B2B vs B2C SEO
Yes and no.
Whether you are in B2B or B2C space the purpose of SEO is to get more – quantity and/or quality – traffic to your website. The same SEO best practices apply to both.
Although both B2B and B2C SEO ranking factors are the same, and both need an SEO strategy and on-page optimization, each requires a different SEO approach. B2B SEO content marketing, keywords, audience size, and who the buyer differs from B2C SEO, all of which matters in building a successful SEO strategy.
Let’s take a closer look.
Are you a B2B or B2C company?
Or a hybrid?
B2C = Business-to-consumer means you, the business, sell products or services directly to the consumer. The consumer, the buyer, is the end-user of the product or service.
B2C companies include Walmart, Target, and Netflix.
B2B = Business-to-business company sells products or services to other businesses. A business is the customer.
B2B companies include General Electric, Salesforce, and Slack.
Companies can also be a hybrid of both B2B and B2C. Many SaaS companies operate as a hybrid. Amazon and Tesla are also in this category. Hybrids require yet a different SEO approach, pulling from both B2B and B2C SEO strategies and tactics.
Similarities between B2B vs B2C SEO
➡ The purpose is to get more traffic to your website
➡ Both have the same ranking factors
➡ Competitor + keyword research
➡ On-page optimization
➡ Technical SEO
➡ Link building
About On-Page Optimization
Both B2B and B2C SEO best practices include on-page optimization.
Create unique content: 1 topic – 1 page/post
Beef up thin content
Don’t stuff keywords
Refresh old content
Make sure technical SEO is up-to-date
Differences between B2B vs B2C SEO
1) Audience: larger vs smaller
2) Traffic Volume: low vs high
3) Buyer: many decision makers vs individual
4) Buying Process: longer, complex vs shorter, simple
5) Sales Cycle: short vs long
6) Keywords: industry-specific, low-volume vs broad high-volume
7) Content: informative, educational vs educational, emotional, or entertaining
Audience is one of the big differences between B2B and B2C SEO.
B2C SEO targets a larger audience. The goal is to drive a lot of traffic to your website. This means you typically pick a more generic, and broader demographic group e.g. dog owners, mountain bikers, or crypto enthusiasts.
B2B SEO targets a smaller, specific audience. The goal is to get specific, interested, and qualified traffic to your website. For example, your product could be for B-corp, sustainable, eco-conscious organizations in manufacturing with 500-1000 employees, and 100+ million annual revenue. This target audience is small and very specific.
?B2B SEO – Don’t focus on search volume.
B2B companies often imagine they will get a ton of traffic from the SEO efforts, but this is setting yourself up to disappointment (and it’s also not a good metric to gauge success).
Huge traffic increases are not the norm for B2B, because your target audience is small.
B2B SEO – Don’t focus on search volume.
B2B companies often imagine that they will get a huge number of incoming traffic from the SEO efforts, but this is setting yourself up for disappointment (and it’s also not a good metric to gauge success).
If your metric for success is a massive amount of traffic to your website, you’ll most likely want to fire your SEO, when you see the numbers.
For B2B it’s not about the amount of traffic you get to your website. It’s about the quality of visitors.
Traffic volume for B2C websites can be much larger. You are targeting a much broader audience. You may need this large number of visitors to your site in order to convert a small percentage of it.
For both, it is important to know who your potential customer is and build content to address their needs and wants.
With B2B it’s a bit more complicated. The buyer is the company and can include multiple decision-makers and stakeholders. Your SEO needs to get in front of the person/s doing the searching AND help the decision-makers make the purchase (eventually).
Here are some questions to answer when putting together your SEO and content marketing strategy in B2B:
Who do you need to target?
Who is doing the searching?
Who are the decision-makers?
Who makes the buying decision?
What is important to the buyer?
What information do the searchers need?
What motivates the decision-makers?
What information do the decision-makers need?
Make it easy for the B2B buyer to find the information they need to make the buying decision (eventually).
Because of the more complex purchasing process, more touchpoints are typically needed in B2B than in B2C. A lot of specific information needs to be communicated to the buyer in B2B both in the information-gathering phase and in buying consideration phase.
B2C buying processes are typically straightforward and simple.
Need a product or service > find one that meets the buyer’s criteria > purchase.
Want a product or service > find one > purchase.
Also, impulse buying. ?
The B2C buyer can make a quick decision to purchase, even after just one visit to the website.
B2B buying process is more convoluted and lengthy. The search typically starts with information gathering, much before any buying intent. From an SEO perspective then, you need to address the information gathering and all the way to buying intent.
In order to get to the B2B purchase, your SEO content helps the people searching and the people making the decision to arrive at the purchase (there are more pieces to this puzzle).
This means your content needs to address much more than highlighting features of your products or services.
Knowing the length of the sales cycle is helpful in building your SEO strategy.
B2C sales cycle is typically short and fairly simple. The buyer can make a quick decision to purchase. Find something you need/want/like and buy.
B2B sales cycle is often complex and long. From initial search to sale, it can take months or more.
Even when a B2B company is actively searching for a solution to a problem they have (for example), it can take months for the slow gears to turn to get to the buy.
The old way was to push the potential buyers down the pipeline as fast as possible to get them in front of the salespeople and then push them to the sale.
This is not what B2B SEO is about. And if you are gating your downloads, white papers, etc. to get people’s information only to start calling them immediately – and frequently – you are shooting yourself in the foot.
Less and less people are
1) willing to give out their information, for anything and
2) excited to get a deluge of phone calls and emails when they are nowhere near ready to buy.
B2B SEO is not about trying to shorten the sales cycle.
The sales cycle is what it is. SEO’s job is to help the potential customer get the information they are looking for when they are looking for it, so they can eventually make the right decision to buy from you or not.
Sometimes it’s not.
B2C keywords can get thousands of searches a month. But in B2B SEO you can target keywords that get 100 searches a month or less.
You will need to find and choose keywords for the information gathering and buying intent phases. These keywords are very different.
What people search for when they are looking for information vs. when they are considering a purchase is different. Make sure to include both types of keywords in your SEO strategy.
For B2B you will also need to find out what information the decision-makers search for (and need) and then build content marketing around those keywords.
What that content is can vary quite a lot from B2C to B2B.
B2C buyers can be drawn to emotional and entertaining content, whereas B2B content is typically informative and educational.
Think impulse buying vs. logic based on research and how well a product or service solves a business problem.
Both B2C and B2B can leverage Social Media, however, B2B SEO is usually focused on organic search traffic. That is using a blog, that allows you to create SEO content.
B2B SEO content doesn’t mean creating boring content. Make your content thoughtful, and useful so that you are seen as the expert in your field.
The content builds your company as the expert in the field, the go-to source with deep insights.
This means that you can’t just claim to be the best and create generic or vague content.
Produce technical, research-based, detailed content. You build the buyer’s trust. After finding and consuming your content they know that you can provide the solution to their problem.
Both B2C and B2b SEO have their challenges and complexities. The path to a success with SEO is to let the buyer guide you, whether the buyer is an individual or a company.