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To get noticed in natural search results, B2B companies must optimize their web content for search engines. Here are several tips from Gorilla Group expert Randy Kohl.
In direct-to-consumer e-commerce, creating a digital presence that attracts a steady flow of potential customers through search isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. In business-to-business e-commerce, creating content that is engaging and discoverable is often an afterthought, if it’s even thought about at all.
Some B2B companies, particularly those in specialized industries, look at e-commerce as primarily an efficiency play, a way to cut back-end costs in lieu of top-line growth. But this ignores the fact that e-commerce has democratized the process of selling unlike any technology since the telephone. It has never been easier to take a business to a national, or even international, audience. And when a company expands its geographical reach, a potential customer’s first contact (and second and third) will likely be through the web. Make sure your business is being found by employing the following customer-friendly strategies in search engine optimization, which will raise your site’s rankings in natural search results viewed by prospective customers.
1—Get your content in front of the “wall”
To be found in search, content needs to be accessible. However, any content residing behind a login wall will not be indexed for search, and subsequently will not be presented in search results. There are numerous reasons why B2B companies need to keep information secure, such as the need to present customer-specific pricing and catalogs, but this does not mean that all catalog content must be kept locked away.
It is quite feasible to make a portion of the product catalog public-facing, while keeping more sensitive information visible only to those that have the proper credentials. With this structure, category landing pages and product detail pages, along with their rich content, can be indexed for search, while proprietary information, like pricing and inventory levels, is only displayed upon login. This has the potential to expand a business’ visibility and drive prospects to more relevant content pages, without sacrificing security or giving away competitive information. And that certainly qualifies as a win-win for business.
2—Demonstrate your smarts
You have expertise that no one in your industry can match. Let the world know it. Prospects are vetting potential business partners and getting further and further down the conversion funnel before making initial contact. Make sure they have the information necessary to clearly see your value proposition and learn why you are the best partner for them.
A thought leadership campaign does not have to be an overwhelming endeavor. A handful of timely, well-articulated articles can go a long way toward demonstrating your subject matter expertise and providing competitive differentiation. The key is identifying the right topics and developing a plan that’s aligned with available resources.
Creating and publishing informational content provides prospects with more opportunities to learn about your business, and offers current customers additional reasons to visit your site and keep your business top of mind. It also offers the opportunity to have your information picked up in and/or linked to industry publications, which can greatly expand the reach of your content.
When content is duplicated across multiple sites (or even within a single site), it tends to cancel itself out and is devalued in terms of organic search. Yet, the problem of presenting duplicate product content has been vexing distributors and manufacturers since the dawn of e-commerce. Here are two approaches to overcome this:
Manufacturers – Operate under the assumption that any product information you provide to distributors will be published verbatim on their sites. In cases where you are selling products directly, consider creating two sets of content for each product, one to be used exclusively on your site and another to be shared by distribution partners. This will ensure that your site offers the most relevant and unique product content and will be positioned to rank competitively in search results.
Distributors – It can seem daunting and impractical to create unique product descriptions when you’re selling 100,000 SKUs (or even 10,000). But creating unique descriptions for all products probably isn’t necessary. Start with a subset (5%-10%) of the best-selling products from the catalog. Optimize descriptions to proactively answer customer questions and match potential search queries. Monitor results versus the rest of the catalog and roll out to additional product groups, as warranted.
Each of these SEO techniques can better position your company to be exposed to a wider potential customer pool, and present a better user experience in the process. The e-commerce channel serves as the primary sales pitch of the 21st century. Make sure you’re getting the most out of it.
Gorilla Group is a Chicago-based web design and development firm.