'Tis the season to strategize for 2018! While reviewing the progress you made this year and setting goals for 2018, B2B marketers should take the time to evaluate the foundation of their online presence- their website's SEO.
Search engines have become smarter in an effort to provide a better experience for users. They strive to better index web pages, better understand what users need, and how they can merge the two. The problem is that despite their advances, search engines still don't interpret a web page in the same way a user does. Fortunately there are things B2B marketers can do to make sure search engines properly understand what's on their website and get it to the right searchers organically.
Search engines continuously make updates to their algorithms so what worked when you built your website, may not work now. In fact, it may hurt your organic website traffic. That's why taking the time to compare current SEO best practices your website and its performance is a must.
Here are 10 B2B SEO mistakes to avoid in 2018.
1. Not blogging. Each time a blog is published, a new page is indexed on your site. This is a cue to search engines that your B2B site is active and increases your chances of showing up in search engine results.
Additionally, those who blog receive 97% more links to their site, making it the most effective form of SEO. When creating a post, most bloggers link to other blogs, articles, or other sources to reference where they found their information. Once your content is published, it continues to impact SEO by driving traffic to your site through search engine results.
2. Not using long-tail keywords in your content. These are longer, more specific keyword phrases that users are more likely to use when they are in the consideration or decisions phases of the buyer’s journey. Searchers are finding the answers to their search queries using longer terms are longer than ever. In fact, almost 42%of all searches consist of five or more words.
Image via Hubspot
The use of long-tail keywords is more relevant and beneficial to B2B marketers. B2B consumers are typically very knowledgeable in their particular niche and are able to execute more precise search queries, resulting in longer search terms.
3. Having too many redirects. There are times when redirects are necessary, like when you launch a new website. If your website has committed any of the redirect sins listed below, you'll want to take steps to amend them. Otherwise Google may think your website is up to something shady or will mark your site as low quality, both of which negatively impact your SERP rankings.
Here are the ways redirects could be hurting your B2B SEO:
1. Redirect chains
2. Internal linking steps through redirects
3. Unnecessary 301s
4. Canonical tags that 301
4. Having a poor URL structure. Your URL structure tells both Google and searchers what a particular page is about. Your URLs should semantically make sense and be relevant to the content on the page.
You also want want to ensure you are using "safe" characters in your URL. They perform better in B2B search rankings because they are easier for both users and search engines to understand. There are "reserved" and "unsafe" characters that you should avoid.
Unsafe characters should be encoded with a URL, for example ‘#’ must be encoded. Reserved characters are the characters that are reserved for a special meaning.
The characters that show as reserved but are also in the safe category are safe characters just as long as they are used for special meanings only.
- Safe: A, B, C, D, etc., $, !, *, ?
- Reserved: $, &, +, /, ;, :, ?, @, ,.
- Unsafe: Space, “”, <, >, ~, %, #.
5. Not optimizing images. Without certain text, search engines cannot know the content of your images. In order to show up in search results, an image must have a relevant file name and alt text. Search engines are able to crawl these and can then render them in SERP results.
The file name is the first location to use that keyword. Don't use the name the camera assigns the image such as DSC4536.jpg. The main keyword or subject of the photo needs to be the file name.
Alt text is a word or phrase that inserted as an attribute in HTML that tells search engines what the content of the photo is. When choosing alt text, ensure that it tells viewers as much as possible about the image, using as few words as possible.
6. Using old technology. Search engines either can't understand old technology or will struggle to properly crawl it. Common SEO technology transgression include:
- Using frames
- This dated technique displays the real pages on your website by using them as parts of other pages, usually your home page. As a result, search engines see your home page as empty.
- Not declaring doctype
- A document type declaration, or DOCTYPE, defines which version of (X)HTML your webpage is using. Proper doctype declaration assists with proper page rendering and functioning of web documents in compliant browsers.
- Using Flash
- Flash not only lowers the usability of most websites – it also reduces the amount of content that’s visible to Google’s indexing bots, lowering search engine visibility.
7. Not optimizing for voice search. Voice to text capable devices have also had a big impact on how search engines have evolved. When using a device with voice to text features, like a smartphone or Amazon’s Alexa, user’s search queries are more conversational. Search engines have adapted and continue to fine tune their ability to interpret these conversational phrases.
To optimize for voice search, create content that directly answers questions your buyer personas have because voice search users are usually looking for quick answers. They tend to land on Google's rich snippets and can be a great source of traffic or exposure for your brand.
8. Not utilizing a Google My Business page. Your Google My Business page is essential if you want people in your area to find you. In a local search Google My Business pages will be among the top results regardless of how strong your website’s SEO is.
The first step in setting up a Google My Business page is claiming the listing. Then upload all the requested information including hours, location, contact information, images, etc.
In 2017 Google gave businesses the ability to further engage with searches by allowing business to post updates and offers directly to their listing on Google. Some may argue that this discourages searchers from coming to your site so it doesn't impact SEO. Google does want to keep users on their site but if your website has quality, engaging content, users will continue on to their site. Your Google My Business page will simply be part of their research process or buyer's journey.
9. Not having an understanding of who uses your website. In order for your ideal buyers to find your website, it needs to be built with them in mind. Sometimes B2B marketers make the mistake of building their website based on what they think is important rather than what their buyers need. When that happens, the website may not jive with what people are searching for, making it harder your website to show up in SERPs.
Your website should be built in a way that supports your ideal buyers in each phase of their buyers journey and moves them along the path to purchase. Start by defining your buyer personas and what they need in each phase of the buyer's journey. Tailor the design and content of your website with that in mind.
10. Not using internal links. Inbound links to your existing content shows search engines the validity of your content. The same goes for linking internally to other pages on your website. If you’re working on a blog post that is related to or references a previous post, link to the old post. Beyond the SEO benefits, this tactic keeps the reader engaging with your website.
At the end of the day, the goal of your B2B website is to attract qualified visitors, convert leads, and nurture them into customers. Constant monitoring of SEO best practices and updating your website accordingly gives your B2B website they best chance of ranking at the top of the SERPs. These 10 B2B SEO mistakes to avoid in 2018 are a great place to start to start your evaluation.