SEO strategies for B2B eCommerce companies

8 Minute Read

Key SEO strategies for B2B eCommerce companies to generate more traffic and convert visitors – from targeting landing pages and product descriptions to building customer reviews and using real-time data to seize new opportunities first.

According to a study from Demand Gen, 79% of B2B buyers say there are 1-6 people involved in the purchase process, which creates a more complex buying journey with several minds to convince.

This puts a heavy emphasis on organic search and the research stages of the buying journey where B2B eCommerce companies need to satisfy buyer concerns, every step of the way. In this article, we look at a series of SEO strategies for B2B retailers to capture relevant traffic, address their needs and convert them into paying customers.

Know the B2B buying journey

As shown by Gartner’s study into the New B2B Buying Journey & its Implication for Sales, the B2B buying journey is more complex than ever. This isn’t a linear process that starts with purchase intent and simply leads to the sale; it’s a non-linear journey comprised of complex interactions.

The complex B2B buying journey

Source

To navigate this journey, Gartner says B2B buyers complete six tasks before completing a purchase:

  1. Problem identification. “We need to do something.”
  2. Solution exploration. “What’s out there to solve our problem?”
  3. Requirements building. “What exactly do we need the purchase to do?”
  4. Supplier selection. “Does this do what we want it to do?”
  5. Validation. “We think we know the right answer, but we need to be sure.”
  6. Consensus creation. “We need to get everyone on board.”

B2B eCommerce companies need to help buyers progress through each of these stages in order to guide them along the sales funnel and convert leads into paying customers.

This starts with capturing targeted traffic at each stage of the buying process and, crucially, attributing their place along the sales funnel. This attribution allows you to deliver the right message to prospects, based on their position in the buying journey, to satisfy their needs and encourage them to take the next key step.

Let’s take a look at an example.

One of our B2B eCommerce clients sells furniture to businesses and events companies, which means they have a broad range of target audiences across different industries that need their products. We need a way to segment organic traffic so that we can attribute purchase intent, based on their industry and any needs they specify.

Example industries a B2B ecommerce company might want to target

To do this, we’ve created a network of landing pages for every major keyword opportunity to match the most important customer niches and purchase intents bringing qualified traffic to our client’s website.

These landing pages allow us to place users’ positions along the buying journey and gauge their purchase intent. We use these pages to deliver targeted messages, based on these visitors’ needs, build incentive and strategically direct them to the most important part of our customer’s website to encourage users to complete the next conversion goal.

Every time our data finds a new keyword opportunity, we can build a dedicated landing page, test its performance and optimise it to maximise performance.

Make purchasing easier for B2B buyers

According to the same Gartner report linked to above, 77% of B2B buyers say their latest purchase was very complex or difficult. That’s a telling statistic that highlights the importance of making B2B purchases easier but also revealing how much opportunity there is for B2B eCommerce companies to jump ahead of their rivals by optimising the customer journey, from start to finish.

77% of B2B buyers state their latest purchase was very difficult

Source

From an SEO perspective, this starts with making it as easy as possible for your target customers to find your business, the products they’re looking for and information that helps them make purchase decisions.

As we explain in our 5 PPC strategies for B2B eCommerce companies article, search engines like Google are geared more towards consumers and it’s often more difficult for B2B buyers to find the products they need or the ability to buy them in large enough quantities, for the best price.

Knowing what sets your products apart (specifications), the purchase options that matter to your customers (bulk, repeat, etc.) and the search terms your target audience uses are all vital – eg: “wholesale red house bricks” vs “10,000 red bricks”.

Example search engine results for red bricks

The first hurdle you have to help B2B buyers overcome is making it as easy as possible for them to find your products.

This is relatively straightforward when your prospects know what they’re looking for and paid advertising is often the most effective strategy for capturing new leads at this tail-end of the buying process.

To capture leads during the research stage of the customer journey though, you have to identify the problems your prospects face – eg: selection, price, safety requirements, industry standards, specifications, etc. These reveal what information will capture their interest through organic search and tell you which kind of content you need to produce.

For example, with our furniture client, we produced a series of buying guides for specific types of customers, such as restaurants, pubs, events, etc., where we can address the unique needs of each target customer. We can then break the information in these guides down into hyper-relevant blog posts when our data shows a high search volume for specific questions.

We can back this up by creating FAQ pages to include the most important search opportunities for our client and every time our data reveals a new opportunity we can either add it to the relevant FAQ page or create a new one.

Optimise your website for B2B eCommerce purchases

We’ve looked at B2B eCommerce websites in detail before, in our 12 key features of a B2B eCommerce website article.

Here’s a quick summary of the 12 key features we highlight in that article:

  1. Customer registration: An optimised signup and login system encouraging prospects and new customers to create an account for personalised pricing, repeat orders, loyalty bonuses, etc. – all of which allows you to capture vital customer data.
  2. Filters & on-site search: Filters to help users navigate your catalogue and find the products they want with a minimal number of clicks.
  3. Complete product specifications: Comprehensive product information, including specifications and details related to quality, safety, dimensions and any USPs that matter to B2B buyers.
  4. High-quality product images: High-resolution images that show the best of your products.
  5. Purchase options: Bulk purchases with high-volume discounts/incentives and any bespoke options relevant to your business – eg: return packaging for 5% off next purchase.
  6. VAT toggle: A toggle switch allowing users to see prices with or without VAT in bold, large text (with a less prominent note of the other price).
  7. Real-time stock counts: Show customers that you’ve got enough stock in for their bulk purchase and provide alternative purchase options when you don’t.
  8. Estimated delivery times & order tracking: Help buyers purchase with confidence, knowing they’ll get their products in time.
  9. Payment options: Aside from covering all of the major card and digital payments providers, consider buy now, pay later options for customers to buy on credit and settle the bill within 30 days or 60 days.
  10. Live chat support: Capture organic traffic as leads and help new users find what they’re looking for with live chat support.
  11. Security: You have to earn and maintain trust with B2B buyers by making them feel like their money is safe with you and Google is especially tough on security for eCommerce websites.
  12. GDPR compliance: Given the account data B2B eCommerce companies manage, GDPR compliance is especially important.

These features are important, of course, but you also have to think about content and we’ve already looked at how you can use landing pages to segment organic traffic and guide them towards the next conversion goal.

Every conversion goal is another chance to capture a prospect’s email address and encourage them to create an account, building a direct channel for you to guide them across the buying processes with targeted messages.

Optimise your product descriptions

Product descriptions are important for any eCommerce websites but B2B product purchases are far more sensitive to specifications and specialist requirements than consumer purchases. In many cases, the key selling points for B2B purchases are specifications that meet health and safety, durability, material, size or other requirements.

Optimising product pages, descriptions and specifications is a key strategy for on-page SEO – not only for generating traffic from highly-specific search queries like “natural wicker furniture” but also helping buyers confirm that your products meet their needs and make the final purchase decision.

For our furniture client, we’ve added a description tab to product pages where we can add unique descriptions for each product and include specifications in a separate tab while also including delivery information in a simple interface that visitors can navigate to find the information that matters to them most.

Description page for products

This allows us to create unique content for each product and we’ve set description as the default content for search engines to crawl and index, helping us to avoid any duplicate content issues where specifications are the same or similar across multiple products.

We’ve also added more natural language content (sentences/paragraphs) to broaden the visibility at product level so more people enter the site on pages they could immediately convert on – something that benefits users and matches the natural language processing (NLP) nature of modern search engines.

Track trends & address changing needs

SEO is a long-term strategy and capitalising on new opportunities as they emerge is key to turning organic traffic into leads and customers. The past year has illustrated just how much things can change over the space of 12 months when market disruptions are at their highest.

Even before Covid-19 struck the world, Google said 15% of all queries typed into the search engine every day were never seen by its algorithm – so new opportunities are presenting themselves on a daily basis.

The trick is identifying these opportunities and responding to them before your competitors do and this has never been so important with the impact of Covid-19 making trends so unpredictable.

Real-time data is crucial for identifying trends quickly, which is where our Apollo Insights platform comes into play, collating data from your websites and hundreds of third-party sources, allowing us to identify new opportunities faster than your rivals.

One of the tools Apollo pulls in data from is Google Trends and we’ve explored ways you can use this free tool to extract powerful SEO insights before. For example, we can address the new concerns our clients’ customers have in relation to Covid-19, lockdown restrictions and social distancing. Once we’ve identified these concerns, we create content to address them, including blog posts, new landing pages, social media posts and guides to maximise visibility for this new trend as quickly as possible.

Blogs to target B2B ecommerce audiences

This doesn’t only apply to Covid-19, either.

For one of our corporate packing clients, we identified a growing demand for eco-friendly packaging and services that demonstrate environmental consciousness. Using this data, we created new eco-friendly pages for their website, prioritised these pages for users demonstrating an interest and repositioned products to target the growing interest in eco/environmentally friendly packaging ranges.

Because we used real-time data to inform these decisions, we were optimising our client’s website and building authority for this search interest before it caught on as a major trend, putting them in the perfect position to capitalise on the opportunity early.

Build customer reviews

Building customer reviews is important for any online retailer but this can be challenging for B2B eCommerce brands, especially for lower-volume sellers. This is another thing we prioritised for our furniture retailer, which was struggling to build a profile of positive reviews – something that was limiting brand power and location optimisation (reviews are crucial for local SEO).

To give them a much-needed boost, we created a dedicated review strategy that made it easier for new customers to leave feedback, automated reach out to encourage them to leave reviews and we also created a staff incentive scheme to reward them for getting reviews from customers.

To maximise the SEO benefits of increased reviews, we created a dedicated reviews section on their website and embedded review scores on important pages to build trust with new visitors.

Our strategy increased reviews from four to almost 600!

Targeting buyers, not just visitors

A successful B2B eCommerce SEO strategy generates qualified traffic at every stage of the buying process, providing the information and incentive they need to take the next step towards buying. With the B2B customer journey becoming more complex every year, having a comprehensive, responsive organic search strategy that makes the most of new opportunities is vital.

If you need help with your B2B eCommerce SEO strategy, you can speak to our search marketing team by calling 02392 830281 or email us at info@vertical-leap.uk.

Dave Colgate profile picture
Dave Colgate

Dave is Head of Enterprise SEO at Vertical Leap.

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