The Benefits, Limitations, And Risks Of Shared Platforms

The SEO implications of shared platforms for B2B marketers

There are a number of shared platforms for B2B marketers that promise increased traffic and search visibility for their members. Before you subscribe to a shared platform, be sure you understand whether it will really help you and how to best use it to drive increased visibility in the search results. This article looks at an example of one of those platforms and how to best use it. You can use the information to evaluate other shared platforms relevant to your business.

Why B2B Blogs are not Achieving SEO Success

Image of person taking closer look at SEO success factors of B2B blogsIn early May, I led the Hot Seat Lab on Better Blogging for Business at MarketingProfs’ B2B Forum in Boston. In it, three brave B2B marketers volunteered to have their corporate blogs critiqued in front of a room full of peers. While the blogs obviously differed in design and content, their shortcomings from an SEO standpoint were surprisingly similar—and substantial. Here’s a summary of the problems they shared and what to do about them.

Will Changes to Google’s Local Business Center Help B2B Marketers with Local Search Visibility?

Will changes to Google Local Business Center help B2B marketers with local search visibility?Recently, Google enhanced several features of its Local Business Center and rebranded it Google Places. Among the new features is an ability to specify the regions a business serves. But will the new changes help B2B marketers serving a larger region get found?

Feeding the Content Marketing Dragon

Image of the content marketing dragonA dragon is a good thing to have. Everyone knows dragons have magical powers. They are wise, although sometimes also vain. Dragons can be fierce protectors, too. The magic of the content marketing dragon is lead generation, lead nurturing, and SEO (especially if your dragon has a long tail.) But if you’re going to own a dragon, you have to feed it. Otherwise, no more fire. No more magic.

Here are a few tips on the proper care and feeding of your dragon:

3 Lessons Learned From Successful Corporate Blogging

I’m just back from speaking at MarketingSherpa’s B2B Summits in San Francisco and Boston, where I was giving a joint presentation with a client on SEO. As part of that presentation, we talked about the role and impact of corporate blogging.

The client is a professional services firm operating solely in the B2B space. Theirs is a complex sale with an average sales cycle of 2-3 months from first contact to the time work begins. There are typically multiple people from different parties involved in or influencing the buying process, and the average engagement is in the low-to-mid five-figure range.

We had already optimized the professional service firm’s website. Early last year, however, we recommended the client also start a blog, both for purposes of positioning via thought leadership and fulfilling the rest of the SEO keyword strategy we had previously identified. The company is now about 15 months into blogging. They post once each week, and there are seven professional staff members who contribute to the blog.

We made sure the blog was integrated with the client’s site, not a separate domain or hosted blog. We chose WordPress and made sure to integrate plug-ins that would give us the proper optimization options. Then we worked with the client to develop topics, B2B blogging guidelines, and help educate those who would be contributing.

The ongoing work is largely handled in-house, by the client. On a periodic basis, we review the posts and make or recommend changes, both in terms of editing content for readers and better optimizing individual posts for search.

The results have been far beyond expectations. Today, while the blog accounts for 32% of the landing pages on the site, it accounts for more than 53% of the client’s organic traffic. The number of unique keywords for which the firm’s site is found has nearly tripled since the start of blogging. The firm’s website is responsible for more than 50% of its new business. They no longer have need for full-time people dedicated to finding new business; the firm’s new business activity is essentially responding to requests for work, not identifying and nurturing leads.

It should be noted, though, while the business results are good, it’s clear the results aren’t just about search; the quality and quantity of B2B content plays an equal, if not larger, role in positioning the firm and generating leads.

While the site optimization and corporate blogging has been successful, there were three key lessons learned along the way.

Capturing the Value of Content Marketing

Click on one of your shortened URLs in Twitter, and your analytics may show a referral from Twitter. But if you click on that same shortened URL in a Twitter client like TweetDeck, the click-through will probably show up as a direct visit, because TweetDeck doesn’t pass along the referrer string in the URL. How many other sources of your traffic are like this? Probably more than you think.

Content marketing is very effective for B2B marketers. Think about all of the case studies, white papers, brochures, technical papers, newsletters you have. Likely, many of these assets are in pdf form. They took a lot of time and money to create. When it comes to analytics, you may know how many people download these assets, but you probably have no idea whether these assets help drive people back into your site.

Site Architecture for B2B SEO | 5 Steps to Success

As many of you know, I’m a columnist at Search Engine Land regarding B2B search marketing. In my column today, I focus on the issue of creating the proper site architecture for B2B sites.

To be found for a specific search term, there needs to be an optimized landing page on the website that revolves around that search term. And because of the lack of shared lexicons in most B2B verticals (i.e., there are several different words regular used to describe the same thing), this creates the need for content-rich B2B sites with expanded site architecture. That means more pages, organized in an intuitive, easily navigable architecture.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s article at Search Engine Land:

Five Steps To Successful Site Architecture For B2B SEO

A couple months ago, I noted that one of the 6 mistakes B2B marketers continue to make with organic search was inadequate site architecture-the fact that many B2B sites don’t have sufficient content to respond to desired search terms. The solution, however, isn’t simply adding more content. Proper site architecture is also critical. Here are five steps to success.

1. Identify potential keywords

Keyword strategy in B2B SEO is downright difficult. I talked about many of the reasons why in a previous Search Engine Land article about navigating B2B keyword strategy. Erik-Jan Bulthuis had a great post on Joost de Valk’s site in which he also describes some of the challenges and proposes a good approach to B2B keyword research. Your goal is this first step is not to make keyword choices or judgments, but rather to create the gross list, being as inclusive as possible of the potential terms actual prospects might use.

Focus on generic keywords; don’t get caught up in proprietary brand lingo. Think of the types of products and services you sell. What are your revenue streams? What do customers and prospects call things? Will their search string express the product/service sought, the problem they’re experiencing, or the type of company potentially offering solutions? Does geography play a role in the search string?

2. Determine relative popularity

Once you’ve created the gross list of potential keywords, you need to determine the relative popularity of those search terms. Often paid search keyword research tools (such as Google’s Traffic Estimator) won’t have data because traffic for these terms is low. In some cases, there will be data, but it will show very low activity. That’s okay. Don’t pay too much attention to that. Rather, use tools like Keyword Discovery to determine relative historical popularity of your keywords. This will give you some idea of which search terms are used more often than others on your list. The actual raw number of searches for a given search term really doesn’t matter much.

When you’re doing this work, remember to enter the root word(s) or root phrase, letting your research tool return permutations and long-tail options. Not only will this give you a larger list to consider, but the results will often lead you down a path you hadn’t previously considered.

3. Make your draft picks

Now determine for which search terms your site will be optimized. In B2B keyword research, usually there will not be clear-cut winners. Instead, for each B2B product or service, there will be one or two relevant search terms that rank highly, three to five more that place as strong “seconds”, and a host of others that have good potential. Click here to continue reading the article at Search Engine Land

B2B Blogging: Using Thought Leadership to Drive Positioning & Sales

The B2B world is wrestling with how to effectively harness “word of blog” marketing—let alone the glittery new world of social media marketing. How can we use social media sites to create that viral buzz that sends awareness and sales soaring? We see what occasionally happens in the consumer market, and we want some of that.

Let’s be real, though. While that’s a great objective, the B2B world is still struggling with basic blogging, let alone creating something that goes viral on some social media site. Last year, Forrester Research found that only 29 of the Fortune 500 firms sponsored business-oriented blogs.

B2B blogging brings up a bunch of questions. Who’s going to write for the blog? Do we have enough content to support it? Will we continue to support the blog after a couple months? How do we control the brand in that environment? Will we publish negative blog comments? Who’s responsible for the blog? Public relations? Marketing?

Capturing Geo-Specific Search in B2B SEO

Local search results are great for B2B if your physical location is in the middle of the city you serve—and your prospects actually use search terms that include the name of your city. But what if you serve a broader region (e.g., Northern California)? Or what if your office is in a smaller town and serves the B2B needs of a larger city nearby (e.g., located in Gary, Indiana, but primarily serving Chicago)? With either, chances are you’re not going to show up in local search results because the geographical search term your prospect enters won’t match the physical location of your business.

Many B2B companies are business service companies and professional service firms that largely operate on a regional basis. Also, many manufacturers and distributors serve a limited geographical region because transportation costs prohibit economically shipping their products to locations further away. For many of these regional B2B companies, the majority of their revenues come from part of a state or from a multi-state area. How do you capture geo-specific search when local search won’t work for you?

Using SEO to Capitalize on Geo-Specific Search

Many B2B companies are business service companies and professional service firms that largely operate on a regional basis. Also, many manufacturers and distributors serve a limited geographical region because transportation costs prohibit economically shipping their products to locations further away.

So how do you capture geo-specific B2B search traffic? You know, search phrases for what you sell that also contain some geographical term, like a city, state, or region. You can use some other methods, but SEO seems to be the best alternative.

Google Local and other local search tools work great, but you typically have to have a physical location in the stated geography. You won’t show up in the local results for a search phrase that includes “Chicago” if you don’t have a physical location in Chicago. That makes it tough if Chicago is one of your key markets, but your business is in a nearby city.

You could use geographical terms in your PPC campaign, but research shows B2B purchasers overwhelmingly first look at (and first click on) organic results. So while you may show up, your chances of getting click-through are not as strong as if you ranked highly in the organic results.

In my most recent article in the Strictly Business section of Search Engine Land, I give some practical tips on how B2B companies can best use SEO to capture more traffic and leads from geographically based searches.