B2B SEO Best Practices | B2B SEO Agency
(Originally Published Feb 27, 2016; Updated July 28, 2018)
B2B SEO isn’t magic.
Like many things, it’s been made to seem more complex than it really is. At the end of the day, Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and any other search engine you can think of has been designed to show people what they are searching for.
For good SEO, especially for B2B brands, the best thing that you can do is create good content and then format and promote it appropriately. Forget about needlessly complex link exchanges or (shudder) link farms. Only bad things will come from trying to game the system.
Follow this step-by-step guide to optimizing your on-page content, promote it to other humans as you normally would, and you probably won’t need to hire a specialist B2B SEO agency.
Ingredient #1: Select GOOD Keywords
This is the MOST important step and also the one people skip most often. There’s no such thing as optimizing a page “in general”. You can only optimize for a specific keyword or set of keywords.
Remember, in B2B, focus matters!
Being ranked #1 for a non-relevant or rarely searched-for term is not especially helpful. You’ll either get a bunch of non-engaged visitors for non-relevant terms or no visitors at all if you pick a term that nobody actually searches for.
- Use a tool like SEMrush, Raventools, or Alexa to find estimates of search volume before you pick your terms. We find that KWFinder often has the best estimates for low-volume keywords in the healthcare and technology verticals that we specialize in and rely on it heavily. Keep in mind that the none of the tools provide great estimates for the low volume keywords that most B2B marketers should be focused on. Use their estimates as directional guides only.
- Auto-complete in Google is also useful for brainstorming for good keywords.
- Choose single word or multi-word phrases (3-5 words) but not complete sentences unless people actually search for the entire sentence (which is unlikely).
- Look for relatively high search volume
- Aim for terms that are relatively non-competitive (usually < 1 million results with realistic 1st page competition)
- Aligns with a CTA that makes sense for generating leads
Example: “B2B SEO Agency” has relatively few results and not overly competitive 1st page results. An estimated 90 searches/month in the USA means, means this key phrase should provide moderate volume AND it’s a highly relevant term for us. As testament to the value of the term, there are a ton of ads on it.
Update: It took less than month for this post to show up on the front page of Google search results for “B2B SEO Agency.” It ranked in the top 5 for awhile and then dropped off since we never updated it.
If you showed up from searching this term, I regret to inform you that we don’t sell stand-alone SEO services. We’re focused exclusively on content and lead generation for IT infrastructure, Cybersecurity, and non-pharma marketing to doctors and hospitals.
Ingredient #2: Establish ranking baseline
Use SEMrush or another tool to establish where you started out in the rankings for his term and track your progress.
Ingredient #3: Write custom Page Titles
Page Titles are the single most valuable page element from an SEO perspective
- Use up to two keywords per Page Title
- Separate the keywords with a vertical bar ( | ), aka a “pipe,”
- Do NOT include the company name in the Page Title as the business will usually come up first in the search results
- Try to use your primary keyword first, but don’t force it. Remember, your primary audience is humans. If needed utilize the bar to separate two keywords for the search engines while making it clear to humans what the post is about.
Example: B2B SEO Best Practices | B2B SEO Agency
Ingredient #4: Write custom Meta Keywords
Yeah, yeah. It been reported that Google doesn’t utilize this, but some others do. And Google does check the Meta Keywords field for consistency against the Page Title. Use the field by copying and pasting the content of the Page Title directly into the Meta Keywords field
Example: <meta name=”keywords” content=”B2B SEO Agency, B2B SEO Best Practices”>
Ingredient #5: Custom Meta Descriptions
This is what people see when they see search results. It should be both compelling to a human and reinforce to search engines what your content is about (i.e. your keyword).
- Keep it to 23 words or less
- Use the primary keyword for the page twice (once in the beginning and at the end of the description)
- Use the secondary keyword once in the middle of the description
Example: Looking for a B2B SEO agency? Want to optimize B2B SEO? Here are some B2B SEO tips and templates.
Ingredient #6: Don’t forget URLs
- Google looks for keyword placement throughout content pages including your URL
- Proximity of where the keyword is placed within the URL is also important, when stripping out all other levels of content for Google to find what it needs more efficiently
Ingredient #7: Optimize “ALT” text for images
- Optimizing the ALT text field associated with the images will help rank those images well within “Google Image” searches.
- Optimizing ALT text also helps blind visitors understand what your content is.
- Simply copy and paste the Page Title for the page into the ALT field and add any additional useful information for blind visitors
Ingredient #8: Optimize the headline of the page
- Simply copy and paste the Page Title for the page into the <H1> tag.
Example: As an experiment, we’re not going to use this step upon launch (I know– we’re rebels). We’ll change it four weeks after launch and see what happens. (it helped)
Ingredient #9: Create good content pages
This is really the crux of the matter. Search algorithms are simply increasingly accurate machine learning that attempts to show humans what they are looking for.
Write for humans; not a robot.
Remember, at the end of the day you’re writing for people
- Create specific content pages that focus on a single topic and max two keywords
- The length of the piece should match the content. Don’t pad it and don’t leave something off. But if you need something to aim for, try for between 500 to 1,000 words. This piece is about 1,200 words for instance because we had lots of pretty specific instructions.
- Don’t forget to ask for the sale… no CTA… no point in driving the traffic.
Ingredient #10: Keyword frequency guidelines
- Optimal keyword frequency is between 2 and 3 repetitions within 500 words and no more than 8x within 1,000 of content
- Use non-exact matches of the Keywords such as “SEO for B2B” or “White Hat SEO Guidelines for B2B companies” throughout the content page
Ingredient #11: Keyword proximity – placement
- Placement of keywords within the content of a page is important
- Place keywords at the beginning of sentences, and sentences at the beginning of paragraphs
Ingredient #12: Google (and people) friendly content formatting
Your human visitors will skim your content so you want to format the content as much as possible using H2, H3s, etc.
- Highlight your keywords using techniques that help your human visitors
- Bold your keywords once or twice on the page
- Place your keywords within quotation marks – when it is grammatically correct to do so
Ingredient #13: Optimize file names
- Include the Keyword in the file name of the image featured on the page
Example: Instead of “589504.jpg,” save the photo as “B2B_SEO_Agency1.jpg”
Ingredient #14: Optimize anchor text links
When linking from one content page to another within your site, include your Keywords within the link itself
Example: See our article about best practices for a B2B SEO Agency
Ingredient #15: Don’t do stupid stuff
This may seem like a no-brainer but some of the most confusing SEO advice for many marketers is all the technical advice about doing this and not doing that. Most of that can be summarized with the phrase: follow good web practices.
- Use redirects properly. 301 is a permanent redirect which is what you usually want to use, like when a URL or domain name has changed.
- Don’t have broken links on your site.
- Avoid duplicative content and page titles.
- Don’t have broken forms or security problems on your site.
Ingredient #16: Promote your great content
Search engine look at all kinds of signals for ranking content, including how much humans seem to like it. So promote your SEO’d content just like any other content you’re proud of.
- Promote through social media. If you liked this post, please take a moment and share it via Twitter or Linkedin.
- Try to have reputable and relevant sites link to your page. Avoid (or disavow) inbound links from spammy sites. This should not feel like a “link building” exercise. It should feel like a content distribution strategy. If you want the visitors of a given site to come to your site (and they should objectively want to based on your content) then try to develop a relationship (not a link) with that site. This will naturally lead to the right kinds of links to boost your relevant keyword SEO. Anything else typically leads to an exercise in building quantity of inbound links over quality and relevancy. This in turn risks penalties from the search engines either because they become confused as to what your content is really about or because they think you’re deliberately gaming the system. Remember, you want the right Not just a lot of it. You’re B2B. Most people have no interest in your product and couldn’t buy it anyway.
- Regularly index and upload site maps to Google Webmaster Tools. Be sure that what you’re uploading is actually accurate. Many CMS systems (we’re looking at you Drupal) will generate garbage site maps with thousands of irrelevant links. Only index real
See? SEO isn’t that scary. Just follow this 15-step recipe and soon your great content will be finding the audience it deserves.
Get the Printed version in PDF or InDesign format!
Get your very own shiny copy of our guidelines for use in-house by contacting us here. We’ll send you a PDF or InDesign format.
If you’re a prospective client, we’ll happily co-brand the document for you. Heck, if you’re an actual client, we’ll happily execute it for you. J
Many thanks to Stephen Woessner of Predictive ROI who pioneered and extensively tested these techniques.
Rich founded glassCanopy in 2001.
Latest posts by Rich Quarles (see all)
- Marketing IT Infrastructure, Part 2: Messaging & Segmentation - December 17, 2018
- Come Meet Us at MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum 2018 - October 23, 2018
- Marketing IT Infrastructure, Part 1: Defining the Challenge - October 23, 2018