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How B2B Sites Can Align Their Website Strategy With SEM Tactics
A B2B website that does not drive traffic, promote the brand, deliver company messaging or convert users into customers represents a waste of online marketing investments. A good B2B website should help build a strong brand while educating relevant users on industry topics and promoting products and services.
Fully integrating all SEM tactics with website strategies will help the website achieve optimal results. This involves combining analytics, content marketing, SEO, conversion optimization and website maintenance into one large, overarching website strategy where all website changes are influenced or powered by data and testing rather than someone’s opinion.
Analytics is the centerpiece of this integrated strategy. Combining analytics data with heatmapping and user testing will uncover areas of the website in need of improvement, from design changes to content needs. Analytics is also the best tool for monitoring search and conversion performance.
If traffic isn’t growing or bounce rates are high, this may indicate an improperly optimized website and a need for better content targeting. If traffic is growing, but conversions are not, then use heatmapping to learn how users are interacting with the content.
When users do not interact with conversion elements or are not engaged with the page’s content, there may need to be content or design adjustments. User testing by means of surveys and focus groups can also help uncover areas in need of improvement.
Content is king when it comes to search and user optimization. The B2B market tends to consist of more educated and engaged users than B2C, so having engaging and informative content along with thought leadership is key to B2B website success.
Content freshness and quality also have a direct correlation with search performance. Creating and altering content based on opinion will create a lot of waste in budget spends. The topics and type of content to be created should be based on user needs and SEO opportunities.
Look at the keywords people are using to find the website and how users are using the site search feature. These two metrics will help uncover user content needs that your website may not be providing. Keyword research around thought leadership subjects will also help you discover new content opportunities and the keywords to optimize around.
And of course, always use social media, email marketing and offline strategies to help promote thought leadership.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is a very powerful marketing tool for websites which affects most website strategy areas. SEO needs feed into keyword and content targeting for the content marketing piece. SEO is also a major factor in getting relevant users into the conversion funnel for conversion optimization. And of course, SEO is a primary factor in site traffic growth.
For content, the SEO piece should provide keywords and topics to target as well as have a strong influence in writing headings and the use of images. For CRO, SEO strategies should be geared toward conversion first and traffic growth second.
For example, if you have two keywords, one with 10 visits per month and one with 100, and the keyword with 10 visits is much more targeted, the SEO specialist should make a keyword decision based on which of the two keywords will result in more conversions. This idea may sound crazy, but it does work.
I had a client once whose keywords were fairly relevant, but I made a decision to drop their organic search traffic by 20% to drive in more relevant audiences. This resulted in twice as many conversions and a 30% reduction in bounce rate.
The traffic eventually returned as thought leadership was developed around the less-relevant keywords. The bounce rate reduction also built more trust with search engines, which increased organic search rankings for the new keywords.
Relevant users that do not convert are lost opportunities. CRO is the next step after the initial SEO program is in place. Now that relevant users are coming in as a result of SEO strategies, you’ll need to maximize the opportunities for users to convert.
Clear conversion paths are vital to any website. However, users on B2B sites rarely convert on the first visit. Most users land on the website for the first time to get an overview of the company and its offerings, as well as to download thought leadership material. In many cases, I have found that they come back within three days to convert. This makes it important to measure both thought leadership downloads and form completions as success metrics.
CRO strategies should revolve around both making clear conversion paths and putting thought leadership materials in easily accessible locations. Heatmapping will show exactly how users are interacting with the site. Look at where you want attention to be drawn vs. where the users attention actually is drawn. A good analyst paired with a good UX designer will be able to put attention-grabbing content and conversion elements in places where user engagement takes place.
Any design or content changes to the site should also be A/B tested before being made permanent. One of the biggest flaws of full site redesigns is that they may cause an increase or drop in conversions or SEO placements without any knowledge of what caused the spikes. So many things change on a site during a redesign that it would be impossible to pinpoint what is working and what is not in the new design compared to the old design.
It’s important to make design changes to a website to conform to user behavior changes, which can be done through continuous website improvement. This involves constant changes to the site backed by data and testing to always achieve optimal results and conform to user behavior changes.
How well a site is maintained has a direct correlation with usability and search performance. Site and server speeds, site health and crawlability directly impact how users and search engines will interact with the site. Websites should be updated periodically to use newer technologies, which will increase the capabilities of the site. Monitoring site and server speed metrics in analytics is an important factor in site maintenance.
Raven offers a great tool as part of their platform called Site Auditor, which automatically crawls the website for these kinds of issues. The W3 markup validator along with Screaming Frog are also a great tools for manually checking these issues.
Stop wasting money on content development and website work that does not benefit users or search engines. Align your website strategies with SEM to continuously improve the website for search engines, users and conversions. Base website change decisions on data and testing rather than opinion. Analytics should be the centerpiece for all website work, and all other website work should be fully integrated.
Websites are a powerful marketing tool in the B2B sector, so make sure you are leveraging it to its fullest potential instead of wasting cyberspace with a site that serves little purpose for users.
Image courtesy of Harrison Jones, used with permission.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.