Sometimes, a good SEO tactic has nothing to do with optimizing your website. Many important, mid-funnel and purchase-intent B2B keywords—“best X,” “top X,” and “compare X vendors”—are highly unlikely to populate individual brand landing pages in top results.
On- and off-page SEO will not improve rankings if a page’s content doesn’t satisfy user intent, and the intent behind these keywords is usually to read third-party comparisons and customer reviews. In fact, more than 50% of B2B decision-makers conduct research on third-party sources before reaching out to a specific brand.
For many of these keywords, the most effective approach is to focus on increasing the number of positive reviews on high-ranking third-party sites. When users want product comparisons, that’s what Google will deliver, so good B2B SEO is about discovering the online review resources that are ranking well and getting your brand on the list. This boosts brand visibility and drives referrals, providing increased traffic, leads, and revenue.
Start by identifying the most promising opportunities. Compile a list of five to 10 of your most important, unbranded keywords—those that are core to your business, the most likely to convert, and/or have the highest monthly search traffic.
Next, conduct a depersonalized search for each of the keywords on the list. Review the results for each keyword, and record those that generate primarily third-party review, rating, and comparison results.
All of the page-one results for the keyword “best content management systems” are either third-party rating sites or comparative blog posts.
If basic keywords aren’t producing many third-party comparison results, add terms like “best” or “top” to the beginning of the keyword, and/or “software,” “tools,” or “providers” to the end, and check organic search results for two factors:
Now you’re ready to determine which specific sites to focus on. As you search each keyword, take note of the following information:
Use this information to refine your initial prioritization.
Organic results for “best employee scheduling app” are all third-party reviews. (1) Ranked at the top are Humanity (in the featured snippet), When I Work, and Ximble. (2) All of the top results are reviews from authoritative brand websites. (3) Most of the sources leading in rankings determine their “best” by user reviews or a very strict set of capabilities.
If the number one result for your most important keyword is a blog post written by an independent author/publisher, making that publisher aware of your product may be a top priority. If a featured snippet appears, the source is definitely a priority. Here, Marketo earns what amounts to the top spot for “best marketing automation companies” because of a third party review:
A featured snippet listing eight different products appears for the keyword “best marketing automation companies.” The snippet is provided by a blog post published on the site NGDATA.
Prioritize your list of opportunities, and focus efforts on the highest priority item first.
If your brand is missing from the list of products on the site that represents your most promising opportunity, take steps to get on the list:
Capterra provides a form that allows brands to add product listings to its site.
G2 Crowd provides very specific inclusion requirements for appearing on its marketing automation software grid.
For blog posts and market research reports, work for that opportunity is complete once a positive review or mention is included. But for rating sites, a listing is not enough. To optimize the listing, customers must leave positive reviews on the site.
Increasing the number of reviews of your company, product, or service on third-party sites is crucial for three reasons:
While it’s generally unethical to offer an incentive to customers to write positive reviews, there’s nothing wrong with asking account contacts to write reviews on a specific site. Clients who’ve had positive experiences will often be happy to share their thoughts and experiences in a review.
There are many ways to request reviews—both subtly and directly:
Finally, encourage team members to request reviews when talking to customers in person or over the phone. When a customer expresses satisfaction with your product or customer service, it creates an easy opening for a review request.
B2B brands commonly focus on providing customer testimonials and case studies, leaving reviews to B2Cs. But reviews are also important in B2B: 93% of B2B buyers say reviews factor into their purchasing decisions.
Including a review page on your site provides a chance to rank for “[brand] reviews” keywords, and it appeases the need for prospects to access reviews without having to leave your site. Create a page for reviews, allow customers to submit reviews through an on-page form, and consider including some third-party reviews as well. Also consider marking up the review page with structured data to earn an aggregate rating snippet in search results.
Not strictly a B2B company, but Apple has a detailed review section on their site that even allows users to enter star-based ratings. Google loves that kind of quick, easy value-add content.
As a bonus, the reviews that customers leave can be used to find new testimonial text to highlight on other site pages, and it may even provide opportunities to reach out to customers for building case studies.
SEO is ultimately about increasing traffic, awareness, leads, and revenue. In some cases, this is achieved by increasing positive review counts on third-party sites, which improves the likelihood that prospects will find you when conducting initial and comparative research.
Get started by conducting some research on core keywords and identifying promising opportunities. This allows you to focus efforts on the places where positive reviews are most likely to increase site traffic and boost brand visibility.
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