You already know your prospective customers are using search engines to find the products or services they need. But are you confident they will find yours? Or is your company just another needle in the haystack?
According to HubSpot market research, 75% of internet users do not scroll past the first page when seeking out information online. Yikes! Therefore, it’s critical that your business is positioned among the top ten results displayed when a potential buyer searches the terms and phrases for which you want to rank.
So what’s the first step to achieving this?
Developing a superb keyword strategy! One that actually works.
B2B companies, particularly those in niche fields, can quickly climb the SERPs ladder if they can capitalize on the right keywords. With that said, this blog post will teach you the fundamentals of conducting keyword research – and how to effectively implement your keyword strategy throughout your website content.
What are keywords?
A keyword is a word or phrase used to describe your business and/or your product(s) or service(s). When an internet user types a query into a search engine, they include keywords they are hoping to match with relevant information. As business owners and marketers, we strategically place these terms throughout our site pages, blog posts, digital ads, press releases, and other marketing campaign components in order to attract visitors to our websites via organic search.
There are two main types of keywords:
- Branded keywords: keywords that contain the target website’s brand or company name (or a variation, such as a domain name or a misspelled version)
- Non-branded keywords: keywords that do not contain the target website’s brand or company name (examples include industry themes and topics, common prospect and customer questions, specific product or service terminology, etc.)
Why is SEO important for B2B marketing?
One aspect of marketing on which many B2B professionals do not place enough emphasis is search engine optimization (SEO). By thoroughly optimizing your website for organic search, you have a much higher chance of showing up in the search engine results pages when a user performs a search related to your industry or product/service category.
Particularly for smaller B2B companies in the manufacturing, tech, and professional services industries, capitalizing on non-branded keyword search terms provides a great opportunity to rank well in the SERPs. While larger big-name firms can rely on branded keywords, ranking for non-branded keywords is valuable to SMBs because it enables a website to organically obtain new visitors who are not already familiar with that company.
To be frank, SEO is an important marketing technique for all businesses marketing their services and products online. And as the average number of online searches per day steadily increases every year, it’s important to know how to do this efficiently and correctly. Therein lies the difference between merely being found among the top 100 search results and firmly ranking on the first page.
How do you create a keyword strategy?
In order to attract your target prospects to your website, you need to know what they are searching for online. What questions are they asking? What words and phrases are they using in the search engines? Conducting keyword research is a critical first step to determining how you will optimize your site content.
Before you begin piecing together your keyword strategy, you should have a comprehensive understanding of:
- Your target buyer personas – Who are your ideal customers and what are their pain points?
- The buying process – What questions do prospects ask at each stage of the sales funnel?
- Your competitors – Who is coming up more frequently when searching for your priority keywords?
- Industry terminology – What seed words are actually being used when searches are being performed?
It is best practice to include a healthy mix of keywords on your website. Ideally, you should select keywords characterized by a:
- High/medium monthly search volume
- Low/medium level of competition
How do you figure this out? For starters, you can use Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool (free!) if you sign up with your Google account. Begin with an industry term or phrase that is commonly used and type it into the keyword toolbox. Google will provide you with the number of monthly searches (globally and locally) and the competition for this term (taking into account the number of people attempting to rank for this keyword).
If a particular term is too competitive, try a long tail version. Long tail keywords are lengthier keyword phrases (more specific to what you are selling) that visitors are more likely to use when they are closer to the point of purchase. For example, the keyword phrase “social media marketing” could be the broader head term for the long tail version “social media marketing for B2B companies.” Though long tail keywords sometimes yield a lower search volume, there will often be less competition for them – and therefore less difficulty to rank for them.
Tips for quickly finding long tail keywords:
Type a keyword directly into the Google search bar and see what appears in the auto-generated top searches before clicking “Search.” Many queries with hundreds or thousands of search results will not always show up in AdWords, but will show up there.
Research alternate keywords on KeywordTool.io.
Find popular questions, phrases, and terms your audience uses on web forums or social media.
Ask your customers! If your clients are happy with your business, they are typically more than happy to share with you what types of keywords and phrases others in their position are likely to use when performing searches.
Other resources for generating new keyword ideas…
Übersuggest – Input a popular keyword phrase and this site will provide you with additional long tail variations that have been used in searches before, breaking them down alphabetically. Übersuggest is also particularly helpful for gathering ideas for industries about which you know little information.
Soovle – Soovle supports your research efforts by highlighting common queries built on your initial seed words, extracting search data from the four major search engines.
Resources for assessing the competitive environment…
Keyword Spy – This data gathering tool breaks down both the pay-per-click advertisers and organic competitors for any given keyword. It also displays how many phrases a particular domain ranks for organically and the number of competitors it has for those phrases.
SEMrush – Another useful site for fine-tuning your strategy, SEMrush can help you decide which terms and phrases are worth pursuing. If you’re willing to purchase a subscription, this resource can provide even more precise competitive information and help you cross-examine the difficulty levels of ranking for specific keywords.
Optimizing your website…
For every search conducted on Google, there are hundreds upon thousands of pages of online content. But this information is organized and prioritized according to Google’s continually evolving ranking algorithms. Therefore, it’s important for you to understand how Google ranks online content – as optimizing your content with the right keywords will help you get found organically and compete against the big guys!
One way Google ranks content is by scoring On-Page SEO. This refers to the way your web page is set up to be found for a particular keyword. If Google understands that your page is truly relevant to a particular topic, the page has a better chance of ranking.
Check out these 7 easy ways you can power up your On-Page SEO:
Optimize your web page for only one target priority keyword.
Include this priority keyword in the page title, the page URL, the page’s headline, and sparingly throughout the body copy.
Include a short meta description (under 150 characters) that will accompany the page’s headline on the search engine results pages.
Optimize images by uploading an image with a short, descriptive file name and by changing the ALT text to include the keyword.
When internally linking to this web page from other pages on your site, include the keyword in the anchor text.
Avoid keyword stuffing. You should always write copy for the audience first, and write for the search engines second. Google can actually penalize you for overusing the same keyword throughout a web page. Do not sacrifice readability for the sake of SEO.
Ensure all of your web pages are linked back to your homepage.
Though creating and implementing a keyword strategy can be considered a project, you must also think of it as a process – one that evolves over time and requires attention as search trends change and competition fluctuates.
Need a hand with optimizing your own B2B website? Don’t stress! Feel free to send us your questions – or connect with us today for your own custom B2B inbound marketing assessment. We’re always happy to help!