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 #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

Like this post? Share it. Comment on it. Support your favourite bloggers.

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Google Power

Assuming you have an array of profiles online, when did you last Google yourself?

You really should. It’s fascinating to see the changes in content. A few months ago you may have expected your Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter accounts to dominate. But in a short space of time, Google has taken this over dramatically with it#’s +1 and Circles roll out. Sites like Quora and Slideshare are fast improving, whilst WordPress and Twitter are holding their own.

The interesting change in terms of Twitter as you scroll through the first few pages is that specific tweets rather than just a profile are being collected too. Interesting because it is making you more searchable by what you are posting rather than just having a profile.

So personally, and professionally, it makes the notion of thinking before you hit ‘send’, ‘post’ ‘submit’ all the more important now, don’t you think? Footballer Joey7Barton might want to take note.

NB: No Foursquare or Empire Avenue in sight. Personally, I think that speaks volumes.

Links worth a click #5

There have been some really interesting reads online.

Here is my pick from the last week, we 24 June 2011.

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Mashable offered up an interesting ‘Behind the Scenes’ on 8 Innovative Social Media Campaigns. My personal favourite is The Voice because it is a new take on reality contest TV and was perfect for social media.

B2B: I particularly liked the advice on keeping your mind on ‘next action’ as a driver on what and how to present in Social Media B2B’s post on How to Create Great B2B Presentations

FACEBOOK: Australia’s finest, Jeff Bullas has pulled together an overview of 5 creative Facebook pages. I was initially surprised in scrolling through to find games, movies, cars and lingerie, but hey it is Facebook!

SEO COPY: The ever useful Marketing Profs site published a handy little guide on writing with SEO in mind. Their Five Tips for Writing Content That Keeps Pace With B2B Searches included titbits such as staying aware and staying relevant.

BLOGGING: If you need to get your CEO on board with your social media thinking, here is a useful post designed to get them involved in the blog side of things.

Now, a three way tie for content of the week:

EBOOKS: First off Hubspot’s How to Write and Launch an Ebook That Generates Leads. Staggeringly useful.

INFOGRAPHICS: Secondly, a must try: Infographics are all the rage right now if you have a dataset you want to present in an innovative way. Here are 5 tools to help turn data into infographics.

WEBSITES: Finally, from Econsultancy, and just to make most of you feel your age, just look at how some of the UK’s top e-commerce sites have changed in the past five years (or in some cases not changed).

Hope you see something you like. More next week.

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Links worth a click #4

Here’s my pick of the best click worthy content from the last week.

First from Hubspot, a piece positioned as a startup’s social media starter list but actually useful to companies at various sizes and points on their development trajectory.

Next  if you’re moving your PR online and targeting influential bloggers and writers online, heed the warnings in this piece offering 6 Ways to Guarantee Your PR Pitch to B2B Bloggers Will Be Deleted.

Interesting stats released by com.score and reported on by Mashable this week suggested that social networking accounts for 1 of every 6 minutes spent online. I’m just surprised that 1/ people still use MySpace and 2/ people think it is even fair comparing it with Facebook.

Lots of companies are entering the social media space. Most are cautious, some write guidelines and implement policies to steer safely through. It’s ultimately becomes a case of how brave or conservative, and how empowered you want your staff to be. Here is an interesting Econsultancy read looking at whether all your staff need be engaging in social media?

Did you twang the Les Paul guitar strings on Google’s recent doodle? If you did you contributed to $268m in lost productivity, claims Search Engine Journal.

A random, and finally and just for sheer ‘awesome-ness’ here is a behind the scenes featurette from the new Transformers 3 movie, focusing on the birdman footage shot above Chicago.

Q: What have you been reading? Share your links in the comments.

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Links worth a click #3

Worthwhile clickable content from over the last seven days.

An interesting piece on the Social Media B2B blog discussed the importance of goals and objectives in B2B social media 

I stumbled across a great piece from Social Media Examiner which I think is essential reading for anyone writing or considering writing / managing a blog project. Their Ultimate bloggers guide to blogging with search in mind outlines a step by step approach to ensuring your blog is search friendly and will deliver targeted traffic.

If you’re a fan of Linked in and keen to find content to curate either through your status updates, group interaction or indeed further afield on your blog or Twitter account, consider this How to Use LinkedIn Today to Find Popular Content blog post.

And whether you are a Facebook marketer or not, consider looking at this aAstonishingly useful list: 75 of the Best B2B Facebook Marketing Tips.

MarketingProfs wrote an interesting piece on How to Present Analytics to Your Leadership Team. Also useful in selling to clients and customers I suspect too.

Finally, if you do any kind of writing for a living, this piece from ProBlogger which talked about a superior writing method might make a difference.

Image: Caught Offside

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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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Content remains king in SEO

The old maxim that ‘content is king’ largely remains the case in internet marketing terms given the colossal amount of information available. Browsers now have unparalleled and unlimited choice.

Having a relevant and engaging website is key to both successful optimisation and your business prospering. We’ve already reviewed the key elements of design for SEO. But this needs to be matched by relevant content that provides a worthwhile and quality experience for website visitors.

1. Relevant: Because website content ages quickly. It might be that your company has entered new sectors and markets or left some behind. You may have new products or services to promote, or legislative changes to share. Or there may be a requirement to communicate with other stakeholder groups such as distributors, agents and investors, as well as customers and prospects. All these opportunities give rise to the concept of ‘content in context’.

2. Accurate: As web content can sometimes come from a number of sources, it’s important that it’s accurate. This means checking it’s technically correct, with no spelling or grammatical inaccuracies while also ensuring that there’s a prevailing format and tone. Key messages and preferred vocabulary should be consistently used.

3. Engaging: To retain interest and encourage deeper involvement, website content should be ‘sticky’. Video, for example, offers a powerful way to demonstrate product features and benefits and  bringing a corporate entity to life. And with video search accounting for 50% of online search (Bruce Daisley, YouTube, speaking at SAScon, April 2010), featuring embedded video from YouTube or Vimeo on your website will improve site visibility, ranking and inbound traffic.

4. Connected: It’s important that all links within your site are checked regularly, particularly as the site grows. Updating or removing content leaves the site at risk of being littered with errors and broken links.

Summary: Delivering relevant and accurate ‘content in context’ gives you the best possible chance of attracting, engaging and retaining visitors. It is, after all, the main reason they searched for a supplier like you in the first place.

An extended version of this post originally featured on the BDB Blog in October 2010. Please visit to read in its entirety and have your say.

Image: Positiverealestateprofessionals

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