Attracting buyers to your site through SEO is becoming harder, thanks to search ranking getting way smarter and more and more personalised to the searcher.
So the question for B2B marketers is: How can you measure rank accurately if you know it's going to be different for each person - based on where they are, their search history, and their activity on various Google apps?
For example, factors like your location if you have location services on (eg. by using Google Maps) and usage history (Google uses hints to your location even if you have disabled location services by looking at your past searches) can directly impact your search results.
For many marketers keeping up with SEO best practices is hard and confusing. But there are some things you can do that do work. In fact, Google look favourably upon them (hint: they are NOT dodgy link buying tactics)...
1. Choose the right keywords to target
Google doesn't mind you targeting keywords as long as you attempt to rank for them in ways that will be useful to their users. In fact, they will help you find the ones that are most relevant to you!
If you focus on the wrong keywords, you're not going to get the results you want - either in rank, traffic or lead generation. So go to Google's Adwords Keyword Tool and it will not only tell you which ones are being searched for in your country and how difficult they are to rank for, it will suggest other related terms to target.
The key to finding something realistic to focus on (not too difficult, moderate search volume) is by adding specific information to your search term to make it more long-tail. There's a lot less competition for it that way, so it's more within reach.
Once you decide on your keywords (10 max at a time - don't try to focus on too many at once), then your two options are:
- PPC ads are a quick fix to appear at the top of search results. These can work really well if you use the right copy. That's because you can get people who are close to the end of their buying journey and are ready for a solution like yours (if yours is a less complex B2B purchase). Otherwise link it to one of your lead gen resources.
- Create good content. Although this is much harder, it lasts forever so it's more valuable to your website in the long run, unlike PPC which expires when your dollars do.
Why not try both? We've seen that it can be a good mix. Just remember to allow your content time to see the momentum build. It sucks because you want results now, but unfortunately if you want to get to the top of Google's organic search results, no quick fix is going to work. After all, if it was that easy, I wouldn't be writing this blog, and no one would be using Google.
Google openly state that social signals are now part of their ever-improving algorithm. The more links of yours that are shared on social media, the more Google will think what you're saying is actually useful to people, so maybe they should bump you up the ranks.
So go on, join these social networks and optimise your listings:
You might say no one uses Google+, but the way Google has put business listings and reviews on there is a HUGE factor in why you should join up. People searching for businesses like yours in the area will be directed to your business page (whether or not you are actively managing it), and see what reviews were left there. And please don't forget to connect to G+ Authorship (more on why you should in my next point).
Linkedin is the #1 B2B social network because people join it for professional purposes, and are therefore more open to business-related talk. This is why people are more likely to share your stuff on it! So optimise your page, and get your staff on board, especially if you're a small business.
In addition to following your company page, for every blog post you publish, get all your staff to like it on your company page and share it to their profiles, so Google gives you social signal points from them interacting with your content.
It would also be a good idea to claim your company page on Twitter & Facebook but G+ and Linkedin are the essential ones. Check out a previous blog post I wrote on the topic for more information on that: A B2B Marketer's Review of 5 Major Social Networks.
3. Become an author
Google likes it when you feed its search engines with useful content to index, because it will promote use of their search engine. When you answer the burning questions that your buyers type into Google, your buyer finds what they're looking for, you look good for saying something interesting, and Google looks good for linking you two. Everyone wins.
It seems that most of us are already headed in the right direction. MarketingSherpa's survey found that 84% marketers consider blogs at least somewhat effective for inbound marketing.
So blog. A lot. The more you do it the more reputable you become to Google. And don't make the excuse that "it doesn't work for my industry" because it does work, you just need to distribute your (product-neutral) blogs in the right places, over and over again, to gain traction.
There is no such thing as a "Quick Fix"
In the words of Daniel Burstein, Marketing Sherpa's Director of Editorial Content, "SEO cannot be conducted in a vacuum. It is the essence of integrated marketing communications. It is both a subset of inbound marketing and a superset of not just technical specifications on a website, but also elements like content creation and social media marketing."
So unfortunately there's no quick and easy way to do it. Just like fat loss, any 'quick fix' fad is never a sustainable, long-term solution. It takes a committed effort and an overall change in the way you do things.
The good news is it pays off! Here's a (numberless, sorry) screenshot of our very own analytics over the past year:
Since it's becoming near impossible to predict ranking because a) Google hides all your juicy keywords and b) every search engine result set is now personalised, don't focus too much on rank. Focus instead on how successful organic search is as a source of visits / contacts / leads / customers.
To learn more about SEO, download our free ebook:
What methods have you found successful? Share them with us in the comments section below.