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Build a High-Powered B2B SEO Engine in 9 Strategic Steps

Picture of Chris Kirksey
Chris Kirksey

CEO, Direction.com

Direction.com's B2B SEO Playbook

Optimizing a business’s findability for relevant search queries generates up to a 30% year-over-year increase in potential partnerships from targeted organizations.

What is B2B SEO?

B2B SEO is optimizing a website in order to rank higher in search engines for keywords and phrases that are specifically targeted towards other businesses, rather than consumers.

The goal of B2B SEO is to increase visibility and generate more business leads and sales that come from online searches. Unlike regular SEO which targets a broad consumer audience, B2B SEO has a more niche, targeted focus – driving traffic from other companies that may be potential partners, clients or buyers.

Some elements that are important for B2B SEO include:

  • Researching and selecting industry and commercial focused keywords and phrases
  • Optimizing content for ranking with those business-oriented keywords
  • Building links from industry directories, partners, and related business sites
  • Developing trust through thought leadership content and resources
  • Ensuring site architecture facilitates business navigation
  • Local search optimization to rank in business location searches

Why is B2B SEO Important?

Developing an effective B2B SEO strategy is crucial for businesses looking to improve their online visibility and attract potential partners.

Using a suitable approach, you can boost the natural traffic to your website and bring in more prospects to your sales funnel. 

Here are a few key areas where B2B SEO pays dividends:

  1. Lead Generation: B2B SEO allows companies to reach more of their potential business customers online. By optimizing for commercial search terms, companies can increase visitors from relevant businesses browsing for solutions and partners. This leads to more sales leads and new business opportunities.
  2. Brand Awareness: Ranking higher in search engines and content marketing helps strengthen brand visibility and recognition among other companies in the industry. When potential partners are searching for service providers, B2B SEO makes you more discoverable.
  3. Competition: With more B2B transactions moving online, failing to utilize search puts you behind leading competitors who are pursuing SEO. Most B2B providers are already using SEO, so optimizing for search is necessary to contend for prospects.
  4. Qualified Traffic: Visitors coming from organic search are already actively looking for relevant products or information. So B2B SEO delivers pre-qualified, high-intent website traffic that converts better into sales.

B2B SEO delivers results directly tied to business growth and lead generation. For any company selling to other businesses, the discoverability and brand awareness SEO facilitates are essential. By keeping optimization a priority, organizations can cost-effectively reach and connect with more potential B2B customers.

What's the Difference Between B2B SEO and B2C SEO?

The main differences between B2B (business to business) SEO and B2C (business to consumer) SEO are:

  1. The target audience: B2B targets other businesses, while B2C targets individual consumers. This affects the keywords and content strategy.
  2. The buyer journey: The B2B journey involves more research and has longer sales cycles. SEO needs to attract buyers earlier in the process.
  3. Targeted keywords and topics: B2B focuses on industry terminology, technologies, and commercial intent phrases more so than B2C. Queries are more specific.
  4. Content types: B2B often utilizes more thought leadership content like whitepapers, case studies, and guides to establish authority.
  5. Link building focus: B2B places more emphasis on securing backlinks from industry publications, directories, and partner websites to build trust.
  6. Personalization: B2B selling often requires more customization and complex product education during the buyer journey.
  7. Budgets: B2B products generally represent major investments for companies, leading to higher budgets allocated to SEO and online acquisition.
  8. Conversion goals: While B2C focuses on online sales or email signups, B2B prioritizes contacts, phone calls, demos requests as conversions.

9 Steps We Take to Build a B2B SEO Strategy

At Direction.com, we have honed an extensive yet streamlined 9-step process to building powerful B2B SEO strategies that deliver remarkable results for our clients. Through repeated success in optimizing for complex B2B searches, we have developed an unmatched playbook.

These 9 steps allow us to deeply understand our client’s business, identify the search opportunity, and execute strategic campaigns tailored directly to commercial searchers. By taking this persona-centric approach and pairing it with key organic and paid channel best practices, we drive substantial lead growth — and you can do the same.

Now, through this comprehensive step-by-step guide, we will uncover how to effectively attract and influence sophisticated B2B buyers throughout every stage of their online journey.

Let’s explore exactly how our team strategically charts a course to acquisition through search.

1. Create Detailed Buyer Personas

The foundation of any targeted B2B strategy is understanding WHO you want to reach in the first place. We put substantial effort into mapping our client’s Perfect Fit Customer (PFC) by constructing detailed buyer personas. This allows us to get crystal clear on the ideal customer profile to guide decisions across all elements of SEO from content to link building.

Some best practices for clearly defining your PFC buyer personas:

  • Give the persona a descriptive name like Chief Marketing Officer Chloe
  • Identify demographic details – industry, company size, location, role challenges
  • Outline their specific pain points and problems
  • Determine their search behaviors – what terms and phrases would they use?
  • Summarize how your solution addresses their needs

Here is a template summing this up:

  • Persona Name:
  • Industry:
  • Company Size:
  • Role & Responsibilities:
  • Goals & Challenges:
  • Pain Points:
  • Search Behaviors:
  • Our Solution:

Once you map 4-5 core personas like this, you have clarity on the organizations your B2B SEO strategy will look to assist and the individuals in those organizations whom you need to appeal to.

This molded target audience guides keyword selection, content, pages, and every other element of executable strategy. Spend time upfront to intricately understand your personas before diving into tactics.

2. Map Out Your B2B Sales Funnel

Armed with a clear understanding of your buyer personas through step one, next we need to map the journey those personas take from initial awareness of a need to ultimately purchasing a solution.

Defining your sales funnel stages and process allows you to strategize how to attract and nurture personas through education to conversion.

Some best practices for outlining your unique B2B sales funnel:

  • Determine the start of the journey – what sparks initial interest?
  • Define important middle stages – building interest, evaluating solutions
  • Map final purchasing factors – proposals, trials, ROI analysis
  • Identify your most qualified lead state – demo requests?
  • Understand average time in each stage

With these elements, you can create a B2B sales funnel overview like:

Awareness Stage

  • Realizing need due to new regulation
  • Searching for high level requirements
  • Finding basic education resources

Interest Stage

  • Comparing multiple solutions
  • Reaching out for 1:1 discussions
  • Reviewing capabilities via demos & trials

Decision Stage

  • Conducting detailed product comparisons
  • Building business case with usage & ROI data
  • Receiving official quotes & proposals

Purchase Stage

  • Selecting final vendor
  • Negotiating contracts
  • Onboarding onto platform

Now as part of your SEO strategy, you can determine types of content and keywords to target personas during specific funnel stages. And you gain visibility on your most sales qualified actions to guide future prioritization based on where leads enter and exit the journey.

3. Conduct Keyword-Buyer Research

Now that we have built out our target buyer personas and mapped their purchase journey, it’s time to identify what specific search terms they are using at various stages.

This is a pivotal step for B2B SEO strategy because it reveals the language and commercial intent behind searches that drive businesses to solutions. The keywords uncovered here will dictate your entire optimization approach.

Some best practices for effective persona-based keyword research:

  • Leverage tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Keyword Planner
  • Analyze keyword difficulty around potential terms
  • Ensure some keywords have decent search volume – though B2B volume is lower than B2C it can results in higher conversion rates
  • Build lists of hundred of high-value keywords grouped by persona and funnel stage
  • Identify various keyword types – informational, commercial, geo-targeted etc.
  • Determine keywords that align to your best conversion points

For example, for the CMO persona researching our Local SEO software, we discovered these keywords across the funnel:

Awareness Stage Keywords

  • local search engine optimization
  • geo-targeting explained
  • hyperlocal marketing strategies
  • local citation services

Interest Stage Keywords

  • top performing local SEO tools
  • comparing local search software vendors
  • keyword localization checklist

Decision Stage Keywords

  • measuring return from location-based SEO platform
  • case study on improved foot traffic and calls from local SEO software

4. Develop Target Keyword Lists

The expansive keyword research process will likely uncover thousands of relevant search queries across your buyer personas. Now we need to refine that down into executable keyword targets.

By compiling the keywords into priority lists organized by persona and funnel stage, you equip your SEO strategy with a targeted roadmap.

Some best practices for building effective B2B keyword lists:

  • Categorize keywords by persona into separate tabs on a spreadsheet
  • Add a column for search volume estimates from the platforms used
  • Within each persona, group keywords by funnel stage
  • Highlight the 25-50 best keywords per persona/stage combination as primary targets
  • Note competitor rankings for primary targets
  • Distinguish informational vs commercial queries
  • Identify keywords aligned to your best conversion points

For example, here is what the beginning of keyword list might look like:

Persona: CMOFunnel Stage: Awareness    
KeywordSearch VolumeOur RankingComp RankIntentPriority
local search engine optimization500#5#3Informational1
geo targeting strategies320Not ranking#8Informational2
location based marketing plan2,300#12#5Commercial3

Apply this structure across all core buyer personas, so you have clearly prioritized keyword targets segmented across their journeys. This guides your pages, content and optimization.

5. Match Content to Keywords and Personas

Armed with prioritized keywords and buyer personas, we can now shape a content strategy to attract and engage our target audience.

Aligning specific content assets to persona-based keywords ensures you provide value to commercial searchers in order to influence and convert them.

Some best practices for matching great content to keywords:

  • Audit your existing blog posts, guides, ebooks and determine which cover target keywords
  • For missing coverage, plan development of new content to fill gaps by persona
  • Ensure you have multiple fresh assets tailored to top keywords
  • For primary keywords lacking content, develop listicles, comparison posts, and educational material
  • Structure content with target keywords in titles, subtitles, opening paragraphs and image names
  • Interlink related content to provide additional persona-relevant resources

For example, for the keyword “location based marketing plan” which has commercial intent, we would develop an offer-based piece like:

“A 12-Point Checklist to Building Your Location Focused Marketing Plan”

Optimized to guide the CMO buyer persona through their journey.

Sync your annotations back to your keyword/persona documents so you can track what content you have matching to each target area. This powers your ability to rank over the long-term by providing immense value to commercial searchers.

6. Produce Targeted Landing Pages

As we develop content matched to target buyer keywords and personas, we also need landing pages that cater to those same searchers when they click through from organic listings.

These optimized pages continue guiding personas towards conversion.

Some best practices for tailored B2B landing pages:

  • Determine which product and service pages need to be created from your keyword/persona research
  • Ensure pages directly align to searcher intent – informational vs transactional
  • Craft unique title tags and meta descriptions for every page
  • Structure page content and offers around persona goals for that keyword
  • Use keyword-focused headers and subheaders
  • Include schema markup to stand out in rich snippets
  • Insert relevant internal links to related pages
  • Place clear calls to action to continue the journey

For example for the keyword “compare top local SEO tools” which has more mid-funnel research intent, we would develop a comparison page like:

Title Tag: Compare the Top 5 Local SEO Software Platforms on the Market in 2023

With an objective breakdown of solutions, tailored specifically to aid the persona in evaluating options for their location-based search needs.

This allows us to take the buyer from their initial search all the way through the path to purchase over time by providing stage-relevant pages optimized around local SEO keywords and buyer journeys.

7. Launch Link Building to Promote Authority

Now that we have landing pages published based on our persona/keyword research, we amplify their exposure and authority through strategic link building.

Securing backlinks, embeds and shares pointing back to key pages helps elevate their rankings for target terms we optimized them around.

Some best practices for effective B2B link building:

  • Identify relevant websites, directories, publications and partners to pitch
  • Create customized outreach templates for securing earned backlinks
  • Conduct blogger outreach pitching contributed guest posts to place links
  • Distribute press releases with embedded page links to news sites
  • Promote new page assets socially within target audiences
  • Develop co-marketing partnerships where co-promotions can earn cross-links
  • Sponsor or speak at key industry conferences that will drive site links
  • Continue cultivating new link opportunities regularly

For example for SEO services, we would secure bylined guest posts linking back to our website from publishers like:

  • SERanking
  • SearchEngineJournal
  • MarTech Series
  • GeoMarketing
  • Search Engine Watch
  • SEW News

Strengthening domains pointing visitors to our pages in turn strengthens our ability to rank for associated keywords. This fuels the entire organic engine.

8. Continually Optimize Based on Performance

The key to sustaining B2B SEO success long-term is continually optimizing based on data-driven insights into what is and isn’t delivering results.

By monitoring keyword rankings, traffic, engagement and conversions – we can determine what areas of strategy to double down on and what areas need improvement.

Some best practices for ongoing optimization:

  • Connect Google Analytics to filter B2B keyword performance
  • Track monthly organic traffic and conversions by keyword
  • Monitor ranking positions changes month-over-month
  • Analyze landing page effectiveness via bounce rate and pages/session
  • Identify high impressions keywords lacking rankings gains
  • Diagnose underperforming pages needing content enhancement
  • Double allotted content production and links to fastest growing keywords
  • Pause poor performing keywords slowing overall performance

For example, we may uncover that product comparison pages drive 2x more conversions from 20% less traffic – so we then prioritize creating more of this content style.

Or we may find keywords like “small business local SEO packages” have fallen from page 1 rankings, prompting added links and page updates.

Continual testing, learning and evolving using data insights gives B2B SEO strategy a lever to pull for unlimited scaling upwards.

9. Track Your Competitors

Gaining visibility into the SEO performance of your competitor set fuels strategic decisions through benchmarking and identifying gaps.

Using tracking tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs – we can reverse engineer what is working for top companies in your space and replicate their success.

Some best practices for monitoring competitors:

  • Build a list of your known main competitor domains
  • Pull their top organic landing pages and keywords in SEMrush
  • Analyze trends in their keyword rankings growth
  • Review their site architecture and silo structure
  • Evaluate types of content where they are ranking well
  • Monitor their newest link acquisitions via Ahrefs
  • Identify what new pages and content they are prioritizing from history
  • Subscribe for their emails to understand their conversion strategy
  • Determine areas you can leapfrog over them by investing

For example, through this process, we uncover one key competitor has been aggressively creating local SEO city guides earning strong local pack rankings and links. We can now similarly target this type of content and link building to seize an opportunity they have proven out.

With routine competitor tracking, you gain an ‘unfair advantage’ fueling your content plan and link velocity with maximum impact quarter over quarter.

Achieve Search Dominance Through Methodical B2B SEO

There you have it – an in-depth walkthrough of Direction.com’s proven step-by-step process for unlocking the tremendous power of B2B SEO. By systematically applying these essential components, you gain the visibility, authority, and competitive edge to rapidly grow your organization.

Whether you are looking to:

  • Secure more qualified website traffic that converts
  • Consistently own the first page for commercial keywords
  • Or outperform even dominant competitors

Our team has the expertise to get you there.

We have been specializing in complex B2B SEO across dozens of industries since our inception. Our analytic, data-backed approach delivers results quarter-over-quarter as the long-term partner driving your success.

So if you are ready to gain a dominant SEO advantage in your market, then contact us today. Our no obligation 1-on-1 video consultation will uncover the immense organic growth opportunities tailored to your business.

Let’s review your website, targets, and market landscape as we put together the action plan for rapid expansion.

FAQs in Relation to B2B Seo Strategies

An effective B2B SEO content strategy involves targeting low-volume, long-tail keywords, conducting keyword gap analysis, optimizing metadata, focusing on user intent, and creating comprehensive topic coverage with relevant keywords. Additionally, repurposing video content and utilizing broken link building can improve rankings. Regular website health audits and leveraging Google Search Console insights are essential for ongoing optimization.

Yes, SEO is highly effective for B2B businesses as it helps generate targeted organic traffic to their websites. By implementing a tailored B2B SEO strategy that focuses on industry-specific jargon and user intent-based content creation, companies can increase visibility in search results and attract potential clients who are actively searching for their products or services.

SEO differs for B2B companies due to longer sales cycles and more complex decision-making processes involved in purchasing decisions. This requires a focus on targeting niche-specific long-tail keywords that cater to various stages of the buyer’s journey while addressing multiple stakeholders’ needs through informative resources such as white papers or case studies.

SEO plays a crucial role in successful digital marketing efforts by improving online visibility of your business offerings. It enables you to reach out to potential customers at different stages of their buying process by providing valuable information when they need it most – ultimately leading them towards conversion or engagement with your brand.

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