What is B2B Search Engine Marketing?
B2B Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a method of getting more potential customers to visit your business website by making it more visible in search engine results. This involves optimizing your website and using strategies to increase its visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The goal is to attract customers actively searching for products or services related to your business and improve your search engine optimization.
According to Gartner research, consumers spend around 27% of their time independently researching potential purchases online. This shows how vital search engine marketing is in today's time.
Search Engine Marketing is a comprehensive approach that combines SEO and SEM. B2B SEO marketing involves optimizing your website to improve organic search rankings, which increases credibility and click-through rates. On the other hand, SEM utilizes pay-per-click ads to drive targeted traffic, ensuring you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and visits your site.
A good business-to-business search marketing plan uses SEO and SEM (through PPC ads). It involves knowing your customers, what they search for, and how they search using specific keywords. By reaching them at the right time and giving them what they want, you can effectively guide them through their buying process.
What are the Benefits of Using B2B Search Engine Marketing?
B2B search engine marketing offers several benefits, including increased brand visibility, targeted lead generation, improved conversion rates, and measurable return on investment (ROI). By optimizing your website and content for search engines, you can attract qualified prospects and drive business growth in the B2B marketplace.
Some of the key advantages include:
Targeted Audience: SEM allows you to reach your intended audience specifically.
Message Visibility: Your content becomes immediately visible to your audience.
Reporting: SEM campaigns tools can help you generate ROI reports. You can analyze various metrics to measure the success of your ads and campaigns.
Message Flexibility: With real-time reports, you can optimize your ad texts, keywords, and landing pages and conduct A/B testing to improve performance continuously.
Cost-effectiveness: SEM can be started with small budgets. You only pay when someone clicks on your ads, allowing you to optimize your Saas campaign accordingly. Selecting the right low-volume keywords is crucial to avoid paying for clicks that don't convert into sales.
User-Friendly: Users are increasingly skeptical of ads and tend to avoid them. So, Google blends ads with organic search results, making them less conspicuous.
SEM as part of Content Marketing: For long sales cycles in B2B transactions, SEM can drive paid traffic to your lead nurturing funnel. Your SEO campaign should direct users to a landing page with a clear call to action to capture and contact potential leads.
Brand Protection: If you neglect SEM while your competitors invest in it, their paid results may appear above your website when someone searches for your brand name, regardless of your SEO efforts.
How to Develop a Comprehensive B2B Search Engine Marketing Plan for Better Ranking?
Developing comprehensive B2B search engine marketing strategies involve several vital steps. Here's a breakdown of each step and what it entails:
Conducting Competitive Research for B2B SEM
Start your B2B SEM plan by conducting thorough competitive research.
- Identify your top five competitors in order of priority
- Find if they engage in SEO or paid search
- Check the product or service categories in which you compete with your competitors
- Highlight what sets your company apart from each competitor and what makes you better
- Identify the keyword phrases that your competitors appear to be focusing on
- Analyze your competitors' strategies, keywords they target, ad copy, and landing pages.
- Identify gaps and opportunities that can improve your approach and help you gain a competitive edge.
Scalenut's Topic Research feature offers in-depth SEO competitive research analysis by providing an overview of the top 30 competitor websites that have published articles related to your chosen keyword. This analysis encompasses vital page statistics, including avg. Word count, SEO score, the average number of H tags, the average number of images, metric trends, and more.
With all this valuable information conveniently accessible in a single location, you can gather insights to shape your SEM strategy and maintain a competitive edge. Check out this easy read on the best SEO competition research tools to outrank your competitors and shape your SEM strategy.
Developing Buyer Personas for B2B SEM
Without a clear understanding of your target audience, it becomes challenging to determine their search behavior and effectively assist them in finding your business. To start, initiate a brainstorming session to identify and define your target audiences. You should also consider the following points while creating your B2B buyer persona.
7 points to consider when creating B2B buyer personas
Below are seven key pieces of information to consider when creating B2B buyer personas:
Demographics such as age, occupation and decision-making responsibilities
Answer questions like: Which age group does the persona fit into? What is their job title? Are they a senior decision maker or more junior?
This allows us to start to understand the characteristics of the person we are talking to.
What is important to them when they are looking for suppliers?
Answer questions like: What are the key attributes that drive the choice of supplier?
Different personas might look for different qualities e.g., one might look for price, while another might look for one-on-one support.
What are their goals?
Answer questions like: What are the things that they are looking to achieve? For example: Are they looking to streamline processes or are they looking to build a partnership with a supplier?
What are their needs?
Answer questions like: What does our potential buyer need to be able to succeed in their job and achieve their goals? How can we support them with this?
For example, our persona might need a supplier who has an easy ordering system so that they can quickly and efficiently get on with their job.
What are their pain points?
Answer questions like: Are there any areas where a supplier is not meeting their potential customers' needs? Are there any key challenges they are facing that we, as their supplier, can help them overcome?
Which brands are they using?
Answer questions like: Is our persona more likely to use any specific brands in particular? Why are they more likely to use these brands?
How are they interacting with suppliers?
Answer questions like: Does our persona prefer to be contacted via email, or would they prefer a face-to-face meeting?
Conducting Keyword Research for B2B SEM
Thorough keyword research is vital for a successful B2B SEM strategy. You can follow the below-given steps to conduct thorough keyword research for your B2B SEM:
Prepare your seed list based on the target model
Begin by creating a seed list, which is an initial set of keywords, using the target model for keyword research. The target model categorizes keywords based on their level of interest or intent.
The target model consists of six categories ranked by their effectiveness in converting potential customers:
Brand terms: Keywords related to your brand that have high conversion rates, although they may not generate the highest search volume.
Product terms: Keywords describing your product's features, functionality, or problem-solving abilities.
Competitor terms: Keywords used by customers comparing your business to competitors.
Substitute product terms: Keywords for products similar to yours, but these may have higher cost-per-click and lower relevance for search engine marketing (SEM).
Complementary product terms: Keywords for related products or services that can be combined with your offerings.
Audience terms: Other relevant keywords your target audience might search for, not covered by the previous categories.
Use a keyword research tool to build your list
To build a comprehensive keyword list, consider the following:
Include both specific and general keywords: Specific keywords target customers interested in particular products or services, while general keywords have broader reach. Ensure that general keywords remain relevant to your ads, website, and offerings.
Group similar keywords into ad groups: Create ad groups to organize keywords targeting specific products, services, or categories. This helps deliver more relevant ads to potential customers. Each ad group should contain five to 20 keywords, including variations and phrases. Scalenut’s Keyword Planner already provides you keyword clusters for your target keyword and location.
Filter through your keyword list
Refine your keyword list to focus on the most effective keywords for your SEM campaign. Consider the following filters:
Keyword category: Prioritize high-performing categories such as brand terms and product terms. Optimize your selection to include high-converting keywords with lower cost-per-click to minimize customer acquisition costs.
Match type: Google offers four types of matching for keywords:
- Broad match: Triggers ads when search queries include any of your keywords, even with additional words. Useful for reaching a broader audience.
- Phrase match: Triggers ads when search queries match your entire keyword phrase. Use quotation marks for phrase matching.
- Exact match: Triggers ads when search queries match your keywords word-for-word. Use square brackets for exact matching.
- Negative match: Excludes ads from irrelevant searches by using a minus sign before keywords that are not related to your business.
By applying these steps, you can optimize your keyword selection and maximize the effectiveness of your SEM campaign while reducing costs.
Researching and choosing the correct keywords forms the foundation of your entire SEM strategy. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of which types of keywords are effective and which ones are not.
Your strategy will likely involve a combination of short-tail and long-tail keywords. Continuously explore your options, test different keywords, refine your lists, and consider alternative choices. The more precise and specific your keywords are, the higher quality traffic you can anticipate from your search ads.
Performing a Content Audit for B2B SEM
A content audit involves analyzing your content to enhance its quality. It can be either general, covering all content forms, or targeted to specific content types or goals, like SEO optimization. During a content audit, you make decisions about retaining, repurposing, updating, or removing existing content from your website.
Now that you understand the importance of a content audit, follow these steps for a successful B2B content audit:
Define your goals
Determine why you want to conduct a content audit.
- Are you looking to improve your website performance?
- Are you looking to generate better content ideas?
- Are you planning to enhance your organic search performance?
- Are you looking to boost your sales funnel?
Create an inventory
Compile a list of all your current website content, including blog posts, videos, ebooks, case studies, presentations, and whitepapers.
Use relevant performance metrics
Choose metrics that align with your goals, such as word count, average time on page, conversion rates, social shares, inbound links, and bounce rates. Consider SEO-related metrics like titles, meta descriptions, images, alt tags, and target keywords.
Analyze your content
Assign each piece of content a score based on specific criteria. Determine what action to take for each piece as per the latest SEO rules.
Compare with competitors
Analyze your competitors' content. Capture similar data elements as you did for your own website's content. Compare their content performance to identify areas for improvement.
Determine next steps
Categorize your content into four categories: keep, delete, repurpose, and update. Keep high-performing content, delete underperforming pieces, repurpose related content, and update promising content.
Repeat the audit regularly
Conduct content audits periodically, at least once a year or ideally quarterly, to track the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts and ensure continuous improvement.
Regular content auditing is essential to maintain the visibility and success of your content marketing strategy. Easier way to go about it by employing a content optimization tool.
Use a content audit tool such as Scalenut's Content Optimizer tool to analyze important pages and gather information like meta descriptions, title tags, headings, and outbound links. Scalenut's Content Optimizer tool can also help you analyze your content and provide precise recommendations to enhance your SEO score, covering areas such as keyword density, title tag, URL optimization, and more.
Assessing Technical SEO for B2B Marketing
In order to assess technical SEO for B2B Marketing, ensure your website is technically optimized for search engines. This technical SEO audit checklist covers six essential steps:
Ensure your site is crawlable
Confirm that your website can be properly crawled by search engines, allowing them to discover and index your content. Writing extensive and high-quality content is pointless if search engines cannot crawl and index it. Hence, it is crucial to begin by examining your robots.txt file.
The file serves as the initial contact point for web-crawling software upon visiting your site. It specifies which sections of your website should and should not be crawled. By using "allow" or "disallow" directives, it controls the behavior of specific user agents.
Ensure your site is indexable
After analyzing the crawlability of your website, it's crucial to determine if the pages on your site are being indexed. There are multiple methods to accomplish this:
Google Search Console coverage report: Utilize the coverage report in Google Search Console to examine the status of each page on your website. It provides information on errors, pages indexed with warnings, successfully indexed pages, and excluded pages, along with their respective reasons.
Get Insight into your Site's Indexability: Conduct a crawl of your website using a comprehensive tool like Screaming Frog. This will provide insights into the indexability of your URLs, indicating whether they are indexable or non-indexable. The tool also offers explanations for non-indexable URLs, such as canonicalization to another URL or the presence of a no-index tag.
Perform a Google search: Use the "site:domain" search parameter on Google to check the number of pages indexed for your domain. Enter "site:yourdomain" in the search bar to view the indexed pages. This method allows you to compare the actual number of indexed pages with your expectations and identify any discrepancies.
Evaluate your sitemap
An effective sitemap plays a crucial role in SEO. It helps by guiding search engine crawlers to discover and rank your website pages. Ensure your sitemap adheres to the following guidelines:
- Properly formatted as an XML document
- Compliant with XML sitemap protocol
- Includes canonical URLs only
- Excludes "noindex" URLs
- Incorporates all new pages when created or updated
You can utilize tools like Yoast SEO or Screaming Frog to generate and analyze your sitemap, checking for missing, orphaned, or unwanted URLs. Verify that your sitemap includes important pages, follows the correct structure, and submit it to Google Search Console.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
Given that mobile devices account for 52% of global internet traffic, it is crucial to prioritize the mobile-friendliness of your website. With Google's mobile-first indexing, the mobile version of your site is now prioritized for ranking and indexing. Use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool to assess your page's mobile responsiveness and user experience.
Additionally, manually navigate your site on various devices, paying attention to contact forms, key service pages, and overall functionality. Address any mobile compatibility issues promptly to avoid losing out on traffic and potential conversions.
Address duplicate content issues
Duplicate content can harm your website's SEO performance, so it's essential to identify and resolve any instances of duplicate content. Here are some steps you can take:
- Perform a thorough content audit to identify duplicate content across your website. (Check best duplicate page checker tools)
- Consolidate duplicate pages by redirecting them to a single canonical URL.
- Use canonical tags to specify the preferred version of a page when similar versions exist.
- Implement proper URL structure and parameter handling to avoid creating duplicate content inadvertently.
- Ensure that your content management system (CMS) is not creating duplicate versions of your pages.
- Regularly monitor and update your website to prevent the unintentional duplication of content.
By addressing duplicate content issues, you can improve your website's SEO and ensure that search engines accurately index and rank your pages.
Evaluate page speed
Page speed is a crucial factor for both user experience and SEO rankings. To assess and enhance your website's speed, utilize various tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights and Test My Site from Google. These tools offer comprehensive analysis, including mobile speed performance, custom fixes, competitor benchmarks, and insights into revenue impact.
Creating a Content Strategy for B2B SEM
Develop a content strategy that aligns with the needs and search intent of your target customer. Create valuable and informative pieces of content that addresses their pain points and positions your business as an industry expert. Incorporate targeted keywords into your content and optimize it for both search engines and human readers. Incorporating this type of content into your marketing strategy can greatly enhance your online visibility and attract more potential customers.
To consistently create valuable and search-friendly content that ranks well for competitive keywords, focus on these three attributes:
Ensure your content is up-to-date and relevant, covering the latest industry news or innovations. Timely content tends to attract more attention and has a higher chance of ranking well in search results.
Incorporate internal and external links within your content to establish connections:
Internal links help search engines understand the structure of your website, while external links provide additional information and credibility. Creating interconnected content increases its chances of ranking higher in search results and provides added value to readers or viewers.
Diversify your content formats to cater to different audience preferences and search algorithms.
Mix up your content by incorporating videos, infographics, whitepapers, and other formats. This variety makes your content more engaging, improves its visibility in search, and appeals to a wider range of searchers. Read this easy step-by-step guide to create a pillar page content strategy for better understanding and find a free pillar page template as well.
Creating Compelling Landing Pages for B2B SEM
Context is crucial. To make your B2B landing page impactful, visually showcase how your product or service works in a practical sense. This will allow potential customers to envision themselves benefiting from it.
Best Practices to create compelling landing pages
Focused call to action: The main purpose of B2B landing pages is to encourage visitors to take action. Ensure your call to action (CTA) stands out and captivates readers. Remove any secondary links or distractions that might divert their attention from your landing page before they click on the CTA and convert.
Unique value proposition: Differentiate yourself from other B2B businesses offering similar services. Clearly communicate your unique value proposition in the header and subheader of your landing page, explaining what sets your offer apart.
Actual benefits (supported by features): Highlight the actual benefits and real value your product or service provides. Help your audience envision the value they will gain by clicking on the CTA. While it's important to mention the features, focusing on the benefits increases the likelihood of conversion.
Social proof: Leverage social proof to build trust and credibility. Incorporate testimonials, reviews, or partner logos on your landing page. Positive feedback from real people enhances trust and encourages faster conversion.
Building High-Quality Backlinks for B2B SEM
Backlinks play a crucial role in SEO as they signal the quality and quantity of links as a measure of authority and trust from other websites. Search engines consider backlinks as votes of confidence for your website, leading to improved rankings. In essence, the greater the number of backlinks your website has, the higher it can rank for relevant search terms.
To guide you in backlinks building, here is a step-by-step approach:
Step1: Evaluate and improve your current inbound links: Use tools like Moz's Open Site Explorer to identify sites already linking to you. Reach out to relevant sites such as trade associations, customers, vendors, and industry resources to request adding your link.
Step 2: Update link-free references to your company: Search for your company's name in quotes and visit each page without a clickable link. Request the website owner to add the link. Also, search for online references to your company's logo and request link inclusion.
Step 3: Create great content: Develop compelling and targeted content on your website, such as blog posts, articles, videos, and guides. Regularly update your website with fresh content to attract links from third-party websites.
Step 4: Post your content on social media: Leverage social media marketing by sharing your content on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Include a brief abstract and link back to your website. As your content gets shared, you'll gain additional inbound links.
Step 5: Do guest posting on industry websites: Offer your expertise to industry publications, associations, and popular blogs as a guest author. Include a short "About the Author" section with a link to your website, generating valuable links with each post.
Step 6: Make use of your business relationships: Approach vendors, suppliers, and business partners with websites and offer to provide testimonials that include a link to your site. They are likely to agree, given the value they place on the business relationship.
Step 7: Analyze competitors' links: Use tools like Open Site Explorer to identify pages linking to your competitors. Also, search on Google for your important keywords to find competitors with strong inbound links. Target these sites for your proactive link-building efforts.
Remember to avoid common mistakes in link building, such as excessive reciprocal linking, buying links from link farms, and spamming sites for links. Following these best practices and avoiding pitfalls will help you effectively build quality links and enhance your online presence.
Defining Measurable Objectives for B2B Search Engine Marketing
Set clear and measurable objectives for your B2B SEM campaign. Whether it's growing website traffic, generating leads, or improving conversion rates, establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business goals. Regularly track and analyze your campaign's performance to make data-driven optimizations.
Setting up and Optimizing B2B PPC Campaigns
Implement pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to drive targeted traffic to your desired web page. Set up conversion tracking, optimize ad copy, and leverage advanced targeting options to reach your desired B2B audience. Continuously monitor and refine your PPC campaigns to maximize your return on investment (ROI).
Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns play a crucial role in helping B2B marketers generate quality leads and drive sales. To make the most of your investment and maximize returns, it's essential to optimize your PPC campaigns. Here are five tried-and-true PPC optimization tips to calculate the right bid:
Optimize your keywords
Ensure your PPC campaign targets the right audience by optimizing your keywords. Focus on high-performing keywords that can drive the majority of your results. Build negative keyword lists to exclude irrelevant searches, and pause underperforming keywords that aren't converting customers.
Make use of geo targeting and available channels
Leverage geotargeting to reach your prospects effectively. Adjust bids based on the areas where your conversion rates are the highest. Consider running multiple campaigns targeting specific regions or using bid adjustments for different geo-segments. Additionally, target industry-specific channels to reach the right people at the right time.
Create high-converting landing pages
Your landing page plays a crucial role in converting visitors. Keep the navigation simple, ensure a visually appealing design, and use clear, relevant calls-to-action (CTAs). A/B tests different variations of your landing page to optimize the user experience and increase conversions.
Shift to manual bidding
Instead of relying on automatic bidding, switch to manual bidding for more control and better results. With manual bidding, you can improve click-through rates (CTR), focus on specific keywords, and leverage different bidding tiers based on time or consumer habits.
Leverage remarketing (retargeting)
Implement a remarketing strategy to re-engage with your target audience and expand your campaign's reach. Display relevant ads to people who have already visited your website or taken specific actions. Adjust bids based on visitor behaviors to ensure they see relevant ads while browsing online.
By following these PPC optimization tips, you can fine-tune your campaigns, increase visibility, generate quality leads, and maximize your return on investment (ROI). Regularly monitor and refine your campaigns to ensure ongoing success in the competitive B2B landscape.
Leveraging A/B testing for Continuous Improvement
Leveraging A/B testing is a powerful strategy for continuous improvement in your marketing campaigns. Here are some best practices to follow when implementing A/B testing:
Start with clear objectives
Clearly define the goals and objectives of your A/B test. Identify the specific metrics you want to improve, such as click-through rates, conversion rates, or engagement metrics. Having well-defined objectives will help you stay focused during the testing process.
Test one element at a time
To accurately measure the impact of each change, test only one element at a time. For example, if you're testing a landing page, focus on testing the headline, then move on to test the call-to-action button, and so on. Testing multiple elements simultaneously can make it challenging to attribute changes in results to specific changes.
Define variations and control groups
Create two or more variations (A and B) to test against your control group. The control group represents your original or existing version. Ensure that the variations are significantly different from each other to observe clear differences in performance.
Randomize and segment your audience
Randomly assign your audience into different groups to ensure unbiased results. Consider segmenting your audience based on relevant criteria, such as demographics or past behavior, to analyze the impact of changes on specific segments.
Set a sufficient sample size
Make sure your sample size is statistically significant to draw reliable conclusions from the test. A smaller sample size may not provide accurate results. Use statistical significance calculators to determine the appropriate sample size based on your desired level of confidence.
Run tests for an adequate duration
Allow your A/B tests to run for a sufficient duration to gather enough data and account for any time-dependent factors or seasonality. Running tests for too short a period may result in inconclusive or unreliable results.
Monitor and measure the right metrics
Clearly define the metrics you will use to evaluate the success of your A/B test. Monitor the performance of each variation against the control group and measure the impact on the defined metrics. Use analytics tools or tracking platforms to gather accurate data.
Analyze and interpret results
Once your A/B test is complete, analyze the results to understand the impact of the changes. Look for statistically significant differences in performance between the variations. Take into account both the quantitative data and qualitative feedback, such as user surveys or feedback, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the results.
Implement the winning variation
If one variation outperforms the others significantly, implement the winning variation as the new default. However, consider running additional tests to validate the results and ensure consistent performance.
Iterate and repeat
A/B testing is an iterative process. Use the insights gained from previous tests to inform future experiments. Continuously test and optimize different elements to achieve ongoing improvements in your marketing campaigns. Check out a quick read on the best A/B testing tools.
Implementing Conversion Tracking and Optimization Tools
Implementing conversion tracking and optimization tools involves setting up tracking codes or pixels on relevant web pages to capture conversion events, integrating them with analytics platforms, and using the collected data to optimize campaigns, ads, or websites for better performance and higher conversion rates. These tools provide valuable insights into user behavior, help identify successful marketing channels, and enable data-driven decision-making for improved ROI.
(Read our blog on ultimate strategy guide to rank higher on SERP for a travel company)
Overcoming Challenges in B2B SEM
Overcoming challenges in B2B SEM requires a tailored approach that addresses specific complexities, such as longer sales cycles, multiple decision-makers, and niche target audiences. This can be achieved by optimizing keyword targeting and ad messaging for high-quality leads, leveraging remarketing strategies, utilizing account-based marketing techniques, and continually analyzing and refining campaigns based on data-driven insights to drive meaningful results in the B2B space.
How Can Scalenut Help You Save Costs with SEM for Your B2B Business?
Scalenut, an AI-powered SEO and content marketing platform, offers the best tools to streamline the entire SEO workflow, which includes efficient keyword planning, effective content strategy, and streamlined content creation and optimization.
- The Keyword Planner tool helps establish topical authority and increase online visibility by ranking for relevant keywords.
- Scalenut's Cruise Mode AI article writer generates various long-form content types such as blog posts, ebooks, and articles swiftly.
- The Content Optimizer tool provides suggestions to enhance SEO scores, improving keyword density, meta tags, URLs, and more for better search engine visibility and rankings. Our NLP-based algorithm fetches data in real-time and gives you an idea of how to fill any gaps in your content marketing plan with SEO-friendly topics.
With over 40 AI copywriting templates, Scalenut boosts your ranking on Google search by generating compelling marketing copy, including product descriptions, copywriting frameworks, website content, impactful emails, and social media post for Facebook, Linkedin, etc.
If you are a business owner looking to improve your sales, then implement a combination of SEO and SEM. Scalenut tools can save your time in handling the SEO workflow. Sign up for a 7-day free trial with Scalenut today!