It’s hard (actually, it’s impossible) to talk about growth without bringing SEO into the conversation. Search engine optimization is one of the best ways to organically increase traffic to your website, improve your search rankings, build brand awareness and authority, and ultimately, increase your revenue. Sounds like a pretty cool magic trick, right? Except SEO isn’t sleight of hand. It’s an actionable, proven methodology that can drive dramatic results for your B2B brand. But to make it work, you need to stop trying to pull rabbits out of hats and instead begin crafting a detailed SEO strategy specifically designed for growth. Here, we’ve got all the tips you need to get started and get on your way to achieving measurable, long-term results.
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization is an organic approach to increasing traffic to your website and getting your brand found in search results. SEO combines a number of tactics to achieve these goals, and a well-developed SEO strategy can go a long way in moving the needle for your B2B brand.
With close to 70 percent of all online experiences beginning with a search engine and less than 1 percent of searchers clicking on anything beyond the first page of Google, getting your pages ranked and in front of your audience is more important than ever.
But SEO is about much more than rank. The best SEO strategies are closely linked to content, lead generation, and other key marketing channels.
Ultimately, SEO builds keywords, links, and content to improve rankings and drive more traffic to your site, with the goal of increasing your sales and revenue. The “what” of SEO can sound pretty simplistic. But the “how” is more complex. Before we walk you through that, let’s look at why you need an SEO strategy and how to craft one.
What Is An SEO Strategy?
An SEO strategy should be comprehensive, actionable, and designed with growth in mind. SEO isn’t a quick fix for overall growth, but when you have a solid strategy in place, you should see your traffic begin to increase, and when it does — if you have the right growth marketing strategy behind it — you’ll see revenue growth as well.
There are some general steps you can follow when building your SEO strategy:
This is a simplified version of an overall SEO strategy. In between these phases, you’ll need to execute a variety of SEO growth tactics to keep the needle moving and reach the goals you’ve set. We’ve got 30 ways you can do that coming up, but first...
How Does SEO Contribute to Growth?
The most immediate and measurable way SEO contributes to your B2B brand’s overall growth is through increased traffic and improved search rankings. This visibility is critical to boosting your B2B brand awareness and authority and getting you more clicks.
But when leveraged as part of your larger growth marketing strategy and linked across your various channels, SEO can help drive other types of growth as well, including:
- A more robust backlink profile
- Higher conversion rates
- More leads entering and moving through the funnel
- Increased revenue and sales
- Stronger customer retention and referrals
All of these are the success factors you should be looking for as a growth-focused B2B brand. A great SEO strategy will help you get there.
How to Create an Effective SEO Strategy for Your B2B Company
Building an SEO strategy for B2B growth can involve a lot of steps, and not everything will work on the first try. When creating your SEO growth strategy, remember the core tenets of growth marketing — the AAARRR (or “pirate”) funnel:
SEO plays a role in every stage of the funnel, so your SEO strategy needs to be holistic enough to address the buyers’ needs and pain points at every stage. How can you do that? We’ve got 30 great ideas to get you started.
Test Your Website Performance (It Must Be Fast and Intuitive)
Slow, clunky web pages don’t rank. But if you aren’t regularly testing your on-site performance, you won’t know exactly what your visitors (or, even more importantly, Google) are experiencing. Here are some ways to test your web pages to make sure they aren’t being dinged in search rankings for issues that could be resolved with easy on-site fixes:
- Check how quickly your page loads. If it’s longer than three seconds, there’s a problem.
- Check your navigation to ensure visitors can find the information they need. You can do this with a heatmap tool that shows exactly where users are clicking and where they aren’t.
- Utilize A/B testing to find out how visitors respond to changes in your website. A/B testing is a key component of growth marketing and can give you quick results so you can adapt your website for better performance.
Define Your Target Audience
Who do you want to visit your website? What pain points are you solving? And how are you making it easier for them to find the information they need? These questions should be an early part of your SEO strategy planning, and to answer them, you’ll need to first understand your buyer persona.
An ideal buyer persona includes demographics, along with psychographics and behavioral characteristics to give you deep insight into your ideal customer or website visitor.
From there, you can develop optimized content for your website that addresses their needs, worries, and wants.
Establish Your Goals for SEO and Metrics of Success
Are you looking for more page views and overall traffic, or do you want measurable conversion rates to declare your SEO strategy a success?
Determine now which metrics align with your overall business KPIs and goals and how you will determine what makes your efforts a success (or, you know, the “F” word). Track these metrics regularly so you can make adjustments if you don’t see any movement. Just remember, growth can take time — especially long-term, sustainable growth — so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater if you don’t see immediate results.
Conduct an SEO/Content Audit
Once you’ve set your goals, it’s time to determine a baseline for your performance. An audit of your entire website is a lengthy process, but a necessary one to find what content and pages are working well…and what needs to be adjusted, updated, tested, or removed.
Begin by collecting all of your URLs into a spreadsheet, then setting the criteria you’ll be looking at for the site audit. You should include the date of publication (or most recent update), type of content and format (e.g., what multimedia assets it includes), buyer’s journey and/or funnel stage, and metadata.
From there, you can compile and analyze your data. Tools like Semrush and Ahrefs can help you get a better understanding of how your content is performing through keywords and page ranking. At this point, you can start to draw insights from your data.
Now you can decide what content is already performing well and could get a further boost from additional optimization and updating. You’ll also be able to isolate your weakest content and choose whether to attempt a fix or get rid of it altogether.
Analyze Your Competitors' SEO Strategy
You already know your biggest competitors…or do you? They may not be exactly who you think. Competitors are more than just the brands offering similar products or services; they are also the brands outranking yours in search. You may be focusing all your energy on taking down the largest company, when in reality, a smaller one with a killer SEO strategy is creeping up from behind.
Stay ahead of the game by analyzing and understanding who your competitors are and how they’re getting to the head of the class (or the top of the SERPs). Here’s what you need to look at when conducting a competitor audit:
- Keyword Overlap: Use the SEO tool of your choice to identify competitors that are also ranking for your top keywords.
- On-Page SEO: Do their pages load quickly? Are they easy to navigate and user-friendly? Do they outperform yours when it comes to on-site SEO?
- Backlink Profile: Do your competitors have a robust backlink profile, and if so, how are they building it? Are they leveraging guest posting opportunities, building partnerships and collaborations, or using micro-influencers to get their site out there?
- Content Analysis: What types of content are your competitors providing? Find their highest-traffic pages and analyze their offerings, whether it’s blog content, downloads, product information, or video content.
Once you’ve conducted your audit, look for gaps in your current strategy. Are there keywords your competitors are ranking for but you are not? Are they getting traction with killer how-to videos? Is their site easier to browse than yours? Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to make adjustments to guide your SEO strategy.
Make a List of Key Topics You Want to Rank For
Your keyword research needs to be extensive to ensure you rank consistently at the top of search results. But these days, you don’t start with a handful of generic keywords that are aspirational at best. Instead, choose around a dozen terms or phrases associated with your business, research their search volume, and create variations that are specific to your brand.
These are your key topics, and they will help you create topic clusters and guide you as you put together your keywords.
Today’s SEO framework is built around topic clusters, which start with a pillar page. These pages are each dedicated to one of the topics you’ve identified. Related, interlinked content builds the topic cluster and guides your keyword usage throughout. All cluster content should be linked on the pillar page, so when your visitors need more information, they never have to leave your site to find it.
Find Long-tail Keywords Relevant to the Problems You Solve
While pillar pages typically utilize higher volume short-tail keywords, your cluster content should be built around long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are typically more than three words, often take the form of a question, and are very specific.
While long-tail keywords have a lower search volume, they typically also have a much higher conversion rate. Understanding the long-tail keywords your buyer persona is using will help you deliver the content they need to solve their unique pain points. Most SEO tools have a function that will allow you to explore in-depth long-tail keywords and common search queries related to your primary short-tail keywords.
Build Topic Clusters for Your Major Keywords
Once you have both your short-tail and long-tail keywords selected, you’re ready to begin building your topic clusters. Each topic cluster should be easy to find from your homepage navigation. From there, group your content around pillar pages, which form the core of each topic cluster. Remember that pillar pages are built around short-tail, high-volume keywords.
Then, use your long-tail keywords to create cluster content that radiates from each central pillar page.
This is where interlinking becomes critical to the success of your SEO strategy. Each topic cluster must be linked on your homepage, while each piece of cluster content should be linked on its associated pillar page.
Optimize Your Content for On-Page SEO
To ensure your content is optimized for on-page SEO, keep these steps in mind:
- Short URLs. Research shows that shorter URLs nearly always outperform longer URLs. Around 50 characters — but typically not more than 60 — is an ideal URL length. Be sure your URL contains your primary keyword.
- Strategic Linking. Always use your high-authority pages to boost new or lower-ranking pages. For instance, if you have a how-to guide that’s high-performing, link new guides and related content there to increase traffic and build authority. Remember that your anchor text should contain keywords related to the content you’re linking.
- Semantic SEO. There are a lot of synonyms and phrases that mean something similar to your keywords, so make sure you’re maximizing the impact of your content by using these words throughout. To find them, conduct a Google search of your keywords. Scroll down to the bottom of the results, and look at the section labeled, “Searches related to….” Alternately, you can search images and Google will pop up a bar of similar words and phrases ahead of your results. Finally, pay careful attention to the “People also ask” section near the top of your results (usually right under the first position). These can become strong long-tail keywords and can help you build optimized content.
Write High-Quality Content
Above all else, your content must deliver value to the reader. Sounds like a no-brainer, but how many times have you clicked on a blog post only to realize the content was keyword-stuffed fluff, or it simply didn’t deliver on the promise made by the title?
The content you create for your topic clusters needs to be designed for your buyer persona, and it needs to answer their pain points effectively.
And while in many cases less is more, it’s not always true for content. Long-form content nearly always outperforms shorter content (except in the case of micro-content like Tweets or other social posts), and is also a high contributor of backlinks.
Backlinks improve search results, so keep that in mind when creating optimized content.
Remember though, no matter the length of your content, if it isn’t filled with valuable information, it isn’t going to perform, period.
Fulfill Search Intent
What are your buyers looking for when they start a Google search? Understanding their needs and how they relate to the keywords they use is critical to reaching them with the content they’re looking for. Overall, there are three types of search intent.
Navigational searches tell visitors where to go. Informational searches tell them what they need to know. And Transactional searches tell them how to get it.
Within transactional searches, there is a sub-search intent called commercial intent, in which searchers at the bottom of the funnel look for reviews, case studies, discounts, or comparisons.
Be sure your cluster content, built around your long-tail keywords, delivers on search intent.
Find a New Angle to Cover or Gap to Exploit When Writing Content
“Ultimate Guides,” top 10 listicles, and how-tos can only get you so far before they feel tired and repetitive. To increase your rankings and build authority, you need fresh, unique content that is relevant, timely and answers your buyers’ unique pain points.
How do you find out where your content is lacking? Conduct a content gap analysis. A content gap is what exists between the content you already have and the content your buyers want.
Once you’ve identified where the gaps are, you’ll need to fill them. Use Google Trends, surveys, and social listening to find out what your buyer personas are talking about and the kind of content they’d like to see, then create new or refresh old content around your findings.
Build Internal Links
Internal linking builds authority and can improve your search rankings. While not as effective as backlinks, internal links still play an important role in your overall SEO performance. Here are some best practices for creating an internal linking strategy:
- Ensure all cluster content is linked on the appropriate pillar page and that all pillar pages are linked on your homepage.
- Use keywords in your anchor text for internal links.
- Don’t use the same anchor text for two different pages.
- Link to pages that need a boost in authority.
- Place internal links higher up on the page, while external links are placed lower, to keep visitors on your website as long as possible.
- Increase the number of internal links to help your site indexing and ensure pages are more easily found.
- Link to new content on older pages and blogs to keep them fresh.
Use Image SEO to Build Backlinks
The images you use on your web pages are nearly as important as the words. Every image must be carefully considered and optimized for the best performance, including alt text, position, size, and more.
Optimizing your images means your content can be found easier and quicker, which means you’ll have greater opportunities to build your backlink portfolio.
Have a Variety of Content Formats
Blogs are the go-to in most content strategies, but oftentimes, a high-performing blog is actually a vehicle to deliver another type of content, like infographics, videos, or downloadable assets. These days, a simple text-only blog doesn’t always cut it.
Primary research and video content are two of the top ways to build links. Video content is quickly on the rise and looking to become the top content form when it comes to SEO performance. And with YouTube being the second most popular search engine after Google, it’s unwise to ignore it.
Multimedia content is more important than ever, and it pays to broaden your content formats to include as much multimedia as possible.
Use Content Roundups to Build Authority Fast and Earn Backlinks
While you want plenty of fresh, unique content on your site to boost your authority and rankings, there’s another way to get similar results without writing a dozen new blogs in a week: curated content.
Roundups usually consist of blogs from across the web that focus on one of your core keywords or on an industry trend or niche. While they may also include other forms of content, like videos or infographics, the key is to use high-quality, trusted sources.
Roundups are quick to produce and deliver results, but just like a museum curator, you must ensure that the content you’re providing is authentic, high quality, and valuable to readers.
Create Comparison Pages of Competitor Brands
Comparison pages are key to answering search intent for buyers in the consideration and decision stages. They want to know how your brand stacks up against the competition and why they should choose yours over theirs.
Ideally, comparison pages should be easy to read at a glance and should give customers a quick, high-level overview of the benefits of using your brand over the competition.
You can structure your comparisons in numerous ways, though the most popular formats are 1:1 comparisons, as seen above, or multi-competitor comparisons, with competitors’ features and benefits included in a single chart.
Offer Valuable Freebies, Such as Tools and PDFs
You wouldn’t give away your best content for free, would you? Actually, that’s exactly what you should be doing. Free content that is high quality and high value promotes trust and builds leads, but it also improves SEO.
This is a great way to build your backlink portfolio and can be used to attract influencers and get them to promote your content organically.
Make Your Content Easy to Read
SEO writing is a very particular skill set and many SEO copywriters have devoted years to honing their craft. If you don’t have an SEO copywriter on board, you can still apply many of the best practices of SEO writing to your own content to ensure it is easy to read and digest, while still maximizing your search results.
Optimize for Scannability
Scanners are website visitors who want the information you have to offer, but they want it to be quick and easy to digest. Give them what they want without sacrificing your in-depth, quality content by optimizing your pages and blogs for scannability. What are scanners looking for?
When optimizing your pages for scannability, be sure to consider the following:
- Short, concise paragraphs with a singular point
- Headers and subheaders to break up content and clue readers in on what they’re about to read
- Bulleted or numbered lists
- Graphics and visuals that are easy to understand at a glance and are relevant to the text
- Numerals and symbols instead of words (e.g., “7” as opposed to “seven” and “%” as opposed to “percent”)
- Pull quotes and block quotes to highlight key points while scanning
Use Structured Data on Your Pages
Structured data, known to SEOs as Schema markup, utilizes a common vocabulary that, when tagged on your website, makes it easier for search engines to understand what your pages are about and rank them in search.
Scheme markups also assist Google in creating rich snippets, which are proven to have better click-thru rates.
Rich snippets do not guarantee improved ranking, but if they lead to a greater CTR, your rankings may increase organically. Structured data and schema markup can be complicated to learn and implement, and it always helps to have an expert to guide you.
Link Externally to High-Authority Sources
While linking to high-quality external sites isn’t a guarantee for improved ranking, anecdotally, it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Google has stated that high-authority external links are not a ranking factor. However, the reverse — linking to low-quality, low-authority sites — can have the opposite effect of reducing your rankings. In any case, it’s always wise to make sure all external links are legitimate sources with good authority.
Regularly Update Older Content
Repurposing and updating old content is more than a time-saver — it’s a proven way to increase traffic. Optimizing older posts is a signal to Google that you’re producing fresh content and not letting outdated posts sit around taking up space.
In fact, in a study, HubSpot found that refreshed and optimized older content grew page views an average of 106 percent.
Making existing content optimization part of your ongoing SEO strategy is key to boosting page views and traffic. Plan to update older posts on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on your content schedule and posting frequency.
Blog Consistently with a Monthly Content Plan
An inconsistent blog schedule isn’t going to help bring in traffic or improve your search rankings. To make your blog work for your brand, it needs to be regularly updated with fresh SEO content.
Like a PB&J (or if that’s not your jam, like avocado and toast), SEO and content just work better together. Your strategies for both should be revisited monthly to ensure your content is contributing to your SEO goals and that your SEO is helping to give your content a lift.
Use Image Compression Plugins to Reduce File Size
As you create more content, you’re likely to also have more multimedia assets on your page, like high-res images, video content, infographics, and other visual elements. While these look great and offer more engagement for visitors, they can also seriously impact load speed, especially on mobile.
Build High-Quality Links to Your Blog Content
Link building should be a core component of your SEO strategy. A strong backlink profile is necessary to build authority and move up in search rankings. A backlink, or inbound link, refers to what happens when an external website links to your content, and they work to tell search engines that your content is high quality, credible, and valuable.
The highest-ranking pages in Google SERPs are those that have the most robust backlink profile.
But how do you get them? Here are some best practices for effective link building:
- Create quality content external sites will want to link to.
- Reach out to site owners in your industry or niche to be a part of blog roundups.
- Connect with influencers and micro-influencers in your industry.
- Use the “Moving Man Method” to identify broken or outdated links on relevant sites, let the site owners know, and suggest your own content as a replacement.
- Look for opportunities to guest post on high-traffic industry sites.
- Offer your expertise via platforms like HARO, and become a source for other sites’ content.
Hire an Expert to Fix Issues with Technical SEO
Technical SEO encompasses everything from site security (HTTPS) to semantic markup to 404 errors, and, well…it’s really technical. Depending on the size of your site, tackling technical SEO on your own can be an overwhelming prospect. Seeking help from an expert isn’t admitting defeat. Rather, it’s using your resources to outsource a necessary task that will ultimately save you time and move you closer to your SEO goals.
Embrace Digital PR for Visibility and Traffic
Long gone are the days of printed and faxed press releases (thank goodness). In the connected world, it’s all about digital PR. But if you think digital PR is all about emailing press releases rather than faxing them, think again. Digital PR is a powerful tool for SEO, which builds authority, gives you backlinks, and improves traffic.
Of course, like traditional PR, digital PR hinges on building relationships with media outlets relevant to your industry. However, you now have the internet on your side, helping you research and craft pitches that are customized to the outlets you want to appear in and making it possible to create rich, mobile-optimized news releases that feature multimedia content.
Measure and Track Performance
Remember those goals and KPIs you set back at the beginning? Now’s the time to be sure you’re making good on them by regularly monitoring your SEO performance. No matter what your specific goals are, there are certain key metrics you should be regularly checking to ensure you’re on the right track, including:
- Keyword ranking
- Organic traffic
- Backlink profile
- Domain authority
- Time spent on page
- Click-thru rate
- Mobile traffic
- Bounce rate
It helps to have a tool that will give you insight into the data you’re collecting. Google’s Data Studio aggregates all the data from various sources and compiles it into a single dashboard for easy analysis.
Refine Your Strategy Where Needed
Keeping a close eye on Data Studio or other SEO tracking tools will help you make informed, data-driven decisions. You’ll need to be ready and willing to pivot if and when part of your strategy doesn’t deliver the results you’re after. Remember that SEO strategy isn’t a guarantee of overnight success, and you’ll need to build in time to find out what’s working and what’s not before you make adjustments. Track your metrics on a monthly basis at minimum, and remember that your ultimate goal is growth. If you aren’t seeing it after several months, be ready to adapt and try new tactics that deliver results.
Conclusion: Build an SEO Strategy That Aligns with Your Business Goals
If your focus is on growth, all of the tactics in your SEO strategy should be designed to drive toward that goal. SEO is a complex and nuanced undertaking, and in the fast-paced B2B world, it can be incredibly time-consuming. Instead of tackling it on your own, we suggest finding a growth-focused SEO agency that handles building, implementing, and tracking your SEO strategy to ensure you’re on the right path to long-term, sustainable growth.
Lucky for you, we just happen to know where you can find one! At First Page, our SEO experts are experienced in everything from technical SEO to link building to content optimization, and they work closely with our other channels to build a holistic plan that drives growth. If you’re ready to get a team of experts behind your brand, delivering on your SEO goals, let’s connect and find out if we’re the right fit for you.