In this ultimate guide to the ultimate B2B SEO guides, I’ll show you the actionable summaries of different SEO strategy tutorials by different experts. I picked the articles based on the top Google results (which means that they actually have to be valuable in order for Google to rank them). I used the search terms of “b2b seo strategy 2021”, “b2b seo strategy 2020” and “b2b seo strategy” and picked the top results that seemed to offer the most value to the readers.
Most of these articles offer lots of real-life examples and explanations for why you should use specific tactics, but my analysis here only focuses on showing the actionable strategic steps that these different experts offer.
As you will see, the general frameworks that these experts use are fairly similar to each other, but there are also lots of details and approaches that vary from one expert to another.
Hopefully this guide helps you see the common trends and best practices for B2B SEO a bit better and saves you a lot of time when figuring out your own SEO growth strategy.
A Complete B2B SEO Strategy for 2020 by Brian Dean
Step #1: Build your decision maker persona
Basically, you want to start by figuring out who your target customers are. Specifically – who are the decision-makers in the companies that you’re trying to target?
This helps you to figure out what types of things they search for in Google.
Step #2: Choose your bottom of the funnel keywords
Start with identifying the bottom of the funnel keywords that are important for your target customers.
Keep in mind that the bottom of the funnel terms don’t get a lot of search volume, so focus on the CPC (cost-per-click) data instead of volume when doing this research. The higher the CPC, the more valuable that traffic is because actual buyers tend to search for these keywords.
Step #3: Find top of the funnel topics
Now, figure out the top of the funnel keywords and topics that could bring you valuable traffic that could be converted into buying customers somewhere down the road.
Instead of going for the hard sell on the first visit, focus on getting those visitors into your email list.
Step #4: Optimize your product and services pages
- Mention your keyword in your page’s H1 title and title tag
- Make sure your page URL includes your target keyword
- Use synonyms and variations of your main keyword
- Write a unique meta description aimed to boost your click-through-rate
- Try to include your keyword high up on the page (within the first 50 words or so)
Step #5: Create an insanely valuable B2B blog
- Use Shoulder Topics (topics that are related to your business, but not directly tied to your actual product) that people will want to talk about, link to, and share.
- focus on the “ultimate guides” type of content pieces that put everything you need to know about a topic on a single page.
Step #6: Build backlinks for your B2B website
Do some digital PR, but don’t go for the New York Times. Instead, your PR efforts should focus on industry blogs and news sites.
You should also try creating valuable mini-tools that could gather links quite easily – calculators, generators, etc.
The Ultimate Guide to B2B SEO in 2020 by Mike Khorev
Step #1: Proper keyword research
- Pick keywords that are relevant and popular for your target audience. This is mainly measured by monitoring monthly search volume.
- The keywords you pick should also be relevant to your brand and product/services.
- The competition for the target keyword should be manageable. The more popular the keyword/query is, the heavier the competition, so finding the right balance is key.
Step #2: Develop high-quality content to target these keywords based on the search intent
- Do a quick Google search for your target keyword and check the highest-ranking pages on the first page. These are your competitors, and your job is to develop content better than them. Analyze their structures, flow, length, and check their readability, and aim to develop something better while focusing on your target audience.
- Make sure your content has a clear structure: intro, challenges, solutions, conclusions. Make sure your posts are non-promotional.
- Include your target keywords naturally throughout the content. Again, focus on delivering valuable information for your human readers.
- Include external/outbound links to prove claims and points in the post. Also, make sure to link your own content (internal links) and maintain a healthy internal linking structure.
- Don’t forget to include other forms of media (images, infographics, charts, video) to keep your readers engaged.
Step #3: Optimize the technical and non-technical aspects of your site
- Naturally include the focus keyword in the page’s title/heading, meta description, and URL.
- Make sure your site has an optimal load speed.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly/mobile-responsive.
- Make sure your website is using HTTPS instead of HTTP (SSL certificate)
- Make sure your site can be properly indexed by Google, and fix any existing crawl errors.
- Implement structured data markups (schema.org).
Step #4: Promote your content and get more backlinks in the process.
The quality of your backlinks is more important than the quantity.
Utilize all of your marketing channels (social channels, guest posting, outreach, and other means) to build your backlinks while also promoting your content.
Create content that gives other blogs a reason to link to it. For example, you should offer more value by sharing:
- totally unique data or information (statistics, research reports, etc.)
- aesthetically pleasing assets (infographics, beautiful photos, well-designed images, etc.)
- engaging original stories
- informative, actionable tips not available anywhere else
“B2B SEO is about content, period.”
— Mike Khorev
The Beginner’s Guide to B2B SEO Strategy in 2020 by Jeffrey Kranz
Step #1: What are our people looking for?
Identify specific types of decision-makers, practitioners, and other stakeholders in the companies you’re trying to reach. This gives you an idea of what jobs you’re helping people do, which is the key to making sure you’re focusing on relevant search terms.
- Determine which keywords you already rank for
- Get keyword ideas from your competitors
- Get keyword ideas from your industry publications
- Get keyword ideas from complementors (popular player in your industry that isn’t a direct competitor)
- Use your own good old-fashioned intuition to come up with relevant keywords
- Vet your keywords, then group them by intent
- Consider the difficulty of the keywords
- Prioritize relevance over search volume. Fifty highly relevant views can be far more valuable than 50,000 views from people who won’t even remember you.
- Chase low-search volume concepts. This is B2B SEO, so odds are good that your market is small enough for the truly golden keywords to have very low search volume.
Step #2: How will we satisfy our people?
You’ve determined what your market is looking for. Now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to give it to them.
Product category SEO
- Add your product category to your home, pricing, and features pages’ <title> tags.
- Mention your product category in tandem with your brand name when you’re writing content.
- List your product on review sites (if you make software, you better be on G2 Crowd and Capterra), and ask your customers to review you.
- Reach out to people who manage “best of” lists in your industry, and ask them to add your product (with a link to your home page) to their appropriate lists.
For broad search topics: cornerstone content, pillar pages
Create pillar pages by writing an authoritative overview of a relevant topic. It’s a long-form dive into the subject, usually answering a few important questions:
- What is [the topic]?
- Why is it important?
- How does it work?
- What should I remember about this?
- What do I do now?
For focused search topics: deep tactical content
Dial in on a certain process in a long-form “how to” fashion. Another common expression is the “best-of” listicle, which gives readers a host of examples, tips, or recommendations for handling a certain problem.
For account-specific search topics: tools
There’s a chance that your market might have a question that doesn’t have a catch-all answer. For searches like these, lightweight tools (calculators, generators, ect) can get you a long way in search.
Step #3: How will we signal quality to search engines?
Help search engines recognize that you created something valuable.
Build a Link Lattice
Build a series of interlinked pages around your product category. By connecting your product pages, pillar pages, and various other page types, you can signal to Google which pages on your site are most relevant to your product category—and rank for that search volume.
Use related terminology
You’ll stand a greater chance of ranking in Google by naturally using a wide range of vocabulary associated with the topic you’re covering. You’ll get plenty of these related terms straight from your keyword research.
Optimize your page metadata
- Write a compelling title
- Write a meta description that draws people in
- Keep your URLs simple, readable, and relevant
Build links to your content
- Tell your email list about new content (and ask them to share it)
- Reach out to influencers to let them know about it
- Add an email about that content to any relevant automated drips
- Promote the content to your employees, your customers—anyone who might find it relevant and valuable.
SEO Best Practices For B2B Brands Trying To Rank In 2020 by Ross Simmonds
Step #1: Create search-relevant landing pages
- Map your B2B buyer’s journey. It should list the searcher, their top influences, the questions they have, the keywords they search, the estimated volume for these phrases and the types of content that could be developed to match—for each stage in the buying process.
- Then create landing pages that your audience will find valuable.
Step #2: Keep your content up-to-date
- Revisit your evergreen assets, update them with recent insights and clearly state when the post was updated in the title.
Step #3: Create a glossary or definition-centric landing pages
People use Google as a dictionary, so providing definitions—whether for an acronym associated with your business like CRM, API, B2B, ERP or MAP, or some obscure corporate lingo you might hear at a conference—creates another touchpoint for individuals to visit your site and connect with your company.
Once you’ve created these definition pages on your site, be sure to link back to them in your own content. There’s no need to link out to Wikipedia or Dictionary.com in your blog posts—instead, you can build a network of internal links by referencing your own definition landing pages.
Step #4: Conduct keyword research using ACTUAL Google
Visit Google and type in phrases that your buyers would likely type.
The suggested search terms can give you insight into how people are using search.
Step #5: Optimize your titles & h1s/h2s with relevant language
- Use LSI keywords in your titles and h1s/h2s (semantically related to the primary keyword you’re trying to rank for).
Step #6: Keep URLs short & keyword-rich
- Use cleaner URLs with relevant keywords in them.
Step #7: Include insightful descriptions on B2B e-commerce product pages
One thing that a lot of B2B brands overlook when creating product pages is the importance of having more valuable content on those pages.
Once these product and category pages are developed, look for opportunities to link back to them.
Step #8: Create blog posts & link to relevant landing pages
Create blog posts that link back to your landing pages, using your keywords as anchor text. Do this in blog posts that live on your own domain as well as other sites.
Step #9: Develop lists of resources your buyers would want
Create a list of well-researched products your audience wants and review them. Fill these lists with unique insights and incorporate expert perspectives. You can even incorporate your own products on the list that you’ve created.
Creating a B2B SEO Strategy for Startups That Drives Leads by Kevin Indig
Step #1: Become a topic authority
- Identify the right topics instead of keywords.
- Create a pillar page that covers one complete topic
- create a series of articles that zoom in on specifics of the topic (clusters) and link them to the pillar page.
- One of the cluster pages should be a landing page, on which visitors can sign up for your product.
Step #2: Identify the user’s intent
Reverse engineer the user intent of a keyword by looking at the pages that rank for it in the top 10 search results.
Step #3: How should B2B companies measure the success of SEO?
It’s not enough to just measure the traffic coming through SEO because that says nothing about its quality. You also need to measure the business impact (signups, revenue, ROI).
Use an engagement metric to understand the quality of content by looking at how people interact with it.
Focus on one metric for each category, look at it on a weekly basis, and create a dashboard everyone has access to.
Ultimate Guide to Profitable B2B SEO Success by Brian Dordevic
Step #1: Technical SEO
- Page speed optimization to keep your website fast
- Removing links on your site that link to dead websites or 404 pages
- Tracking webmaster tools error reports and disavowing negative SEO and harmful backlinks.
Step #2: On-page optimization
- Optimizing meta tags and descriptions
- Internally linking your content and referencing useful information on your site
- Refreshing and expanding the material that is already ranking to improve visit duration as well as conversions.
Step #3: Content creation
- Keyword research
- Expert content writing
- Publishing and optimization
Step #4: Off-page optimization and backlinking
- Webmaster outreach (email marketing)
- Publishing guest posts, infographics, and other media on external properties
Summary: The ultimate guide to the ultimate guides
As you can see, these tutorials for B2B SEO mention similar tactics but every expert has figured out their own unique way of implementing them. The ingredients are the same, but everyone is using a bit different recipe to make the best dish.
Here’s my attempt to gather the ultimate best practices for doing B2B SEO based on the expert summaries above and my own 8-year experience in this field.
Step #1: Have a goal and measure progress
This wasn’t covered much by the other experts, but it’s definitely one of the most important things when starting with strategic B2B SEO. In short:
- Pick a bottom-line business metric to track and a goal (for example getting to 500 leads per week from organic search traffic)
- Track and report weekly progress – how many new rankings, new leads, etc you got
Step #2: Know what your target group is looking for
Either you do a proper target group analysis and keyword research with different tools, or just go by your gut feeling, it’s important to keep the users and their search intent in mind when you start with B2B SEO. In short:
- Know who your target group is (target group mapping/user journey mapping/customer analysis)
- Figure out what problems they are trying to solve
- Figure out what language they are using when looking for the solutions to their problems (keywords analysis)
- Assess how difficult the competition is for ranking in Google
Step #3: Create valuable content
Either it’s listicles, how-to posts, mini-tools, landing pages, glossaries or pillar pages, the bottom-line idea is that you have to provide VALUE with your content. This part needs a custom approach and it’s where I would advise B2B businesses to use the help of a strategic SEO consultant to get it right. In short, these are some of the tactics that are universally useful for most B2B companies:
- Search intent is everything!
- Tool listicles with valuable reviews (and your own product/service listed) work well and have a great signup conversion rate
- Pillar pages/topic clusters strategy and any other type of valuable long-form content works (2000-10 000 word content pieces).
Step #4: Get backlinks
This is the trickiest part of doing B2B SEO. Having quality backlinks is a big ranking factor for Google, but acquiring them is very time-consuming and can’t be “hacked” with any shady “buying backlinks” type of strategy (you’ll get a penalty from Google sooner or later). Just accept that it has to be an organic long-term effort and it must be driven by linking-worthy content – and this is usually very different from ranking-worthy content. In short:
- Pitch your team members for guest posting opportunities
- Do digital PR (fundraising news, etc)
- Create exceptional content that’s worth linking to (mapping industry trends and experts, create a valuable mini-tool, etc)
Hopefully, this summary post gives you a better overview of how to come up with a good B2B SEO strategy. If you’re having trouble with it though, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and I’ll happily create a custom SEO growth strategy for your business.