The common phrase: “if your business isn’t online, it doesn’t exist” is more relevant now than ever.
Companies are developed and exist solely online, while others pull in shocking amounts of revenue through their online presence alone. It’s clear that a company website is absolutely necessary.
People from all industries and with all kinds of different needs are constantly seeking answers and solutions from Google and other search engines. With millions of search hits a day, your website acts as another resource for Google to access when someone is searching for a solution to their problem.
This couldn’t be more true for B2B companies today. Complex paint points and solutions are driving B2B buyers to search for answers online and this is where it becomes critical for your site to appear and show for the relevant B2B keyword queries that your prospects are typing (or speaking!) into the the search engines.
Although a majority of marketers (61%) say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority, only about 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates (hubspot).
So, how do you make sure your website is answering those B2B questions from your potential customers? And how do you know if your online investment is actually seen by the right people and doesn’t disappear into the ether?
B2B Keyword Strategy
The most effective way for Google to connect your site to a question asked by a user is to associate the words people enter into their search box with the phrasing and context used in your content. When done right, this is the end result of effective B2B SEO.
Unfortunately for the majority of businesses, most content doesn’t typically get much traffic. That’s why B2B keyword research is such a critical process to get right.
These keywords have to be researched and analyzed based on in depth research of your business offering, features, benefits, pain points and buyer personas.
It invariably includes planning, data analysis and multiple stages of revisions while involving interviews of key Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) at your business.
Leveraging Sales Cycles for B2B Keyword Research
Targeting prospects in specific industries take careful planning. Your target audience has to be nurtured along a content funnel that differs significantly from a consumer-oriented B2C strategy called the B2B sales cycle.
This cycle follows the same basic principles as any other sales cycle, but it involves more decision makers and requires a higher depth of research than a B2C sales cycle typically does.
Pain Points at Each Stage
B2B seo best practices, require having a real understanding of the pain points of your buyer, at each stage of their journey.
Without the right angle of approach or presentation of ideas, your content might not resonate with the people landing on your page.
The content produced for your site should have a clearly-identified goal that has the B2B sales cycle in mind, partnered with this 3-part organized content funnel:
Top of the Funnel (ToFu) Content
Top of funnel (ToFu) content allows the reader to understand their pain points and to learn about the available solutions.
For example, if a company’s office internet coverage is being spotty, the person responsible for operations might make a search query such as “why do some of our office computers lose internet randomly”.
Typically using a long tail keyword search query, the user will start by searching the symptoms, follow it up by identifying the root cause(s), and then learning about the potential solutions.
For this reason, the ToFu stage can be thought of as the awareness stage.
Middle of the Funnel (MoFu) Content
This stage is where you educate and assist the buyer in choosing which solutions best meet their needs. Establish your authority, demonstrate your experience, and nudge the buyer in your direction by subtly leading them to the conclusion that your product or service will solve their problem.
This middle of the funnel setting can be thought of as the consideration of options stage.
However, it’s important that you don’t make unsubstantiated or outlandish claims; you’ll not only attract the wrong traffic, but Google values high-quality content above all and penalizes websites they determine to offer little in the way of value.
That’s why terms such as “vs”, “advantages of”, “benefits of” and the like are commonly used B2B keyword research to capture the queries of people seeking unbiased, comparative information.
Finally, make sure your MoFu page is targeted at specific problems, demographics, equipment models, etc. To apply this to our earlier example, you want to ensure that only the people in offices with internet connectivity issues that can make use of your solution are landing on your page.
Otherwise, your efforts will be wasted acquiring non-relevant traffic that will quickly navigate away.
Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu) Content
Now that your visitor has finished kicking tires and has settled on a solution, they are ready to convert. This is your chance to showcase and convince your potential lead that your offer is better and more effective than what your competitors offer.
This type of content targets keywords that relate directly to what your offer is. These are typically short tail terms consisting of two or three words, which makes them more competitive and therefore requires much more sophisticated and “valuable” content.
‘Services’, ‘solutions’, ‘development’, ‘management’, ‘maintenance’, ‘procurement’ are some examples of common B2B Keyword modifiers that B2B marketers include in their keyword lists when optimizing their services pages.
BoFu keywords in B2b tend to be lower volume in nature and highly competitive. For example “managed IT services” keywords in various cities can cost north of $65 USD per click if you had to pay Google via Adwords. That’s per click… you might need 20-30 clicks just to get a lead if you had a good converting site.
This means selecting the right keywords is incredibly critical, so you can avoid chasing after a high competition keyword for months or years, only to realize it’s not converting into leads or revenue.
Tracking The Results Is Crucial:
According to a Forbes, as of 2016, 34% of B2B content Marketers said they didn’t even know what success would look like for their content efforts. This is striking information because it’s important to realize that content written for different stages of the buyer’s cycle will have different definitions of “success”. And tracking your SEO Keyword Rankings for your content is crucial.
Do you want sign-ups? Do you want them to navigate further into the site and discover your more sales focused content? Or do you want them to share this content within their social circles and grow your brand awareness?
All of these count as success in some sense, but none of it will show up as relevant behaviors if there aren’t defined targets and there’s no tracking setup
Tools & Software for B2B Keyword Research
*All of these tools require you to pay for their full use*
- Provides a detailed list of all the queries and terms in its own database.
- Simulates Google’s crawl bots and taps into their APIs to gather large lists of phrases.
- Database of roughly 40 million phrases, updating on a rotation of around 3 – 4 million/day
- Tracks the terms and rankings that certain pages rank for.
- Tells you how difficult & competitive a certain phrase would be to rank for.
- We’re unsure of how big this tools database is.
- Uses Google API and its own bot and private database of terms to:
- Analyze a site’s backlink profile. (here’s a post about B2b link building for that matter )
- Review keyword ranking positions.
- Keyword research and content analysis.
- Measures keyword difficulty and the power of a domain, as well.
- This tool provides an extensive list of phrases.
- Detailed filters to narrow down your options.
- Provides a metric for Keyword difficulty, for both SEO and PPC.
- Provides autocomplete suggestions for longer tail keywords and phrases.
- Provides a list of missing keywords, or related keywords that your page could be but isn’t optimized for.
- SerpStat has more special features that let you get creative in your research.
Using a B2B Keyword Research Template
Gathering, analyzing, sorting, and identifying the right keywords is critical. It’s also an intensely time-consuming process that takes skill and expertise to execute properly.
Choosing the wrong search terms during your B2B keyword research phase can make or break your lead generation strategy. Moreover, making use of this data requires strong communication between teams to ensure that every opportunity is identified and acted upon.
Research has shown that templatizing tasks, especially ones of this size, noticeably increases speed, reduces errors, increases consistency in quality and more. But most importantly, it saves money in the long run.
To that end, a Keyword & Content Map is an invaluable tool to help organize keyword research.
It also serves as a reference point for everyone involved should there ever be an issue or changes down the line. And it will also be valuable during the maintenance phase of SEO after your content has launched.
Get Your Hands Dirty In B2B Keyword Research
The classic saying practice makes perfect applies perfectly to B2B SEO Keyword Research. And if this seems a little bit complicated or overwhelming, that’s because it is, at first.
There’s just no way around it: your potential customers are searching for solutions to their problems, and without the right intent-focused keywords incorporated into your content, it’s likely that they’ll never be able to find you.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that Google doesn’t know what your business offers – it’s your job to teach it.
Getting multiple teams involved and making sure everyone’s constantly communicating properly is what you need to look for. It’s very common that B2B content doesn’t drives real results whatsoever because these crucial elements above are so easy to miss.
If no one’s aware of what the plans are or how they’re coming along, how does anyone know what to do now? Or what to do later?
Get in touch for a free strategy call. These techniques consistently provide us and our clients results.
The most effective way to see if you have done your keyword research properly is to see what Google thinks of it. And Jumpfactor has 10+ years of experience in this sort of results-driven work, so we’ve sort of got it down to a science.
But the landscape is always evolving, so that means we are too, it’s the only way to stay on top!
Make initial lists, expand upon them, weed out the good from the bad, plan out content strategically and LAUNCH!
Best of luck, we hope to see you on the SERPs!