Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important piece of the B2B marketing strategy especially considering the typical prolonged buying process. When it can take up to a year or more for a lead to turn into a customer, SEO can help nurture a lead along the way, especially when combined with other components of the marketing plan, such as earned, owned, paid and social media.
A discussion with Marisa Catalino, SEO strategist, Fahlgren Mortine, revealed that listening relentlessly is a critical approach for B2B marketers to develop, establish and continuously improve their SEO strategy. Some key aspects of that approach are below.
DEVELOPING A B2B SEO STRATEGY
SEO is about being there for your audience when they’re looking for you, regardless of whether they already know about your brand. To do so, marketers should listen to what their customers are searching for. And to listen well, marketers should research the answers to two questions about the customer.
First, the “how” – understanding how a potential customer searches for the answers to their common questions can help determine what content to deliver to which audience at each stage of the journey. Brands can show customers they’re listening with a strong content strategy backed by SEO that covers the important questions from the target audience(s).
The second question is the “who” – understanding who your audience is can help you develop content to fit their needs. The audience often differs based on the product or service offering. For example, sometimes the audience is part of the C-suite, but they may have a direct report handle the research portion of the process and only get involved at the final decision stage.
For this research, the sales team is an important resource. They can share the questions they receive from prospects and current customers, as well as trends about who those prospects are. By modeling your content around the key questions for specific buyer personas, you can show up for your customer earlier in the buyer journey and in turn, help the sales team nurture prospects more efficiently and effectively.
IMPLEMENTING A CONTENT STRATEGY WITH SEO IN MIND
It’s imperative that SEO be part of your entire content strategy and not handled at a separate time by a separate team. SEO strategy should happen early in the process, before any content is developed, to inform what content is created. For example, if you are creating an editorial calendar for a blog, you should be having conversations around SEO before writing.
To integrate SEO into your overall marketing strategy, Marisa recommends implementing training programs with other departments. For example, for the sales team to provide helpful customer insights to inform a content strategy, they should be familiar with SEO and know the process for sharing the information they learn in the field that can guide SEO efforts.
OPTIMIZING SEO TO LISTEN RELENTLESSLY
SEO is not a one-time initiative. It must be an ongoing priority as part of an organizational culture of relentless listening. After integrating SEO into your content strategy, optimize your efforts by frequently uniting the marketing, communications and sales teams to regroup on content performance.
For example, engage and leverage the analytics team often to understand website traffic, time spent on the site, and learn where people are exiting, interacting and scrolling. Commit to keyword(s) evolution and determine whether there’s a connection to form fills or conversions. With frequent check-ins to discuss performance, you can adapt your SEO and content strategies to generate more meaningful site traffic and conversions.
In addition, much can be done on the backend of a website to keep it performing at its best. Conduct monthly audits of your site to find out if there are any issues or errors that could prevent it from performing well in search engine result pages. Your agency partner should have several software tools to help uncover opportunities for improvement, and of course bring regular insights based on the data generated by those tools.
To learn more about listening relentlessly with SEO, check out Fahlgren Mortine’s eBook: