Keywords in practice: SEO for b2b marketing

So, anyone dabbling in the area of SEO knows that selecting the right keywords is an important, but first step in designing a kick-ass b2b search engine marketing strategy, right? (If not, here’s a useful primer)

There is a lot of duff SEO advice online. Get back to basics and use the right keywords optimally around your site. This is a digital fundamental. Here are some quick steps to making sure they help your site rise to the top in search engine results.

Using keywords in practice

It is widely acknowledged that the first 200 words on any web page (especially the home page) are generally the most important on your website. Make sure the keywords for your page are placed in the first few sentences and also in the first heading (h1) tag on the page.

Much of this is covered in the SEO chapter of ‘Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing’ , where I use global compressor manufacturer Atlas Copco and compressed gases supplier BOC to illustrate this technique to promote keyword positioning on compressors, mining and construction.

 

Headings and subheadings

Place your primary keywords in your headings and sub-headings as these areas of content are perceived to carry greater weight in search engine ranking algorithms.

Use key phrases not just keywords

Sometimes if there are words with more than one meaning, it makes sense to use additional words to clarify the intended meaning. To help the search engine bot establish the meaning, use a ~keyword search in Google’s search bar. The results will have the words in bold that the search engine believes are most related to that word. This turns keywords into key phrases or ‘long tail’ to use the common name.

Think about about your own search experience. To navigate an increasingly irrelevant landscape, Internet users are using three words to refine their search so your SEO should follow suit.

Keyword density and distribution

You don’t want to use keywords too much in your displayed ‘on-page’ content, but you do want to make sure they are used at least twice in the body copy as an absolute minimum. Reference needs to be natural and within context. A keyword in every sentence looks forced. Ask your copywriters to use synonyms.

Optimising your meta data

1. Keep meta descriptions short.

If your meta description is longer than 150 characters, search engines may omit some of it. Keep the summary brief and loaded with your most relevant and important keywords to give readers a sense of what they’ll find on the page. To save you counting, the BOC example below is 58 words long.

2. Develop unique meta descriptions.

Keep in mind that the purpose of the meta description is to set the visitor’s expectations about what can be found on that page. This makes meta descriptions for every page a requirement.

 

 

3. Page in a sentance

Write a sentence that encapsulates what the page is about and what it will offer the visitor rather than providing a list of arbitrary keywords. The messaging in the search results are often the first experience of the brand.

4. Reuse elements

Reuse elements throughout the page in links, anchor text and other titles and tags. This increases relevance in the eyes of human and search engine visitors.

5. Order meta data in priority to suit search engines.

Although it is widely held that Google places a low rank on certain elements of meta data, it is good practice to order data in the meta of a web page in the order Title > Description > Keywords.

Applying a diligent approach to your on page SEO gives you a firm foundation to kick on with your online marketing promotion before you spend on link building, pay per click and other forms of advertising.

 

How to ensure you use the most relevant SEO keywords in your B2B marketing

Rightly or wrongly, the Internet is still built on text based code. So making sure your site is optimised with the right text customers are using to inform their search is a critical part of your digital marketing strategy.

Keyword based SEO is critical as it drives your messaging, content and success in search marketing. It’s important that there is a relationship between how your site is written and what browsers are looking for but it is very common for businesses to either do too little or too much which leads to keyword stuffing.

Keyword research isn’t a dark art. Do your homework.

 

Keyword research involves mapping what your customers and prospects are looking for and what you can offer them. There is an abundance of data available within the Google suite of webmaster tools even before you need to access more sophisticated software. You can still access the Adwords Keyword Planner tool which offers insight into which words and phrases are used more frequently than others as well as the relative competition in trying to rank top on them.

As a result, keyword research can be an involved and complicated process especially if you are promoting a number of elements simultaneously. In b2b terms, think about focusing on the following:

1. Focus of the page. Are you providing information or overtly selling? This plays on the position and mindset of the visitor in relation to the buying cycle. The words, language and tone change markedly from informational pages to product selling pages.

2. Pick a primary keyword for each page. Consider using a small number of keywords across your website to start. Using too many on a page will dilute the impact of individual words and mean the page has little authority when assessed by search engines.

3. Assess the competition. What are the competition doing with keywords and are some more prevalent than others? A simple right click and View Source will display the company’s keywords included in their meta data. Consider, though, that they may have the mood very wrong and also competitors vying for rankings for the same keyword phrase.

4. Use a keyword analysis tool. Free tools like the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool are perfect for initial research and help to establish the relative relevance and value of keywords, giving an indication of searches over time and regionally (global vs local). Make sure you use ‘exact’ matching to give you better, more refined results.

 

Q: How do you ensure you are using the right SEO keywords? Share your tips and tricks below.

Image: Crystal ball image 

Searching for the SEO pot of gold

In a recent B2B Marketing magazine article (Feb 2011, Best Practice) SEO experts in the b2b marketing sector mused on the forthcoming changes in this space. Here I lay out the essence of what they said and discuss why I agree and disagree with some of it.

Mobile, undeniably, is the growth area. Smart phone use in particular (which asa device is slated to outstrip the computer in providing Internet access by 2013), is growing at phenomenal rates. Companies need to reconcile the importance of search to business customers in tandem with understanding how search is conducted differently ‘on the go’.

Google Instant Preview, was slated as the biggest change in search, completing search strings when browsers entered terms. I’m not sure. Doesn’t this take more time and need more clicks, just like when predicative texting was first introduced?

The main point about Social Search focused on how the recent tie up between Facebook and Bing could mean more search activity takes place within Facebook meaning more people stay within the site longer. Though important, social media optimisation is more than just Facebook based.

Sitemaps are undeniably crucial in directing visitors to relevant web content, and their role is growing as more rich content is used by website owners. And having greater visibility over incoming and outgoing social media links will make them more relevant.

New generic top level domains like .eco .sport and .music are going to fuel a goldrush scramble by existing domain registrants to secure the new variants that might impact on their business. Whether they will become mainstream remains to be seen.

Local focus will continue to grow in 2011 as the various geolocation services incorporate offers, benefits and other time sensitive and loyalty affirming promotions. Google already returns local searches, integrating mapping functionality. Ensuring your business is correctly indexed with Google Places, Yell, FreeIndex and other online directories is key to this, but often overlooked.

But without giving marketers to0 much to think about, I’d also add the following to the mix as critical in 2011.

Long tail search involving the use of longer, more specific phrases rather than overused, but increasingly generic single word terms garner more targeted results. Each of the main search engines has a keyword tool which can be used to inform your SEO efforts. Use them. And check them regularly.

Links are still strong currency, and it is an important strategy to build a credible bank of incoming links from related and high traffic sites to boost your own visibility and overall search rank. Linked to social media, it makes sense, in this respect to create profiles with back links to your website to support this.

Integration remains central to any and all marketing effort. Only when all your marketing activities are joined up, pointing in the same direction, formed around the same messages and using a consistent vocabulary can truly effective SEO have the right conditions in which to thrive. Remember that the visitor who has arrived at your site through search has probably been influenced by advertising, direct marketing, email, a trade show, editorial, a forum posting or other reference elsewhere online OR offline.

Interestingly, the article also made no mention of multi language SEO and regional domain hosting, presumably because no b2b companies operate abroad…but that is a point for another day!