Alastair Kane Search Marketing, Search Marketing Partner 1200 627

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10 May 2023


Table of contents

  1. Why is SEO important for B2B?
  2. The mindset problem
  3. Focus on building a brand
  4. Publishing consistently
  5. Don’t stop 3 feet from the gold
  6. Avoid the siloed mindset
  7. Helping your customer
  8. Is SEO Worth it for B2B?

Why is SEO important for B2B?

SEO is important for B2B companies because search engines such as Google are a common touchpoint for buyers seeking information to help them make purchase decisions.

With so many marketing channels competing for budget and resources, you might be wondering: Is SEO worth it?

Globally, search engines drive 51% of traffic to business websites. In this current climate of economic uncertainty, B2B businesses can’t afford to ignore SEO.

If your prospects are on Google, the question of whether or not SEO is worth it, will ultimately depend on your mindset.

The Mindset Problem

The mindset problem is rooted in short term thinking by focusing on SEO metrics that are easy to measure.

Too much weight is given to keyword rank and organic traffic, whilst benefit to brand hardly gets a second thought.

SEOs themselves are to blame for the mindset problem. Packages are often sold with promises of no.1 rankings for [keyword] and X% uplift in organic traffic.

So prospective clients only consider these as important.

I’m not suggesting that rank and traffic aren’t valid metrics to track. What I am saying is they don’t paint the full picture.

The full impact of an effective B2B SEO strategy can’t always be measured, as it extends along a far longer timeline than standard monthly/quarterly SEO reporting provides, which often omits the advantages of better brand visibility in search.

The right mindset to SEO acknowledges how it helps build brand trust. Without this mindset, the effectiveness of SEO will always be undervalued.

So what does having the right mindset loo like?

Focus on building a brand

People buy from brands they trust.

Think back to the last time you purchased an expensive item. You don’t part with your hard earned cash unless you know and trust the brand.

Sales of B2B products and services are often high value, so businesses need to build trust with their audience in order to generate consistent revenue.

SEO content is a key brand building strategy in the B2B marketing arsenal. As it provides an opportunity to show up each time a prospect goes to Google to search for information to help them with a problem they have – one that your product or service can solve.

This develops trust, which is key to driving sales.

As an example, here’s how I came to be a Quickbooks customer (spoiler alert – it wasn’t because I Googled accounting software solution).

  1. I became familiar with Quickbooks because their content appeared each time I went to Google to search for answers to questions I had about managing my business accounts
  2. It was a long time before I signed up as a subscription wasn’t cost effective for me when I was starting up. However, each time I needed an answer they showed up in search with relevant and helpful articles
  3. When I needed to find an easy way to manage my accounts (and keep HMRC happy!) I Googled Quickbooks – not a keyword – as I knew and trusted them even though I’d never been a customer

To be successful with SEO, you need to think beyond keywords. You want customers to get to know your business and trust the information you share so that when they need help they will Google you by brand name directly.

Keyword rank is the journey. Brand awareness is the destination.

By building your reputation and getting prospective customers to visit your website for information, you’re building a competitive moat around your business, which isn’t subject to the whims of frequent algorithm updates.

Publishing consistently

If you are thinking about investing in SEO for organic growth I would add this – don’t do it unless you have content resources in place to publish consistently.

From my experience working with B2B clients, those that have the resources to publish at least one piece of content per week see the most consistent organic growth.

On the other hand, publishing intermittently will give you sporadic results.

You will see spurts of organic traffic growth as you publish, which drop off when you stop. With inconsistent publishing, the SEO strategy never really gets a chance to gain traction and is judged ineffective because it appears to not be working.

What is really happening is the site never fully establishes topical authority as it is impossible to become the go-to resource (in Google’s eyes) by publishing the odd article here and there.

If you are a business in the cybersecurity space for example, it would be impossible to establish topical authority by writing a few articles on computer malware.

In order to become the go-to website on all things cybersecurity, you would need to have content that talks about all aspects of the subject – content which answers all the questions potential prospects have on the subject.

Consistent publishing will build topical authority for a niche that is important to your business, and this in turn will build brand awareness, which as we know establishes trust – the currency for business growth.

Don’t stop 3 feet from the gold

There is a story in the Napoleon Hill classic, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ about a gold prospector, demoralised by his lack of success in finding the precious metal, decides to give up, thinking he is wasting his time.

However, little did he know he stopped just 3 feet short of a vast treasure of gold, which was found by another prospector a short time later.

The same applies to building organic traffic with an SEO strategy.

The gold, in this case, is an abundance of relevant traffic visiting your website – people who are the right fit to buy your products and services.

SEO is a long-term game and there will be a period of several months to a year when it will seem that your efforts aren’t bearing fruit. You’ll wonder why you’re using resources to produce all this content, for very little in return.

You may begin to think that SEO isn’t worth it and look to other channels such as paid advertising to deliver results.

In short, you will stop three feet from the gold.

But if you had carried on, this is what would happen.

Publishing consistently over the long term builds topical authority and increases the number of long tail keywords that you appear for.

Have patience and don’t give up just before you start to see success!

Avoid the siloed mindset

With more online touchpoints (think Tik Tok, Slack, Linkedin etc) available in recent years, the B2B buyer journey is a complex web and rarely follows a linear journey.

It is extremely unlikely for search to be the only channel involved in a purchase. B2B buyers don’t simply go to Google, type in a query, visit a website then decide to buy.

Because B2B purchases involve products and services that are high value and involve a number of stakeholders, it is vital for a business to reach channels wherever their prospects are spending their time.

Here’s what a B2B buyer journey might look like:

Search works with and compounds the effects of other channels. The more times a brand is visible to a prospect when they are seeking information, the more trust they will have in that brand.

SEO is an important part of a cohesive B2B marketing plan that reaches potential customers wherever they are online, whether that is on search, social media or an industry forum.

Viewing SEO merely in terms of keyword rank misses out on the important impact it has on developing trust with the prospect and building brand awareness.

Helping your customer

The B2B buyer has become a lot more savvy in recent years. They have access to an almost infinite amount of information, putting them (not the sales team) in the driver’s seat when it comes to their journey to purchase.

This journey is becoming ever more digital and user driven. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2025, 80% of sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur solely on digital channels.

B2B buyers today would rather do their own research than be pestered by pushy sales tactics. Think how annoying it is to have a pushy sales assistant in a department store!

In order to succeed in these conditions, marketing needs to move away from the mindset of just driving a sale as quickly as possible, and focus more on genuinely helping customers to succeed and overcome their challenges.

SEO content aligns well with this shift in B2B purchasing habits, enabling businesses to get in front of and build trust with buyers as they’re searching for answers across all phases of the buyer’s journey – from conducting initial research through to evaluating a solution and making a purchase.

Is SEO Worth it for B2B?

You might have heard people say that ‘SEO Is dead’.

But the truth is that SEO is continually evolving. And, as long as people use search engines, SEO will be very much alive!

When assessing whether or not SEO is worth it for your B2B business, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do your potential customers use Google?
  2. Do you have adequate content resources to publish quality content consistently?
  3. Are you focused on building a brand on natural search (rather than obsessing with keywords)?
  4. Are you willing to allocate at least a year to allow the SEO strategy to gain traction?

If the answer is yes to all 4 questions, then SEO is certainly worth it for your B2B business.

If you have any questions or want to see how SEO can help you achieve your business goals, let’s chat.

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