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HOW TO: plan your SEO campaign

By Dr Horst Joepen, CEO of search analytics software specialist, Searchmetrics

Given the increasing regularity with which businesses now search online when trying to find information and answers on all manner of topics, B2B marketers are realising that search engine optimisation (SEO) - which helps businesses improve their visibility on internet search engines - can and should be an important part of their digital marketing armoury.Here are six key considerations to help you plan your B2B SEO effort:

1: Be clear about the objectives of B2B SEO
While consumer marketers often rely on SEO to generate traffic to support online selling, B2B marketing is rarely about generating instant web based sales. The B2B sales cycle is usually longer and more involved and there are normally multiple decision makers and influencers. Very often there is lengthy offline communication (phone calls, meetings, product demos) before the final sale. So SEO has a different, but very important objective in B2B marketing; it helps companies get onto customers’ supplier shortlists. 
Think about it. At any point in the decision making process – or possibly even before they’ve established a need for a new supplier - there’s a good chance that target decision makers and influencers will search online to find answers to challenges or issues they’re facing or specifically to research potential products or services. If you’ve optimised your web site content and it comes high on page one of Google or Bing, then they’ll find your site. And if what they see is relevant and valuable, you’ll increase the chance of being remembered when they eventually build a shortlist.

Obviously searching on the web isn’t the only way that companies find potential suppliers to put on their shortlists; they very often include suppliers recommended by their peers or business contacts. But you can bet they’ll still plug the names of these recommended companies into a search engine to see what comes up. So another B2B objective for SEO is supporting a company’s online reputation. This is about using SEO to help manage the content people are exposed to when they perform online searches around your company name. You want to make sure the information that ranks highest is up to date and positive and certainly not negative.  

And SEO for online reputation management objective isn’t just important for potential customers. Anyone who wants to find out about your company – from suppliers and partners to job candidates or journalists who are writing about you – is likely to do their initial research using the search engines. 

2: Pay attention to keywords
When someone types a search query into a search engine, one of the basic factors that determines what pages they are shown in the search results, is the text that appears on those pages. The search engines scour the web to identify pages that include the same ‘keywords’ or phrases as the original search query.