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Running a business-to-business (B2B) company is different than running a business-to-consumer (B2C) one. But one thing is the same across the board: The need for search engine optimization (SEO). Learn how to leverage SEO for B2Bs at your organization with this guide on B2B search engine optimization!

What is B2B SEO?

B2B SEO is a digital marketing strategy that involves optimizing a B2B website to rank higher in organic search results and increase traffic. Whether you are a small business or a larger company requiring enterprise SEO services, an effective SEO strategy places your website in front of potential clients.

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How is a B2B SEO strategy different from B2C?

The difference between B2B and B2C is the target audience, which influences the buyer journey and sales cycle, and subsequently how business-to-business organizations measure SEO’s performance.

Learn more about their differences below:

Target audience

While consumer products, like home appliances, have multiple decision-makers, B2Bs have multiple decision-makers to serve, from marketing to accounting to IT, which can mean targeting multiple intents.

For example, how do marketers research martech software compared to an IT specialist? While marketers often consider the capabilities, IT departments will often research how the software integrates with marketing and company technology.

These intents often create diverse keyword targeting opportunities for B2Bs.

Market segments

Business-to-business organizations often serve multiple segments, like:

  • Commercial
  • Government
  • Nonprofits
  • International

While this setup can create lots of keyword targeting opportunities, it also introduces complexity. Internally, you’ll have multiple stakeholders and your SEO team will likely have to meet standards specific to those industries or locations. For example, SEO for energy companies, pest control, heavy equipment, or manufacturing.

Buyer journey

Due to higher price points and multiple decision-makers, business-to-business purchases often take longer. The buyer has to determine their requirements and budget, and then research their options.

Because of this longer buyer journey, B2B search engine optimization often takes longer to deliver a return on investment (ROI). Your business could invest in SEO, and wait months before generating a qualified lead.

However, the advantage is your B2B SEO strategy can target different stages of the journey, from awareness to consideration. Produce SEO content for the entire funnel, and you can increase your touchpoints with potential leads.

Sales cycle

For lead-based B2Bs, sales cycle is another differentiating factor from B2C SEO.

Besides experiencing a sales cycle — and cycles that can take months to resolve — business-to-business organizations have multiple challenges when it comes to measuring SEO’s success, including:

  1. Tracking whether a generated lead closes
  2. Attributing an online lead to SEO efforts

Platforms that integrate your SEO and sales data, like MarketingCloudFX, can resolve this problem. They can also benefit your marketing and sales teams by creating data alignment, which can result in more effective pitches and higher close rates.

Why is B2B search engine optimization important?

While their journey varies, business buyers shop like consumers — they ask their network for recommendations and search online for answers. Think of your most recent B2B shopping experience, and how you approached it.

If you’re like most buyers, you likely used a search engine like Google to:

  • Research
  • Discover
  • Vet
  • Buy

That’s why it’s critical to invest in business-to-business SEO. If you don’t, you resign yourself from meeting buyers where they’re at — online — and leave them for your competitors to convert.

How to create a B2B SEO strategy

Below you’ll find the roadmap for how you’ll improve your website’s search engine optimization so you can grow your online visibility and capture of the benefits, from traffic to leads to revenue.

Learn how to create your strategy below:

1. Audit your SEO

You need to understand your existing SEO before re-investing in B2B SEO marketing.

Whether you invest in SEO audit services or audit your SEO in-house, do an audit. With a free tool like Screaming Frog, you can see which issues exist, how severe they are, and how to fix them.

From there, you can incorporate them into your strategy plan.

2. Determine your buyer persona

In most cases, your organization will have this documentation available already. If not, work with your sales and customer support teams to understand your buyer’s “why” — why do they search for your solution, why do they buy it, and why do they stick with it.

Later, you can use your persona to brainstorm potential keywords to target.

3. Outline your business objectives

What does your company want to accomplish in the next five years? If your organization has outlined goals, like grow revenue X% or improve retention by X%, you have a starting point for your SEO strategy.

For example, if your company wants to increase its revenue X%, use that as a baseline for setting SEO goals (which we’ll talk about later). Aligning your goals to your company’s objectives is an excellent way to get buy-in for your SEO efforts.

4. Shadow your client-facing teams

For lead-based businesses, spend some time with your sales team to learn:

  • Typical sales cycle duration
  • Common questions, objections, etc.
  • Preferred information for qualifying leads

Then, shadow your customer support teams to understand:

  • Typical troubleshooting issues
  • Common problems or complaints
  • Typical features of point-of-contacts

With this information, you can:

  1. Improve your audience understanding
  2. Generate keyword ideas
  3. Understand what information sales teams need, like for online forms

5. Research keyword opportunities

Based on the previous steps, you can start doing some B2B SEO research. Keep in mind, your goal here is to do some initial market research — you’re not compiling and vetting keywords for SEO content.

Instead, you’re surveying the search landscape to see potential search volume.

When you understand what relevant search volume is available, you can use that data to build an effective B2B SEO strategy that uses specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely (S.M.A.R.T.) goals.

There are plenty of keyword research tools available, like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Google Trends. To get started, consider searching a popular term in your industry, like “custom manufacturing companies,” and see how the domains rank for:

  • Informational keywords
  • Transactional keywords

From this seed list, you can get an idea of how much traffic is out there.

6. Set goals

Finally, you can create goals for your B2B SEO strategy. Focus on goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Use your research to inform your goals. If you know the company wants to achieve XYZ and that ABC organic traffic is available, work backwards to determine how your SEO program can contribute.

Focus on being realistic, though, so you can set manageable expectations with leadership.

7. Outline your strategy

With your goals in place, you can now outline how you’ll accomplish them, like:

  1. Create informational content targeting keywords with XYZ search volume
  2. Develop interactive tools optimized for search to grow our backlink profile
  3. Update existing SEO content to improve or preserve organic rankings

While you’ll want a specific plan for your team, presentations to leadership might benefit from a more general plan. Use your understanding to build a presentation that’s relevant and effective.

6 B2B SEO best practices

SEO should always be unique to your business. However, there are some best practices to consider when selling to other businesses, including the following:

1. Create a variety of web content

One of the most important things to do if you want a successful SEO campaign is to create web content. Without content, you don’t have anything to rank in search results.

But for B2B companies, content is even more vital. B2C companies tend to have very short sales cycles, with people quickly deciding to buy their products. But the decision process is far longer for B2B clients, so you need to have a lot of helpful content to nurture them toward a conversion.

Crucially, that content should span all levels of the marketing funnel – especially if you are enterprise level or if you sell to enterprise businesses. You need top-of-funnel content to introduce them to your business, and bottom-of-funnel content to drive the final conversion, but you also need some content for the middle of the funnel.

2. Target long-tail keywords

Keywords are essential for any B2B company SEO strategy.

By integrating relevant keywords into your web content, you signal to Google that your content should rank in searches for those keywords. But importantly, you should make a point of using long-tail keywords vs. short-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are several words long (as opposed to short-tail keywords, which are only one or two words long). The reason you need to target long-tail keywords is that they’re far more specific. That means you can hone in on a more precise audience, and it also means the terms you’re targeting won’t have as much competition in search results.

Advantages of targeting long-tail keywords:

  1. They are often easier to rank for – competition for rankings goes down the more specific your topic is
  2. They can be tailored to drive more, higher quality conversions than broader topics.

Both of those advantages are highly important for businesses to business companies as you likely service leads with higher budgets and longer sales cycles.

3. Optimize your page load speeds

One surefire way to hurt your SEO is to have a website that takes forever to load.

You’re not going to have much luck driving traffic if users try to visit your site and have to wait forever for your pages to load. Most of the time, they’ll get irritated and leave the site. And just like that, you’ve lost a potential client.

To avoid this, you can optimize your page load speeds to be faster. Ideally, your page speed will be no longer than three seconds. As a part of B2B search engine optimization, you can improve page speed by:

4. Make your site mobile-friendly

Another thing that will drive people away from your website is a lack of mobile-friendliness. A lot of people visit websites on mobile devices, so if your website is only optimized for desktop computers, you’re in trouble.

To make your site mobile-friendly, you should use responsive design. Responsive design is a type of web design where your site structure changes to fit whatever screen it appears on. That means the web page elements are arranged differently on mobile than on desktop.

Cook's Pest Control desktop site, which includes an image with a CTA and a full navigation menu at the top


Cook's Pest Control mobile site, which still includes an image with a CTA but has simpler navigation at the top and a hamburger menu in the corner

This is extra important because Google uses mobile-first indexing, meaning that non-mobile-friendly sites won’t rank well, even in desktop searches.

5. Earn backlinks for your content

Another way to improve your SEO (and help your website rank higher) is to help it see your site as reputable. So, how do you do that? The answer is that you get backlinks from other websites.

Backlinks are links from third-party websites to your content. You want to earn backlinks from reputable websites in your industry, because then Google will see your site as reputable as well, so it will rank you higher. Plus, those backlinks may lead people from those third-party sites to yours.

When it comes to backlinks in B2B SEO marketing, be sure to prioritize quality over quantity. One high-quality backlink is better than 10 low-quality ones.

6. Set up a Google Business Profile

Our final B2B SEO tip is to set up a Google Business Profile. The process is reasonably simple — you input basic info like your company name, address, phone number, and website, and then you just verify your ownership of the business.

The reason you should do this is that it gives your business a high chance of appearing in local search results. If you run a manufacturing company and someone searches for “manufacturing companies in [your city],” Google will likely return a local 3-pack that features three matching business profiles.

3-pack of local manufacturing business listings below a map

You want your business to show up in that 3-pack. And the only way that will happen is if you create a Google Business Profile.

Grow your B2B SEO strategy’s ROI

Looking for professional help making your B2B SEO strategy a revenue driver? Get WebFX (the team behind, and leverage our decades of experience to improve your strategy and ROI. Contact us online today to get started!

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