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What is SEO? Back to basics for B2B brands

By Thomas Cox

In the recent past demonstrating SEO’s value to B2B business leaders was tough. This was because many didn’t understand what it was, or why it mattered. But with the digital landscape now the front line for many brands’ sales and marketing efforts, the importance of SEO, and appearing on page one of Google for your services, is a business priority. But achieving this is harder than ever, and not just due to an increasingly competitive business landscape. Generative AI is also getting more sophisticated and pumping out content that pushes lower-quality human-written content down the rankings.

With that said, jumping on the AI bandwagon definitely isn’t the answer to SEO success. Google is working hard to ensure its algorithm boosts quality content that satisfies its E-E-A-T needs (demonstrating Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust). Google’s most recent update specifically targets spam content on the back of an influx of AI-generated content.

In this blog, I’m going to take it back to basics. I’ll explain what SEO is, and translate some of the sector’s jargon to make it easier for you to navigate. I’ll also run through some tips on great SEO for B2B brands in particular.

What is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the art (and science) of making the content on your website as appealing as possible to search engines like Google and Bing. Why? To rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Organic traffic (audiences reaching your website through a search engine result you haven’t paid for) is often one of the top ways customers will find your brand. So you need to ensure the keywords you’re ranking for are relevant to your product or service. There’s no point ranking well for ‘holidays in the Bahamas’ if you’re selling cybersecurity software.

But building an SEO-optimized website goes beyond using the right keywords. How your content is structured, and the quality of components like title tags, internal and external links, and meta descriptions are also vital. Google is also increasingly updating its algorithm so content built purely to climb search rankings won’t be the most successful. Helpful, reliable, and people-first content will, meaning humanity is a more important aspect of good SEO than ever before.

The importance of SEO for B2B

So, why is SEO important for B2B brands in particular? In the B2B world, the buying cycle can be long and complex, with decisions often requiring thorough research and stringent business cases. Here's where SEO shines. By optimizing your site, you ensure that your business pops up as a top contender on SERPs, right where your potential clients are looking. It's about being in the right place at the right time, with the right content.

It’s also vital from a reputation perspective. In the complex world we live in today, brands are under increased scrutiny and need to be prepared to boost positive sentiment across channels if an issue or crisis arises. Having your brand’s SERP filled with positive content is a great place to start, and reactionary SEO can also be used to push negative coverage down the list.

Breaking down SEO: a glossary

SEO might seem daunting at first, but when you break it down, it's quite straightforward. Here are the key terms you’ll see pop up when working to build an SEO strategy.

Keywords: The foundation of SEO.

By understanding and utilizing the keywords your prospects are searching for, you can tailor your content to meet their needs. A ‘finger in the air’ approach won’t work here, you need to engage in insight-led keyword research to identify the important words and phrases customers are searching for as they move through your sales funnel. For example, at the awareness stage they may be searching for answers to a business problem, at consideration they could be looking for solutions related to your brand, and at the decision phase they should ideally be looking directly for your brand.

Informational, navigational, commercial, transactional: The four keyword categories.

  1. Informational keywords are search queries used by people who are looking to learn something; they’re often in a question format (What are the latest fintech regulations?).
  2. Navigational keywords refer to when people are looking for a specific site (Clarity) or place (where is Old Street Station?).
  3. Commercial keywords are used by audiences researching brands, products or services (SEO services).
  4. Finally, transactional keywords have the strongest buyer or action intent, and are most likely to be targeted with paid ads to support conversion (buy SEO services).  

On-Page SEO

This refers to optimizing individual web pages to rank higher, and earn more relevant traffic. You can boost on-page SEO with meta tags (information in a webpage’s HTML about a page that helps search engines know what it’s about), headings, and internal links (hyperlinks to other pages on your site that can help search engines index your page, and even boost page authority).

Off-Page SEO

Activities outside of your own website that impact your rankings within search engine results pages, and the authority of your pages. This largely involves building high-quality backlinks (other sites linking to your site). This can be achieved by creating content that people want to share because it’s high quality, and pitching it to other blogs or media publications. Contributing guest blogs featuring links to your own site is another tactic.

Technical SEO

The backend elements of your site (site structure, mobile-friendliness, page speed) that help search engines crawl and index your website more effectively. These elements also make the experience more pleasant for audiences so are important to blend with high-quality content.

Featured Snippets

These are the different ways search results show up on a SERP. They can either be in the format of a short paragraph, list, table, or video. The latter demonstrates why content beyond blogs and whitepapers etc. is so important. YouTube is the second largest search engine, and top YouTube results also show up on Google, so video needs to be a core part of your SEO and content strategy.

The Bottom Line

So, why invest in SEO, especially if you're a B2B company? Because it's one of the most cost-effective ways to build brand awareness, generate quality leads, and establish credibility in your industry. In a marketplace that's becoming increasingly saturated, SEO helps you stand out.

Remember, SEO isn't a one-time project; it's an ongoing strategy that pays dividends over time. It's about laying down a foundation that ensures your business doesn't just succeed today but continues to thrive in the rapidly evolving digital age.

I hope this gives you a clearer understanding of what SEO is and why it's not just important but essential for B2B companies. The digital landscape is vast and ever-changing, but with a solid SEO strategy, and the support of SEO experts like our team at Clarity, you can stay ahead of the curve and drive the results your business needs.
Contact us today to find out more about our SEO capabilities:

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