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5 Key Building Blocks of Successful B2B SEO

- April 13, 2020 1:41 am

B2B SEO Building Blocks

There are numerous components to search engine optimization (SEO) in business-to-business (B2B) marketing, so how do you know where to start. Here are five key building blocks that, once mastered, will increase traffic for any website by 30-300% or more.

Keyword Rankings

“The power of keyword research lies in better understanding your target market and how they are searching for your content, services, or products.” – Moz

Tracking keyword rankings is central to the success of all SEO activities. Keywords are a leading indicator for lead generation, along with organic search traffic and lead generation. Rank for the wrong keywords, and you will have wasted a lot of time and money. Rank for the right keywords, and your lead generation activities are likely to be very successful.

We conduct extensive keyword research using the Keyword Planner of Google Ads to tailor our on-site content to align with the keywords searched for by prospects. This maximizes our chances of being seen on Google by the right audience.

Google Ads Keyword Research Tool

We then use Moz to monitor keyword rankings over time.

Moz Keyword Rankings

Moz Keyword Rankings

URLs, Folders & Site Hierarchy

Incorporating keywords into your page names, folders and resulting URLs can give you a rankings and lead generation boost.

URLs should be descriptive but you’ll want to avoid going overboard. Moz claims URLs should not exceed 115 characters and others claim 100, but you are not penalized by Google if you exceed these numbers. A good practice is to leave out “stop words” that are ignored by search engines, including and, or, but, of, the, a, etc. Deep-nested subdirectories with many folders are also unnecessary. Remember that both search engines and humans will be analyzing your URLs – if they look like spam, they won’t get clicked.

For example, if we’re trying to rank for B2B marketing strategy:

Safe vs. Unsafe Characters

For every folder, page name and file name (of images, videos, etc.), you only want to use safe characters:

  • Safe: alphanumeric, hyphens and “/” though the latter should be automatically applied by WordPress or whatever web content management software you use
  • Unsafe: spaces (are translated to “%20” and can trip up search engines and redirect plug-ins) as well as _ . , + = ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) [ ] { } : ; < > ? ~ ` ‘ “ and all other symbols
  • Recommended: always use lower case – web browsers aren’t case sensitive, but it just looks better and more consistent

Subdomains vs. Folders

We recommend only using subdomains when you have to and/or for marketing purposes. Subdomains can fool search engines but can be useful marketing tools because they can make long URLs shorter and easier to remember. Thus, we recommend subdomains point to folders on your site. For example:

URL Redirects

Anytime you rename or delete a web page or blog post, we recommend creating a 301 redirect through a redirect plug-in on your website. When you delete an item of content, simply redirect it to the nearest relevant page. Not doing so creates crawl errors in Google cache, which are reflected in Google Search Console (covered later in this white paper).

Two redirect tips:

  1. You need to redirect all previously named and deleted content from all previous versions of your website – yes, it’s a pain, but it’s a best practice to clear out all Google crawl errors
  2. A redirect should never point to another redirect – when you make significant changes after previously creating redirects, you need to go back and update those redirects

Page Titles & Meta Descriptions

When you skim the Google search results for an answer to your query, what entices you to click on a page?

Example search engine result for “B2B marketing consultant”:

Search Engine Results

The small amount of information you receive about a site in the search engine result pages (SERPs) usually consists of a page title and a short description. According to Google’s SEO guide, page titles and meta descriptions are central to how Google understands and interprets the information on a site.

If you’re new to SEO, you may be wasting an important opportunity to boost your results by sticking with default page titles and meta-descriptions. Customizing them lets you communicate directly with search engines to improve search traffic. Page titles and meta-descriptions should be concise yet descriptive. Page titles should not exceed 70 characters, though you should try to keep it closer to 65-68 as Google displays results in sans serif fonts, and certain letters like “w” take up more space and could result in part of your title being cut off – you’ll see a “…” when this happens. Meta descriptions should not exceed 150 characters.

Tip: never use double quotes (“) in page titles or meta descriptions – they are interpreted in HTML as the beginning and end of each field. The first instance of a double quote added by you will be interpreted as the end of that page title or meta description. Single quotes are fine, if you must. Also, don’t bother adding periods to the end of page titles or meta descriptions – they just take up space.

Default titles and descriptions typically just repeat words from your headline or content without any strategy. And contrary to popular belief, branded “boilerplate” titles with little variation are not good practice – they are search engine roadblocks.

Ideally, meta descriptions display in the Google search results, but that is not always the case. Sometimes they show an excerpt of your page instead if it is deemed more relevant to a user’s query. Improve your results by taking the time to create unique titles and meta descriptions for each web page, utilizing in-depth keyword research to increase search visibility.

Blog Tip: you can have a different blog title than a blog page title. The blog title is what website visitors see when they’re on your site and we want these to be written as creatively and compellingly as possible, which can run counter to SEO keyword ranking goals. Blog page titles are displayed in search engine results – it’s better to fully optimize these for SEO because they’re less visible to visitors. When they are seen, the meta description will be more descriptive and encourage the click-through.

Marketing Automation & Sub-Domain Landing Pages

Remember to optimize your marketing automation pages created in Act-On, HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo, and similar tools just like you would any page on your site. Unless they’re marked “no-index,” Google will crawl these pages and penalize you for page titles and meta descriptions that are too short, too long or missing, diminishing your potential for higher rankings.

The same holds true for any sub-domain on your site, including customer portals, recruiting sites, technical support sites, wikis, etc.

Blog Tags

Blog Tags

Most web content management platforms like WordPress allow you to categorize your blog posts using multiple tags. These tags should use keyword phrases relevant to the specific content and the keyword research you conduct. If you’re not trying to rank for a keyword, there’s little need to put it in the blog tags, unless:

  • You want to categorize information by type – e.g. case studies, whitepapers, press releases
  • You want to only display certain blog posts – e.g. only “financial services” blogs for a financial services microsite

Image Alt Tags

Remember to include a description of your image, using relevant keywords, in each image alt tag &ndash blank tags appear as alt=””:

Yes:

<img src="/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/b2b-marketing-strategy-fail.jpg" alt="B2B Marketing Strategy" />

No:

<img src="/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/b2b-marketing-strategy-fail.jpg" alt="" />
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