Every week, I write about web design, copywriting, and digital marketing for independent consultants and small firms. Friday Fusion is a collection of said writing from Quora, LinkedIn, and email conversations with consultants. You can follow me on Quora here, connect with me on LinkedIn here, and email me here.
The role of SEO in B2B marketing is to drive traffic to your website.
SEO is search engine optimization: optimizing your website content for search engines. The better you “optimize” your content, the higher your website tends to rank. The higher your website ranks, the more traffic you get.
How do you “optimize” your B2B content?
- Do “on-page” SEO: optimize your content “on” the page to make it search-engine friendly.
- Do “off-page” SEO: optimize your content “off” the page by building “backlinks” to it, proving to search engines that it’s worthy of ranking highly.
- Write the best content: good B2B content is in-depth, easy to understand, actionable, and provides insights that improve the life of your prospective customer.
These 3 elements make up 80% of SEO. Focus on these 3, and your content will rank highly.
What you do with that traffic depends on what type of B2B business you’re in.
Do you sell services to other businesses, like consulting services?
Then funnel your traffic towards a free consultation.
SEO > Traffic > Website > Consultation > Sales
Do you sell software products to other businesses, like project management tools?
Then funnel your traffic towards a free demo of your product.
SEO > Traffic > Website > Free Trial > Sales
Your marketing doesn’t end with SEO. SEO only brings people to your website. Then, it’s your (or your website’s) job to turn that traffic into a lead— and then eventually, a sale.
Is it better to email potential clients or rely on them finding your website via SEO?
It depends on which stage you’re at in your freelancing/consulting business.
SEO is a long-term game. If you’re just starting out, then you can’t afford to wait. You need clients now. Early on is when you rely on email outreach.
Then, once your website traffic starts to pick-up, you can start relying on SEO to attract clients. Expect this to take anywhere from 6–18 months.
Here’s how you can break down your marketing efforts depending on which stage of your freelance/consulting business you’re at:
- Early-stage (first 6 months): 80% on email outreach, 20% on content marketing
- Mid-stage (6 months – 2 years): 50% on email outreach, 50% on content marketing
- Late-stage (2 years +): 80% on content marketing, 20% on outreach
Early on, it is essential that you spend some time on content marketing…even if you know it will take months to start working.
If you spend all of your time on email outreach, then when you get a client, you’ll stop your marketing. You’ll stop doing outreach because you’re busy with client projects. Then, once that project is done, you’ll go back to outreach because you need a new client.
This is the common “feast-or-famine” cycle.
The beauty of content is that it markets and sells your services for you while you’re working on client projects.
Until you create an asset that does marketing for you 24/7, you’re always at risk of getting stuck in the feast-or-famine cycle.
Email outreach helps you get clients — but your website helps you avoid the feast-or-famine cycle.
If you are a freelance business owner, where do you draw the line between advertising your product/business to get your name out there and being “over the top” aka “begging for business”?
Don’t draw the line. Never beg. Just market your freelance/consulting business consistently.
If “marketing” feels like an abstract, vague term that doesn’t give you anything specific to do…
…Derek Sivers sums it up perfectly:
Don’t confuse the word “marketing” with advertising, announcing, spamming, or giving away branded crap.
Really, “marketing” just means being considerate.
Marketing means making it easy for people to notice you, relate to you, remember you, and tell their friends about you.
Marketing means listening for what people need, and creating something surprisingly tailored for them.
Marketing means getting to know people, making a deeper connection, and keeping in touch.
All of these are just considerate — looking at things from the other person’s point of view, and doing what’s best for them.
—Derek Sivers, “Marketing” just means being considerate
Let’s make this even more actionable:
- Answer questions on Quora that your target audience is asking
- Write in-depth articles on topics that your target audience is searching for
- Create video tutorials to help your target audience get a result
- Build a free product that helps your product solve a problem
- Email your target audience and ask what they need help with — and then help them!
Make a daily habit out of helping people — aka “content marketing”. You’ll get more clients, and it will never feel like begging.
And ignore anyone who thinks helping as many people as you can is “over the top”. You can never help enough people.
How does one improve their content readability for higher SEO results?
Write like you speak.
When you speak, you speak to communicate — so that people understand you.
But when many people write, all kinds of weird things happen:
- They try and sound smart
- They use lots of fancy words and corporate jargon
- They write long, run-on sentences
Don’t do any of that.
For SEO, readability — your audience’s ability to understand your writing — is crucial:
It’s essential to take readability into account when writing web copy. Why? Because, if your text is too complicated, your audience might have trouble understanding it. Consequently, they may decide to leave your website and look for information elsewhere. As a result, you might get a high bounce rate that can lead to lower rankings in the long run. That’s why you should aim to write as clearly as possible.
Here’s a breakdown of the Flesch reading ease score:
The easiest way to get 90–100 score is to use Hemingway App:
In the top right corner, it gives you a grade for your readability.
Age 11 = Grade 6 readability score.
So, if you use Hemingway App, and edit your text for a readability score of Grade 6, you’ll get better SEO results. Or, at the very least, your content’s readability won’t hurt you.