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The Ultimate Guide to SEO Best Practices for B2B Tech

Elad Hefetz
14 February 2024
SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a little understood practice that can make an enormous impact on how many eyes can see your website – and the underlying content also drives whether you’re attracting the right eyeballs (i.e. your target audience) to your website.

It’s not technically difficult to do once you know the steps. However, the ever-changing target Google sets for us every time they update their search algorithms complicates SEO.

This article is your guide to understanding which SEO best practices are evergreen and when to mix it up to acquire more customers in B2B tech.

What we’ll cover:

  1. How to think about keywords
  2. Why you should make content for humans: value first, Google after
  3. Compounded SEO:
  4. Retargeting
  5. On page optimization
  6. Tools, templates, automations, integrations
  7. Creative SEO
  8. The magic of feature snippets
  9. Aligning expectations: SEO ≠ magic

How To Pick Money-Making Keywords

Every SEO consultant will tell you they are targeting keywords that are related to your business. However, only a few will focus on keywords related to high commercial intent, and a fraction will truly understand your persona and ICP.

A winning formula for keyword research is:

Create content your target audience wants to read.

Easy right? 

Well, the buyer committee complicates things a bit. To ensure you’re creating content that will attract the right persona in the right companies, you’ll need to define your ideal customer profile (ICP) and the personas that align with the decision maker, budget holder, a champion, and anyone that can highly influence these buyers.

But how can keywords attract the right reader?

  1. Avoid targeting broad terms. Broad terms tend to be educational rather than action-oriented. Writing educational content isn’t a bad thing, but it’s unlikely to see business from these in the short term. An example of how to use a keyword in a more actionable way would be to add “how to” to the keyword. “What is” plus the keyword is the definition of a broad, educational use of keywords.
  2. Use jargon that is broadly adopted by your ICP. This could be an industry-specific term (or set of initials if you’re in B2B 🙂), or a tool or use case specific to your ICP. For example, we would use the keywords “PLG strategy” to target product-led companies and avoid service-led companies.
  3. Use keyword phrases with high commercial intent words. Think of the words you should use in a navigation menu so visitors can learn more about your product. Words like “services,” “service,” “solution,” “pricing,” “implementation,” “best practices,” and “alternatives” are all great examples.

A lot of SEO consultants rush through the research phase in favor of showing quick results, but not all traffic leads to business value. In fact, I would argue that the faster the spike in traffic, the more likely your SEO consultant isn’t funneling in the right visitors.

To ensure you have a good partnership with your SEO consultant, make sure they are aware of the details behind the products and services you offer, your use cases, your personas, your ICP, and the different phases of your buyer journey. I also encourage you to ask them to explain which keywords generate awareness versus consideration versus conversion.

If the keywords are too broad to be associated with intent level, those shouldn’t be targeted. An added benefit of focusing on more specific keywords is that it will naturally attract traffic from the broader terms.

Examples of bottom of the funnel keywords would look something like the following:

  1. Competitor based:
  2. {{Competitor}} pricing
  3. {{Competitor}} alternatives
  4. {{Competitor}} reviews
  5. {{Competitor}} vs {{Competitor}}
  6. Category solution searches:
  7. Best {{solution category}} solution/s
  8. How to implement {{solution category}} solution
  9. {{solution category}} product/solution/software

Why You Should Prioritize Reader-Friendly Content

A lot of content on the internet is optimized for how Google [used to] prioritize keywords and not for how valuable the content is to the reader. It makes sense if you think about how SEO consultants are compensated or judged. Marketing leaders want to see results – and they typically measure that by traffic volume and keyword rank. 

But does traffic volume matter if none of those visitors are someone you would sell to?

Probably not.

When your audience searches for a term, your goal should be to deliver what they need – and only what they need. If they search “How to —”, don’t bore them to death with the history of the problem,related statistics, or what Gartner has to say about the issue. No one cares! 

Your reader wants to know the solution broken out into easy steps to follow. After you deliver the answer, feel free to add any search-focused content you wish. The faster you are to provide value, the more engaged the reader will be. 

Remember, humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish. Your content writer needs to capture and hold their attention immediatelyTo keep readers engaged, use bulleted summaries, put the answer to the main question at the top of your article, and make it as easy as possible for the reader to jump to the content that’s the most relevant to them. Consider using hyperlinked tables of contents and optimize your content for feature snippets so Google serves up the relevant section.

I guarantee that if a visitor lands on your site for a keyword and they immediately get an actionable response, they will (with 100% certainty) read more about your company and product.

But what if they don’t? That’s why our next section is on compounded SEO.

The Power of Compounded SEO

An often neglected strength in content design is compounded SEO. Getting traffic to your website is just the beginning, the real work is drawing them back for more. 

To increase your chances of converting sales out of SEO traffic, leverage at least one (ideally more) optimizations on top of SEO refined pages. Here are some tactics listed from easiest to most difficult to implement.

Easy: On Page Optimization + UX

While this is a very basic compound effect, it’s often missed.

Picture this:

You wrote the most amazing content piece. The content is spot on and it answers your reader’s every question. However. Your page looks like it was created in the 90s. Tiny text, not responsive, no image or low quality images, and it takes 30 seconds to load.

Design and page load drive a very high share (94% to be exact) of a visitor’s impression. If the user experience is bad, they may bounce and check out the other article Google returned. Especially if it has 10x better readability.

To create an excellent user experience, you’ll need the following:

  1. Readability: formatting, font type and size, proper headings, and tables where it makes sense.
  2. Visuals: People don’t read. They skim the page. Create infographics, screenshots, videos, and/or highlight the how to parts to draw readers into the details.
  3. Create companion content: As a rule, I’m against gated content. But! What if you provided the best value you could on a specific query, and then offered a companion content? For example, a summary of the article in checklist format. Perhaps a spreadsheet template of the how to. People will exchange their contact information if the companion content provides a lot of value and makes more sense when delivered via PDF or email.

Medium: SEO + Remarketing

If you’re not doing remarketing, well, there’s no better time to start than now. Assuming you’re already doing remarketing, this is your sign to get more granular with audiences by defining them based on specific content they landed on from a search.

Let’s say you created your how-to guide and gated companion content. A visitor navigated away instead of converting. With remarketing, you can “chase” your readers with targeted offerings that might be more compelling than your gated content.

For example, say you have five top performing pages – each for a different topic. Segment the audiences by which top page they visited and then use specific visuals and copy in your remarketing ads that are tailored to people who enjoy that top page.

Difficult: The interactive evergreen content piece

If you can pull this one off, this can actually become more than just a traffic magnet. Creating a free tool or template can go a long way in getting the right kind of traffic. If the interactive page is compelling enough, you should see SEO traffic and huge lift from link sharing over social media, in community forums, and peer-to-peer sharing. 

If you have the development resources, this interactive tool ideally incorporates some aspect of your product. Perhaps you offer a free integration or automation (like Zapier does). This is step one of product-led SEO! When you provide a solution to a small problem, this is a PLG play people will be happy to sign up for.

If your product is too complex to offer a piece-meal solution, other interactive magnets include self-assessment wizards, checklists, or integrations – anything that can be used on your site and deliver value to your audience.

Difficult: Creative SEO

I’ve seen a lot of SEO playbooks and most of them are the same. True SEO experts are trained on how to beat the Google algorithm.

This makes the SEO market very competitive and straightforward to get into.

But SEO by itself isn’t going to earn someone’s business. Think outside of the box when you’re considering search terms. 

Search is more than just Google. Reddit has its own search engine. Same goes for Youtube and TikTok. Even generative AI is combing the web. If you can produce high quality content (particularly videos), you pop up where your competitors are yet to be found.

To crank out valuable content quickly, have your company SMEs commit to one video interview per week. This is a quick way for content writers to create high quality written content without having to be an expert themselves. For maximum performance, agree to a process, work with your SEO expert to create a cluster of content structuring questions and topics into a series of articles, and assign each topic cluster to an SME. This method consistently generates better content than a writer alone and reduces the cost to the business.

Another creative SEO trick is to un-gate your content. 

You’re probably thinking, “Won’t my lead volume drop?” The trick is to un-gate your content only for search engines, while still using gates on your resource center, paid campaigns, or anywhere your traffic isn’t streaming in through a search engine.

But if you’re really worried, you can use the one resource “free” and gate the second resource, providing a higher chance to win the reader’s email – we covered this above and called it “Companion Content.”

If you’re convinced that gated content is the way to attract more lead volume, an aggressive technique is the paywall method. Google crawls the entirety of the content, but actual visitors only see the first portion of the content before getting a “paywall” or email prompt. Personally, I don’t like this approach as it feels a bit sleazy, but hey, it works. If you create amazing, high-value content, perhaps your prospects won’t mind.

The last and most complex tactic to pull off in terms of creative SEO is programmatic SEO. By leveraging technology and good ideas, you can level up your SEO efforts without needing to double down on content creation. 

How?

Find something in your product or industry that has hundreds or thousands of entities and start making this into programmatic content. Think of integrations, locations, parts, connected technologies or anything else that has low search volume for each component – but when combined create a lot of specific searches. Zapier mastered that with integrations. Databox uses data sources. Canva uses design templates. As long as you can generate small pieces of content with dynamic targeting, you can generate thousands of pages to gain more specific traffic.

How To Get Your Content in Feature Snippets

Feature snippets can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you’ll get to be ranked even higher than number one with a more interactive result on Google. But on the other hand, you might not actually get traffic if you answer the question really well.

For transactional and short answer questions, having the featured snippet might not be the outcome you want. For more elaborate issues, even when presented with a feature snippet, most people will click to read more, getting your website more traffic than ever.

While feature snippets might be desired by SEO professionals to generate more traffic, most feature snippets are derived from broad search terms and are top of the funnel search queries. If you’re optimizing for feature snippets, keep in mind that conversion rates might not be as good as other mid or bottom of the funnel searches.

How to optimize for feature snippets?

There are a lot of articles about how to optimize for feature snippet but the short answer is:

  1. Use general language and don’t make it brand specific
  2. Avoid using the first person point of view to ensure the text makes sense when reading it without context
  3. Ask and answer a question following the same structure. For example, “What is X?” “X is …”
  4. Keep it short and simple. Think of voice search answers like Google Home and Alexa.

Most SEO failures are from misaligned expectations

Always remember that SEO ≠ magic. It’s actually much closer to science but only a few experts actually understand it. A lot of SEO contractors will know the general concept of how to beat the algorithm, but the algorithm is constantly changing. We recommend focusing on the core principles. 

Google has documented their vision for  search, so start by reading their guidelines and then use all of the tips and tricks we listed above.

A best practice is to always communicate what is reasonably accomplished through consistent SEO best practices. As long as SEO expectations are aligned across your management team, SEO experts, and your content creators, you’ll do great. If you expect magic, quick wins, or big jumps in conversions, you might not get the outcome your business is actually hoping for – more qualified leads.

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