Seo strategy

How to build a better B2B SEO strategy in 2013

It’s the last week of 2012. If you’re reading this column, you’re giving up at least some well-deserved rest for some serious B2B SEO planning in 2013. For me, the next few days are all about research, research. preparing for and getting milestones in place for client initiatives (and probably completing one, two or three outstanding engagements as well).

Tactics designed to support your B2B SEO plan most likely include content marketing, third-party link serving, and social media development, along with a few improvements related to web development. It’s one thing to know these are the important tactics to execute, but quite another to know where to find inspiration for execution.

Here are places in your own traffic reporting tools to look at first, when developing tactics for a B2B SEO strategy in 2013.

Keyword Reference Data

It seems obvious but is often overlooked; at least the long tail. What type of phrases are people looking for and clicking on your website with? Did they stay a few pages but did they leave without achieving one or more specific objectives?

Keyword referral data unlocks better topics for blog content, SEO landing pages, and more comprehensive content marketing initiatives (white papers, viral marketing assets, etc.).

In the example above, I am highlighting the search phrases that people searched for, found our website, and appeared to be of higher quality, based on average visitor behavior. The topics underlying these phrases might provide better opportunities for further development of the content.

Getting a lot of irrelevant data? Use filters to narrow results based on certain performance criteria such as maximum and minimum bounce rates or average visit duration. Here is a screenshot of how I used the filter in the previous example.

Visitor activity in coordination with research benchmarks

Understanding the type of content searchers use when they come to your website will hopefully uncover opportunities to create complementary or related material. Use keyword research tools to explore the opportunities once the potential assets are realized.

Unfortunately, you will have to do more research to find this information. Select the secondary dimension, “Landing Page”, to see the web page searches accessible when searching through an encrypted search (see screenshot below).

Example: Google Analytics filter

Use filters similar to the ones above to narrow down information based on performance criteria.

Google tools search queries for webmasters

As “not provided” data associated with Google encrypted search becomes more widespread, alternative resources, such as the Google Webmaster Tools search query report, should be considered.

While I have never found this report specific enough to define customer expectations, the data can be invaluable in understanding the type of search phrases used to find the site and a rough search position where the site is typically found.

Google tools search queries for webmasters

What I find interesting about this report are the keyword phrases that drive traffic but are on average “below the waterline” (maybe 3 positions and below). This could mean topics that resonate better than others and should be explored for alternative content ideas.

Third party recommendation reports

Building great content is one thing, finding the right audiences to share, like, and link to is another. Benchmark reports in Google Analytics (or similar reporting tools) help B2B SEOs understand why people link and mention your website and hopefully provide insight on how to gain additional exposure as well.

For this exercise, I recommend researching areas that are not social media platforms first, as popular platform marketing can become a tactical strategy in itself. With that said, don’t ignore social media sites that send large percentages of traffic organically. This recommendation aims to find key targets for more direct outreach.

Third party benchmarks

When reviewing third party referral reports, look for referral sources that tend to attract a higher quality visitor (more pageviews per visit, lower bounce rates, etc.). Go directly to each referral URL and check:

  • The objective of the reference
  • Whether the link (or referral) is SEO optimized.
  • Authors contact details
  • Author (s) social media profile information

If the referral is positive then it’s not a bad idea to leave a thank you comment (if it’s a blog post) or send a quick email if possible (holidays and gratitude are excellent reasons to send this communication).

Note: The Google Webmaster Tools Inbound Link Report is another easy way to get this information, coming from the specific direction of the site URL.

Development of social media lists

Social networks have become an essential asset for SEO. The key to a good social media program is having the right network. Establishing professional relationships through social media platforms helps secure links, develops media won, and generates wider visibility for content marketing assets. I recommend the following resources for researching key targets in your industry.

  • A premium subscription to LinkedIn provides visibility into users’ Twitter profile information beyond 2nd degree logins
  • Wonk Subscriber, part of the SEOmoz set of SEO tools, is an essential tool for researching Twitter networks
  • For research journalists, USNPL offers a database of US newspapers, broken down by state and city / city
  • PR News has compiled a phone book Twitter pseudonyms of public relations agencies / consultants, businesses, nonprofits, public relations and media professionals, which may be useful in researching specific industry expertise
  • the Report The plugin for Firefox or Chrome provides social media profile information of those you email, which in turn can be used to discover important users in applicable social networks.

Remember to create lists of specific users to better understand the interests and important trends of the conversation. For almost all social media platforms, I build profile lists that include:

  • Distribution of journalists, analysts, bloggers, editors, communication professionals
  • Parties interested in certain industry publications and resources (seems like a good way to segment Google+ circles, in particular)
  • Customers, partners and prospects
  • Active and friendly profiles (those who tend to support our social media initiatives more frequently than others)

Build a better B2B SEO strategy in 2013

Quality content and a comprehensive list of third-party sites in which business target markets actively participate are essential elements of B2B SEO. Planning, research and organization are important to effectively execute these two initiatives. Hopefully these recommendations provide some additional direction for your B2B SEO strategy, but I’d love to read your thoughts and perspectives via the comments below.

I wish you the best of luck for the new year!

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily of Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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About the Author

Derek Edmond is Managing Partner of KoMarketing, a B2B online marketing agency specializing in search, social media and content marketing. With over 10 years of experience, Derek has worked with a wide range of organizations ranging from the Fortune 500 to VC-funded startups and small businesses.