It’s common for B2B organizations to have a different specialist for each of their various online marketing channels. Unfortunately, having a group of experts can lead to a siloing and, therefore, an incoordination of the whole online marketing strategy.
SEO needs content to inform position, and content needs SEO to bring more organic traffic to each piece.
Since most B2B online marketing strategies can be complex—due to the multiple steps within the buyer’s journey and the different personas targeted for each product—SEO can become a complicated matter as well.
In this article, you will learn 5 SEO best practices to implement for your B2B content marketing strategy.
1. Optimize around a topic
One of the basic principles of SEO is on-site optimization, the practice of adding a specific keyword throughout an article and its meta tags.
Historically, most SEO experts created individual pages for each main keyword and, in some cases, for each of its variations. This situation changed after Google introduced Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)—a process which assesses the frequency of a term and its relation to other terms on the page.
Thanks to LSI, Google now understands what a page is about, not by looking exclusively to its on-site keyword optimization, but by looking at the overall topic of the page. On-site optimization, therefore, has moved from keywords-specific to topic-specific.
This change in the way on-site optimization is carried out means you should focus on getting to know your audience and personas to see what they want, like, and search for. Create content that answers users’ queries rather than just trying to rank for particular keywords. You should identify what Google already ranks for the main keywords around each theme.
2. Optimize around intent
Optimizing your pages around a topic is a good start, but for a B2B company, it’s not enough. For a B2B marketer, the successful implementation of on-page optimization means matching each piece of content with the intent of the visitor. To do that, you need to segment each topic you want to optimize based on each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Keep in mind the three main stages every customer goes through:
- Problem aware: they know they have a problem and look to understand how to solve it
- Solution aware: they know how to solve their problem and are looking for different tools to help them do so
- Purchase aware: they know what tools can help them solve that problem and are looking for the best fits for their needs
By optimizing your pages to fit each of these three stages, you will help your potential visitors find the right content in the search engine results. This is what drives the idea of the right content for the right customer at the right time. With this in mind, your website will become more effective and, most importantly, lower your acquisition costs.
As an example, Vertical Measures, a B2B inbound marketing agency, uses different kinds of content to segment their visitors’ intent. For their problem aware topics, they have a blog in which they optimize each article around a topic that is loosely related to their solutions. For solution and purchase aware topics they have a learning center that features webinars, ebooks, and presentations.
3. Structure your content correctly
A common decision many companies make when starting their content marketing efforts is to create a subdomain specific to this channel, while leaving the rest of the site to the other teams. Although this shows good intentions of giving independence to the content marketing team, it can also kill its chances of ranking high in the search results.
The problem with subdomains is that Google considers them separate sites. Since subdomains don’t get link values from the main domain, any link you get to your main site won’t count towards your subdomain. This situation can increase the costs of link building and lower the ROI of your SEO.
The best way to structure your site to maximize your SEO results is to follow the advice Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, laid out in a recent article: “I’d really urge everyone to keep your content on one single sub and root domain, preferably in subfolders. That’s how you’re going to maximize your potential SEO benefit.”
Craig Emerson changed his site’s structure from subdomain to subfolder, which resulted in taking some of his pages from outside the top 100 to ranking near the top 50 in search results. More impressively, this incredible improvement occurred while everything else related to his site remained constant.
4. Improve the internal linking
Most SEO experts tend to focus their efforts on adding inbound links in order to increase the authority of a site while leaving the internal linking aside. This can be a big mistake. Internal linking can help Google improve the crawling of your site and give your audience further reading options.
Since a B2B content marketer usually manages an extensive list of content pieces, each one focusing on a different stage of the buyer’s journey, a smart way to manage your internal links is to cross-link to a different content piece that is one stage above or below the current stage. This would mean:
- If you have an article, link to a webinar
- If you have a webinar, link to a related article or case study
- If you have a case study, link to an eBook or an article
Another simple and effective way to improve your internal linking is to make sure your site has a horizontal (or “flat”) site architecture. Once a visitor lands on your site, they should be able to find the different sections of your site within two or three clicks.
5. Repurpose content
A study from CMI and MarketingProfs reported that 60% of B2B marketers consistently find creating engaging content their top challenge. Even though it’s important to create content regularly, you should also question why you would create new content all the time; it’s time consuming and often a misuse of resources. Instead of wasting so much time and money creating content, you should focus on promoting it.
A smart way to sidestep this problem is by repurposing old content. Given that the majority of B2B marketers use an average of 13 content marketing tactics, you likely have a lot of content to repurpose.
Here are three ideas to get you started:
- Take a piece of content with a large word count (one with at least 2000 words) and create separate articles focusing on different angles within the piece
- Repeat a previous idea but instead of focusing on a different angle, focus on a new content type (take an article and create a video, take a webinar and create an ebook…)
- Revise a piece you published a long time ago (at least a year) and add a new perspective, new data, a case study, more graphics, etc.
Next time you want to think about the SEO of your content marketing, remember these two channels don’t function as separate entities. The power of your content marketing and SEO lies at the intersection of both channels.
Make sure to follow the advice above, and you will be able to increase the organic traffic of the content you publish.