Search engine optimization is necessary for any business that wants to remain competitive. Most B2C companies understand that. Unfortunately, as is often the case with new marketing tactics, some B2B businesses are still behind the times with SEO. Far too many B2B businesses either ignore SEO altogether or focus on one narrow aspect. In the nineties, websites that used a few commonly searched terms as meta keywords quickly rose in the rankings. That doesn’t work any more, particularly with Google’s recent updates meant to punish websites that keyword stuff.
Those B2B companies that do take SEO seriously can take advantage of their competitors’ obsolete tactics. If you’re in an industry like this-say, business insurance or leadership and management consulting-you may be able to quickly improve your Google ranking with a holistic SEO plan.
While a thorough SEO is a complex mix of on-page and off-page optimization that should be guided by an expert, there are a few simple tactics that anyone can start doing to lay the groundwork. The best part is, you can start doing them right now.
The first step is keyword research. While this may sound daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Think of at least 10 search terms your best customers might use to find you on Google (not including your company’s name, of course!). It’s usually best if keywords are geo-targeted.
Once you have your list of 10 keywords (it can be more, of course, but 10 is a less daunting number to start out with), go to Google AdWords and sign in (or sign up if you don’t already have a Google account). In the navigation bar, go to “Keyword Tool” under “Tools and Analysis.” Enter the keywords you came up with and click “Search.” Google will run an analysis on how often those keywords are searched and how many of your competitors are running ads based on those keywords. (In order to see the full results, make sure you go to the “Keyword Ideas” tab and not just the “Ad Ideas” tab.)
From this list, choose some keywords that seem best to you. This can be a little tricky for a non-expert, but just remember that this doesn’t have to be perfect. SEO is an on-going process-you always have to improve. There’s no sense in stressing about making it perfect from the very beginning. Choose some keywords that have a reasonable amount of search volume. Anything less than 100 might not be worth your time; that is, unless it’s a keyword that your ideal client would search for. Don’t worry about the keywords that are marked as having High competition. When you’re first starting out with SEO, it’s better to aim for the low-hanging fruit first.
The final step in the basic keyword search phase is to check out how your company’s website currently ranks for the keywords you want to target. While you could simply Google the terms yourself, that doesn’t always work. Google is smart enough to tailor results based on your past activity. If you’re signed into your Google account, chances are you’ll see your website much higher in the rankings than other people will. Instead, we recommend you download the RankChecker plugin for the Firefox browser. Enter your keywords into the plugin and it will generate a reasonably accurate report of where your website stands in Google. Remember that, by default, Google displays 10 search results per page. If you rank 43, you’re on page 5; if you rank 143, you’re on page 15. If you’re on page 4 or 5 for some keywords, you might want to focus on those first (even though the closer you get to #1, the harder it gets to increase you ranking), just because you’re already doing decently well without even trying!