In the New England area, the summer months bring a yearning for the beach, barbecues, and outdoors. With precious little time to enjoy warm weather and school vacations upon us, it's easy to get sidetracked from the constant pressure of the search engine marketing world sitting on your laptop and in your Internet connection.
The B2B space tends to see a bit of a slowdown in the summer, but this shouldn't preclude important SEO efforts. Late summer is the ideal time to tighten SEO strategy and put in motion preparatory steps for the fall and winter, when the conference season gets back in full swing and end of year goals draw painfully close.
Here are five recommendations designed to get B2B SEO professionals through the dog days of summer and into a position to end the year on a high note.
1. Build Your Google+ Network
While recent Moz analysis comparing the impact of Google +1 activity and search engine ranking was debunked by Google's Matt Cutts just this week, you can't argue the significance of Google+ within the portfolio of Google's technology investments. Google+ is an important way for Google to provide what they hope will be a better search experience for their users.
To that extent, almost every search marketing professional would agree that building connections through a Google+ profile is a critical component of the social networking platform. Spend some time this summer investigating the activity of strategic partners, industry colleagues, and customers/prospects even semi-active in Google+, and seek to bring them into your Google+ circles.
Some ways to start your search:
- Check out Google+ Profiles that have circled or are circled by important publications, thought leaders, and organizations within your industry.
- There are several Google+ profile directories in existence that can provide a good starting point for finding influential profiles and obtaining visibility for your own Google+ profile. Social media practitioner Gabriel Vasile has a nice Google+ update with a collection of good Google+ profile directories to start with.
- By connecting, synching, and exporting data associated to your Twitter profile through the service called contax.io, you can obtain Google+ profile information associated with your Twitter network (followers and following)
2. Draft a Fall Content Marketing Schedule
Content marketing is a critical component of B2B SEO initiatives. In Holger Schulze's presentation on B2B Content Marketing Trends 2013, the most significant challenge B2B marketers surveyed face is finding the time and bandwidth to create content. That response is consistent with what CMI and MarketingProfs found in their latest content marketing survey as well.
One reason marketers struggle with content marketing productions goals is a lack of preparation on content ideas from the start. The summer months are a perfect time to reassess content marketing strategy and ensure tactics align well with keyword goals and objectives. Take the time now to define concepts and put together milestones for content delivery.
Places to start the topic identification process:
- Keyword strategies that are lagging in performance year over year or in relation to other important segments.
- Topics heavily discussed in industry-specific social media circles.
- Topics found discussed in industry conferences and events this fall and toward the end of the year.
I wrote a column earlier this year discussing B2B content marketing execution in-depth and here are some other recommended resources on this topic as well.
- How to Build an Agile Content Marketing Team
- Ditch The Silos – How to Build a Great Content Marketing Team
- Scaling Your Content Marketing Team: 3 Lessons From the Field
3. Write a Guest Post or Article
Sticking within the content marketing theme, another area of focus can be in offsite content development, with the ultimate goal of link acquisition. One of the best opportunities is with guest blog post or third party article development. Of course these tactics have come under fire in recent months as well.
Cutts offered some perspective on Google's perspective and the abuses of guest posting in a video found in Google Webmaster Tools YouTube Channel. Eric Enge took this one step further in interviewing Cutts on the types of link acquisition that would be considered valid and how website owners (could) abuse the system.
B2B marketers should look at both resources.
When thinking more about Enge's interview and feedback from Cutts, there are a few keys to guest posting B2B marketers need to consider.
- Find publications that are consistent with the objective of discussing the needs and interests of your own B2B organization's target audiences.
- Think beyond SEO and how the guest post will impact the individual author and representative organization's reputation and brand equity.
- Avoid offering very similar article content to multiple publications and resist the temptation of taking shortcuts in content development.
Where can you find good publications for your industry-specific guest post outreach? Here are some ideas to consider:
- Sign up for daily HARO emails to find journalists and publishers looking for relevant contributions.
- Review the sponsor and exhibitor lists at industry-specific events and conferences for organizations with blogs that offer guest posting opportunities.
- Review social media resources like Topsy for keyword-specific discussions, resources, and influencers.
4. Evaluate Your Keyword Referral History
Remember when there was no such thing as "not provided" keyword referrals? Even if your organic search performance has vastly improved since late 2011, it could be worthwhile to evaluate the top terms delivering traffic to your site and compare that information with keyword performance in recent months.
Here are steps to take in the process:
- Export two sets of top keyword data from select time periods.
- Make note of high performing keyword searches (by way of traffic, conversions, visitor quality, etc) in time periods when "not provided" had less of an impact.
- Cross-reference those keywords with search visibility / ranking data to better understand impact in current SEO performance.
To evaluate the change and impact associated with "(not provided)" percentages, you have to look beyond keywords of course, and into landing page destinations and visitor page view information.
5. Scrutinize the SERP Landscape
Take stock of how the search engine results landscape has changed for your strategic keyword targets. Peter Meyers of Moz put together a tremendous set of slides detailing how search engine results (SERPs) have changed dramatically over the years.
There is no longer fixed position in SERPs (i.e., 10 standard links). With more aggressive blended search results (news, video, images, etc), there are many more opportunities for B2B marketers to leverage media and broader content marketing assets.
What does this mean for B2B marketing professionals?
- Evaluate primary keyword strategies for opportunities to integrate SEO initiatives focused on blended search impact (video, images, news, etc).
- Take inventory of existing content strengths to determine if there are opportunities to leverage content associated with blended search results.
- Place greater emphasis in developing schema markup to leverage Google and Bing's interest in structured data, designed to create more visually appealing information and content found in your web pages.
- Don't forget how personalization can play a part in search engine results. This goes back to the first point on how building an influential network on Google+ should be a component of your SEO initiatives this summer (and moving forward)
We no longer work in a static online environment. It's important for B2B marketers to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible to gain visibility and placement in organic search results.
While it is certainly tempting to ditch the laptop and enjoy the weather we can't forget the "long game" as it pertains to success in B2B SEO. Slower months are the perfect time to catch up on new initiatives and invest in analysis meant to provide a foundation when business schedules and deadlines get more hectic.
What areas of B2B SEO are you working on this summer? I would love to read your perspective via comments below.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!