If you are running a B2B company and are considering investing in SEO, you have probably already come across a number of posts describing what the experts you hire for the task will be expected to do.
What a lot of those post have probably omitted, is the part about what you will be required to contribute if you want the campaign to be a success.
Yes, you’ve read that right. Even if you fully outsource your search engine optimization activities, the agency you’ve hired will stand a much better chance of helping you reach your goals if you do your part of the work.
You can look at it like this. Personal trainers are probably the only people who we are willing to pay to have them ordering us around, but believe us, the degree of your commitment and involvement is just as important in SEO as it is in staying fit.
You can have the most dedicated and proficient trainer around, if you don’t do your part, all of their efforts will be wasted.
Since B2B SEO can be a serious investment - to get into or to back out of - before signing the contract, you might want to think about whether you’ll be able to do your part of the work. If you want to know what that entails, and why are the odds of your campaign being a success increasing in direct proportion to the time you devote to it, read on.
You need an in-house team
Or at least one in-house SEO. Even if you are on the more modest spectrum of B2B businesses and aren’t planning a huge campaign, you need an employee who will make sure that your interests are provided for and that your promotional efforts are properly synched.
While there is no shortage of information regarding which roles should be present in an ideal B2B marketing team structure, filling all those roles is not always easy.
Depending on the agency you’ve hired to help you with this, you may need to hire new people, or re-train and re-allocate the ones already in your organization.
The purpose of this team is not only to communicate your wishes to the agency working on your SEO, but also to track their performance, take care of damage control, perform the time-sensitive tasks and take part in the formulation of your overall inbound strategy.
You need executive buy-in
Even if you are the CEO of the company and you have decide to devote as many of its resources as needed to improving your search rankings, chances are that you won’t manage to do much if you don’t have the support of the rest of the management.
Search engine optimization is not something that takes place in a vacuum. Some of your employees or colleagues will get new duties, others will be relieved of the ones they have gotten used to, and so on. When left unchecked, this confusion can easily escalate into an actual problem.
Search engine optimization is not cheap, nor is it something that produces instant results. In other words, you shouldn’t be heading down this path unless you are willing to stay on it until the end. Calculating how much resistance the idea is likely to be met with by your coworkers will go a long way towards making it clear whether the campaign has any chance of succeeding.
You know the audience and the industry
One of the reasons it is important for your executives to be fully on-board when it comes to your optimization efforts, is that they, just like anyone else in your organization, might often be called upon to actively participate in those efforts.
This is even true for B2B vendors trying to handle everything just with and in-house team, but it is especially pronounced in campaigns led by outside agencies. Regardless of whether they work for an agency or directly for you, your SEOs simply cannot know as much about your industry and your audience as you do.
While their job is to find all the information they need on their own, there will be numerous areas in which no kind of research can come close to the insights provided by the years of experience of the people in your team. This is not to say that you should insist on being involved in every part of your SEO campaign, but when asked, you should be able to provide some feedback on:
Keywords. While those taking care of your SEO don’t need help with finding the more obvious phrases with the adequate ratio of volume and difficulty, you could help them by providing them with some which may not be obvious to someone not in the industry. Your help with the jargon and any other possible peculiarities of the industry could prove to be invaluable.
Audience. Your knowledge of the people you are catering to will not only help with the keyword research stage, but it might help your SEOs decide which tone and register they should use in the campaign, which topics to write about on your blog, which social networks to focus on, etc.
Competitors. There is nothing easier for an SEO than to identify your direct competitors, but your doing so is helpful because it informs your optimization expert about what your goals and values are.
Industry. If you are in B2B and want to improve your search visibility, not giving content marketing a try is usually a huge waste of opportunity. Again, while your SEOs will be capable of producing all the content you want, this is where your input might be the most critical. As effective as this strategy can be, content marketing is much more demanding in the B2B arena than in B2C. Buyers in B2B have a much more difficult decision to make, they know much more about the topic, and you need to convince more than one of them in order to make the sale. In order to ensure the content quality needed to actually appeal to this kind of audience, you need to make your expertise available to your SEO team.
Don’t overdo it
There is a fine line between being available and being intrusive. Naturally, whoever might be working on your SEO campaign is beholden to you when it comes to what is and isn’t acceptable, but aside from setting your rules and standards, you should try to get involved only when asked for assistance.
Otherwise, even the most well-meaning suggestions can soon turn into obstructive micromanagement, which never leads to a successful campaign. Remember, your SEOs might need you because you are an expert in your field, but you need them because they are experts in theirs, don’t get in the way of that.