We asked Green Hat friend and Australian SEO maven Kate Hunter to share some key insights about SEO for B2B organisations that can inform their planning and strategy in 2017 (including those questions we get asked on a regular basis ourselves).
Why does SEO matter for B2B organisations who feel most of their leads come from word of mouth or traditional selling tactics?
Kate: Businesses can’t know what they don’t know. If a business has never optimised their website for search engines, for UX, sent out an EDM – of course, most of their leads are going to come from only channels they’ve never known!
Thanks to the poor practice SEO companies – those that sell ‘silver bullets’ – I think many businesses have a low-level understanding of SEO and a poor impression of what it can achieve. For businesses, SEO is actually about implementing best practices in the way you develop your website, and then it’s about an ongoing content and PR strategy. It’s also a medium to long term gain.
There are no silver bullets. The SEO audit of a website and the implementation of the recommendations should be a one-off cost for the audit and a one-off implementation cost. It’s the content marketing and PR strategy that is potentially the ongoing cost, but that’s where the real value lies.
SEO is a moving target. What should B2B organisations pay the most attention to for 2017?
Kate: Google has always said they want to serve the most relevant content that matches a user’s intent at the moment they type or speak a query into their search engine. Businesses need to understand that they can’t just be a great business operationally, they have to communicate that in the way their website is executed – how else will search engines or customers who don’t know them understand that?
The reality of that means that you need to be one of the top 10 business for your chosen topic – there are only 10 positions available on page one, and if you’re not there, you don’t exist. Competitor research of the websites that rank where your business aspires to is key.
It doesn’t matter if another business isn’t a direct competitor to yours, it doesn’t matter if their business is newer or poorer operator (‘we make a better product than them’), if their website outranks you in a search engine on terms you want to rank for then they’re your direct competition for customers via search engines.
Your website needs to communicate better than theirs.
How would you describe the relationship of SEO to the rest of the marketing mix?
Kate: SEO is not a single practice. It can’t exist without other channels. SEO is what happens when everything else – development, UX, UI, product, content, PR – is done exceptionally. Search engines are ultimately just an application. The key is to make sure all your digital practices are compatible with those engines that power discoverability.
Good content is fuel for SEO. So what makes good content?
Many people think SEO is ‘included’ with website templates and builds. Why is this a risky assumption?
Kate: All the LOLs right here. I look forward to the day that SEO as a consulting or business role is redundant. To the point above (SEO is just what happens when everything else is done exceptionally), Developers, Designers, Product Managers, PR and Content creators all have their own best practices.
Sometimes what will make a website or piece of content compatible with the search engine application interferes with the individual specialist’s vision for what makes a website beautiful, or on trend, or ‘perfect’ in the eyes of their practice. Expecting these specialists to compromise what they believe is their best work is unrealistic. And that’s assuming that they even know when they’re doing something that’s counter intuitive for search engines.
A business needs an SEO lens to determine what opportunities are potentially being missed if they accept things as they are ‘out of the box’.
Finally, what’s the most common mistake you see in the B2B market for SEO?
Kate: The most common mistake that businesses make with their websites is that they don’t follow the advice of their agency or specialists. Time and time again, businesses employ specialists, then debate the validity of the recommendations with a debate along the lines of ‘but no one else does that’, ‘I don’t like that’.
Too often personal opinions of the internal stakeholders compromise the opportunity that business has to reach new audiences in the digital space. If you choose to hire a specialist, listen to them – it’s in their best interest for your business to do well!
Thinking about how you could improve your marketing impact? Talk to us.