Google’s search engine continues to morph into an experience engine that prioritizes comprehensive, unique and authoritative answers to queries. The engine is better at finding answers to niche questions, and it dings sites that provide thin or widely repeated answers.
Machine learning has already pushed the bar for SEO way above a list of words or even long-tail phrases, and this is especially true for B2B marketing. Organic search optimization is not just about making your content discoverable but also about providing a superior customer experience (CX).
And while B2B and B2C marketing are overlapping in many areas, my knowledge of B2B buyers tells me organic search experience isn’t one of them.
This is primarily because B2B buyers have their paychecks on the line when they make purchase decisions, and they are usually part of a larger group making the ultimate choice. You aren’t answering questions for just one person with a singular goal. Your content has to prove you have trusted expertise on often-competing priorities: buy vs. build, return on investment, total cost of ownership, alignment with existing resources, ease of use, ease of doing business, partnership capabilities, liabilities and risks, user feedback mechanisms and roadmaps, supply chain integrity, etc.
Think about the experience of buying a washing machine online. If you need an average machine, you’ll use search to educate yourself on six or fewer variables, and it will be easy to find this information. When the washer arrives, you hook it up to water, plug it in and it works. It’s a good experience.
But what about choosing new production equipment? Or a new ERP system? Or a new waste-mitigation services provider? Or calling center location? These are much more complex decisions that involve lots of people and partners, have much longer buying cycles and take more work and time to operationalize. Everything is different about this type of purchase, and you’ll need to have enough of the right content and content orchestration to answer all the questions for all the roles on the buying team—while also maintaining cohesive and consistent messaging.
This requires a strategy that goes beyond words and phrases and aligns with the keywords that buyers are using at each stage of the buyer’s journey. An ideal strategy would have keyword research happening at the same time you are mapping the buyer’s journey.