What are the differences between B2B and B2C SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the cornerstone of digital marketing. It is vital to the success of a business in today’s modern society. But when it comes to SEO, the tactics used for B2B and B2C companies are very different for a number of reasons. While it is true that the ultimate goal of both B2B and B2C campaigns is to generate sales, the success of each campaign is measured very differently, this is due to the differences in how business and consumers make their purchasing decisions.

What are the differences between B2B and B2C SEO?

Key differences 

The buying cycles related to B2B and B2C businesses have the biggest effect on their SEO strategies. The B2B buying process is a lot longer and more complex than B2C, where the goal is to convert and to drive an immediate purchase. 

B2B websites are designed to draw potential clients into a sales funnel which could take weeks or even months to convert to a paying client. The focus is on building brand recognition and trust. Website conversions are usually measured by actions such as sign-ups, demo requests, access to gated content etc. 

For a B2C website, the SEO must be strong enough to convert a customer by getting them to buy something from the site immediately. 

It is this fundamental buying difference that impacts how SEO is used by both sectors. When it comes to B2B SEO, there are some key tactics you need to use. 

 

The B2B buying process is a lot longer and more complex than B2C, where the goal is to convert and to drive an immediate purchase. ”

1. Target multiple decision-makers

Rarely in a B2B organisation, does sole decision making power lie with one person. The larger the potential investment, the truer this becomes. Managers, executives, even CEOs may be involved in a long term purchasing decision. Each one will turn to Google with different search queries. 

To ensure that you are catering to all of these potential buyers, website pages need to be optimised to: 

  • Answer questions from practitioners/primary users (e.g. how to increase event sign-ups)
  • Answer questions from executive stakeholders (e.g. should you hire an in-house event manager or use and external agency?)
  • Answer questions from managers (e.g. ‘Eventbrite v TicketTailor’ or ‘best event management software’)

Depending on the product or service that you are selling, you may have to consider optimising for a range of decision-makers outside of your standard buyer personas. 

2. B2B SEO has low-volume keywords

A keyword is what someone types into a search engine like Google. It can also be referred to as a search term or search query. 

Each month, the term “cctv camera” receives around 40,000 Google searches. However, the term “commercial cctv installation” receives less than 100. 

Your SEO strategy needs to take into account that the B2B search space is much smaller than the B2C one. The keywords are high-value but very low-volume. 

If you’re used to working in the B2C SEO space, then you’re used to working with tens of thousands of searches every month,  it can be easy to overlook the high-value search terms for a B2B company. 

A strong B2C SEO can spend a lot of time on a blog post without doing a great deal of keyword research and still bring in 30,000 plus visits from organic search every month. 

When it comes to B2B SEO, there needs to be a lot more groundwork done to find and group keywords into relevant topics that can then be addressed in a single post. The organic search numbers will be much lower (perhaps only a few hundred per month). 

3. B2B SEO creates less organic traffic conversions

Taking the CCTV example from earlier, out of the 40,000 people searching for “CCTV cameras”, perhaps a few thousand will buy the product. However, of the people searching for an “commercial cctv installation”, there probably isn’t going to be anyone who buys immediately. That’s because a commercial CCTV system conditioning system isn’t just purchased by dropping it into an online shopping basket. There will be more decision-makers involved in the process. 

B2C SEO enjoys far higher traffic numbers and fewer decision-makers. For this reason, visitors are more likely to convert to customers. 

Longer buying cycles and higher purchase prices mean that the focus of your website shouldn’t be to convert cold organic visits into sales. Most B2B searches are from people not ready to purchase yet, instead, they are looking for facts and information to be able to do their jobs and make decisions. 

Now, this might all sound like B2B SEO is a lot of hard work for little reward.  Not true.  For a start, unlike most B2C companies, you aren’t going up against the might of people like eBay, Amazon and Walmart, who have more marketing power and budget than you could ever dream of. 

Less competition in the B2B space means you’re competing with content and homepages rather than product pages. 

4. B2B SEO recognises thought leadership

Longer buying cycles mean that your SEO focus is on establishing trust and brand recognition. You want to leave a positive view in the memory of visitors. Your B2B SEO isn’t solely about getting your product to show up in a search engine results page (SERP), it’s about having your content appear when people are searching for questions related to their jobs. 

By producing well researched, SEO optimised content that people want to read,  you have a better chance of pulling potential clients into your sales funnel, where you can market to them directly through email, events, sales teams etc. It’s important that your website is designed to capture this interest with pop-ups, live chat, sign up forms and other similar lead capture avenues. 

Conclusion 

It’s important to know that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to SEO. The differences between B2B and B2C SEO are important and you need to work with people who know the difference between the two. 

The B2B buying cycle means that you are focused less on converting organic traffic to direct sales and more on building up your brand awareness and thought leadership credentials. If you're looking to discuss your SEO needs, speak our B2B marketing experts today.