As a fellow B2B marketer, believe me – I get you. You’re looking for a way to actualize more results from your ABM efforts in 2024. You’re turning over every stone to drive more ROI and prove to your organization why an account-level approach to marketing is the best path forward for B2B businesses in our brave new world.
But there’s one particularly promising stone you might not have checked beneath yet.
At BOL Agency, we’ve long believed that B2B SEO is its own beast, requiring its own tactics. From that foundational point of view, we’ve developed a bit of a secret weapon that turns an old familiar channel into an ABM dynamo – and we’ve got the case studies to prove it.
What is ABSEO?
ABSEO is account-based SEO, a sub-strategy of Search Engine Optimization co-pioneered by BOL Agency SEO Directors Tim Herscovitch and Catfish Comstock. ABSEO represents the bleeding edge practice of leveraging organic search and advanced data analytics in service of ABM.
Key questions to ask yourself about organic search (SEO) and ABM
My friend Kerry Cunningham at 6sense has spoken at length about the sheer number of interactions your buying groups are having en route to making a decision. And the more they need to expand that research to find more information, the greater the risk of your competitors being drawn into the mix – no bueno. How valuable would it be if your own website, as much as possible, supported the very organic searches that your buyers are conducting?
Welcome to the ABSEO revolution.
Let’s try a thought experiment to see if ABSEO would be valuable for you as part of your ABM mix. Ask yourself the following:
- Do you know how organic search (SEO) is contributing to your closed-won outcomes?
- Beyond last-click attribution, do you know how organic consumption of content on your website is contributing throughout the buying journey?
- Do you know what themes, topics, pain points, and use cases your organic visitors consume that are most correlated with a closed-won outcome? In other words, what are your ICPs searching for?
- Are you synthesizing those learnings to improve your other channels’ efficiency, and to create more SEO content that supports critical info-seeking moments during your buyers’ research?
How is ABSEO different from "vanilla" SEO?
At the risk of oversimplifying a discipline I love, vanilla SEO usually prioritizes keyword volume (total number of times a keyword is searched per month) as the north star for optimization and content creation triage. Long-tail SEO notwithstanding, it stands to reason that you’d rather be in front of more people than less.
ABSEO flips this on its head; with ABSEO, we’d rather rank #1 for a keyword that is only searched 100 times per month, but figures to be close to 100% ICP traffic, than a keyword that’s searched 500 times per month, but attracts 90% non-converting or irrelevant traffic.
BOL Agency’s ABSEO program leverages your existing ABM data insights and contributes its own data to the shared strategic pool. It works off of the same TAL and targets the same ICP criteria, but intensely narrows its focus to organic search activity. ABSEO strategists work side-by-side with ABM strategists as part of the same machinery.
Is ABSEO "better" than regular SEO?
An important caveat: ABSEO does not “replace” vanilla SEO; it is not inherently better or worse than vanilla SEO, and there is no conflict of interest between the two tactics – they have different roles to play and different goals. In fact, they each work best when both flavors are firing on all cylinders. After all, you need strong technical SEO fundamentals and a decent organic content footprint to reach your maximum SEO or ABSEO potential.
ABSEO functions as its own strategic motion in the context, and under the umbrella, of your larger ABM campaign. Don’t worry: traditional SEO is far from dead. In fact, according to Hubspot, 61% of B2B marketers say that SEO still functions as their #1 source of leads.
On a side note, we’ve found that ABSEO works exceptionally well as a “pre-ABM” motion for organizations who are not fully actioned into an ABM paradigm, but who are… let’s say, ABM curious. ABSEO helps reach prized audiences in a cost-efficient manner who would have otherwise remained forever in the “dark funnel” and probably not responded to traditional lead gen activities.
How do you measure ABSEO performance?
ABSEO delivers invaluable insights about the composition of your organic traffic. These insights are not an afterthought – they are fundamental to the equity calculus of your ABSEO efforts.
When we conduct ABSEO reporting for clients, we’re looking to answer the following questions:
- What % of accounts consuming your organic traffic are a “strong profile fit?”
- What % of closed-won deals last quarter consumed organic content en route to their buying decision?
- Consumption of what specific pieces of content correlate most strongly with closed-won outcomes, and how can we create more (similar) content?
- Of all touchpoints conducted by closed-won accounts last quarter, what % were organic touchpoints?
- What is the CPL of accounts with at least 10% organic touchpoints before contacting you?
- What is the average deal size of closed-won accounts with at least 10% / 25% / 33% organic touchpoints before closing, compared to the inverse?
Is ABSEO part of ABM?
ABSEO is essentially a pillar of your ABM temple; it simply brings into clear focus how your target accounts (and ICPs) are interacting with your own organic content; then, it turns around and uses that data to actionably fill in the gaps you still have in your content portfolio. Thus, keeping buying groups active in your brand’s ecosystem and keeping you top of mind.
These are the questions we ask when synthesizing ABSEO efforts back into an ABM campaign holistically:
- For active high-priority deals, how can we use their de-anonymized organic content consumption habits as a “clue” to help deliver Paid Media 1:1 ads that lean into their implied pain or interests?
- Buyers interact with organic content much differently than they do with ads; how can their (very revealing) organic search patterns make our Paid Media bid strategy smarter to drive more efficiency?
- Content created in service of ABSEO has the advantage of collecting equity thanks to its permanence and lack of reliance on media budget; this effectively amortizes the cost of an ABSEO campaign against the life of the website
ABSEO is the logical evolution of B2B SEO
In a world where too many companies and agencies are pumping low-quality, irrelevant content into the void in a misguided effort to rank for everything under the sun, a new path forward is emerging.
ABSEO is a two-way street: it gives buyers value in the form of quality, searched-for information that they’re interested in. It also captures value for you – by stacking up touchpoints with your brand, delivering priceless data insights about how your ICPs behave and what they care about, and allows you to get much smarter about the way you orchestrate your marketing mix and leverage your content creation firepower moving forward.
If you want to know more about BOL’s approach to ABSEO and the results we’ve achieved for our clients, I’d love to chat with you – just drop me a line.
Key data points around ABSEO and buyer content consumption
- 61% of companies report SEO as their #1 source of leads (source: Hubspot)
- 81% of B2B marketers report that SEO delivers higher quality leads than any other channel (source: DataBox)
- 87% of B2B buyers report that discovered online content had a “major or moderate” impact on buying decisions (source: CMO Council)
- 27% of the B2B buying cycle consists of independent research by buyers, more than any other online activity (source: Gartner)
- Nearly three-quarters (72%) of buyers prefer a seller-free buying experience and are devoting less time to meeting with suppliers than they do to independent research (source: Gartner)