B2B SEO: Companies hoping to punch above their weight need to ask themselves this one question

The vast majority of B2B customer journeys begin with a search into Google. This stuff really matters.

Typically, this will begin with a period of research, then once the person feels they understand the supplier landscape, they’ll make contact. Alternatively, they may download some content along the way, giving an immediate advantage to the provider of that content, particularly if it’s then followed by additional value via email.

However the journey looks, every company wants to be part of it. But with a huge advantage going to big brands, how do regular B2B organisations get in on the action?

(Before we go any further, I feel I should be clear that this article is not intended to be a detailed guide to SEO. You can find that here, here, here, here and here.)

The answer is that they ask the right questions. One in particular.

Before we get to that, however, let’s remind ourselves of how Google determines its rankings. In simple terms, it falls into two broad categories:

  • Website trust
  • Content

In other words, all Google wants to do is rank the best content from the most trusted brand, for any given search query.

The trouble is that the first part – trust – isn’t built over night. And frankly if you’re up against huge multi-nationals then even with heavy PR and link solicitation, you’re never going to get in the race.

The second part, however – Content – is a level playing field. And this is where we can punch above our weight.

We need to absolutely nail the content of the page that we are trying to rank. And this is where that question comes in.

The question is – “What are the long list of things that someone might be hoping to find when they make a relevant search query?”

This is all best illustrated with an example.

If a company is selling enterprise cloud solutions, they’ll presumably want to rank for terms like “Enterprise Cloud Solution Provider”. So if we put ourselves in the shoes of the individual making that search query, what are they hoping to find as they type that into Google?

If they’re technical, they might be hoping to find:

  • Detailed features and benefits
  • Information on compatibility with other systems
  • Lots of specific guidance under an FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) section
  • Links to related blog posts and articles
  • Testimonials from other technical people, just like them

While if the person is a senior executive, they’re probably more interested in:

  • The commercial and strategic benefits
  • What other companies from their market are using this solution
  • Testimonials from other senior people, just like them

The trouble is that you don’t know who the person is behind a search query like “Enterprise Cloud Solution Provider”. It could be someone technical, it could be someone senior. Or perhaps mid level management who wants to understand the impact on their particular function. Maybe they’re from the retail industry, maybe they’re from the manufacturing industry…?

The reality is that the person could have any one of a hundred different hopes and intents when they make this search query, so somehow we need to ensure that:

  • We satisfy as many of them as possible
  • And all while maintaining a reasonable user experience (which probably requires hiding lots of the content behind tabs and dropdowns so it doesn’t overwhelm the user at first glance).

In simple terms, that’s it.

The digital god that is Rand Fishkin explained this best 8 years ago(!) on one of his famous whiteboard Fridays. We like to think that the internet moves so quickly that the rules of SEO must have changed beyond all recognition since 2012, but having deployed this tactic at least 10 times over the last year, I can assure you that it’s as powerful as ever.

To reiterate, all Google wants to do is rank the best content from the most trusted brands, and for generic search queries “best content” is always going to be broad content.

Over to rand…