B2B SEO (business-to-business search engine optimization) refers to SEO campaigns where the target customers are businesses, rather than individual consumers.
Most people are familiar with B2C (business-to-consumer) marketing because B2C campaigns are directly targeted at regular people. However, for most successful SEO agencies, B2B clients are where the money is.
Working for B2B clients isn’t always considered to be as sexy or inspiring as doing the same for widely-recognized B2C brands but the higher value of most business purchases often means that B2B SEO is potentially more lucrative.
Why Many Businesses Go B2B
If you wanted to earn ₱10 million, what would you rather do?
- Sell something with a ₱1 profit margin to 10 million customers
- Sell something with a ₱5 million profit margin to two customers
Regardless of which option you choose, if you’re successful, you will still have ₱10 million. Both B2B and B2C business models can be profitable depending on the circumstances.
However, there is a huge difference in what you need to do pursue each strategy. While you need thousands or even millions of customers to be profitable in B2C, you only need a handful of big clients to succeed in B2B. What’s more, the cost of maintaining a few big clients and reselling to them tends to be much less than the cost of constantly reaching out to millions of customers.
For instance, a small computer store that uses SEO to snag a loyal client like SearchWorks has the opportunity to sell us 50 or so laptops every 3 to 5 years and who knows how many accessories every few months, with minimal effort. They can probably even afford to give us favorable rates because of the sheer value we represent compared to a typical individual customer. And if they do that, chances are we may be doing business with them for a long time.
Of course, if the computer store wanted to sell 50 laptops to regular customers, they could. However, they would probably have to a lot spend more time and effort to secure each individual sale. Remarketing to so many individual customers will also be harder and more expensive than simply re-engaging with a long-time business client.
As a result, smaller businesses that want to reduce their overheads may lean towards B2B. And because organic SEO promises a cost-effective way to gain large numbers of qualified leads, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there is a massive demand for B2B SEO from these businesses.
Why SEO Professionals Struggle With B2B
Despite the high demand for B2B SEO, many newbie Filipino SEOs struggle to find and retain B2B clients. For many, the cause of their problems boils down to a lack of basic marketing knowledge.
The pillars of search engine optimization are the same for all businesses. The ability to identify and address issues related to a website’s technical health, content, localization, popularity signals, and analytics are relevant regardless of who its intended audience is. However, if you apply B2C SEO strategies in a B2B environment, you’re going to have a tough time.
It’s not unusual for SEO professionals to only be familiar with B2C marketing because of their constant exposure to it. After all, not all SEOs come from sales or marketing backgrounds or have had experience handling a business. Neither is there a requirement for SEOs to understand basic marketing principles before they enter the industry. Given this, it’s hardly surprising that many otherwise talented SEOs can’t quite grasp B2B marketing.
What SEO Professionals Need to Do for B2B SEO
If that all sounds relatable, we’re here to help. If you find yourself struggling to deliver results for B2B clients, we’re offering several pages from our B2B SEO playbook. If you want long and mutually-satisfying relationships with B2B clients, follow the tips below:
1) Understand the Client’s Business
Preparation, not talent, is what separates the best SEO agencies from everyone else. As a rule, agencies that excel in B2B SEO go through extraordinary lengths to make sure they understand their clients’ business. Newly-minted SEOs are sometimes surprised at the amount of studying and research that top-level agencies do before they even start running site diagnostics on B2B websites.
Understanding a client’s business is especially important as it will help you gain an understanding of what keywords to target and which business customers you have to draw in as leads. Developing a deeper understanding of the business should also give you a clue as to which related industries you can tap into for your link building and public relations campaigns.
In any case, make sure that you’ve had sufficient time to discuss the nature of their enterprise, paying special attention to their brand as well the kinds of business customers they plan to target. Additionally, try to discuss their products and services in depth so that you have a firm understanding of their technical details as well as the specific benefits they offer to customers. If possible, go beyond the documentation your client offers and talk to real subject matter experts who can explain the business from other perspectives.
2) Map the B2B Sales Funnel
Sales funnels (also called marketing funnels or conversion funnels, among many other terms) are popular visualization models that help marketers and salespeople better understand the customer journey.
A customer journey or buyer journey is the path a customer takes when they make a purchase. This journey often starts with a customer becoming aware of a business’s brand or product and culminates with them purchasing something from the business.
Today, the funnel model has been superseded by alternative models such as flywheels that also illustrate long-term relationships with repeat customers. Regardless, funnels are still popular among marketers due to their simplicity.
The classic AIDA funnel, which remains popular with B2C businesses, only has four parts: awareness, interest, desire, and action. However, the B2B funnel is often modeled differently from the AIDA funnel because of the multiple decision-makers and higher financial costs involved.
Here at SearchWorks, we often use a six-level funnel that with sections representing awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and purchase. This reflects the fact that B2B purchases are usually group decisions.
3) Know B2B Funnel Level Personas and Associated Keywords
One thing that even experienced SEOs are often unaware of is that, in B2B marketing, people at different levels of a business organization tend to search for different types of keywords.
Generally speaking, the higher up someone is, the higher the tendency for them to search for strategic “big picture” ideas. The lower they are in the hierarchy, the more likely they will look for more tactical, specific, and longer-tail keywords. Note that this doesn’t mean that business owners and trainees won’t have the same searches occasionally.
However, knowing the B2B personas within the funnel helps you understand the types of individuals you’re most likely to reach when you target certain keywords.
This allows you to better optimize on-page SEO and content creation, as you can now develop these elements to better appeal to the people you are most likely to reach. Importantly, understanding the connection between funnel personas and keywords also allows you to target specific types of decision-makers within organizations.
Examples of possible keyword-persona connections if optimizing for an SEO agency
When people in a business do an online search for SEO services, people at different parts of the organizational ladder will tend to use different keywords.
The higher up the ladder a person is, the more likely they are to search for strategic-level concepts and the faster the business is likely to close when they see an SEO service they like.
The lower down they are, the more tactical their searches tend to be and the more difficult it would be to quickly close a deal with an agency they like because of how much further the discussion has to travel up the chain of command.
With this in mind, an agency like SearchWorks might associate different employee levels with the following keywords:
- Staff and supervisors– SEO services Philippines, SEO expert Philippines, SEO agency Philippines, SEO trainings Philippines
- Supervisors, Middle Managers– SEO prices Philippines, SEO techniques, SEO strategies
- Middle and Senior Managers– SEO strategies, SEO vs PPC, How to grow traffic, increasing conversions
- Senior Managers and Support Staff – How to increase online sales, how to improve ecommerce ROI
Examples of possible keyword-persona connections for a computer sales business targeting BPOs
Using the same principle as described in the previous case, if we were to do SEO for a computer sales company that targeted BPO companies, we might match different employee levels with the following keywords:
- Staff and supervisors– M1 Macbook, MacBook alternatives, Windows laptops for call centers, budget office laptops, cheap windows PCs
- Supervisors, Middle Managers– Reliable laptops, best laptops for call centers, laptop accessories for offices
- Middle and Senior Managers– How to increase productivity, How to speed up processes
- Senior Managers and Support Staff – How to reduce costs, How to maximize profit
4) Technical SEO for B2B
Doing technical SEO for B2B clients isn’t that much different from doing the same for B2C businesses. In any case, you do not want to overlook technical SEO as doing it effectively will amplify the success of the other SEO activities you do for your client.
Areas to consider include:
- txt validation
- Meta robots tag audit
- XML sitemap audit
- Google Search Console (GSC) setup
- Internal link audit
- Site architecture audit
- Crawl error audit
- Broken link audit
- Duplicate content audit
- Redirect audit
- SSL audit and setup
- Site speed testing and improvement
- Mobile usability testing and improvement
- Structured data setup
To learn about our approach to technical SEO, read The Ultimate Technical SEO Audit Guide.
5) On-Page SEO for B2B
As with technical SEO, standard on-page optimization procedures generally apply. However, they have to be done in a way that is sensitive to a B2B client’s objectives.
For instance, going back to our discussion of marketing funnels and personas, the keywords you prioritize need to be a good fit for the types of business customers the client is trying to attract. Likewise, the meta descriptions you use have to be appropriate for B2B customers. If website redesigns are part of your optimization responsibilities, the overall experience has to be geared towards business customers as well.
On-page SEO areas for B2B include:
- Keyword prioritization
- Title tag optimization
- Meta description optimization
- Header tag optimization
- URL structure optimization
- Content body optimization
- Image optimization
- Internal link optimization
- Thin content audit optimization
Learn how we execute on-page SEO in our resource: On-Page SEO Audit Guide.
6) Local SEO (When Applicable)
Local SEO is important for a lot of B2B clients, particularly if they have brick-and-mortar locations or serve specific geographic areas.
Areas to consider include:
- Google Business listing creation and optimization
- Legitimate reviews
- Local schema markup setup
- Local citation acquisition
- Local link building
- On-page localization
- Localized content
7) Content Creation
Content for B2B websites has to be developed differently from sites geared for a B2C market. This means that your content team needs to be composed of writers, editors, and graphic designers who are sensitive to the nuanced differences between B2B and B2C content. Moreover, your team needs to be proficient at creating a variety of content types that fit different mediums without losing sight of the client’s business goals.
Important content creation areas for B2B include but are not limited to the following:
- Comprehensive content copywriting
- Category content copywriting
- Blog articles
- Press releases
Learn how SearchWorks’s content team helped a small Philippine bank beat competitors several times its size on Google’s SERPs in Writing Content That Dominates Competitive Keywords – A Case Study.
8) Link Building and Promotion
Link building for B2B businesses can be challenging because, apart from the usual challenges in branding and competition, there are fewer businesses than there are individual consumers. This necessarily means that there will be fewer directly relevant sources for SEOs to prospect for backlinks.
Luckily, no B2B product or service exists in a vacuum. If SEOs take time to understand their clients’ businesses (see point #1), they will always be able to find strong link prospects in a wide variety of related industries, not only helping improve their clients’ link equities but also driving more customers into their sales funnels.
Areas to consider for B2B link building:
- Prospects should have a Domain Authority (DA) of 25 or better
- Links need to be from contextually relevant websites
- Prospect sites should be free from Google Penalties
- Prospect sites should be screened for connections with malicious PBNs (private blog networks)
- Sites should permit dofollow links
- Content for link building should follow safe anchor text usage
B2B link building gets much easier once you develop a link prospecting system that works for you. Here’s how we prospect links for major Philippine conglomerates and Fortune 500 companies: How to Choose Link Prospects That Move Rankings.
9) Reporting and Analytics
Knowing how to write, lay out, and present a good report is important for client retention regardless of who they are. After all, reports are where you prove the value of your services to your clients. However, proper reporting is especially critical for B2B clients because of the larger stakes and the effort involved in securing them.
SEO reports for B2B clients tend to involve the following:
- Organic traffic overview
- Organic conversion analysis
- Site content traffic report
- Keyword ranking report
- Data interpretation and recommendation
To learn more about how we create reports that retain high-value clients, read: How to Prepare an SEO Report.
While it’s good to be proficient at the various technical aspects of search engine optimization, it’s more important to maintain a firm grip on basic marketing principles. After all, at its core, SEO is merely a sub-discipline of digital marketing, which itself is just one of the many different kinds of marketing.
Failing to understand basic marketing concepts not only leads SEO professionals to run fundamentally flawed campaigns but also makes it difficult for them to secure high-value contracts with businesses and other large organizations. Many Filipino SEOs fail at securing and maintaining B2B contracts because they don’t understand or value the wider context of their craft.
That said, while it’s no walk in the park, B2B SEO marketing is not exactly rocket science either. By brushing up on basic marketing concepts and applying a bit of empathy in their day-to-day interactions, SEOs can go beyond simply optimizing pages for additional organic traffic and begin formulating strategies that provide real value for their clients and themselves.
Once you can do that, you will find it much easier to secure and retain the B2B contracts you need to take your SEO business to the next level.
If you want to learn more about our approach to B2B SEO, feel free to contact us to set up a meeting.