10 Tips for Building an Enterprise B2B SEO Strategy
There are many differences between B2B vs. B2C SEO, including how to choose your keywords and the types of content that will rank for those keywords. Enterprise B2B organizations also face specific challenges brought about by their large, complex websites that can run into the thousands of pages. For these businesses, a solid foundation of basic B2B SEO strategy pays big dividends. Here’s how to build that foundation.
1. Eliminate 404 Errors
Eliminating 404 crawl errors from your site is one of the most fundamental pieces of technical SEO. Connecting those 404 errors to the most relevant page on your site via 301 redirects not only improves SEO, but provides a better user experience. This is especially important for preserving brand-related traffic in the case of end-of-life product strategy or a discontinued brand or model.
For those pages that no longer have a relevant page on your site, you can create a custom 404 page or better yet, a page that explains what happened to the content and gives instructions for what to do next. Don’t forget to also check any PDF documents or sales collateral periodically as well to ensure the links are up to date.
There are a lot of tools out there that can help you identify 404 pages: Google Search Console, Screaming Frog, MOZ or just about any enterprise-facing SEO tool. Google Search Console, which is free, is often the best place to start. Here is a great article that goes into more depth around cleaning up 404 errors.
Remember that it’s not just internal links that need to be reconnected, but external links too. Tools like Majestic or Ahrefs can identify external links that point to pages on your site that no longer exist, need to be fixed, or could be reconnected with a custom redirect. The four common reasons for link losses are:
- The author removes your link from the linking page
- The linking page no longer exists (404 error)
- The linking page gets 301 redirected
- The linking page is no longer indexed in Google
Here is an article from Ahrefs that provides some great insights into how to approach these scenarios. Majestic has similar functionalities that can be leveraged to accomplish these tasks, as do some other tools on the market.
2. Identify and Code Structured Data
Search engines are leveraging structured data and other forms of content that have been coded with schema markup in an ever-increasing number of ways, making it an essential part of your B2B SEO strategy. To better understand which schema markup Google is currently using, I invite you to bookmark this page and visit it periodically to keep up to date.
There are a number of enormous opportunities to increase your traffic when you implement schema markup correctly. These opportunities include enhancements in search results, featured snippets, knowledge panel enhancements, and many others.
With that in mind, it’s also important to understand that not all schema markup is being used by search engines to augment search results. Additionally, Google has said that schema makes your content and data more likely to be eligible for these opportunities, but it is not a ranking factor. So it’s important to prioritize your efforts.
The great thing about marking up data with schema is that the clicks generated from schema are now visible in Google Search Console. That means you can track the results of your endeavors and show other team members the value of the work rendered.
If you want to better understand how to implement schema on structured data, check out this webinar I did with one of our long-time partners, SEOClarity. I also recommend trying out their free schema mark-up Chrome plug-in that makes coding and implementation easier for some schema types.
3. Optimize Your Existing Content
Once upon a time, links mattered above all things and some roads could only be traveled based on link strength. However, the role of content in your B2B SEO strategy has become more important as Google has gotten better at understanding context, entities, and relationships. With the rollout of Google’s Helpful Content Update, the depth and quality of the content are more important than ever.
According to Google, the Helpful Content Update “aims to better reward content where visitors feel they've had a satisfying experience.” It will reward sites that create “people-first” content that demonstrates expertise and depth of knowledge and detract from content that is written for search engines.
BOL has been focused on creating people-first content for our clients for years. It not only helps your SEO, but creates a better user experience. Ultimately, to sell your product or service, you need to answer your customers’ questions. That’s what helpful content does.
Here is a great guide to evaluating your content and taking appropriate steps to improve it as well as when to remove it. There is also an excellent article from Frank Vitovich of Botify that dives deep into performing a content audit and identifies ways to reduce and eliminate low-quality and under-performing content.
The timely indexing of content can also be challenging for large enterprise B2B websites that change frequently. Google may not crawl your site very often, meaning it doesn’t index the changes you’ve made to your content – slowing down your efforts to improve your site.
Optimizing your crawl budget so that Google can easily and frequently index your content won’t directly help your rankings, but it will improve your user experience and your overall B2B SEO strategy. Check out this article from Aleh Barysevich for more on crawl budget.
4 Flatten Your Site
For large enterprises, creating a website structure that balances user experience, brand messaging and SEO considerations while maintaining a shallow architecture can be challenging. But optimizing your site’s architecture to ensure that Google requires the least number of “clicks” possible to get to your content has been correlated to SEO success.
Good internal linking strategies can also improve a lot of things beyond your B2B SEO strategy, most importantly, making your content more findable for all site users regardless of entry page. If you want some compelling evidence of how important this really is, check out this quote from John Mueller of Google, which was featured in this article.
“So what will happen is, we’ll see the home page is really important, things linked from the home page are generally pretty important as well. And then … as it moves away from the home page, we’ll probably think this is less critical.
That pages linked directly from the home page are important is fairly well known but it’s worth repeating. In a well-organized website, the major category pages and any other important pages are going to be linked from the home page.”
If you want to get into the deep end on the topic, here is another great article that also features relevant video footage from Mueller on this topic. It then explores some very technical stuff for those who want more details. It’s a good read in terms of understanding the balancing act as well as giving some tactical advice.
5. Optimize Your Images
When Google rolled out its Core Web Vitals update, the goal was to prioritize page experience and encourage websites to improve their overall performance. Part of that is page speed, an area of discussion that is too big to cover entirely here. But one part of that discussion that’s important for enterprise B2B SEO strategy is images.
Optimizing images for search and optimizing them for speed are two different things. It involves more than just reducing image size and load time. It also includes properly optimized alt tags, surrounding text, schema implementation, and ensuring that your images are contributing to a superior user experience by adding value to your content.
With that said, the first order of business is to evaluate your site for opportunities to reduce image size as much as possible without detracting from the presentation quality. That will improve your page speed, which doesn’t just correlate to SEO success but also lowers bounce rates, improves engagement, and increases conversions.
Additionally, images can be a huge driver of SEO traffic in and of themselves.
6. Optimize Your Videos
Right now, there is no bigger opportunity for your B2B SEO strategy than video optimization. It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. By extension, video is worth more than that if you can get people engaged. It not only communicates the substance of your content, but it communicates personality, style, and brand image in a much more personal way.
Yet there seems to be a disconnect in this perceived value. A lot of people focus much more attention on optimizing on-page analytics than they do video views and engagement. This is a huge oversight in my opinion.
The other interesting part about video is that many of the same SEO techniques in terms of titles and tags can be applied to both video and text. That means that many folks are already in a position to be able to optimize video content with their existing SEO skill set.
Maximizing views on YouTube or the third-party video platform you’re using to embed videos on your site is part of the equation, but enterprise B2B SEO strategy needs to go further. To get video thumbnails ranked in regular search results for embedded videos, you need to optimize rankings in Google, Bing, YouTube, and other engines, as well as optimize referral channels on the YouTube network, including visits from other videos.
This is a long and complex tactic to explore, which is why I wrote this comprehensive guide to video optimization.
Before you invest a lot of time and resources into video optimization, be sure to make the case to management and ensure they agree that they are going to treat video KPIs with the same regard as website KPIs. Without that acknowledgment, you put yourself at risk of falling short of expectations.
7. Test for UX and Conversion
I always tell people that there are two ways to double your site’s current performance: You can double your traffic or double your conversion rate. For a site that has implemented a fair degree of B2B SEO strategy, improving the conversion rate will likely be the low-hanging fruit.
Improving the user experience of your site not only improves ROI in and of itself, but it maps to other metrics Google uses to understand engagement. Ultimately, Google is trying to ensure that people have the best experience possible and can find what they’re looking for quickly.
Conversion testing can help you not only improve your conversion rate, but your entire user experience, which in turn improves your SEO. Google’s machine learning tools even include data-driven attribution, which can help you understand how your marketing activities relate to your conversions.
This amazing article by Carolyn Lyden can help you get a better sense of why engagement matters and how to increase it. If you are interested in getting started with A/B testing for conversion rate optimization using Google Optimizer, this article from SEO Hacker is a good case study and walkthrough.
Lastly, I would be remiss when talking about conversion optimization if I didn’t point you to the foremost expert that I personally know about the subject, Tim Ash. Here is a webinar from Tim and Site Tuners on increasing revenue through A/B testing.
8. Understand B2B Keyword Strategy
In this era of search, keywords are ranked on a unique set of criteria specific to what type of term it is, what topic the term falls under, and what the user behavior around the term is. For some terms, Google has what I refer to as an “informational bias.” This means Google knows that most people who search for a keyword are looking for informational content, as opposed to transactional content.
It is really important to manually review all high-priority target keyword listings on a regular basis. You need to know what kind of content is ranking in the Top 10, including your website, video, images, featured snippets, news, and so on. This will help you understand target keyword opportunities and the type of content needed to rank, which is critical to your B2B SEO strategy.
Many site publishers and businesses have found value in creating a customer education hub on their site that includes an industry glossary, white papers, and primary research, as well as “How To” content like videos. Remember that your site must serve a general user base – not just your customers – for Google to consider it relevant to any given topic or keyword phrase.
In fact, in order for a web page to rank in the Top 10 in Google or other search engines for a particular keyword, it needs to be one of the ten best resources on the Internet for that topic. If the content on a particular page doesn’t rank in the Top 10, expectations for related keywords should be tempered regardless if the content is informational, transactional, or navigational.
Ultimately the quality of the content on a given page, as it relates to answering the needs of the average person doing a search for the targeted keyword, needs to be exceptional. If it isn’t, any optimization will have a limited effect, especially over the long term.
9. Own Your Brand
While ranking first for your brand-related keywords generally isn’t too much of a challenge, there is one area where things can get tricky for enterprise B2B SEO strategy that involves a large portfolio: Ensuring you rank the right page that delivers the best experience and that you own as much of the first-page screen real estate as possible, especially above the fold.
This is a critical endeavor to control messaging, deliver exceptional user experience, and of course, maximize your traffic with the highest propensity for conversion. Additionally, owning your brand is a key tenet of SEO for B2B companies that have account-based marketing initiatives because of the amount of research that typically goes into a high-consideration purchase.
Depending on your company, you will have different degrees of opportunity here. Check out this article for some solid advice on where to start from Andy Crestonia of Orbit Media.
10. Improve Your Linking Strategy
Crosslinks are internal links – they’re the way your site links to other pages in the same domain. Backlinks are external links – they’re the way other websites point to your website. Both are important for B2B SEO strategy.
Let’s start with internal links. Google uses your internal links to discover new pages, as well as determine how important pages are: Those with more internal links pointing to them will be seen as more important. Pages with no links pointing to them are called orphans, and you don’t want important pages falling into this category.
You can use SEO tools like Ahrefs to find orphans and sort them by the amount of traffic. Then create an internal linking strategy, starting with the highest-traffic pages which will see the most impact.
You also want to know which pages on your site have the highest authority, or URL rating (UR). Links from those pages will provide a bigger boost to other pages on your site. Remember not to overdo it: Linking to unrelated pages, using awkward anchor text or adding too many links will defeat the purpose of internal linking altogether.
On the other hand, backlinks – how to get them, how important they are and whether they’re really worth it – are one of the most contested areas of SEO. The truth is that there are a lot of other things that should come first: proper site structure, technical SEO, useful content and internal linking all contribute to having a website that is even strong enough to earn quality backlinks.
Once you have the basics down, though, backlinks from authoritative, trusted websites with a high domain authority act as a “vote of confidence” in the information you’re providing on your site. That gives your B2B SEO strategy an invaluable boost. You can learn more about backlink strategy in this article from Search Engine Journal.
Final Thoughts About Your B2B SEO Strategy
Enterprise-level B2B organizations face a unique set of challenges, including longer sales cycles, complicated catalogs and massive websites with hundreds if not thousands of pages. With these tips, your B2B SEO strategy can rise to meet those challenges, starting with the low-hanging fruit that can make the biggest difference.
Immersing yourself in these activities will eventually result in a stronger SEO footprint and one that is more profitable. Or, you can leave it to the pros. BOL specializes in SEO and search optimization and has the expertise you need to stay ahead of this ever-changing landscape. Reach out today regarding your SEO questions!