With the New Year comes the temptation to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. However, New Year’s resolutions might imply that what you were doing last year was wrong. What about all the thing B2B SEOs did that were right.
As highlighted in a recent eMarketer article, an August 2012 study by Demandbase and Ziff Davis indicated that SEO was the top online marketing tactic used by B2B marketers. This was only narrowly ahead of social media and content marketing – two tactics that certainly augment and help improve overall B2B SEO if done in coordination.
Clearly something is going right for B2B SEO professionals.
Instead of focusing on New Year’s resolutions, let’s take a look back and think about all of the things B2B SEOs did that were working in the past year. Let’s focus on how we can enhance what we know works well.
B2B Content Marketing
Here is an interesting set of statistics: Of the clients we worked with last year that produced more than four new content marketing assets on their website per month, their organic search traffic rose an average of 58 percent year over year.
There is no question that new content fuels organic search engine traffic growth. Coupled with conversion optimization and the development of solid lead management principles, much of ongoing B2B SEO is driven through new content development. Some of the types of content marketing assets that had the most success in 2012 include:
- Blog post development.
- Keyword-targeted SEO landing pages.
- Short industry-related articles and news information.
Is there really a production number you need to hit to be successful? I don’t think so. What is important to realize is that a consistent focus on quality content is a key to B2B SEO success metrics.
Focusing on Performance, Not Just Ranking
Google is hitting B2B SEOs on two sides of the reporting equation.
Check out the steady increase in the average percentage of “not provided” search engine referrals across sites we manage. In October 2012, the average percentage of “not provided” search referrals was approximately 32 percent. In addition to a greater percentage of users searching while logged into their Google account, software vendors are making the conscious choice to move to a more secured search experience overall.
On the search results side of the equation, SEO reporting vendors continue to face pressure from Google to eliminate ranking data as a performance metric. This provides further justification for SEO partners to dig deeper into visitor performance metrics and truly demonstrate the value of their B2B SEO programs.
What are some of the shifts we’re focused on measuring?
- Performance Metrics: B2B search marketers must look even more closely at the quality metrics associated with the traffic activity from search engine visitors. This includes bounce rate, page views per visit, and certainly conversion rates, and the comparison between competing (or complementary) channels.
- “Not Provided” Landing Pages: Evaluate landing pages to better understand where “not provided” search referral traffic leads to. In Google Analytics, select the secondary dimension, “Landing Page,” to see the webpages searches accessed (see screenshot below).
- Branded vs. Non-Branded Traffic Patterns: Look back in months past to establish visitor performance patterns for branded and non-branded traffic. At the least, this will help B2B SEOs make educated assumptions on the type of visitor coming through “not provided” search engine referrals in the future.
Collaborate and Scale SEO Needs
Successful SEO can no longer be performed in a vacuum. Collaboration across a range of organizational departments and vendors is required for continued success.
- PR and communications groups are essential for providing oversight and guidance in identifying the right influences for inbound links, social media connectivity, and overall network development. This merger represents a significant shift for SEO practitioners which started early last year and will continue to evolve.
- In larger organizations, SEO’s must work in unison with IT and web development teams, when adding new functionality, SEO enhancements, and sometimes new content assets.
- Sales and customer service departments expose important prospect and customer challenges, frequently asked questions, and business needs (and use cases), which in turn might be leveraged for new content marketing assets.
Remember that if more than 60 percent of B2B marketers polled leverage SEO in their online marketing initiatives, other departments and executives are aware of the significance. One of the secrets to success is getting awareness and education on how long-term results are generated across the organization, so the B2B SEO isn't working alone.
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they rarely last. Think about how many resolutions you’ve made that fail to last even the first month.
More importantly, we work in an environment of continual innovation and change. While aggressive goals make sense, flexibility in planning and commitments must also be considered. Think about how Google Penguin has impacted SEO and how mobile and social continue to impact the customer experience online.
This year, perhaps focus on doing more of the things that have made your B2B SEO strategy successful first. Then start building out truly new resolutions in 2013.
Thanks to my colleague Stacy Thompson for the writing theme behind this column.