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B2B search marketing: Five quick wins

By David Vogel, Layered Tech

David Vogel
Layered Tech

B2B purchase research starts on Google, Yahoo or Bing, making search engine marketing one of the highest-ROI strategies a company can deploy. 

But marketers often struggle with search. It requires long-term commitment: Content marketing engines must be built, paid search campaigns honed and domain authority bolstered—all long-term plays.

Some search-marketing tactics, however, can be implemented in days, not years. It’s my pleasure to share five.

Keyword research: Rich prospect data right beneath your nose

A fundamental step to search success is developing an understanding of the phrases or keywords potential customers use to search for your product or solution. Keyword research guides your search strategy and can be helpful in understanding the scope of your market, demand for various products and services and how to speak to prospects in their own language.

Thankfully, keyword data is easy and free to collect. Primary sources include:

  • Google Keyword Planner. The free AdWords account tool helps you explore keyword opportunities and get traffic estimates.
  • Google AdWords and Bing Ads accounts. Look in “Search Terms” for data on the impressions and clicks your paid ads have gained for different keywords.
  • Web analytics software. Most keyword traffic now is obscured, but go back a few years in data for rich keyword reporting.
  • Third-party keyword research software. Most of these tools have limited insight into actual search traffic and are best used to judge relative importance.

Exploring the keyword landscape can take as little as one caffeine-fueled afternoon. Once you’ve gathered the data, dump it into a spreadsheet with a pivot table. You have insights into keywords to use in product webpages, blog posts, paid search campaigns, and contextual advertising.

Low-hanging link opportunities

While Google continues to diversify the metrics used to rank webpages, high-quality links are still the currency of the web. Building quality links can be resource intensive, and settling for irrelevant or spam-like links can put you on Google’s blacklist.

However, most B2B companies have yet to avail themselves of some of the easiest and highest-quality link targets available—their own partners and providers.

Your partners and providers are constantly in need of trust-building content, showing how businesses are using their solutions to solve problems. They usually feature it prominently on their websites, with a link back to the company featured. Spend 10 minutes with your accounting team to build a list, then reach out to the contacts to see if they’re interested in posting a testimonial, case study, or blog about how you’re using their services.

The tactic works because you’ve already built a relationship with the link target. There’s a legitimate reason for them to link to your website. Similar low-hanging link targets include supported charities, member organizations and websites with profiles of your executives and board members.

Double your conversion, double your leads

Let’s say you need to double web leads. The first instinct often is to double traffic. However, the more efficient way is to work on the conversion rate.

Start by reviewing the 10 highest trafficked pages on your site. This may account for half or more of overall traffic. Step back and view the page from the perspective of a potential customer.

  • Are there technical, copy or design flaws?
  • Why are visitors coming to this page? Does the content pay that off?
  • Is the page engaging? What about for skim readers?
  • Does the page move the prospects down the funnel? Are there strong and prominent CTAs?

Asking yourself these questions can help you identify quick wins for gaining more leads.

Stay top-of-mind with remarketing

A primary difference between B2B and B2C sales is the length of the buying cycle. In a B2B world, it’s not unusual for a prospect to visit your website for weeks or months before completing a lead form or engaging with a sales rep.

The easiest way to stay engaged with unidentified prospects is through remarketing, a digital tactic that attaches cookies to visitors and then delivers ads as they browse the web.

Getting started with remarketing can be simple. You need an ad, a landing page and a tracking code from a remarketing platform. I recommend using your AdWords account on the Google Display Network and then expanding to a cross-network platform such as Bizo or AdRoll.

Add negative keywords for positive ROI

The quickest way to improve search marketing ROI is also the easiest: Manage the negative keywords in your paid search campaign.

When you bid on specific keywords using “broad” or “phrase” match-types in AdWords, Google automatically displays your search ads when users enter partial-match or related keywords. While gives your campaign a broader reach, it also opens you to irrelevant clicks and poor click-through rates that hurt your quality score and increase costs.

The quickest way to fix this wasted spend is to export a quick “Search Terms” report from your ad platform and sort keywords by spend or number of impressions. You’ll be able to see irrelevant search phrases and add to your negative keyword list, preventing the waste of money on these searches.

David Vogel leads online marketing strategy at Layered Tech, a global provider of cloud and managed hosting. He’s also a blogger, consultant, BMA-KC board member and admitted Inbound Marketing junkie. You can connect with David online at or at Google+ (+David Vogel) or Twitter (@DavidVogelDotCo).

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