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April 12, 2009

Build A Great B2B Search Engine Marketing Campaign

by Anthony Verre

Indispensable Tips For B2B Search Engine Marketing

The Scenario:
The elephant in the room that everyone is talking about: the economy’s taken a dive; it’s down for the count. Your B2C clients, while realizing that search marketing is a cornerstone in any successful campaign, have cut back their spending (drastically). It’s the ultimate domino effect, and it finally hit you. There’s a corporate brainstorming session. The one big idea (a no-brainer, really); let’s get business we have never bothered with: B2B.

B2B Search Engine Marketing

B2B SEM: A Pig on the Wing

Why you haven’t bothered with B2B until now:

  • They don’t spend as much money as their B2C counterparts (not by a long shot)
  • They are fairly reliant on traditional media spends in extremely niche markets (a publication dedicated to people interested in better ways to investment cast)
  • Experience suggests they expect an amazing bang for the buck (a.k.a. mind-blowing results every time out of the gate)
  • Not surprisingly, there are very few Search Marketing Firms and SEOs out there willing to take them on.  It’s not exactly a gold mine, not by any stretch, but it is a relatively virgin segment. For those with patience and moxy, it can be a very successful venture.

    1) Build The Right IA

    Most B2B companies want/believe that their website IA should accurately reflect what already exists in print or a catalog. Wrong.  To construct the “right” IA, it takes a two-fold effort:

    a) You, as the SEO/SEM, really have to TALK with them.  Not simply let them tell you what they want to see represented, but consider their products and industries they serve.  It may not change the main buckets of product engagement with the user, but you may find/add another way to engage users.

    b) It’s got to be a team effort.  As I mentioned before, the majority of B2B is very niche.  They, whether you believe it or not, know their customers well.  What they don’t know, is how to engage them outside of their traditional media, and you do. These two knowledges clash: in some cases violently.

    Each side has to be willing to make a concession or two in order to get an IA that’s going to be able to target trafficked keywords, convert users, and that all parties are happy.

    2) Keyword Targeting

    You know, as a seasoned SEO, that the keyword and keyword phrase targeting has to lean more to the longtail.  The client, however, thinks the most general terms are going to bring traffic (which they will). For example: the client makes “Micro-Perforated Tubing”, but believe that “Tubing” should bring in all the traffic.  Beyond the fact that there are dozens of terms associated with “tubing”, even if we did target the term, what are the chances we’d be driving the most qualified and viable traffic ready to convert?  Low to none.

    When keyword researching and targeting for B2B, it’s essential as an SEO/SEM to understand that traffic volumes, in the majority of cases, are going to be low, so setting the expectation for the client is paramount. They need to understand that targeting uber-general terms (i.e. “automotive oil”, or “tools”) is not where they’re user base is.

    Sure, their consumers may start with these general terms, but the SERPs they get (sites they have no use for) will teach them to refine the searches with more longtail keywords.

    So that’s where you as an SEO/SEM need to be: in the mid-longtail and longtail keywords to get the most qualified traffic and those ready to convert.

    3) PPC Campaigns

    Of course it’s an extra expense. And, yes, they can get costly. The fact is they are a must for B2B; it’s a necessary evil. Why?  Because organically, it’s going to take time to get position and traffic for keywords. Consider all the link building that’s got to be done and the onsite optimization, and relying on that alone will take 6-8 months before good movement and results appear.

    Consider this effort an “adrenaline shot” for your search marketing.  You get instant exposure in the SERPs, you get traffic to deeper pages on the site: ergo telling Google your pages should be considered important, and, most importantly, your SEO/SEM gets instant keyword search query results.  They won’t have to guess as to which term(s) are most popular among your consumer base.  That, in itself, is worth its weight in gold.

    B2B PPC Tips:

    • Target a small selection of general terms in your campaign. The CPC is high for these terms, not to mention, competitive, so you’ll blow through your daily budgets quick.

    • Work a big variety of mid-longtail and longail words

    • Get a good list of negatives to make sure your budget is maximized

    4) Get Local

    It’s seems so common sense, but I can’t tell you how many B2B’s I’ve seen with no shred of locality at all.  Now that the Google Algorithm has changed to show local results for general queries based on IP Address of the searcher, it is more important than ever to make sure your company show up for local.

    What B2B Local You Should Have Been Doing:

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