B2B SEO Strategy - The Power of Content
Content is king. This motto has been thrown around in digital marketing and SEO for years, and still holds true today. Content is a powerful tool; it often makes up most of the campaigns you find, especially digitally based ones, and is often the backbone of marketing. Business to business (B2B) strategy is no different. Content will convey your message, contain your calls to action, and still help you improve your rankings in Google when done correctly.
What, why, who?
Long form content, such as whitepapers, insights reports, and guides are a great way of improving your B2B SEO search rankings and building your brand amongst ideal customer profiles (ICPs). Blogs can contain content to inform your users, encourage them to perform actions, or click through to other parts of your site. Long form content is also ideal for targeting. You can tailor the content to your ideal customer profile or create different types of content for different segments of your target market. Perhaps some content you’ve got is really informative for small businesses but doesn’t apply to larger organisations. Creating another targeted piece of content for these larger organisations helps you cover all the segments of your target audience whilst targeting them individually and effectively By splitting out your content production by customer types in this way, you are then able to hyper target your ICPs, considering customer pains, challenges, desires and needs at an individual business level.
From a B2B SEO perspective, you are also able to take these personas and then find relevant search queries to target within your content, allowing your content to be exposed to those decision makers that are crawling the internet for answers to their business challenge questions.
How does SEO content affect different stages of the customer journey?
Consider your customer funnel when thinking about content within your marketing strategy. A marketing campaign, in which you will have content produced, will typically have three phases that an ideal customer will travel through.
AWARENESS > ENGAGEMENT > CONVERSION
Content strategies that expose your B2B business and create awareness amongst your ideal customer profiles
Targeting your ICPs with content that exposes your brand and proposition starts with very obviously targeted content that is seeded where your ICPs reside online. A really good tactic is to not be shy with the titles of your campaigns and content pieces, and clearly identify personas so that they can easily recognise that the content is clearly aimed at them specifically.
How to improve customer targeting in a B2B campaign
How marketing managers can improve customer targeting for B2B campaign success
Content strategies that engage your B2B customer profiles
Engagement refers to imparting knowledge that allows a prospect to really connect with your brand and solution offering. The prospect has already visited several potential supplier sites. They are now hunting for the one that resonates with them and makes sense to them. How can you do this?
Well, refer back to your Ideal Customer profile matrix (don’t have one – then check out this link here). Your ICP matrix will list out all the pains, challenges and desires that your ICPs are trying to overcome, and it's your goal to produce helpful content that addresses these situations that your ICP find themselves in.
The key here is to remember to not just focus on the current situation that the ICP might be in, but to think about the next step of the journey and guide them on that too. This is what search engines like and if you are demonstrating a genuine need to guide the user on their journey this will help you in your B2B SEO initiative.
Content strategies that convert your B2B customers
B2B Content strategies that convert engaged visitors usually focus on solution led themes and topics. A pain point has already been referenced in branded content, and a suitable solution has been identified that your business can offer. Typically, content formats such as webinars and ebooks will help to harvest data, but also can act as an opportunity to formally connect with prospects in a consultative, content led manner. By considering these types of content at the latter end of your customer funnel, you will be able to convert website visitors into leads which can then be nurtured by your BD teams into closed won opportunities over time.
What content really does
Here's a really meta example. I’m writing this piece of content for Polaris, the SEO Agency based in London where I work. Now this content has many functions. For some people reading it, it may be a guide into why you should write content. For others, it may be research in preparation for hiring an SEO agency to work with. This content will include internal links within our site, which makes it Google friendly. It also includes keywords, so Google knows what it's about. By writing this content I am using my tone of voice to convey our brand. Furthermore, there will be calls to action later on, asking people to get in touch with us as potential clients. Content is a powerful tool in digital marketing and SEO work. It carries out a lot of functions often without the audience realising.
Google’s repositioning and the effect on content
Finally, Google’s role regarding content needs discussion. Recently, Google has been shifting towards placing more emphasis on the user experience. This means that Google will always do what it thinks is best for its searchers, not the sites it uses to provide its information. At the end of 2020, Google released a new update meaning that it can deal with more complicated search queries in a more accurate way. Rankings for search terms used to be based on entire sites, and the whole content contained within them.
Now though, Google can extract the most useful passage and rank that higher on its own, independent of the page it belongs to. This means even a low-ranking page can have a passage ranked at the top of a results page if its content is deemed to answer the query most usefully. The other change that came with this update was that these passages often appear at position 0, or the very top of the results page, even above the top ranked site for that query. This passage appearing independently means that there is less need for the user to actually use a site. If their query is answered directly by Google, the job is done. A study in 2020 showed that almost 65% of searches now resulted in 0 clicks to pages returned in the results. This is because of the passage extraction usually providing an adequate answer for the user.
Here’s the top search result for the term ‘coffee bean harvesting and processing’ and the position of the same website it's taken from in the search term ‘coffee roasting company’. This shows how passage indexing can take relevant material from lower ranked pages.
Many SEOs saw this is a negative thing, thinking the traffic loss was harming their performance. But, realistically, with Google providing a better user experience, the passage that gets featured is regarded with a lot of prestige by the user. They’re likely to notice the website that passage comes from, and if they need information again will be more likely to become a return user.
That concludes our brief summary of content and its role in B2B SEO strategy. We’ve discussed what it is, how it targets different points of the customer funnel, the outcomes it should create, and Google’s interaction with it. Next time you’re reading long form content, you should have a better understanding of why it’s been created and what it’s asking you to do.