B2B Content Marketing and SEO: Align for Success
5 Tips to Consider as You Build Out a B2B Content Strategy
It’s a complex sales process. It can take months, for some, years to close deals.
Your content marketing plan, empowered with search engine optimization, must be aligned with your company’s sales cycle.
Provide value and opportunity regardless of where a prospect is in their purchase path.
Keep these five recommendations in mind as you construct your B2B content & SEO strategy.
1. Be In the Considered Set
Google is a common starting place for folks charged with making B2B purchases. A significant amount of B2B sales research begins with search.
Early search activity will often include a set of known brands. When you think of your company and your competition, will your brand be top-of-mind? Are you in the considered set?
If not, don’t be discouraged. There are other tactics we can use to jump-start your brand, such as paid search.
For this article, we’ll focus on organic opportunities.
If you are outside the considered set now, a consistent, ongoing content plan will improve your brand value organically over time.
Because SEO will take time to develop outcomes, it is essential that your content includes examples for every level of your sales cycle.
Beyond brand searches, start researching your industry’s most common non-brand search terms for every service or product you offer.
2. Understand Search Intent
B2B buyers are likely to seek content throughout the process of selecting a vendor. With exhaustive cycles of research, consideration and comparison, B2Bs need to develop content for the various stages of their customer’s journey.
We can learn a lot about where a prospect is in their purchase cycle based on the types of search queries they make.
Broadly, we can look at this intent in three ways:
- Top of funnel search: Awareness stage, list building, broad search terms for companies, products or services, brand discovery.
Example: “What is industrial automation equipment?”
- Middle of funnel search: Comparisons, list narrowing, deeper research into feature sets, demo requests, guides users toward a more specific product or service.
Example: “Types of industrial automation equipment for a manufacturing facility”
- Bottom of funnel search: Ready to buy, communication with the sales team, lead, appointment. Users are ready to take action, these terms will drive conversions and sales for a business.
Example: “industrial automation equipment supplier for manufacturing industry”
Always balance your content efforts, and focus on answering the types of questions prospective customers ask throughout the sales process. Then start to strategize how those questions can be translated into content that can be found through search.
3. Assess competitors who do it better
Once you have settled in on some themes and specific keyphrases, take a look at your search competition.
As you research your competition in search, ask yourself these questions:
- In your industry, who is winning the battle in search right now?
- How are they doing it?
- What types of content are they creating? Blog? Video? Interactive? Newsletter?
- Is their content available throughout the sales cycle? What keyphrases are they targeting? Are they addressing search intent?
- Where are their efforts lacking?
Competitor analysis can be an important way to understand the required scale of your content marketing efforts.
This tip may require help from a seasoned digital marketer. It is important to remember – a lot can be gleaned by an experienced eye.
4. Now What? Next Steps…
A common oversight in content marketing is that we don’t always do a great job of moving the reader to what we want them to do next.
Suppose a prospect has read or skimmed to the bottom of the page. Where do I want this visitor to go next? What do I want them to do? Leads will come when the prospect sees you as a thought leader, but there are other ways to keep your brand top of mind if they are not ready to put themselves in the crosshairs of your sales team.
For example, as you build your content library, you can link site visitors to similar articles or videos to maintain engagement. Sometimes addressing one customer pain point can lead to further opportunities to push your brand with additional content.
5. Build for the Journey
Addressing search intent is analogous to developing for the customer journey. As your website matures and your content library grows, be sure to link that content with your website’s applicable products or service pages.
Remember that any page driving organic search traffic will, for some, be the first page they see on your company website. Be sure to establish a sense of confidence that those pages are useful results for the search queries that drive the traffic.
Websites driven by informed content, built with the sales cycle in mind, tend to perform more successfully than those that are not.
Aligning content, SEO and the sales cycle can lead to better outcomes for a B2B business because it ensures that all efforts are focused on addressing the needs of potential customers at every stage of their decision-making process.
Keep these five tips in mind as you execute your content marketing strategy.