An ascent to the top of organic search results can be punishing.
In vying for visibility against a vast field of competitors—and amid the constant tinkering of search providers—there’s no rest for weary marketers and publishers.
With Google dominating the search scene, the ongoing work to update ranking algorithms and the design of results pages is often shrouded in secrecy. When released in sudden bursts, the changes can thwart the best-laid plans of SEO content creators.
Yes, responding and tweaking iterate at a vexing pace. However, diligent effort does have its rewards: enhanced search conditions that favor organic B2B content.
From search to decision
Search technology is growing more precise, and that refined logic is bringing more B2B sites to the surface. This improved user experience has business audiences turning to search in greater numbers.
According to 2019 Forrester research, 92% of business buyers first look for answers online before making purchases. Two-thirds (68%) like to handle their own online searches, up from 53% in 2015.
To craft more search-optimized content, B2B communicators must also think outside the box—the search box—when considering their audience’s mindset.
Here are three essential search features with corresponding ways to prepare your B2B content for top results:
- Semantic search in B2B customer journeys
This relies on algorithms that yield results based on the meaning intended by the user, rather than the literal interpretation of keywords. This more intuitive model takes into consideration the user’s earlier searches, location, trending topics and other clues to discern intent.
For example, the semantic approach would distinguish the nuanced meanings of the word “nursing” in these queries:
- nursing staff at a hospital
- nursing mothers in the workplace
- nursing drinks at a party
As a result, B2B copywriters can be more flexible in using both natural language and industry terminology to personalize content along the customer journey.
At the early awareness stage, business searchers rely on informal language. Unfamiliar with the topic, their phrasing may even appear awkward. Also, it often takes multiple queries for them to find answers.
Create webpages with direct, conversational language to mirror the searches of prospective customers. The most crucial place to ease up on the jargon? Your site’s homepage.
As they near the sales conversion phase, B2B customers are ready to dive into details. Use industry parlance on custom landing pages to show deep expertise and attract buyers poised to make decisions. Add sections with pricing, case studies and product descriptions that may include highly technical information (e.g., product naming systems, scientific nomenclature, regulatory terminology).
- Featured snippets powered by customer questions
Typically displayed in response to a query submitted as a question, featured snippets offer a block of descriptive information at the top of the search results page. These can show a paragraph, list or a table with the page title and URL, all of which have been pulled organically from a website.
Start by envisioning the questions your target customer would be likely to ask along the customer journey.
Salespeople are a good source from whom to collect examples of prospect questions. Similarly, in Google Analytics you can see search terms that drove traffic to your website and pluck popular ones constructed as questions.
Explanatory B2B content is well suited for Featured Snippets. Offer a “Frequently Asked Questions” section about a topic or issue that you wish to align with your brand or business.
- Google Discover for evergreen topics and video
According to Google, “More than 800 million people use the [Google Discover] feed each month to stay up to date on their interests.” Available on mobile app, Google Discover recommends topics for users to follow based on their previous searches.
The suggestions represent content that may be older, yet still relevant. There’s news, weather and sports, along with evergreen stories and tutorials. It’s shown on mobile devices as cards with various combinations of text, imagery and video; users can click through to visit the site that is referenced.
You can opt into the Discover feed by submitting a form. However, you must first add high-resolution images, instead of thumbnails, to your evergreen webpage.
Historical timelines, executive biographies and glossaries are examples of B2B data that aren’t time-sensitive yet are still relevant to online explorers gathering early information. Also, explanatory videos such as tutorials and product demonstrations can qualify for the rolling topics.
Thanks to predictive intelligence, the experience of retrieving answers online is moving from searches to encounters. No longer buried in obscurity, organic B2B content can now rise to meet audiences throughout their web journeys.
Mary C. Buhay is founder and CEO of Buhay Advisors. You can follow her on Twitter @MaryBuhay.