When looking for advice about SEO online, the majority of content you’ll find will be related to how to drive more Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C) traffic. In other words, you’re focussing on individual customers who are making a single purchase for themselves or someone else. However depending on your industry, there’s a good chance that you have a Business-to-Business (B2B) element to your Shopify store. Whether it’s a small percentage or a majority share of your sales, generally B2B sales have the potential for a higher average order value (AOV) and if you build a strong relationship you’ll have a lucrative base of repeat customers. However in order to do that, you need to bring them to your store in the first place - so how do we incorporate B2B into our SEO strategy?
Things to consider
B2B audiences are profoundly different to DTC audiences in a number of ways, but the fundamentals are the same - search engines will show them content that is the most relevant to their query. We’ve written previously about the importance of user search intent in Search Engine Optimization and its value just as high in strategizing for B2B as for DTC. Think about the intent behind searches made that may lead a B2B customer to your store - why are they making that query, and how are they led to you or your competitors.
Multiple Decision Makers
In a typical DTC customer journey, your focus is on convincing an individual to make a purchase. They may do research or consult with a friend or family member, but at the end of the day they’re making the decision. It’s often a lower total order value than a B2B, so it’s also lower risk. If they’re unsatisfied, it’s easy enough to make a return of a single or a few items. With B2B, there are often multiple decision makers involved. One person finds your store, then they may show it to colleagues or superiors, it gets discussed in the context of their needs versus other stores, and then a decision is made. This means your content needs to be even more convincing and thorough so that all the information is there and ready for anyone involved in the decision making process.
Longer, More In-Depth Research Phase
Leading on from the last point, as well as there being more people involved in the purchasing process it’s also often a longer time between discovery and purchase. Think of how much time you put into buying a new pair of boots, then consider if you were a business looking to purchase 1000 pairs of boots to sell on. The amount of time you’d put into research would be much higher. As with DTC there are different stages of the research phase that you need to be aware of that will help guide your SEO strategy:
Unaware - They’re not familiar with you or your competitors, and are just starting to go on the discovery process. To use one of our apps as an example, “what is real-time order tracking for Shopify?”
Problem Led - They know they have a problem they want to address, but aren’t sure how to solve it. E.g. “How to add real-time order tracking to your store”
Solution Oriented - They’re aware of the solution to their problem, and are now looking for options. E.g. “Best real-time tracking apps for Shopify”
Product Specific - They’re aware of different brands that suit their needs, and are looking into these specifically. E.g. "Order LookUp Shopify app"
You want to address these different stages of discovery, so that you aren’t limiting your brand to just one.
Tip #1 - Identify B2B specific keywords
All good strategies start with a bit of research. When it comes to B2B, this is where you’re going to think about user search intent most. Here are a few first steps to take:
- Look at the keywords you already target for your store
- Consider what additional terms a user may input if they’re looking for a B2B service
- Use these keywords to identify competitors in your B2B market
- Conduct market research with current and potential customers
Your B2B competitors may be slightly different to your DTC competitors, and you may also see some overlap. Look for what content they have on their site that Google has decided is relevant to B2B search queries, and take note of any keywords you can target. Use the keywords you identify as valuable along with user search intent and B2B store data to develop a buyer persona for your B2B customers to build a clear picture of who your target audience is and what they’re searching for.
Another factor to consider when it comes to keywords is that with B2B you’ll want to target some high-value, low-volume keywords. This is down to the nature of how B2B purchasers discover brands - they tend to be more specific in their needs, leading to more niche search terms. If you can snap the top spot on SERPs for these terms, you’ll get the edge over your competitors.
Tip #2 - Write detailed product pages
High quality, optimized product pages are always a winner when it comes to SEO for both B2B and DTC. However just as the search intent is different for B2B, the information they’re looking for will be different also. When we say to write a detailed product page, we mean to include the details a B2B purchaser may be more interested in compared to a DTC consumer.
As well as including the keywords you’ve identified, you want to include technical specifications for your products with all the info your B2B customer might need such as materials, weight, dimensions, pack size, etc. Include a brief line about availability of B2B sized order quantities with any relevant links to how to contact your team about bulk orders. The more information you can provide them with now, the easier you’ll make their purchasing decision.
Tip #3 - Encourage testimonials and reviews
Everyone loves getting reviews for their store - they’re great user generated content, good for your store’s SEO, and are key to consumers’ purchasing decisions. They’re also a tool you can utilize for your B2B audience - 43% of B2B marketers in the US say that reviews and customer testimonials helped them move their prospects through the B2B sales funnel. Testimonials are a cornerstone of lead generation in B2B businesses, as they give potential customers even more confidence in working with your brand. Encourage B2B customers to leave reviews on your store, and work with some of them to develop testimonials that you can feature. You can even develop these into blog articles and other SEO rich content for other pages on your store.
Tip #4 - Create B2B specific landing pages
The best way to grab your potential customers’ attention is to speak directly to them. Creating a B2B landing page allows you to speak directly to that audience, separate to your individual consumer audience.
You can write in detail about order quantities and fulfilment, account management, product specifications, whether or not you offer product personalization, and any other information relevant to B2B purchasers. You can even include a lead generation form so that your team can speak directly to the customer about their needs. It also offers a great opportunity to include those testimonials mentioned previously as well as your target keywords for this audience in a genuine way rather than trying to shoehorn them into other pages where they might seem out of place.
Tip #5 - Develop B2B focussed content
Writing blogs is a solid way to engage audiences and develop ongoing SEO content for your store. Especially for B2B, with 55% of B2B marketers saying that blogs are considered the most valuable content for moving potential customers through the sales funnel. Incorporate your B2B customers into your blog, creating content that takes their search intent and audience specific keywords into account. Make it varied, engaging, and relevant and it will attract both new customers as well as backlinks from being shared elsewhere. This increases your brand awareness, and positions your store as an industry leader.
When it comes to SEO, many tend to focus on DTC audiences however with a little extra research and strategy you can engage B2B audiences in more meaningful ways and put your Shopify store ahead of the competition.