HubSpot estimates there are over 63,000 Google searches made each second — totaling to about 5.6 billion searches per day. For B2B marketers, every search from a potential customers is a clue to where they are in their buying journey, and an opportunity to present your company as the answer. By understanding how SEO interacts with the sales process, you can meet these buyers where they are and drive conversions.
A well-crafted SEO strategy is about creating smart content that’s valuable for customers, optimizing for a strong digital presence, and turning those billions of daily Google searches into real business opportunities. Let’s dive into how we can make that SEO strategy a reality at every stage of the B2B marketing funnel.
Gaining Visibility in the Awareness Stage
The first stage of the marketing funnel is an opportunity to become visible to your target audience and make them realize they need something as they embark on an informational search.
Your SEO strategy in the awareness stage should focus on three types of informational searches — factual, procedural, and conceptual. In other words, searches about what something is, how to do something, or why something is the way it is (respectively).
Examples of informational searches include:
- What is alternative energy?
- How does the Inflation Reduction Act affect wind and solar production in the U.S.?
- Why is interoperable health tech important?
Once you’ve identified potential informational searches for your target audience, comb out the keywords you could rank for. Because SEO is determined organically, there’s no way to ensure you’ll rank for keywords, but you can use tools like Moz or Semrush to gauge the difficulty of ranking and monthly volume for a keyword and determine if it’s worth throwing your hat in or if it’s time to look for another term.
Based on the informational search examples above, potential keywords to optimize for might include:
- Alternative energy
- Wind and solar production
- Interoperable health tech
Then, you’ll want to create quality, optimized content that targets what your audience is looking for and helps your pages rank for these terms. One of the best ways to do this is through blogs and thought leadership published on your website. In these pieces, harness all the insights and expertise you have to offer but leave the self-promotion behind. In this stage, it’s important to remember your company should act as an educator helping customers find answers to their questions — you’re not selling anything, yet.
Establishing Credibility in the Knowledge Stage
One step down in the funnel, you’ll reach the knowledge stage. Here, B2B audiences want to build their understanding of a product or industry. This is the opportunity to establish your company as a trustworthy, credible thought leader on specific topics.
As customers seek to learn more, the goal is to present your company as a brand that deeply understands their needs. Focusing on commercial searches, which Semrush defines as searches where users are looking to investigate brands or services, is the best way to optimize during the knowledge stage.
Examples of B2B commercial searches include:
- What is the best alternative energy solution?
- Top health tech brands with interoperable solutions
- Customer reviews of [brand name/solution]
Converting these commercial searches into keywords might look like the following:
- Alternative energy solution
- Health tech company
- [Brand name/solution] reviews
In the knowledge stage, look to your core web pages, like the “about us” or home page, as vehicles to optimize for ranking. On these pages, you can begin to clue customers into your credibility as a partner and solution. Again, you’re not making a hard sell yet. Instead, focus on driving your target audience where they need to go to strengthen their brand awareness. This will increase the likelihood that your offering is top-of-mind as they move into the interest stage.
Building Brand Equity in the Interest Stage
Up to this point, you’ve established your company as an industry expert and gained credibility for its solutions and offerings. Now, in the interest stage, you can start to turn up the volume on your self-promotional content for people that want to get to know your brand better.
Think of the interest stage as the fourth or fifth date. Start addressing common questions and making the case for why your brand is the best option for your customers.
The keywords you’ll want to optimize for in the interest stage are branded, meaning they mention your brand name. In an ideal world, a company will be at the top of a search for its name, but it never hurts to do some of the legwork to optimize for your own name and core terminology. Focus on creating or updating product offering pages and case studies in this stage, incorporating your brand and solution names to claim your place at the top.
Prompting Conversions in the Action Stage
In the last stage of the funnel, you’re left with prospective customers primed to convert. To make sure they don’t slip away, optimize your conversion pages for search engine ranking. Conversion pages may include your contact page, pricing and plans page, sign-up pages, and more. You can also reinforce these pages with backlinks to offerings and insights that got customers to where they are.
When making the last push to drive conversions in the action stage, focus on transactional keywords that incorporate your brand or solution and a decision-making action.
Examples of action stage keyword phrases include:
- Join the Bluetooth developer community
- Solar panel installer near me
- [Product] pricing and plans
- [Product] buying guide
Prioritizing optimized conversion pages will always be one of the most important tactics in the action stage because, in the end, most conversions come through your website no matter where the business begins. Still, it never hurts to increase conversion odds by doing some legwork outside of your website. References from industry peers, targeted social media messaging and attending industry events are a few ways to forge stronger connections and trust with buyers.
Reap the Rewards of an Aligned B2B SEO and Funnel Strategy
Remember, the journey toward mastering SEO is a continuous process filled with trial, error, and progress. Your keyword strategies will need to be continually refined as buyer needs and search technology evolves. For instance, generative AI tools like Chat GPT and Google Bard are poised to have a significant impact on the way people access information and branded content, and your SEO strategy will need to change in response.
At the end of the day, customers will always be searching for and receiving answers, and the ball is in your court to capitalize on these habits. By staying tapped into the buyer journey and what their searches are signaling, you can effectively get in front of potential customers and forge a path for them to follow to make a purchase.
Curious how other parts of your communications program should apply throughout the funnel? Learn more in our interactive guide, How to Measure PR + Marketing at Every Stage of the Funnel.