Staying on top of SEO best practices and increasing organic traffic is a priority for many B2B marketers. The more targeted buyers you bring to your content, the more you will increase your conversion rates and generate leads.
I sat down with Stephen Johnson, resident SEO expert at Salt Water Digital, to find out how search engine optimization is affecting B2B marketers in 2017.
Q: How has SEO changed in 2017?
Stephen: Google made some major updates in the early part of 2017 that we are still trying to understand. Many of the core principles of SEO remain valuable. But we need to determine what best practices will move the needle the most.
The two most important SEO considerations are content and domain authority. It’s important to publish high-quality, long-form content, as search engines send traffic to pages that are authorities for keywords. Pages with thin content won’t perform as well as pages with longer content.
However, content isn’t everything. The strength of your domain is still critical. A domain’s age, size, and popularity determines its authority. A site gains authority when other sites with high authority scores recognize it.
To improve your domain authority, focus on link building.
Q: Everyone talks about link building. How do you effectively build links?
Stephen: Passively waiting for backlinks is not an effective way to improve your SEO. You must be proactive.
We recommend two strategies for building links. The first involves using industry-specific citations or directories. Most industries have online resources where you can list your company or provide content in return for a link, such as through an interview or a guest post. Providing your expertise on blogs is an excellent way to acquire links.
While some directories aren’t high impact, they can still support your link-building efforts. Industry blogs and resources often have high domain authority – not to mention the respect of your customers. Find out which sites can provide you with high-quality links and form relationships with their editorial team.
The second strategy is to outsource your link building to an SEO company that can take care of everything for you. However, it’s important to learn how they plan to acquire links to your website so that you can avoid penalties from Google.
For example, ensure that they won’t use black hat techniques that spam your site around with low quality or hacked accounts. Avoid Fiverr at all costs. You should also find out which websites they will get links from and check their domain authority using MOZ.
Q: Are one-way links more valuable than linking between websites?
Stephen: Google looks for logical link building. Does the link make sense?
For example, you can’t add your financial planning software to a website about dogs. The website doesn’t have any relevancy, and Google will recognize this. Industry relevant links are important.
Q: To avoid thin content, is it better to have one long post per month instead of four shorter posts?
Stephen: You don’t need to write super posts all the time because you’ll burn out and send your blog to an early grave. But the meatier your content, the better.
Write at least 500 words for your blog posts and product pages. Mid-length content will go a long way in improving your SEO.
But don’t create fluff articles just to meet your blog’s deadlines. You must produce useful content. Hire a copywriter to ensure that your content is something that your customers want to read.
Also, include images and videos whenever possible. When you add media to your content, you can tag it with keywords and increase your chances of getting found. Google wants to provide search results with great content – including images and especially videos. The more media you add, the better more likely your content will succeed.
The content you create – whether text or media – should relate to your targeted keywords. You should also interlink and optimize it using anchor text. Meaning, if you want to rank for “HR software,” use this phrase as your anchor text when you interlink between your blog and your product page. Don’t use “click here” as your anchor text.
Q: Should all B2B companies focus on SEO?
Stephen: SEO isn’t for every business. Optimizing the SEO for a B2B company can be tough. Many B2B keywords have low search volumes when compared with B2C keywords. This makes achieving ROI challenging, as you might target keywords that only get a few searches per month. In these cases, I recommend investing in PPC strategies.
Q: If my keywords have a low search volume, will I get any value from SEO?
Stephen: Yes. Even if the keywords that describe your products or services have a low search volume, they could still provide you with value. For example, optimizing for specific phrases can bring targeted buyers to your website. These customers can go on to purchase something that costs thousands of dollars – making your SEO investment worthwhile.
Q: What mistakes do you see B2B marketers making with SEO?
Stephen: When B2B companies tell me they are “doing SEO,” I often see a disconnect in what this means. Many aren’t doing anything other than adding keywords to their web pages or blog posts.
Also, some B2B companies fail to perform keyword research. They guess what people are searching for, rather than doing research to find out what customers actually look for. You can use free tools, including the Google Keyword Tool, to see which phrases your customers are using.
Q: What are your favourite tools?
Stephen: There are a number of tools that I find helpful for marketers. Moz is a great tool to check your site’s domain authority and get an idea of what links already point to it.
If you’re interested in checking out the competition from an SEO and PPC perspective, Spy Fu is really cool. It gives you an idea of what your competitors are doing to get found online.
The Google Keyword Planner is the tool that I use the most for clients. The foundation of SEO is knowing what people are searching for, and the Keyword Planner shows you this information.
Finally, I use SEMrush for its keyword tracking capabilities. It is fantastic if you are pursuing aggressive content strategies, as you can clearly see how your content performs from an SEO perspective.
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