Capturing the Wrong Eyeballs: How Bad B2B SEO Strategies Hurt Content Marketing

Capturing the Wrong Eyeballs
Capturing the Wrong Eyeballs

What you’ll learn:

  • Why SEO is still central to good B2B content marketing
  • Just some of the SEO mistakes that can hurt your content marketing
  • How to ensure you’re striking the right balance in content SEO

SEO is oh-so-important to prospect (and eventual customer) acquisition for B2B marketers. Done right, you’ll use SEO to drive organic visibility at every stage of the buyer’s journey.  But in too many cases, bad B2B SEO strategies can actually hurt your acquisition strategy.

First, let’s set to rest any arguments that organic SEO is dead or somehow limping into the twilight.  How many organic searches does Google see each day?  5.6 billion.  Of course, you’re competing with over one billion blogs, so how can you rise in the rankings without opening up the vault to shovel your budget into PPC?  Especially if you’re an SMB who doesn’t have a vault, or even a shovel?

That’s where SEO maintains its importance, though it’s crucial to keep track of what changes are happening under the hood at Google.

But as Neil Patel points out, SEO isn’t dead, it’s changing. Getting excellent results from organic SEO is still achievable. You simply have to understand how search engines currently work, and what matters more than ever is search intent: What’s the purpose of an online search?

Knowing that intent is key to the first issue we’ll cover when it comes to bad B2B SEO strategies.  The ones below are just some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen:

Bad B2B SEO practice #1: Using buzzwords as keywords

Especially in the B2B technology space, you’ll find websites that optimize against the wrong keywords.  They focus on technical nomenclature or buzzwords that are only relevant to technically-versed individuals, like devs or implementation specialists.

Yet by doing that, these marketers aren’t taking into account the fact that many of their prospective buyers won’t use that kind of arcane language in search.

Of course, if you’re strictly interested in capturing visitors who are likely to be looking for those terms – great!  But the reality is that many B2B content marketers aren’t seeing the forest – the total pool of potential prospects – for the trees.

Many of those prospects aren’t going to be searching for a buzzword.  They’re going to be trying to suss out a solution to their specific pain points.  Therefore, your SEO efforts need to understand and reflect those pain points, and the language prospects will  be Googling.  It’s not going to necessarily reflect the terms you’re using in your collaterals and product data sheets.

This is a standard paragraph for your post.  Follow the same rules described above.  Try to avoid having large blocks of run-on text, which hurt readability, stickiness, and visitor loyalty.

Bad B2B SEO practice #2: Be a proven provider, not a pretender

Companies, especially young ones in growth-by-all-means mode, often tend to embrace content sprawl, where their websites or blogs try to offer all things to all prospects.  But the secret of B2B SEO, in light of Google’s embrace of search intent, is to hammer on a niche or specialization where your content can show expertise and depth.

If you’re not actively engaged in solving challenges in a specific area, don’t make key in on that area in your SEO strategy.  Instead, focus on the expertise and solutions you actually provide, with content that backs up your thought leadership and skill set in that area. Never forget, in other words, how search engines are getting pretty good at separating pretenders from proven providers.

Bad B2B SEO practice #3: Not tracking the numbers

If a marketer isn’t tracking and analyzing who’s visiting their site, what content they’re checking out, where they’re sticking and where they’re bouncing, then they shouldn’t bitch about the poor ROI they’re seeing from SEO and content investments.

Looking at visitor data is about more than just assessing the state of your traffic or determining what content assets are getting some love. Google has embraced multi-channel funnels and attribution, where they’ll follow the path visitors take to submitting an online form for a download or contact call.

Improving that journey – not only on your website but in all your digital channels – thus contributes to lifting your search rankings and SEO ROI.

Bad B2B SEO practice #4: Too much 101 content

When you look across as many B2B sites as I have, and work with B2B marketers who are desperate to capture eyeballs, you’ll see how their SEO priorities get misaligned. The results of this bad B2B SEO strategy are poor perception and lousy retention among the site visitors they covet the most.

How does this happen?

Invariably, it’s because of a very overblown and obvious focus on “SEO 101” keywords and topics in their blogging and even site content architecture.

I recently had a conversation with a client content director who was grappling with the fact his site was seeing a steady and appreciable uptick in search rankings and traffic over the course of a couple of years.  But site-related MQLs?  Those hadn’t improved.

The results are poor perception and lousy retention among the site visitors they covet the most.

It didn’t take much digging to understand the cause of the issue. While his company wanted to target C-level executives, any visitor to the blog just saw wall-to-wall posts focused on the most elementary terms and topics in the company’s segment.

That’s because their B2B SEO strategy was to compete for every possible eyeball in the industry, meaning they were pursuing even the most basic search queries. Let’s say you’re providing data analytics services and want to target senior managers. But most of the posts on your blog’s home page address rudimentary topics like “what is data analysis?”  Then – no surprise! – you’re not going to generate interest with your intended target.

In fact, they’ll quite likely assume you’re incapable of delivering the kinds of solutions they need because they’re not seeing that content right up front.  You’ve given them the first impression that your priorities are not their priorities, capisce? 

Since they’re busy people who haven’t got time to slog through your site to find evidence of your true genius at supplying killer insights or solving their problems, they’ll bounce.

Cures for capturing the wrong eyeballs

The way to avoid these issues?  It starts and ends with knowing your true target audience and having your SEO and content accommodate them:

  • Understand your target’s search intent: Some may or not be looking for basic answers about basic concepts…but others may be searching for more in-depth solutions to more sophisticated challenges.  Know thy target, in other words, and develop corresponding SEO tactics.
  • Have the right balance of content: If your target wants smart, insightful thought leadership content, give them that, with an SEO strategy that supports it.  It’s just as easy to optimize a powerful thought leadership post as one that covers the basics, and the former will do a much better job of helping drive the right MQLs.  Remember that no matter what level of persona you’re addressing, the ones you want will be searching for helpful content of some sort that goes beyond just regurgitating the fundamentals. This goes hand-in-hand with avoiding the publication of craptent.
  • Don’t over-merchandise basic SEO query content: Don’t give these posts much real estate on your blog’s main page.  You might want to deploy them as pure SEO pages that aren’t even part of your blog.

Bad B2B SEO strategies and tactics can torpedo a lot of good work by content creators and others on your marketing team.  So be aware of these traps, and be on the lookout for them and other SEO pratfalls.

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