October 13, 2021
If you’re a distributor, have you made the decision to increase your online presence? If you haven’t, you’re missing out, because your customers have already made the decision for you.
Your customers are seeking information about your products and buying similar products online in droves, and if you’re not meeting them where they are, then you’re losing out to your competition.
To combat your competitors and take advantage of an increasingly digital landscape for B2B distributors, many are embracing the power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
SEO strategy centers around creating content that finds your customers at various points in the sales funnel. When done right, it also makes your B2B company a source of truth, making your customers seek you out for correct, and truthful information.
So what’s the advantage of that?
More quality leads, that’s what. In fact, organic SEO creates more quality leads than any other channel of digital marketing.
Let’s get down to brass tacks -- the entire point of marketing is to inform your buyers in order to ultimately generate leads. Of course, it’s not that simple, to be sure, but near the bottom of the sales funnel are solid leads, nurtured through multiple contact points, and toward the top is the research phase.
Implementing an effective SEO strategy will not only provide information for the research phase, but it will also reach potential customers at various contact points, and ultimately produce more quality leads. Easier said than done, right? Well, let’s dive into the weeds to understand how exactly this is accomplished.
What search engine do you use when you’re researching a product? If you answered Google, then you’re like 78 percent of B2B customers who also start with a Google search. There are other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo, but regardless of which one you use, ask yourself, how many pages of search results am I willing to scroll through?
For B2B searches, one-in-four people click on the first organic result (not an advertisement). Not only that, but in the same study, it was found that beyond page one results, the data is so miniscule, it isn’t even worth measuring. Yikes!
So if a distributor is going to take a run at becoming number one, or at least have page one results, then they must implement an effective SEO strategy. And that’s the point of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) -- to get your content, your products, and your talking points to the top of search results.
If you’re wondering how being at the top of search engine rankings results in more quality leads, then you’re asking the right question.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re an electrical distributor with products that have industrial, commercial and residential applications. Your customers might have questions about job site services, such as material staging, or product kitting.
So what will your customer do if they need information on those specific things? Well, they’ll perform a search, and likely click on the first couple of organic headings.
In fact, a study conducted by CEB Marketing Leadership Council and Google concluded that over half of the decision-making process to buy had been completed by the time the lead engages a supplier’s sales representative. In other B2B scenarios, the number is as high as 70 percent.
Therefore, meeting your buyers in the research phase of their purchasing journey is essential. Think of the value you’re giving your potential customer by providing the information they're using to make a decision. That’s powerful.
One aspect of SEO that is often overlooked by many companies is the importance of being a big fish in your own pond. In the vast ocean of the world wide web, many marketers get lost trying to provide a touchpoint for all of the fish in the sea.
Local searches are very valuable, and certainly worth including in your SEO strategy. For B2C companies, a Google study found that 28 percent of searches that end in “near me,” result in a purchase, and 76 percent of people who use a smartphone to find something nearby visit a business within 24 hours.
For B2B distributors, local searches are also important, especially as supply-chain disruptions become commonplace. Not to mention the cost of shipping resources over great distances, as a move toward sustainability means sourcing locally.
An effective SEO strategy will bring your company to the top of search results by implementing cities and townships in your locale. There are many leads in and around your community, and those leads are also highly motivated buyers.
One of the primary objectives of SEO is to deliver leads to your website. This means that your website should be robust with resources, visual appeal, fast loading speeds, and a purchasing process.
But building a website with these capabilities is only one part of nurturing leads, as you’ll need an SEO strategy to drive users to your website in the first place. And this is especially important, as B2B leads derived from SEO have a 14.6 percent close rate. That’s twice as high, another study found, as paid advertising leads from Google, and leads generated from social media.
Keyword research involves figuring out what your potential customers are searching for. SEO experts use tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush to figure this out. Think about the words you type into a search engine (let’s use our example for “electrical distributor” above).
We already identified that “material staging,” and “product kitting” are something customers might want more information about. We know that because our keyword research tools told us that “job site services” was a topic with many “high-volume” search related terms, such as “material staging” and “product kitting.”
So we know what words, terms, and topics customers search for, so now what?
The valuable keywords are then given to a content creator, who will create a blog article, an infographic or video that is based on “job site services.” The intent is to provide useful, and helpful content that leads to trust.
With your set of keywords, one thing that’s important to understand is context and intent. If we know that customers are searching for different kinds of “product kitting,” then the electrical distributor might want to write an article about the “10 best product kits on the market,” and include things like combo fittings, whips and wires and switches.
If it’s a quality piece of content, your potential lead is now turned onto the fact that you are a thought leader in the subject of electrical distribution. That’s value that you’ve given the customer before you’ve asked for anything in return.
Implementing keywords in your quality piece of content has many nuances. First off, you’ll need to make sure you include keywords and phrases in your title tags, which is an HTML element that specifies the title of a webpage.
You’ll also need to include keywords in your headers, as search engines value those keywords higher than those keywords in your text. Use this very article for reference, as each header was chosen for its value as a keyword in reference to “SEO for distributors.”
Image use is also important, but it’s often a misstep by developers to not include SEO for the images. How is a search engine going to title an image? It can’t, so you have to do it for the search engine.
And finally, length plays a part in driving your content to the top of search engine rankings. The longer the better, as search engines see length as a sign of adding more value. But search engines also have algorithms to detect quality (such as bounce rate, which measures if people are arriving and leaving immediately, likely because they don’t like what they see) and you should never drone on about…
Point made, hopefully.
Now that customers have arrived at your website because of your SEO strategy, they’re going to need to be taken care of. We mentioned before that your website needs to be robust with resources, have visual appeal, fast loading speeds and a simple purchasing process. But how does one keep all of those engines humming? An understanding of technical SEO, that’s how.
When thinking about the buying process, consider that 80 percent of B2B buyers expect a similar process as their B2C experiences. That means that they will not tolerate technical problems such as slow loading speeds.
This process can be managed by having a developer dedicated to maintaining core web vitals. Core web vitals can measure things like how big three seconds of loading time impacts conversion rates. Each core web vitals test reveals any and all problems that your website might be experiencing.
Yes, your website absolutely must be optimized to service customers who search and arrive using mobile devices. B2B customers are becoming more like B2C customers, and in that regard, it’s certainly worth noting that 42 percent of B2B buyers use their mobile device to conduct research for their buying process.
Proper navigation means a couple of things, and one of them is that your customers need to be able to easily move from page-to-page within your website. This means that your search navigation bar needs to be able to direct them toward the right resources, and you need to have a lot of resources to direct them to.
It’s also important to measure certain Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as bounce rate, and time on page. If customers are arriving to your site and only view two pages for a few seconds on average, that means customers are leaving before they get started, and not really interacting with what’s on the page.
This leads to the conclusion that the website has poor navigation, as customers are finding it difficult to move through. By using KPIs to identify the problem you can update your website to fix what’s not working.
And the other component of proper navigation is helping search engines crawl through your website. Remember the ocean analogy? Well, that’s the web for you, and the fact that a search engine can find, say, a Nemo fish out of all the fish in the sea, is really amazing.
The point is, that you can produce reports that tell you how well your website is providing information to search engines. When you search, making search engines crawl through their vast ocean of webpages, they arrive at the most relevant content based on many factors, such as keywords, and title tags (see above). If your website is not performing that function well, then it’s likely lost in an abyss.
In fact, almost 91 percent of all webpages in the sea aren’t even read by Google’s crawlers, and for the 9 percent that are, it’s largely because of compelling content, and successful SEO strategy.
As you can see, the process for implementing an effective SEO strategy is a lengthy, and involved process. It also takes a lot of time, as it can take months to get your content to the top of search engine searches.
And while that in and of itself seems daunting, just remember that your customers are using digital resources in droves to make buying decisions. If B2B distributors choose to ignore this fact, they’ll find themselves out-competed by companies that embrace it. That’s too big of a marketplace to turn your back on.
Get the support you need to be a champ in distributor SEO. Get in the ring with Main Event Digital.