3 Questions To Ask Your B2B SEO Expert

Whether you’ve hired a search marketing agency or are using in-house resources, how do you know if your B2B SEO expert is doing a great job? Three simple questions that all business marketers should ask about their B2B SEO program are:

  1. How does our SEO plan differ from a consumer-oriented (B2C) SEO program?
  2. Specifically what B2B SEO methodologies are you implementing?
  3. How does the SEO program directly contribute to my business goals and marketing objectives?

1.  Unique Aspects Of Your B2B SEO Plan

Evaluate your expert’s understanding of your specific B2B market. Ensure that you are not getting a one-size-fits-all solution. While many fundamental elements of SEO implementation remain the same for B2B and B2C websites, make sure your SEO partner understands the ways in which you want to engage your business audience.

Specifically, do they understand your customers’ research and buying process? Ask your expert about how your SEO Plan and Keyword Map addresses searcher behavior at each phase of the buying cycle.

Typical B2B Buying Cycle Process

 

Is your SEO expert optimizing for the following types of search phrases:

  • General market research terms
  • Product/service evaluation phrases
  • Purchase-ready queries

Here is a sampling of keywords from a SEO Plan that spans all buying cycle steps for an ERP software company:

General Market Research Terms Product Evaluation Terms Purchase-Ready Terms
ERP softwareERP software whitepaper  ERP product comparison chart  ERP software pricingERP service agreement

 

2.  Review Specific Methodologies

While this may seem like a basic question, it is important to remain well informed as to specifically what your B2B SEO expert is doing on your behalf. Is their SEO implementation plan in line with the guidelines set forth by the search engines? Does the plan focus on the tasks which are most impactful to your business? Also known as “white hat”, strategies that do not violate these guidelines can be very effective.

Things like improving the quality of your site’s content, removing any road blocks to search engine access, ensuring appropriate page load speeds, creating compelling Title tags (note I use the word compelling – not “full of keywords”) all fall within the scope of acceptable practices. If your SEO professional is not willing to share their methodologies, that should be a major red flag.

In particular, you should ask about any link-building efforts they have underway. The search engines, especially Google, have taken steps in the last year to weed out sites that have used unfavorable methods for link-building.

I recommend that you ask your SEO expert these 4 specific link-related questions:

  1. Specifically where are the links being placed?  Can they provide a list of URLs?
  2. Why are those websites/blogs/forums placing a link to your website?
  3. Is the content on the website directly related to the link?
  4. Does the link have marketing value or is it only there for a potential impact on rankings?

It is essential to know that you are in complete compliance with the search engine guidelines, specifically where links are concerned. Links should be on credible websites that are topically related to your own website.

Links should not be purchased (this is not the same as advertising on a website, which is fine as long as it is clearly defined as an advertisement). And a link from any website should provide assistance to marketing and branding efforts – not just to help boost rankings.

Search Engines take offense to anyone trying to “game the system” by violating their guidelines. Even Google had to penalize itself when a vendor violated quality guidelines to promote Google Chrome.

In order to protect your brand, reputation and organic traffic, it is imperative to have full disclosure from your SEO expert on their efforts. If they are unwilling to comply with this request, it is probably time to part ways.

3.  Measurable Impact On Business Goals & Marketing Objectives

It can be easy to get side tracked by ranking for your “money phrase” and lose sight of the things that directly impact the success of your SEO efforts. While rankings are the means to an end (increased rankings should lead to increased traffic), the more important factor is whether or not the organic traffic is qualified.

Are they engaging with your website? Is your lead generation improving? It is essential to keep your “eye on the ball” by clearly defining what success looks like to your B2B company.

 

For example, user engagement on your website is likely a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). The amount of time a user spends learning about your company can directly impact their next steps in your buying cycle.

Here are some important B2B SEO metrics to consider:

  • Amount of time organic visitors spend on the site when searching with branded vs. non-branded keywords/phrases.
  • Volume of returning visitors using branded phrases in their search queries.
  • Critical engagement steps such as viewing a case study or downloading a whitepaper.
  • Organic conversion funnels, events and goals.

Due to the complexity of the sales process generally associated with many B2B websites, calculating ROI on a SEO program is far more difficult than with an ecommerce site with clear revenue tracking.

Businesses generally do not make “impulse buys”; therefore, they spend a lot of time understanding their needs, assessing possible solutions, and comparing options before engaging/purchasing.

By understanding the goals of your SEO program and clearly communicating what you consider to be the KPIs of your website in relation to the buying cycle of your service or product, your SEO partner should be able to demonstrate their success (or failure). If your SEO expert is a true pro, they will also constantly suggest ways to improve upon your KPIs.

Ensure B2B SEO Success

If your SEO professional can answer these questions to your satisfaction, you can be comfortable that you are in good hands. You are holding them accountable, understanding their practices for SEO implementation, and ensuring they are focused on the goals and objectives of your company. I recommend that you ask these questions of your SEO expert on at least a quarterly basis to confirm that your SEO program stays on track and is successfully meeting your business goals.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: Search Marketing

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About The Author: is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist at SmartSearch Marketing with almost a decade of experience. Kristie manages all facets of organic SEO campaign development for SmartSearch Marketing.

Connect with the author via: Email | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://twitter.com/onlinetaxpros OnlineTaxPros.com

    This is a great start to getting people to engage and understand more about SEO and what they’re Expert may(or may not) be doing for their brand and company! Nice post, Kristie!

  • Marcus Cudd

    It would seem to me that any attempt to get a link to help search engine optimization would be an attempt to “game the system” which defies Google’s linking policies. So, basically, the only links you should try to get are the ones that provide direct marketing benefit, such as direct relevant traffic. What other reason would you get a link that doesn’t violate Google’s edicts? And if we aren’t getting links for search engine recognition, then are we really doing search engine optimization? Additionally, if you are being paid to obtain links, then aren’t these paid links? I think maybe it’s time to look at “Traffic Generation” as a more apt name, since search engine optimization comes down to search engine manipulation.

    We have to be careful about the information we feed business owners about SEO. Attempting to improve your rankings via links is a violation of Google guidelines. We can’t on one hand tell them they need links to improve rankings, then attempt to explain we won’t acquire links to improve rankings.

    The conversation needs to be about how relevant traffic will be acquired, both with free and paid links, and demonstrate how both types are necessary to get the results they need. If Google gives rankings in the process, well, that would be a bonus. But I don’t sell rankings for this reason.

  • http://www.eBizROI.com Rick Noel, eBiz ROI, Inc.

    Great piece Kristie on b2b SEO selection criteria. We are a special
    bread for certain. I couldn’t agree more about the ROI aspect. Organic traffic
    is key but ensuring it’s the right kind of traffic based on search intent is
    even more important. Converting that traffic is another huge leverage point.
    Focusing on capturing lead information and then nurturing those leads is
    equally important as driving qualified traffic to your b2b website. You can double
    your leads by doubling your traffic and keeping landing pages the same or by
    doubling your landing page conversion rate even with the same number of
    visitors. Doing both together is what savvy b2b SEOs know how to accomplish
    while substantiating results. Track, measure then adjust and repeat. If you can’t
    measure, you can’t improve so tightly integrated analytics are a key component
    of determining ROI. You are right that ROI is more difficult to measure for B2B
    SEO efforts, but with the right marketing automation integrated into CRM
    systems with deliberately executed Internet marketing strategies with clearly
    defined inbound tactics, ROI measurement is becoming more informed every day.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/zankhanaa Zankhana M

    I agree with Marcus at every point. After all its all about gaining quality traffic for the site and not ranking on Google. But yes, in all a good piece of information. Thanks Kristie

  • robthespy

    “Compeling title tags.”. Why? Doesn’t it make more sensent to create relevant, user friendly title tags?

    Oh, and B2B is all about LTV…period. ;)

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Understanding the buying cycle of your audience is so important because SEO doesn’t just happen in one place. You need to create multiple touch points with your audience it keep them engaged with your brand and moving through the sales process. 

 

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