not know what is contained within your site before you have even had a change to consider SEO.
These website components will highlight any problems, construct your website’s sitemap and submit them to Google via Webmaster Tools.
Open Graph Metadata, which is a protocol set up by Facebook to ensure your desired images and text are presented on Social channels, i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Especially helpful if you have multiple images in an article.
Your web developer will know what this is about, and everything else in this section of this article, but it is important that you have an overview too.
Google ideally would like all website owners to better instruct the search crawlers as to the content of a website. When your article is complete, you can identify what type of article it is via schema.org mark-up which tells Google the important on-page elements.
Google Structured Data complies with schema.org in that they agree what additional coding can be used to identify certain aspects of a web page. As you know, the Internet is one massive complex interconnected computer structure. Anyone can get access and post up a few pictures, text or video. The real skill is when the website builder complies with coding conventions and increases the pages visibility and identity via search engines.
The Schema website has a complete listing, but some of the categories are below that relate to Local Business as follows:
When a browser enters a search term, because Google knows more about your page and can see that you have answered a browsers query as fully as possible, Google 'may' create a rich snippet and place your information at position '0', i.e. above every other organic entry on the search engine result page (SERP). This is a game changer for some articles and the presentation of your business as an authority according to Google.
The Rich (Featured) Snippet below is a good example of multiple business conforming to the Schema.org structure and Google ‘rewards’ the websites by placing them above all the pay-per-click adverts.
Your website should also have Google TAG Manager set up on it so that you can integrate with Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel and a multitude of other tags that help deliver essential decision-making data to you.
Google TAG Manager can also be used to 'inject' Schema Mark-up into your pages if your existing website does not have a suitable plugin.
Voice Search is typically going to be carried out on a mobile. And if things were not complicated enough, firstly you have responsive web pages, i.e. the website changes according to the device that is browsing your site (Desktop, Tablet or Mobile). We've all seen them. However, in addition, there are Amplified Mobile Pages (AMP).
AMP's strip out unnecessary code and formatting to deliver a quicker and more mobile friendly experience, based upon the fact that someone is scrolling with their thumb or finger. The speed element is visible via Google Page Speed Console which shows two results, selected by clicking the option, top, left on the page.
Google acknowledges AMP pages in their search and will deliver AMP pages to mobile search queries over a non-AMP or desktop optimized page. So worth knowing.
Some CMS platforms have AMP page plug-ins or components; however, this is something that needs to be planned and executed in a safe, test environment. Most web host providers offer a test and live site option enabling you to plan ahead before releasing any significant changes to your website. This is a good solution as certain elements will need to be customised in keeping with your CMS/Website.
Don’t worry, your web developer should know all about AMP.
Once the article has been written and structured, the Website Administrator will be tasked with transposing the article onto the website.
Your website software should already have the parameters set within it to structure the article as detailed below with Hi, H2, H3 and so on..
The key point here is to ensure that navigation and presentation of the content conforms to Google’s guidelines. The Writer should have presented the Administrator with the correct format in terms of content etc. Now the Admin person has to make sure this stage is completed effectively with the inclusion of Anchor Links.
These internal page links help the browser ‘jump’ to whichever section they want to find out about first. For the same reasons a browser will rarely watch a video from start to finish, they will do the same with your article. Your job is to ensure quick navigation around your article, as we have done with this article.
The two main anchor links are as follows:
When given a request to include web page links, it is probably a good idea to allow the browser to switch pages on your website rather than open up a new browser page.
For external links, I recommend you enable ‘Open a new browser page’ on the URL link. That way your page stays open and active on their web browser software.
Below are a few free platforms to help assess your website from a ‘correct visibility’ perspective. These include: -
The links below will connect you to a selection of the most popular and active SEO players on the Internet; I have provided their website addresses and would encourage your team to follow them on YouTube.
The important point to bear in mind is that these platforms predominately target the B2C market and the ‘stay-at-home- people who want to earn some money out of blogging, driving traffic to the blog and receiving income from the likes of Google AdSense or Amazon.
Depending on your budget, they all have some interesting SEO platforms that will help you define keywords, ranking of your website vs your competition and a large range of features: -
I have seen multiple posts and comments telling business owners they need to be sharing a limited amount of their own content because they’re also supposed to be sharing other people’s data in order to demonstrate to all those on social media what a magnanimous and good sort they are! What utter nonsense. The reason you’ve got a website in the first place is because you’re in business to make money and to do so, you need to tell people you exist and not just ‘hang out’ online.
As you are reviewing your articles, you will now have included regularly used search terms. You should also have used some terms that are specific to your product and services. Where your business specific terms have been used, you need to create internal links from the article/blog to your ‘product’ pages on your website.
In addition, if you have researched books or other websites to support assertions or assumptions, then include external links to them as well. This demonstrates the authority of your article and the relevance of your product pages to the search engines.
If you haven’t already got your business set up with Google Local Business, then get this done as soon as possible and provide everything to present your business as completely as possible, e.g. pictures and logos etc.
Visit https://google.com/business and log in with your Google credentials and get it done asap.
Everything I have said above related to writing an article and it being referenced on Google. but the same logic applies to video and podcasts. I have mentioned before that your audience prefers to consume information in three formats, written, visual and audio, therefore it stands to reason that you need to apply the same structure to all your content.
Create your most brilliant videos that are your prime attracting sources that do most of the work to draw in customers. Once you’ve got their attention, you can present them with additional content you feel they would be interested too. But first you have to answer their question(s).
Don't forget, you can even create short video adverts to promote your blogs, videos or podcasts. As well as create adverts within your podcasts to advertise videos and articles. We are so used to accepting what the television media 'does' to us, many businesses have not connected the fact that we, as business owners, can do the same within our businesses, albeit far cheaper and more directed.
Again, the same applies to podcasts. What question are your potential customers asking that would make you want to record a discussion to help provide an answer.
In all three cases above, the more complete your answer is to their burning question, the more likely they are to want to find out more about you, engage with you and ultimately buy from you.
This is your guide to ensuring your staff are doing what they’re supposed to. As I have mentioned before, it is unrealistic to for anyone to expect you as CEO or Managing Director to know everything about marketing, in the same way you're not expected to know everything about accounting, HR, technical or any other area of the business.
As CEO's (i.e. you and I), we are expected to have a good grasp on what it takes to hire the right people to do their respective jobs and let them get on with it.
Steve Jobs said, “we don’t hire highly paid people to work for Apple so we can tell them what to do; we pay them to tell us what to do”. The same applies to CMO's. If they’re not ‘doing it’, they are either at the end of their eighteen-month tenure and perhaps you’re one of the good guys and you’ll give them a second chance and let them get your ‘digital marketing’ in order for 2020.
I hope you found this helpful. Call us if you'd like to have a chat about your business.
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