Business-to-Business (B2B) SEO is a specific form of search engine optimization designed to increase awareness, website traffic and ultimately, leads & revenue.
B2B marketing is about one business buying from another, unlike B2C (Business-to-consumer) where it's a consumer buying from a business, the main difference is where the money comes from in these transactions, one being the individual and the other being the company.
B2B SEO has some unique challenges that need to be considered when putting together a strategy, and these relate to the audience you're marketing to.
Whether it's B2B or B2C at the end of the day people buy from other people. However, people buying on behalf of a business have different purchasing habits than those buying for themselves.
When you're comparing B2B vs. B2C, the big difference is the audience. It's important to recognize that the way professional services and products are bought is, in most cases, very different to consumers.
This means the way you approach B2B SEO is going to differ from a B2C strategy. There are several unique challenges that B2B SEOs face that helps to summarise the key differences:
What is B2B Tech SEO?
B2B Tech SEO is a sub-category of B2B SEO. It is the term used to describe Search Engine Optimisation strategies for Business-to-Business technology companies. Doing SEO for a B2B technology company has its own challenges and is why it is a specialism within SEO itself.
Long Buying Cycles
In B2B transactions the time from first discovery to purchase is often much longer than a B2C transaction. There are a number of factors that contribute to this metric but some of the most common ones include a number of different stakeholders being involved in the purchase and the average value of the purchase being higher.
There is of course a correlation with the value of a purchase and the number of stakeholders involved. The higher the purchase value the more likely other people will need to sign it off and therefore the longer the buying cycle usually is.
Problem Identification & Solution Exploration
These are the two main stages of a buyer journey in B2B marketing and they are key to understand to enable you to conduct a successful SEO strategy.
At the problem identification stage a buyer has identified an issue such as “how to manage projects better” and at solution exploration stage they would be searching for something like “project management software”. The two stages require two different types of content, educational (for problem identification) and solution based content (for solution exploration). s
Technology Has Multiple Use Cases
Often when working with software products you will discover that there are multiple use cases and therefore buyers for the product. A simple example is Google Sheets, it is one product that can have multiple use cases.
So what does this mean for SEO? Well instead of just researching keywords for one use simple use case you have to look into every possible angle and ensure you are creating an SEO plan that targets all the potential use cases of the software. Often people don't search for the most obvious keyword when looking for a software product. This is because they are looking to solve a problem and not really looking for software at that point in time.
Another unique attribute of B2B Tech SEO is that you are often dealing with complex products that can be very technical in nature and often have technical buyers. This means you need to have a good understanding of the actual software itself and how it works which sometimes requires some in-depth learning.
A common component of a B2B Tech SEO strategy is the need to optimise your content based on product integrations. As we all know, we use lots of different software products for our work lives. Having software like HubSpot connect into Google Ads or LinkedIn is really useful for a marketer. These types of integrations are often what buyers are searching for online. An example would be some searching for "project management software that integrates with Xero".
Low Volume Keywords (long-tail)
B2B tech SEO campaigns are often led by low volume keywords that can fairly long. This means very specific search queries which in turn means that keyword research is the most important part of a B2B tech SEO strategy because of the requirement to be really specific with the keywords you are targeting. The best approach when doing keyword research for a technology company is find the quality keywords that really resonate with what the company does rather than finding the ones with the highest volumes.
Low Conversion Volumes
A symptom of B2B marketing are relatively low conversion volumes when compared to B2C. This is because many B2B transactions are form submissions for high value products whereas buying a t-shirt on an e-commerce site can be happy thousands of times a day. Most B2B tech websites will only get a few conversions a day (depending on the product).
What is B2B Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy used to increase the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs). Depending on who you ask, Search Engine Marketing either relates to only paid strategies on search engines which is also called Pay Per Click (PPC).
Alternatively SEM can be used to describe Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which describes the task of optimising a website so it appears higher in search results “organically”, so you don’t pay for the clicks on the results.
What’s the difference between SEO and SEM?
The difference between search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) is that SEO focuses on getting traffic from organic search, whereas SEM focuses on getting traffic from organic and paid search. Although, some people do use these terms interchangeably and it can be argues that SEO and SEM are really the same thing in the end.