Getting the best for your business out of search engine optimisation is a moving target. Still, one thing that has become clear is that showing up in the right searches is more important than showing up in the most searches. That’s the aim of b2b keyword strategy — getting your page to come up first when decision-makers are looking to buy in your field of expertise.
A b2b SEO strategy must be finely tuned to reach the people who need your niche services. For example, if you offer cloud services, you don’t want to be showing up in searches for different types of clouds.
So, how do you identify and implement the best keywords on your site?
How to conduct b2b keyword research
The first step is to choose the right SEO tool for your business. There are two major tools: Google Search Console (GSC), which is free, and paid services like SE Ranking or Semrush, which provide more in-depth information for identifying new keywords. Paid services should be used with GSC, as the Google tool gives you personalised insights into your site, while other services will provide you information on web-wide trends.
Using GSC, you can identify what keywords people are searching to reach your site now with the regex (regular expression) query filter search. Based on that information, you can start to understand what areas of your site need to attract more traffic.
By implementing a regex filter for your brand name, you can see how many people are searching directly for your company. By putting in a filter that relates to the products and services you offer (e.g. cloud services|cloud management services|cloud repatriation), you can see how much traffic you are receiving from more vague searches and identify possible keywords already in your site that you can optimise.
So, that’s how you can find out what you’re already doing well. With SE Ranking or another SEO data analysis tool, you can see what the industry is doing, where you rank by searching for a key term, even find related keywords that you can use in your content.
You can also reverse engineer this process by searching the URL of a site you know ranks high in Google for your service using the competitive research tool. This will show you queries that are ranking well for their site and give you insight into keywords you can use.
Build a target keyword list
It’s now time to build a list of those words and phrases you’ve found on your own page and through competitive research. When building a target keyword list, focus on high-intent keywords, otherwise known as transactional keywords. Considering it’s business that you’re after, a good place to focus on is people looking to buy!
High-intent keywords tend to be focused and direct (think ‘buy’, or ‘sale’), and while they can also be more competitive, and have a high keyword difficulty (KD), they tend to be searched by people in a position to make the purchase, which can help to drive up up conversion rates. Ensure your landing pages and product pages use these keywords and provide content such as blogs or articles that give information to customers to help them make the right decision. High-intent keywords are also known as Top of the Funnel, or TOFU.
While high-intent keywords are important, they should be used in conjunction with long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are the bread and butter of b2b keyword strategy. They are much more specific, and should be targeted directly at people in the industry that you operate in. Because they are more niche, they typically have a much lower KD, allowing you to hopefully rank higher when they are searched. These keywords are also known as Bottom of the Funnel, or BOFU. People searching these types of terms are likely close to making a purchase.
For example, if you work in solar installation in Sydney, a long-tail keyword you might target would be:
Industrial solar installation Sydney.
It’s broad, but also targeted at a specific type of service you offer. It is also focused on where you provide that service, but more on that later.
Finding the balance between competitive and relevant phrases is essential to a solid b2b keyword strategy.
Now that you know what phrases are going to be the backbone of your b2b keyword strategy, it’s time to put them to work. Here are the things you need to think about:
How you use your keywords will play a big part in your success or failure. You should aim to use your keyword organically, and not over do it. In fact, Google will ignore your page if you overuse your phrase, which is known as keyword stuffing.
Ideally, you should use your keyword in the first paragraph of your content if it is a blog or an article. For example, the keyword for this article is ‘b2b keyword strategy’ — notice how we have only used it where it fits in naturally, not over doing it.
Subheadings are your friend, as they help search engines understand what your content is about. By using your keyword in subheadings you are signalling to the search engine that this content is relevant to the subject.
Even more important than subheadings are the title of your pages. They tell search engines what is going to be on that page, and writing concise but informative titles (aim for between 50-60 characters) is key to landing on search engine results pages (SERPS).
SERPs are the name of the game. Because less than 2% of searchers venture on to the second page of a Google search, landing high on the first page for your keyword is essential.
Meta descriptions are what shows up right under your page title on Google. They are written specifically for search engines and must include the keyword you are hoping to gain traffic from.
Crafting them can be an art. They have to be punchy and informative — always less than 155 characters. They should be clear and written in the active voice.
Here’s an example of a possible meta description for this article:
Learn the essentials of crafting and executing a b2b keyword strategy that boosts visibility and drives meaningful engagement.
Notice how the keyword is used organically and the copy cuts to the chase. You only get a brief shot at potential customers as they scroll Google, so make it count!
Local SEO for b2b
Local SEO is targeted at searches for services where people are, and is especially important if you have a number of branches that service their local area.
For example, we worked on a local optimisation campaign with Higgins Coatings, a painting company with 19 branches across Australia.
Despite branded SEO content like “Higgins Dandenong” showing up first on Google, Higgins branches were lagging behind when people searched terms like “local painter Dandenong”.
Further, branch pages were not generating as many conversions as should be expected.
Following extensive local research, we came up with this list of needs:
- Personalise and update copy with unique content for each branch page
- Optimise for local SEO keywords identified in the research
- Add contact forms to increase chance of conversions
- Improve consistency between pages for better user experience and conversion
- Improve technical SEO elements, adding or correcting as needed.
As a result, Higgins Coatings is now in the #1 position on Google for 333% more search terms, and branch pages generated nearly three times as many job leads than previously.
The internet is a big place, but people are still looking for services close to them — you stand to gain by putting some of your focus on local SEO optimisation.
Reporting and analytics
Once you have put your b2b keyword strategy into effect, it is essential that you keep across how it is faring. Using Google Analytics and whatever other SEO tools you have chosen, track your keyword performance over a few months. It is important to remember that in b2b content, quality matters more than quantity, and you might not see huge numbers of clicks straight away. Remember that long-tail keywords are aimed at your niche market, so try tracking the conversions from these queries as a gauge of how they are travelling, not the overall clicks.
Google makes nearly 80% of internet searches, so you have to keep up with any changes they make that might affect you. The company makes between 500 and 600 minor updates to its algorithm every year that you don’t have to worry about, but every now and then they will do something that will alter your strategy. These are called core updates.
It’s best not to try to react to core updates when they happen, or even directly after the changes have been made. However, if you notice a marked negative change in how your page is performing in the months after a core update, assess your strategy compared to sites that are on the up and consider making changes.
The same can be said for general search trends. Just like industry, people are always changing. Keep across what pages are doing well in your industry through your SEO tool and ensure you are staying at the top of your game.
Get ahead of the pack
It’s a tricky thing to master, but getting your b2b content right is one of the most important aspects of any business’s online presence. The online marketplace is quickly becoming the only marketplace, and by building a solid b2b keyword strategy and putting it into effect you can put yourself ahead of the pack. Your website can only bring in customers if they can find it.
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