In the early days of inbound marketing, if you consistently produced decent content and followed some basic inbound principles, you had a good chance of ranking on search engine results pages (SERP). Why? Simply put, search engine optimization (SEO) was routinely underutilized, and SEO best practices from expert sources like SEMrush were all but nonexistent.
Since then, millions of marketers have caught on to the power of SEO. This reality, combined with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and ever-changing algorithms, now makes it far more difficult to be found online. As if that’s not enough to circumvent, there’s the fact that 75% of web users never go past the first page of search results.1 That means if you’re not ranking in Google’s top 10 organic results for targeted keywords, your site is basically invisible — and ineffective.
In answer to search queries, Google is using snippets and delivering content directly in SERPs with greater frequency. These efficiencies enhance the user experience, but they also drive fewer visitors to your website — a conundrum for companies relying on being discovered by Google and other search engines to fuel inbound marketing program success.
Despite the challenges, SEO best practices win the day for helping B2B companies like yours maximize online potential, provided you follow these SEO principles:
There are a number of SEO practices that hand you “quick wins” in terms of site visibility and performance:
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There is no hard-and-fast rule for conducting keyword research, but there are some basic methods for discovering the phrases your ideal buyers are most likely to type into Google. Some companies put too much emphasis on a single, high-value keyword (“wire harness” for example), but pages can rank for multiple keywords and long-tail forms as well. Remember that simpler keywords with higher search volume may have very little value if that traffic is primarily visitors who would never be qualified as potential leads.
In fact, many users are typing or speaking their requests in the form of questions, such as “How can I protect electrical wire harnesses from road salt corrosion?” It’s a strong case for focusing on larger clusters of keywords in the form of pillar pages that can present many answers related to a central topic and keep visitors on your website longer. It’s a virtuous cycle because increased time on page will also boost your SERP ranking further.
Have you researched the keywords your competitors are using? Your SEO competitors are a goldmine for keyword discovery. Use tools like MOZ, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to discover what your competitors’ top pages are ranking for — but do so with the understanding that your market competitors may not be your SEO competitors. For instance, an industrial manufacturer may compete for SEO and keywords with a publication that caters to industrial engineers searching for something like “How to conduct design for manufacturability study for plastic parts.”
Search intent (also known as user intent) matters. It defines the purpose behind each search query. Consequently, SERP results determine your actual SEO competition because Google’s primary goal is understanding and satisfying search intent. Sites that garner first-page SERP ranking pass the Google litmus test for search intent.
With inbound tactics constantly evolving, you can’t take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to your content. It’s critical to regularly and objectively audit your content to determine how it should be optimized. You can take one of four actions:
Looking at these best practices underscores the fact that SEO is necessary in the 2020 marketing landscape, but great results take time, discipline, and a bit of manual effort. There are more SEO principles and practices than ever before — and it can be overwhelming. That’s why we developed the SEO Survival Guide. It’s your ideal resource for all things SEO, and it’s all yours with a simple click. Get your copy now!
Topics: Search Engine Optimization