The B2B and B2C worlds are vastly different. They follow different best practices, they support different sales cycles, and they have different business motivators. Search engine optimization (SEO) is no exception to this rule.
Today we explain the five key differences between SEO for a B2B company and SEO for a B2C company. Understanding these differences can drastically change and elevate your SEO strategy. Ready to learn more? Keep reading.
Difference #1: Content Marketing
In the B2C world, purchases tend to be less expensive and lower risk. Therefore, marketing content is primarily used to build links and advertise. In the B2B world, however, purchases are more expensive and require an entire buying committee to make a final decision. As a result, B2B content serves multiple purposes. These include brand awareness, education, demand generation, and so much more.
- B2C Best Practice: In terms of content, it’s important to focus your efforts on providing clear and concise product details. Lose the marketing speak and don’t over-explain things. The average B2C buyer just wants to know what they’re getting—and if you can be the first retailer to grab their attention, you’ll almost always win their business.
- B2B Best Practice: It’s great to have content ranked among the top search results—but if that content doesn’t offer value, you won’t win the searcher’s business. Therefore, your content must be valuable for both search engines and buyers in order to drive conversions.
Difference #2: User Intent
The goal of SEO is not only to rank highly for a keyword but also to serve compelling content when the searcher clicks through to your website. The key to doing this successfully lies in your ability to understand the searcher’s intent. In general, B2C buyers are typically looking for something to buy and B2B buyers are looking for a solution to a problem.
- B2C Best Practice: If someone is looking to make a purchase, you must make it easy for them to do so—otherwise you risk losing their business. Therefore, focus your SEO efforts on your product pages. That way, when someone clicks on your website, they can find and purchase what they’re looking for right away.
- B2B Best Practice: Map your keywords to your content to effectively guide your buyers through the sales funnel. What we mean is this—map low-intent keywords to low-intent content and map high-intent keywords to high-intent pages. Content mapping and keyword mapping both help educate your buyer and convince them to make a purchase.
Difference #3: Keyword Strategy
Most B2C organizations offer tangible products—shoes, cleaning supplies, furniture, etc. Therefore, the keywords used to find these items are often product related—sneakers, Adidas sneakers, running sneakers, etc. For this reason, it’s fairly simple for B2C SEO professionals to identify and target high-intent keywords.
B2B organizations, on the other hand, offer intangible products and services. Often, it’s difficult to tell which keywords are high-intent and which aren’t. For example, someone looking to buy payroll software might search ‘payroll software’ but they might also search long-tail queries like, ‘how to process payroll faster’ or ‘payroll organization for small businesses’. To make things even more complicated, someone searching the last two examples might not be looking to spend money on a product at all.
- B2C Best Practice: Develop a keyword strategy around your most popular products. If your specialty is sneakers, for example, consider using things like brand and style as your keyword modifiers—then, develop landing pages or implement filters to support these keywords. This could involve separating products by brand and optimizing for keywords like ‘Nike sneakers’ and ‘Adidas sneakers’. Or, separate your product by type and optimize for keywords like ‘running sneakers’ or ‘walking shoes’.
- B2B Best Practice: Conduct research on your customers and their online behavior. You can do this by developing buyer personas, talking to your customers, analyzing your corporate contact database, and consulting with your sales reps. The goal is to understand exactly what types of searches lead potential buyers to make a purchase.
Once you have a good idea of what your prospects are searching, you can then develop informational content to support long-tail, lower-intent searches—think B2B blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, and webinars. Then, optimize your product pages to support high-intent keywords.
Difference #4: Goals and Key Performance Indicators
Although organic traffic and revenue are the main SEO goals for both B2B and B2C companies, the two types of companies measure success differently. B2B SEO success is measured using metrics like lead quantity and lead quality. B2C organizations primarily judge success on the sales generated from organic traffic.
The key difference here is where the conversion happens. For B2B’s, the conversion usually happens after a conversation with a sales rep or a demo of a product. For B2C’s, the conversion usually happens right on their website.
- B2C Best Practice: Use your analytics to determine how much of your organic traffic converts into paying customers. Then, work to increase that conversion rate. This can be done a few different ways. Aside from focusing on higher-intent keywords, you can also use page elements like copy and design to drive more conversions. This is particularly important when it comes to optimizing your marketing landing pages.
- B2B Best Practice: Because most B2B conversions happen as a result of sales conversations, B2B SEO professionals should focus more on leads. First, determine what constitutes a high-quality or sales-ready lead. Then, determine how many of these leads you produce as a result of organic search traffic. Your goal should be to increase this number over time by improving your rankings for high-intent keywords.
Difference #5: Buyer’s Journey
The B2C sales cycle is relatively straightforward. Whether actively seeking your product or not, the buyer lands on your website and, if they find what they’re interested in, they make a purchase. The B2B buying journey looks much different—the buyer recognizes they have a problem or a need, they conduct research, they check reviews, they compare and contrast vendors, and then, an entire team of people come together to make a purchase decision.
- B2C Best Practice: If you haven’t already caught on—there’s a common theme when it comes to website optimization and SEO in the B2C space: Make it easy. If a buyer can’t find something or struggles to navigate through your website, you can say goodbye to their business. Run user testing to determine how well your website delivers what the user is searching for.
- B2B Best Practice: Because the B2B buyer conducts so much research before making a purchase, your keyword strategy and search rankings must be comprehensive. You must show up in search results when your prospect is making searches related to their key pain points and then you must show up again once they’ve identified the solution and started searching for products.
There you have it—the five key differences between B2B SEO and B2C SEO. We hope you take these lessons and apply them to your day-to-day SEO efforts—whether through link building, content optimization, or even social media. Really try to think like your ideal buyer and structure your SEO strategy to support that vision.