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 

Links worth a click #17

Some informed viewing for you this week.

First up, Coca Cola’s approach to social media in video form. Sure it’s big budget, but there are smart lessons in here. Love how they’ve used the word liquid which is a creative way of linking their strategy to their products. How could you do something similar?

Second, a video showing how Google search continues to evolve to the personal needs of the user.

Finally, the latest user data from Linkedin (for January 2012) shows how the platform continues to add users around the world. Some interesting intelligence for presentations.


 

Links worth a click #15

A week with some great online content, tips and tricks.

PowerPoint as content: PowerPoint gets a hard press, in and out of meetings. But, used correctly, it can be turned into social media gold. Have a quick read of this blog post and see what ideas it sparks for you and your customers.

Business blogging: Here’s a piece for those amongst you managing or considering blogs, a list of ten great things to include in your thinking.

Some useful advice next on designing paid search (pay per click) campaigns that deliver.

Apparently, it’s no longer six degrees of separation when it comes to human relationships. According to Facebook, its 800m users give you access to anyone in the world (if they are on Facebook) in only 4 hops.

Using video? You should be. And it should be optimised. Here are some tips on how to optimise online video, with a natural focus on YouTube.

More next week. Happy Thanksgiving, Black Friday shopping weekend!

Links worth a click #9

At the end of every week, I look to pull some highlights from the huge amount of marketing and technology content I stumble across each week online. Here is a round up of this week’s ‘must reads’.

Mobile: As more people access the web through their phones, greater consideration needs to be given to the web experience on a significantly reduced screen. Here are five simple steps to getting started with mobile marketing.

Keywords and SEO: 4 helpful tools including some bespoke Hubspot tools for identifying the right keywords.

Social media ROI: A guide to measuring the results of your social media strategy [Infographic]

Engagement: Hubspot has conducted research that suggest engaging in conversation doesn’t grow your reach which is at odds with widely held beliefs [Infographic]

Last week I posted part one of a series on blogging from expert Jeff Bullas, How a Blogger can Build a Global Audience from Zero. Here’s part two: Marketing & Momentum

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Links worth a click #8

Every week (when time permits) I try and consolidate some of the more relevant marketing and technology content I stumble across here on the blog. Here is a round up of this week’s ‘must reads’.

Infographics have reached saturation point but few people actually know how to create them. Emma Cossey showed us how to create your own Twitter infographic with Visual.ly

The engaging Econsultancy blog talked about how marketers are always attracted to shiny new things, which can be a blessing and a curse, especially if you are easily distracted.

We learned this week how ruthless Apple can be in defence of its pioneering technology when Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 was barred from sale in most of Europe. Lesson: if you’re going to copy rather than innovate, you still need to be sufficiently creative.

And in other technology news, warnings have been issued about a major attack on Facebook on 5th November.  My advice is to make sure your settings and information are airtight.

An interesting post on why search and email are still more important than social media as digital tools. To me, this has greater significance to B2B marketers as search remains the priority tool of choice in researching business partners and products with email the route of communication.

Serious about blogging? A series that Jeff Bullas is pulling together will give you some pointers from his incredible experience. Here’s Part One: How a Blogger can Build a Global Audience from Zero.

Finally, if you are looking to make your video’s a little more interactive, why not give Viewbix a try?

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Is social taking over search?

There is without doubt a growing influence of social media sites and profiles on search. With 750m Facebook users, 200m users of Twitter, 1bn daily users of Google and well over 100m on Linkedin before we even look at video, image, document sharing, bookmarking and so on, it is a phenomenon that shows little sign of abating.


Sharing is at the heart of all social media and increasingly search results too as this Slideshare illustrates. The risk is that search results become less relevant as they are based more on recommendations on social media rather than objective search engine optimisation but time will tell.

For now, keep looking for and using your ‘like’ , ‘share’ and ‘+’ buttons, especially those below!

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My Twitter Week (we 18 March 2011)

Here’s this week’s wrap up from the last seven days. Hope one of the links informs, entertains, challenges or inspires you.

Monday: @JezHunt put a great article about sales process management and success in my path. Despite it being two years old, ‘Why 8% of sales people get 80% of the sales’ made for compelling and relevant reading.

@Econsultancy ‘s ‘Affiliate’s guide to dominating big niches with SEO’ provided a personal account of monetizing and maximising blogs, landing pages and search . A must read if you are looking to make money online.

Tuesday, and my favourite topic, content marketing (business social media utilising PR and other material) was itself repackaged by @hubspot who created the very readable ‘8 Ways to Use Inbound (content) Marketing to Retain Customers’.

On Wednesday, @Junta42, the team behind the Content Marketing Institute and The Content Marketing Playbook tweeted their latest blog post offering ‘Tips To Make Your Blog More Reader-Centric’. I love the simple, and blindingly obvious advice to turn blog questions and comments into further new content.

Thursday, I found a little time to catch up on the excellent Social Media Examiner blog. Their latest offering on upgrading your Linkedin account made for compelling reading and has left me thinking that it might be worth the investment. I rounded off Thursday in awe of the work @BBN_B2B have put into their “B2B Lions” website which serves as a showcase of the world’s best B2B websites.

The last post of the week involved Britvic’s CEO on why it is essential to keep your employees up to date with your vision and your performance.

What have you been reading this week that is worthy of sharing?

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4 ways to drive web traffic with SEO

This fourth and final part of my SEO series considers how to drive traffic to the website ‘off the page’. This involves getting links to your website on as many other websites as possible, the ethical way!

1. Link building: Search engines place importance on incoming links and, as a result, ‘link building’ has emerged as a critical part of the optimisation process. Explained simply, 100 websites offering a link to your website collectively implies that your site is relevant and worth visiting. So start thinking creatively about where your target audience congregate online.

2. Indexing: Make sure your website is correctly indexed with the major search engines. Most search engines have an address like Google where you can input your website’s domain name for ranking.

3. Social media optimisation: If you haven’t already, you should consider setting-up profiles with major high traffic sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. They consistently feature on the first page of most searches alongside company websites.

4. Digital PR: In line with the thinking behind social media optimisation, often a top ranking position in a search belongs to a reference or article on a well visited news or media site. This could be in a specific b2b sector (for example, in the food sector – Food Navigator) or Yahoo! for more general, b2c searches.

Summary: An unrelenting global news cycle, the rise in self publishing and the ‘always on’ nature of the internet means there will always be somebody, somewhere interested in what you have to offer. Having content distributed more widely, with more back links, gives browsers a better chance of finding you when they need to.

Image: iPhoneMatters

An extended version of this post originally featured on the BDB Blog in October 2010. Click to read it in its entirety.

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Five ways to improve on page SEO

Visibility is everything!

In this third part of four posts on SEO, I’m considering the best ways to improve on page search engine optimisation.

1. Keywords: Keywords are critical as they drive your messaging, content and search. It’s important that there is synergy between how your site is written and what browsers are looking for. But there’s more to it than filling your web page content with keywords. Search engines have got wise to this and downgrade sites that don’t appear to read well.

2. Meta structure: Keywords need to be built in to your meta structure – the code that sits behind the website. Why? Placing relevant and targeted keywords in the meta description and tags indicates to a search engine bot that your website is genuinely serving content in relation to the keywords in question.

3. URLs: The titles you give to each page on your website should be presented clearly and simply. They should adequately relate to the content on that page to give the search engine bots the best chance of indexing the page correctly. This refers to both the domain (for example ‘www.website.com’) and the sub pages (for example ‘www.website.com/news’).

4. Alt and h tags: Images should have a text-based alternative (alt tag), again to help the search engine bot to index and display information about the image if it doesn’t load correctly. Check that you’ve built in alternative (alt) tags for all images used throughout your website. Copy on web pages should have heading (h) tags. Again, search engine bots place importance on headings and tags as part of the overall structure of a page and the serving of relevant content. Primary and secondary headings (h1 and h2) are generally the most important.

5. Sitemaps: Sitemaps are probably the most important but often overlooked element of SEO. Sitemaps act like a table of contents for search engine bots, allowing them to index the entire site from one convenient text-based resource.

Summary: Selecting keywords used by your target audience and feeding them through the content and code of your website gives it a greater chance of ratings success.

An extended version of this post originally featured on the BDB Blog in October 2010. Click the link to view.

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