Why SEO Centered B2B PR Matters to You

TL;DR 19 essential Services B2B PR agencies Should deliver

There is no doubt that SEO is a vital part of any B2B fame building public relations campaign. Gartner states that 27% of a B2B buying committee’s time is spent researching online, while World Business Research says that buyers usually don’t connect with sales until they are more than 55% of the way through their buying process.

So where are they getting the information that they are using up to the point at which they contact your company?

Clearly search engines provide much of the information that drives top-of-funnel opportunities, but how does B2B PR drive your brand to the first page of the search results?

It all starts with a category entry

Almost all B2B purchases start with an internal consensus that the business has an opportunity that is worth exploring. That opportunity can come from an awareness of what other firms have done or could possibly do or from the desire to alleviate a pain. It could equally be driven by the need to respond to a competitor or reduce costs.

In fact there are almost as many reasons for your prospective customer to start their buying process as there are prospective customers.

Their expectation generally starts and grows before the moment that firm decides to act (currently called the Category Entry Point, though for decades we called it the pain-point) and is usually a result of fame building B2B public relations, AIR, content marketing and potentially sales actions filtering into the search engines.

In other words, at the category entry point (CEP), it is vital that your prospective customer does two things:

  1. Recalls your brand and associates it with their CEP
  2. Finds your brand in search results however they phrase their search

Recalling your brand and recalling it at CEP is a result of consistent, regular, repeating B2B PR engagement over a long period of time. Those vital memory structures don’t get built in your stakeholders’ minds over night.

Appearing prominently in the search engine result pages (SERPs) is where PR meets SEO.

A footballer about to be tackled illustrating challenges in SEO B2B PR

The SEO challenge is to be findable, relevant & valuable 

The challenge for B2B brands is to be prominent in search query results. Many brands have tried to barge their way onto page one of the listings by generating copious amounts of content targeted at key words and phrases.

However it’s not enough to write key phrase stuffed dirge that a search engine might list.

Content needs to stay true to your B2B PR strategy. It needs to be engaging and enticing content that people will want to read. It needs to educates buyers from the earliest part of their journey (before CEP) through to when they are negotiating contract redlines with you.

And it needs to be discoverable, which it won’t be unless search engine algorithms index it and serve it up.

But search engines face a challenge as well. They exist to sell advertising, but they can’t do that without massive numbers of repeat visitors. So, in a world where everyone is generating endless keyword and key-phrase orientated content – a lot of which is of questionable quality – they need a way to ensure that they supply relevant, high-value search results.

Note relevant and note high-value.

First solve the search engines’ oldest problem with search-relevant B2B PR

Despite all of the grandiose claims made, oddly by SEO gurus and rarely by Google and Bing (G & B), search engines are pretty thick when it comes to identifying if a potential result is relevant.

Relevance is estimated by trying to work out how closely, semantically speaking, a paragraph or page on your website is related to a phrase that a user has typed into the search bar.

Interestingly, I often get different results for the same search depending on whether I am logged into my Google or Bing account or searching in incognito mode. That is down to G & B trying to personalise my search results based on my past interactions with their SERPs. Another reason why semantic SEO matters in B2B PR.

So understanding semantic SEO is an important skill for B2B PR folks. We need to work out how many ways there are of asking the same question, identify those that are most frequently asked and incorporate them in a readable way into our content.

Readability is a really important concept. Relevance is also measured by dwell-time – how long people stay on your page – the logic being that if they stay awhile then the content is relevant (and possibly high-value). It’s also measured by interactions: do they follow internal links to related content, do they click on embedded videos, what gets downloaded and so on. If your content is readable, watchable and listenable, it will be judged relevant for that user’s query.

A black clad detective figure holding a magnifying glass to represent the search for quality B2B PR SEO content

Search engines favour quality B2B PR content. Provide value.

The second ranking (how high up the SERP you appear) factor is the quality of your content. Now obviously this isn’t something that a search engine can judge directly (though with developments in AI, we may not be far away from them being able to assess quality) so they rely on signals.

The first signal is the authority of sites that link to yours – called inbound links. This is where fame building B2B public relations comes in. Reputable news sites and blogs are seen by search engines as providing good quality, unbiased information. So, those that link to your site ‘lend’ some of their credibility to you.

It’s quality by association and it helps your content to appear higher up in search results.

The more your inbound links are seen to come from credible, high-value websites, the more trustworthy your site must be and therefore the more credible your content.

Some sites naturally rank highly because of who they represent. Academic sites, government sites, major media sites and professional bodies typically appear high up the SERP.

But more recently popular forums such as Quora and Reddit are appearing more often at the start of the SERP which is odd when you consider the largely ill-informed crud that users of these sites generate. That tells me that G & B are both struggling to balance quality with relevance – both Quora and Reddit generate outrageous amounts of question and answer type content every hour.

So a key part of the SEO play in B2B PR is identifying the authoritative sites on which to place your quality content and establishing the backlink.

The second signal relies once more on how well you do on the same factors that apply to establishing your readability. A poorly written, repetitive, key phrase stuffed turkey can be spotted by search engines. As can a site that has been designed to draw in eyeballs such as affiliate monetisation sites.

Deep, rich and relevant content that explores a topic fully and has been written to educate and inform will always perform well.

Focus on SEO optimised B2B PR

So, search engine oriented B2B PR has a greater role than simply supplying searchable, findable content. Modern B2B PR requires targeted distribution and sharing of relevant content that makes authoritative, highly ranked sites want to share your news and content and link back to you. This, along with careful exploitation of semantic search and compelling content helps to put you in pole position.

Hence the importance of generating fame building B2B public relations – and other content – that ranks well in the search engines and can generate organic traffic for you.

Just as with social PR, digital PR, and analyst and influencer relations, SEO is no longer a standalone discipline, or even an additional service – it is simply a fundamental element of any successful fame building B2B public relations campaign.

Vox Publica’s understanding of powerful fame building B2B public relations and SEO allows us to balance a media outlets’ PR value with their SEO value and therefore target the right publications; those that are widely read in your target market, rank well with search engines and are seen as generally authoritative. It also means that we can optimise content for SEO so that it supports your search marketing plans.

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