Nobody on this planet can guarantee that by following X or Y strategies, you’ll end up on Google’s first page. However, there are many practices that will significantly improve the likelihood of this occurring.
Now, I want to take a moment to have a word with a certain kind of B2B owner. Look, I believe you when you say that you’re so good at what you do. I believe you when you say that your business is already successful. But in order to remain competitive long-term, you have to stay relevant. And to stay relevant, you have to keep up with the trends of digital and inbound marketing.
Why? Because everyone and their mother is used to information overload. We get it from marketing emails. We get it from social media ads. We get it from LinkedIn requests, sponsored content, and pop up ads.
So go get yourself a good cup of coffee to go with your humble pie, play some nice background music, and read about why even someone as fabulous as you would benefit from optimizing your website.
Your website is your presentation card. While B2C companies may be able to get new clients from TV commercials, YouTube ads, and direct mailers, the B2B sales cycle is more complex. The investment is larger and can be long-term. Therefore, prospects take their time to research you and your competitors.
While you would hope that a simple Google search will cause your business name to pop up, there are many variables that come into play. What is your target audience searching for the most? What are the phrases they most commonly use? What type of content do they prefer to consume (video, long-form blogs, podcasts, listicles, etc…) Do you have a good meta description? Do other sites backlink to you?
All of these elements add up to make it easier to find you. And if your website was created several years ago, failing to optimize it to current SEO standards means you’re likely leaving a lot of money on the table.
By optimizing your site, you will be pretty much installing a proverbial neon sign around your URL, letting your audience know that you have what they’re looking for. And this takes a lot more than simply conducting keyword research (or heaven forbid, simply trying to guess what they’re typing into search engines). You also want to create clear conversion paths that guide your prospects down the yellow brick road.
Whenever you go anywhere, you go through an entire process between Point A and Point B. For example, if you want to make homemade pizza, you first look for recipes online, you then go to the store to buy the ingredients. You come home. You tell Alexa to play your favorite music. You pour yourself a glass of wine. You preheat the oven. Then you start chopping vegetables and getting everything together while you dance, sip, and cook.
Likewise, when a person visits a B2B website, they go through several steps on their journey from a potential lead to a customer. This involves several touchpoints: navigating your site, reading content that’s pertinent to them, maybe signing up for your newsletter, downloading a content offer, watching a few videos, comparing your goods or services to competitors, requesting a demo, scheduling a discovery call, and finally, signing that contract.
Depending on your industry and the nature of your business, this customer journey may vary. However, these touchpoints are your conversion paths.
There are many ways you can establish effective conversion paths throughout your website and build strop b2b marketing funnels.
Develop Buyer Personas
Make a list of the characteristics that would make up your ideal buyers. Define what you want users to do on your website: The first step in creating effective conversion paths is to define what you want users to do on your website. What is the goal of your website? Do you want users to purchase a product or service, sign up for a newsletter, or something else entirely? Once you know what you want users to do, you can begin to create conversion paths that will lead them to that goal.
Focus on User Experience
Make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. If your website is difficult to navigate, visitors will likely get frustrated and give up before they ever reach your conversion goal. To achieve this, have a simple navigation bar. Provide breadcrumbs. Include white spaces. Make every page look consistent. Use call to action buttons that are clear in what the reader can expect when they click on them.
Provide Educational Content
Since your audience will need to do research and compare vendors prior to making a decision, it behooves you to provide as much educational content as possible. You’ll want to do this in the format that your buyer personas prefer the most. And you shouldn’t focus exclusively on a particular product or service that you provide. Make your content customer centric by providing useful solutions they can implement right now, regardless of whether they make a purchase from you.
Think of common industry challenges, short-term solutions, statistics, top tools and resources they could use, events they could attend, newsworthy stories that relate to what they do for a living. Each web page you create is a new page that Google has to index, increasing the likelihood of getting found.
This practice also helps establish you as an industry expert — the more content you create, the more often your prospects will find you whenever they do an online search. It’ll demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about and increase brand awareness.
Create Lead Generation Forms
Lead generation forms are designed to attract people who have a higher intent of engaging with your content. You offer to give them something of value in exchange for their email address. On a fundamental level, they help you grow your email list so that you can build long-term relationships with prospects. And when they’re part of a specific campaign (such as offering a free tool or resource), it enables you to better segment your contacts and provide top, middle, or bottom of the funnel content.
Gather Website Visitor Data
In order to optimize the way you serve someone, you have to know who they are. You have to know what they need, what they’re looking for, and which solutions appeal to them the most. Once you have this data, you can better guide them down a path that makes sense to them. And you can do this with customer relationship management software. You can read more about this below, so stay tuned.
Include Effective Calls To Action
What is it that you want a website visitor to do at any given moment? Make sure that you place those CTA buttons strategically, and that they incentivize the reader to take the desired action. Download Free B2B Ebook is a lot more effective than Click Here. (For heaven’s sake, stop using that CTA). Subscribe to Our Newsletter is better than Enter Email Address.
Test and Optimize Conversion Paths
Even with carefully strategized methodologies, you’ll still want to try out a couple of iterations to see which one works best. Using software that enables A/B testing (and tracking the results) will simplify this process for you. Bonus points if your platform automatically starts deploying the winning versions.
Ok. Now that you know how to best design good conversion paths for your website visitors, let’s go over search engine optimization best practices.
1. Keyword Research
This will always top the list, because no matter how great your content is, if people can’t find you, you’re not selling anything. Start by looking at industry terms, niche terminology, and use tools such as Answer the Public to get insights as to what your audience is asking.
2. Meta Descriptions
The meta description is that small snippet of information under links when you look at search engine results pages. CMS platforms offer a field for you to type in the information you want to display. If you don’t enter anything, the default is probably the first few sentences of the webpage. And usually, that’s rarely compelling enough to cause someone to click on your site.
Pique their curiosity and include relevant keywords, and keep it below 160 characters to avoid the content from getting truncated.
3. Link Strategy
Web crawlers are software that follow links on webpages to find other pages. Google starts this process by looking at the sitemap provided by website owners, as well as by going through links on existing web addresses. The search engine then indexes content based on relevance — determined by keywords. So when you link content to reliable resources (and to other pages within your site), you’re making it easier for search engines to find your pages and organize them in their SERPs.
4. Alt text
Alt text refers to the description of images you include in your content. This is useful for several reasons: Inform search engines that an image is relevant to a specific topic, describe what’s in an image when the internet is slow or there’s a broken image link, and letting visually impaired website visitors use eReaders to tell them what’s on an image.
5. Intuitive Navigation
The term user experience is popular for a reason. When your website design makes it easy to navigate it, you’ll have lower bounce rates, visitors who know where to go and what to do, and as result, shorter sales cycles. And the same way intuitive sites help traffic find what they need to find, when your navigation is well-structured, it makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site.
6. Responsive Design
Your website should look good regardless of the device your visitors are reading from — desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This is known as having a responsive design, and when Google crawls websites, it favors websites with mobile-friendly designs over those that only display well on desktop computers.
7. Fast Loading Times
Do you have patience to wait for a slow website to load? No? Neither do your prospects. Everyone’s busy, and we live in a time of instant gratification. Test your website speed. If it takes longer than two or three seconds to load, people are gonna leave and check out your competitors. And from an SEO standpoint, it’ll also affect your online rankings.
Now that you’re aware of useful tips to increase the likelihood of getting found — and of guiding your prospects down the sales funnel — let’s look at some of the most useful b2b marketing tools to make this process as efficient as possible.
Keyword Research Software
While you may have a general idea of what your prospects are looking for when they go online, you don’t know for sure how many people are looking for specific words and phrases. You also don’t know how difficult it is to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs) for any particular word or phrase.
Using keyword research tools will give you this information, so that you can focus on terms where you would be more likely to rank. Websites like ahrefs and moz also offer suggested and related terms, so that you can narrow down your content around higher intent searches.
Content Management System (CMS)
Having a good CMS will make optimizing your website so much easier. Look for software that makes it easy to write, edit, and publish content without requiring any coding knowledge. Our favorite one is HubSpot (obviously), since it also comes with SEO suggestions, landing page creators, and calls to action generators. It also integrates with your social media accounts so that you can easily share content, and it provides you with data analytics, so that you can monitor the effectiveness of your efforts.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Having a CRM is crucial for any business, regardless of size. Not only does it enable you to organize your contacts, you can also segment them based on preset categories (demographics, company, industry, job role, budget, etc…) so that you can nurture your leads effectively. It tracks all of your website visitors so that you can learn which pages they visit the most, which content they’re most interested in, whether they’ve made previous purchases, whether they’ve engaged with any of your content, downloaded lead magnets, and pretty much all of their user behavior throughout your website. All of this information is stored in one centralized location, so that each time they visit your site, they are greeted with information that’s relevant specifically to them.
Smart content goes hand in hand with data gathered by your CRM. It’ll take into account factors such as the user’s location, browsing history, language settings, where they’re visiting your site from (an online search, marketing email, PPC ad, social media post, or backlink). This information is then used to help them find exactly what they’re looking for.
Smart content makes the user experience a lot more satisfying, as your website visitors don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out where they’re supposed to go. The easier your site is to use, the more people will visit it. The more website traffic, the more likely it’ll be that your website appears in online search results.
General advice is fine and dandy — and can be useful if you know how to hit the ground running. But if you have specific questions about your business site, or if you don’t know how to get started, let us help you. Get a free HubSpot website audit, and we’ll provide you with a list of actionable steps so that you can move forward with confidence.