B2B Blog Strategy: A Guide to Dominating Your Industry’s Search Results
A common mistake B2B companies make is assuming that including a blog on its website will be good for SEO. While that statement is broadly true, so is the statement “Eating food is good for your health.” With both content and food, it depends on what kind.
This article lays out the strategy B2B blogs need in order to genuinely engage visitors, build brand awareness, and most importantly, attract and develop sales leads. As you read, you’ll notice all successful blog entries grow from the seed of a well-chosen keyword. Using case studies from our SEO firm’s own clients, I’ll demonstrate the steps B2B companies need to follow in order to dominate their industry’s search results. I’ll also share the expected timeline for seeing higher rankings, traffic, and qualified lead conversions.
B2B Blogging Strategy
All successful B2B blogs begin with a planning session that identifies your company’s most valuable keywords. While it’s tempting to want to rank for many keywords within your industry, it’s crucial that you separate “transactional” keywords from “research” keywords.
- Transactional keywords, which capture people interested in buying now, are best suited for sales-oriented landing pages linked off your website’s menu. (In other words, they shouldn’t be targeted through the blog.
- Research keywords, which capture people who are still researching and aren’t yet ready to buy, are best suited for blogs.
Transactional keywords generate leads more quickly, so you should be creating pages to rank for them first before you even begin blogging. If you are just interested in a blogging strategy, skip this section and head to the next one.
To illustrate the difference between transactional and research keywords, imagine you run an app development firm in Los Angeles. An example of a transactional keyword you’d target is “best app development companies california.” The person who types that in is likely to be a serious, qualified lead. An example of a research keyword you’d target is “app development outsourcing cost”. This searcher is obviously interested in creating an app, and is researching the best way to do that. While less immediately valuable than the first searcher, this searcher is clearly valuable as well. Thus, a blog entry will need to be created to answer that person’s question.
Once you’ve come up with ~30 of your most valuable keywords, you’ll want to place them into a Keyword Table to use as your blueprint when you begin blogging. Here is an example of a Keyword Table:
|best app development company california||Location Landing Page||Sales page with case studies in California, validation logos, and explanation of process|
|app development firm orange county||Location Landing Page||Sales page with case studies in the LA area, validation logos, and explanation of process|
|3||healthcare app development||Industry Landing Page||
Sales page that covers main challenges healthcare apps face, relevant client logos, and process diagram
enterprise app development firms
|“Specialties” Landing Page||
Sales page that describes our white glove approach to enterprise firms, includes Fortune 500 logos & awards, and links to case studies
|5||app development outsourcing cost||Blog Entry||
1,500 word blog entry breaking down the cost of outsourcing app development
Note that the first four keywords are transactional and call for landing pages, and only the fifth keyword, “app development outsourcing cost,” is a research keyword calling for a blog entry. This reflects the higher value landing pages possess. However, blog entries have one key advantage over landing pages: they’re nearly infinite. Whereas you eventually run out of transactional keywords that in one way or another say “I want to buy this solution,” you almost never run out of problems and situations that could lead to purchasing that solution.
One last note on landing pages before we move on to blogging: there are many different types of these sales-oriented pages, reflecting the various ways people search when they’re serious about buying. There are pages focused on location, industry, specialties/use case, services/subservices, and FAQ. All are typically linked from the website’s header menu, off a dropdown menu.
You can find some great live examples of landing pages in our own website’s header menu above, under “Company.” All the items in that dropdown menu lead to various types of landing pages.
B2B Blog Content Generation
You now understand how to identify valuable keywords, so it’s time to start writing. Before you begin, remember the golden rule of B2B blog planning:
The keyword, not you, determines the topic you write about.
When every blog is borne from a keyword that indicates a real potential to become a sales lead, you have no choice but to write only on subjects that will generate leads. In contrast, if you simply wrote about what’s happening in your industry and then tried to find a keyword that matched that topic, you’d undoubtedly be settling for far less valuable keywords.
Now let’s talk about what a B2B blog entry should look like. Unlike landing pages, blog entries should be educational, answering the questions inherent in the blog’s targeted keyword. But they must also be engaging, or else people will leave. A good blog article is synonymous with thought leadership.
Thought leadership means you truly work to understand the search intent of your keyword so that the “answer” you provide in the form of the article fulfills their curiosity, and does so in a language they understand.
It’s common for folks with cursory SEO knowledge to believe they should write in a certain way for search engines. Don’t do this. Simply put, rankings will follow naturally if your searchers find value in your content. (The only SEO-y thing you need to do is put the keyword you’re targeting in the title of your article.)
Lastly, a good criterion for content is that it’s “skimmable,” marked by:
- Bulleted lists (see what we did here?)
- Well-organized headings and subheadings
- Transitional phrases that tell the reader what to expect next
- Links that help the reader navigate your site more quickly
With these principles in mind, write a lot. We recommend you publish new content at least twice per week for six months or more in order to see a return on investment. If you do this, your website will rank for more keywords in general, have higher rankings for desirable keywords, and see more organic traffic. Most importantly, you’ll get more qualified leads. On that note, we’ll now explore how to measure and analyze your results.
Assess Results and Refine Strategy
After the first few months of consistent publication, you should see some data you can work with. There are many corporate blog metrics you can measure, but the essential ones are:
- Organic Traffic – how many visitors come to your site through unpaid searches.
- Search Engine Ranking Position (SERPs) – where your pages appear in Google search results.
- Conversion Rates – how many visitors complete an action of value to your business, like filling out a contact form or calling your business.
You can use this information to support, modify, or celebrate your B2B blog strategy, depending on the results you’re seeing. Let’s take a look at each of the possible outcomes.
If you are tracking results and seeing a section of your content strategy that is underperforming, you have an opportunity to support this element of your campaign, either through more intentional targeting of related long-tail keywords or by rethinking the approach to your blog content.
Are you speaking the exact language your reader expects to find? Are readers spending enough time on the page to see the value of your content? Are you committing enough high-quality resources and insights to truly answer the searcher’s query? If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” then you have an opportunity to better support your content creation process with richer subject matter insights, more accessible presentations, and more sophisticated graphics and designs.
The case of a campaign where all elements of your content strategy are performing to expectation presents a different opportunity: Here, it may make sense to modify your approach by expanding the campaign’s focus to a larger set of keywords or a more competitive set of keywords that were previously unattainable.
Lastly, if your content strategy is exceeding expectations, returning a hearty ROI, and making headquarters happy, may we humbly recommend you take a moment to pat yourself on the back and then get back to work. Even evergreen content needs regular care and maintenance.
B2B Blog Strategy Results: What They Look Like
Dominating your industry’s search results means deploying a long-term B2B blog strategy. It will require you to research keywords, write high-quality thought leadership content, and reevaluate your strategy on an on-going basis.
Through the regular performance of these actions, you should see qualified leads and conversions coming in at a regular pace by the end of your first year. Your return on investment will really take hold in your second and third year of committing to a B2B blog strategy.
Here’s an overall average of our clients’ thought leadership campaigns after one year:
- 65% increase in organic traffic
- +$385K raise in organic revenue
On average, our clients see the following results by the end of year two:
- 94% rise in organic traffic
- $1.2M raise in organic revenue
And by the end of year three, our clients typically see:
- 81% rise in organic traffic
- $3.3M raise in organic revenue
Optimizing your site, strategy, and content to rank as highly as possible on Google search results takes years of expertise, and it yields a strong return on investment.
If you decide you’d like a dedicated SEO partner to create and execute a blog strategy for you, let’s talk. Our San Francisco-based firm has over 11 years of experience, focusing primarily on B2B industries.
Evan Bailyn is a bestselling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.